From revitilized, culturally vibrant cities, to quiet coffee towns, Colombia has so much to offer. And on this custom itinerary, you will sample some of the best highlights. From Bogota, to Villa de Leyva, to Cartagena, you'll get a great taste of why Colombia is such a cultural and natural treasure.
In the afternoon, you will be picked up at the airport in Bogota and transferred to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
When you try to dream up the perfect city, you think of crisp moderate weather, Andean mountain peaks, vibrant colors, beautiful architecture, incredible people, rich South American food, and a nightlife that will not quit. It doesn't take long for travelers to realize that Bogota is the urban playground they've been seeking their whole lives.
La Candelaria is the cultural center of the city, where colonial architecture now houses museums, bars, restaurants and hotels. Locals are rightfully proud to call Bogota their home, and celebrate this fact nightly as drum beats, delicious gastronomy and generous drinks take over the streets. Life is a party, and Bogota is the host.
Today your bilingual guide will meet you at your hotel lobby and take you south where you will commence your walking tour through the streets of La Candelaria Bogota. The Square is the focal point of this historic part of the city and surrounding the square are several important Colonial and Republican style buildings including the Palace of Justice and Colombian Congress. The Plaza is also home to the Mayor’s office and the Primary Cathedral of Bogota, which dominates an entire corner. Standing proud in the plazas center is a statue of Simon Bolivar (Founder of Colombian independence) the first public monument to be erected in the city. As you wander the streets of La Candelaria away from the main square, your guide will not only explain the history of Bogota but also the intricacies of current Colombian culture and daily life. There will be time for a refreshment stop in one of the city's coffee houses.
After this short break you will head on to the Botero Museum. This is a permanent exhibition of works of art by Fernando Botero, Colombia’s most famous artist who’s "oversized” art is instantly recognizable. There are several rooms with displays of his work both on canvas and sculpture. The museum not only houses work by Botero but also other world famous artists such as Dali, Monet and Van Gogh.
Enjoy lunch at Son de los Grillos. (This service is on a private basis.)
One of the marvels of Colombia, the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira, is well worth the visit for any traveler. Some consider this is a religious monument, while others see it as a celebration of engineering or maybe even an artistic masterpiece. For the beauty of its landscapes, the richness of its earth and the hidden jewel beneath the earth’s surface, Zipaquira is simply unforgettable. Your journey there will take you traveling north of Bogota, through countryside once occupied by the native Muisca Indians. Zipaquira is most famous for its Cathedral carved underground in a still functioning salt mine, which you will explore today.
The subtle lighting pronounces the fourteen Stations of the Cross, as you descend into the mine, each station sculpted by a different artist. At the deepest point of the cathedral, 180m below the earth’s surface, you will encounter the north and south aisles dominated by the 16m high central cross. The illumination and execution of the work here is a tribute to modern techniques and years of work from the miners and artists. Your guide will explain all about the cathedrals construction and how it and the mine still function in harmony. However you view this construction, you are guaranteed to be impressed by its size and grandeur.
Enjoy a three course meal lunch with a non alcoholic beverage, during the tour at Zipaquira today. At the end of your exploration, you will continue to Lilla de Leyva to check into your accommodations. (This service is on a private basis.)
As awesome as they may be, you might eventually get tired of the big Colombian cities. Villa De Leyva, the perfect colonial village frozen in time, might just be the cure. White buildings frame cobblestone roads, and modern buildings are a rarity. Originally a retreat for Spanish nobles, Villa De Leyva remains a popular day trip from Bogota, and you'll be sharing the tourist markets with Colombians as well as foreigners.
Thanks to all the new tourist attention, the village is transforming. Luxury boutique hotels, modern restaurants and big markets are popping up all over town. The result is the perfect mix of modern convenience, and old school surroundings. If you're seeking an even more authentic atmosphere, plenty of day trips to the smaller villages in the region are definitely an option.
Today you'll enjoy a half day walking tour of Villa de Leyva, exploring the historical city with your bilingual English speaking guide. Enjoy a stop at a coffee shop for an authentic Colombian blend.
Later, enjoy another half day guided tour. The first point of interest during this second half day excursion will be the Pozos Azules; this mineral enriched lagoon with its vibrant turquoise waters. Then from the Lagoon you will drive through the desert like terrain towards El Fossil (The fossil). This 120 million year old 12 meter Kronosaurus fossil is on show in a small paleontology museum with other artifacts that have been found in this fossil rich area.
From the museum you will continue your journey towards the astrological site of El Enfiernito. This site was once central to the local Muisca Indians and was used by them to predict seasons and hold rituals. The site has 30 cylindrical stone monoliths sunk vertically into the ground. From the comfort of your vehicle is a great way to see the local area and this half day trip takes in a number of the sites around Villa de Leyva. You will finish the tour back in to town in time for a well earned refreshment. (This service is on a private basis.)
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Villa De Leyva and transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Pereira. Upon arrival in Pereira, you will be greeted at the airport by your driver and transferred to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
Welcome to Colombia's majestic Coffee Country. Quindio is the region in Colombia most well known for mass coffee bean growth, so whether you're staying in Armenia, its capital, or a countryside hacienda, activities here are likely to involve the popular cash crop. Rolling green hills, perpetually tropical green, are continuously worked by a plantation community of locals who are only too happy to feed the coffee drinkers of the world. Locals are very proud of the culture they've worked hard for, and the region's few towns are lined with small cafes serving the goods.
We will visit one of the most attractive coffee estates to witness the daily activity on this traditional hacienda. Coffee cupping with an expert will bring our senses to a higher level. This excursion has been specially designed for those who want to dive deep into the cup, while enjoying one of the best views over the Quindio Valley and probably the best coffee as well.
Today’s tour will take you from the far northeast of Quindío to the beautiful Valle Cocora where the magnificent Wax palm grows, in one of its few natural habitats, then onto the first settlement in Quindío of the modern era.
As you enter into Filandia, the first stop, you know you are in the Coffee region of Colombia. The main square has not changed in appearance or in character in decades. A coffee break in one of the many small coffee shops will allow you to take in the quaintness of uninterrupted lines of brightly painted houses in this traditional Pueblo of the region. The guide will explain about the culture and people of the region and how small pueblos (Villages) like this form the back bone of rural agricultural life.
From Filandia you will drive to the Valle Cocora (Cocora Valley). Part of the wider Parque Nacional Los Nevados, the valley is located on the eastern limits of Quindío along the central Andean range. The valley has a unique landscape like a lush version of a Swiss valley. It has been regarded by Colombia as a sanctuary for its national symbol; the Wax Palm (Ceroxylon quindiuense). The Palms cover the Mountain range, which is now protected and declared a monument to protect the tree itself and the endemic species that depend on it. The valley is spectacular and great for walking or horseback rides, either way this stunning mountain scenery will not fail to impress.
Your group will enjoy the unique Wax Palm ritual. This is an educational experience where you will learn more about the importance of the wax palm and how it became the national tree, before getting a chance to plant a wax palm yourself.
Salento is a municipality in the north eastern part of the department of Quindío. It was the first settlement in Quindío of modern times dating back to 1850, and the first municipality founded in the department. This picturesque town boasts a number of fine houses of traditional architectural style. Rimmed by distant snow capped mountains Salento has a real rural traditional feel. (This service is on a private basis.)
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Pereira and transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Cartagena. Upon arrival in Cartagena, you will be greeted at the airport by your driver and transferred to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
One can certainly take a tour of Cartagena's historic sites, and we encourage our travelers to partake in such a tour. But Cartagena is about slowing down to a Caribbean pace. The city will seduce you, and slowly, it will ask you to stay longer, and wandering its maze-like streets, you may be tempted.
Rivaling Cusco, Peru for its colonial atmosphere, Cartagena is a beautifully preserved time capsule with a marimba and drum-based soundtrack. Open air cafes offer cooling respite from the humid heat, and beaches laced with tanned locals encourage you to join. Everyone in Cartagena seems to be celebrating something, and it takes one a few days to realize: they're simply celebrating life, and this is the norm here. How could you not want to stay?
Embark on a half day tour of Cartagena visiting the Inquisition Palace and San Pedro Claver.
Carved from a colorful history rife of piracy, sultry Caribbean heat, with fusions of African, indigenous and European culture, Cartagena is Colombia’s living, breathing and pulsating museum. Absurdly photogenic La Heroica (Heroic city) awards even the laziest of travelers. Color splashes every corner, balconies overflow with blossom, and energy seeps beneath the ancient wooden doors of hotels, restaurants and Casa Privadas. (This service is on a private basis.)
Today you will go on a private, half day tour of Cartagena. Visit Castillo San Felipe, named in honor of King Philip IV of Spain. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, the castle has since served Colombia as a location for social and cultural events in honor of foreign delegations and presidential summits. Make a stop at Convento La Popa, about 2km beyond Castillo San Felipe. This convent, originally built in 1607, sits on the highest point of the city, and offers magnificent views of the surrounding area. After, you will explore the nearby Manga district. Whereas most of the city is built in a Spanish colonial style, this area features a hodge podge of early 20th century buildings, from Islamic to avant garde. (This service is on a private basis.)
Enjoy this free time at your leisure.
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Cartagena and transferred to the airport. (This service is on a private basis.)
Sofitel Bogota Victoria Regia enjoys an upscale location in the north of Bogota. Perfect for business or leisure, it is close to the city's main financial and business districts as well as renowned art galleries for indulging in a spot of culture. With the many restaurants and boutiques you'll be spoiled for choice! The international airport is just a 30 minute drive away.
The Hotel Campanario de la Villa is a charming colonial accommodation nestled within the heart of Villa de Leyva. The typical Spanish architecture and style throughout the property, is the perfect compliment to its modern and cozy feel. Complimentary WiFi access and private parking are available for your convenience. Facilities on site include an indoor pool, spa and wellness center, a delicious restaurant, a comfortable shared lounge area, outdoor terrace and a local tour desk. The hospitable service of the staff ensures that your every need will be accommodated during your stay.
Hacienda Bambusa is located in the south of what is locally called the “ejecafetero” or “coffee country," blessed with an agreeable subtropical climate. When you come upon the Hacienda you are instantly immersed by a maze of plantain, yucca, orange, and pineapple cultivation. Smaller roads lead to further surprises. The landscape is breathtaking and its diversity of flora and fauna make it a little paradise. Among its many charms are the presence of exotic flowers like heliconias, more than 100 species of birds and a large number of mammals such as monkeys, foxes, armadillos and agouti. The main house is built of bamboo and clay tiles in the traditional manner of the region's coffee culture. It is surrounded by huge Andean mountains, enormous trees, exotic gardens and crops - an oasis of tranquility and natural beauty. The lodge's management spent six years redesigning the building to receive guests and have established it as the ideal destination for visitors to Quindio.
Originally built as a monastery in 1621, the Hotel Sofitel Legend Santa Clara is a reference point in the heart of Cartagena, where its walls once acted as a shield in ancient times. A perfect blend of vintage and contemporary, the hotel maintains a striking balance between classic beauty and modern technology in unique surroundings. This pristine property focuses on age-old tradition with local hospitality and French luxury. You will be impressed from the moment you walk in, by the colonial architecture, comfortable guest rooms, personalized service, gourmet cuisine and first-class spa. Each of the 122 rooms, including 19 suites, truly has it's own story to tell. You are now invited to create your own, and experience Cartagena in the most magical way possible.
*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.