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 we sit down to dream up our perfect city, we take crisp moderate weather, Andean mountain peaks, vibrant colors, beautiful architecture, even more beautiful people, 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.)
Today you’ll visit the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira. Traveling north of the city, through countryside once occupied by the native Muisca Indians, Zipaquira is one of the more popular tourist destinations in Colombia. Zipaquira is home to a Cathedral carved underground in a still functioning salt mine just west of the town.
The subtle lighting pronounces the fourteen Stations of the Cross as you descend in to the mine, each station sculpted by a different artist. At the deepest point of the cathedral, 180 meters below the earth’s surface, you encounter the nave and the north and south aisles which are dominated by the 16m high central cross. The illumination and execution of the work 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.
Enjoy lunch at Zipaquira. (This service is on a private basis.)
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Bogota and transferred to your accommodations in Villa De Leyva. (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 picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
Welcome to 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.
Your guide will arrive at your hacienda this morning and take you on a tour of the surrounding region.
This 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. Filandia does not have an attraction to visit; Filandia is the attraction. 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, if you want to feel like you are seeing Colombia then look no further.
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, and 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 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. Salento is a municipality in the north eastern part of the region of Quindío. 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.
Your tour today also includes a latte art activity at Café Jesus Martin. (This service is on a private basis.)
Today you will be met by your guide for a full day adventure.
The Los Nevados National Park is a landscape of mountain ranges, dormant volcanoes, hot springs, and recent memories of tragic eruptions. The highest range of the three (Nevado del Ruiz, Nevado de Santa Rosa and Nevado Tolima), is del Ruiz (5231m) erupted in 1985, and completely destroyed one village.
Today’s journey will take you by road out through Manizales and into the stunning scenery of the highlands of the Caldas region. The journey by road will be approximately 2 hours before reaching the park entrance, from here its unpaved roadway to the final car park.
Your guide will explain the climates, flora and fauna, and history of this savage but beautiful landscape. There are some amazing photo opportunities at every corner of the winding road. During the first stages you will see the Frailejon plants; this is an herb endemic to the Andean Region. You will stop further up the mountain at El Valle de Las Tumbas (Valley of the Tombs) and walk to the edge of the valley where sounds reverberate around the rock formation. Then a steep curving climb higher up the mountain and onto the parking area and the start of the 1200 meter climb to Del Ruiz.
The walk is slow but rewarding as you reach the edge of the glacier and, weather permitting, you will be greeted by superb views across the mountain ranges and valleys below.
Afterwards, return to the car park and transfer back to your hotel. (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 picked up at the airport 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 Cathedral and Gold Museum.
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 La Posada de San Antonio is set in a charming colonial-style house only 100 meters from the Villa de Leyva historical quarter, offers rooms with stylish décor and free Wi-Fi. It features a pool and a restaurant and free parking is provided. Decorated with tiled floors and gabled roofs, rooms at La Posada de San Antonio feature private balconies and cable TV. All of them have private bathrooms with toiletries. Breakfast is served daily. International dishes can be ordered at the property’s restaurant, and guests are welcomed with complimentary cocktails. There is also a coffee shop. Guests can relax on the sun loungers by the pool, or request a massage session. Massage sessions can be requested, horseback riding activities are available, and vintage cars can be rented. Hotel La Posada de San Antonio is 800 meters from the bus station and 170 km from Bogota Airport.
Just a two-minute drive from Pereira is Visus Hotel Boutique & Spa, a seven-bedroom retreat overlooking the UNESCO Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia. Recognized as a World Heritage Site for its 19th-century settlements, plantations and dense forest, gazing at this bucolic scene from Visus Hotel's infinity pool, garden and private bedroom terrace (hammock included) makes the city seem a world away. Rooms and suites are uniquely-styled designer dens where modernity rules and luxurious elements are standard: 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, fresh flowers, iPod docking stations... The spa with steam room and sauna is also a cut-above. And the chocolate sprinkles on this outstanding frothy cup? The restaurant's locally inspired cuisine presented with a contemporary twist.
Originally built as a monastery in 1621, the Sofitel Santa Clara Hotel is a reference point in the heart of Cartagena de Indias, where its walls, which acted as a shield in ancient times, combine with colonial balconies and republican structures to evokethe splendor of days gone by. In recognition of its great cultural and architectural wealth, the walled city, with its castles and bastions, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Center in 1984.