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Viva Colombia

  • 01 Sep
  • -
  • 14 Sep 2024
  • |
  • 14 days


per person

Availability: 12 places

    It’s no secret that Colombia gets our travel pulse racing. Packed with a wealth of heritage and natural wonders, the country has moved on leaps and bounds from its once nefarious past and boasts a dazzling array of landscapes from lush plantations to towering mountains, idyllic beaches and steamy rainforests.  For the adventurous traveller, the attractions are numerous.

    On this trip we wander through the cobbled streets of Honda and romantic Cartagena, and head far from the madding crowd to see all that the country has to offer.  Going underground, we’ll take in the spectacular salt cathedral at Zipaquira and learn about coffee and cocoa production from our stunning hacienda in the coffee zone. We’ll also take to our feet to explore the majestic countryside and extensive swathes of wax palms and villages of the rarely visited northern coffee region as well as discovering the urban attractions of Medellin, Santa Marta and Bogota.

    Offering a wide variety of experiences from trekking in Tayrona National Park to taking sunset cocktails in Cartagena, this tour offers visitors the chance to experience the diversity of the real Colombia and embrace the Latin spirit.

    Day 1

    DAY 1: Tours starts in Bogota

    For anyone arriving on the group flights which arrive into Bogota in the early morning we’ll provide a couple of “wash & change” rooms with breakfast until official check-in at 15:00 this afternoon. For everyone else, the tour will officially start mid-morning at the hotel from where we’ll set off on a gentle introduction to Colombia’s capital which will include the dazzling Gold Museum which houses one of the finest collections anywhere in the world.

    Day 2

    DAY 2: Bogota

    We’ll have the full day to enjoy the many sights that Bogota has to offer including La Candalaria, Bogota’s oldest suburb, which boasts dozens of fine colonial buildings, churches and museums, including the Botero Museum. Here we can see the works of art by Fernando Botero, Colombia's most famous artist whose "oversized" art is instantly recognisable. We will also visit Paloquemao market, the second largest in the city as well as the hilltop look-out and monastery of Monserrate. This evening will be free for you to discover the culinary delights of the Colombia capital.

    Day 3

    DAY 3: Bogota – Honda

    This morning we will drive to Zipaquira where we will visit the spectacular underground Salt Cathedral. The salt mines house an eerie and magnificent spectacle carved out directly from the rock salt. The cavernous cathedral, consists of a labyrinth of tunnels and chambers and can hold an impressive 8400 people. After a tour of the cathedral we’ll continue on to the picturesque riverside town of Honda which is renowned for its colonial architecture and 40 bridges. This journey takes us from the heights of the Eastern Andean range and Bogota plateau down to the hotter and more sultry weather of the Magdalena River basin.

    Day 4

    DAY 4: Honda - Manizales (Coffee Region)

    We’ll have time this morning to discover the charms of the so-called ‘city of bridges’. Sitting astride the Magdalena River, Honda was once an important port during the colonial era but went on to lose its economic significance when transportation routes changed. Now part of the Network of Heritage Towns of Colombia, Honda is slowly (very slowly) being rediscovered again. Later we’ll head westwards and back up into the mountains on the central Andean chain as we make for the country’s famed coffee region. On arrival, for those that wish, there’ll be the option to take a leisurely 2-3hr afternoon walk downhill from a local viewpoint to the stunningly located rural, working coffee farm, which will be our base for the next two nights.

    Day 5

    DAY 5: Manizales (Coffee Region)

    This morning we’ll get to see the workings of a coffee plantations as we see the whole process from seedling to coffee cup and every part in between. We’ll learn about the trials and tribulations that face the coffee growers and how their whole way of life is affected by this simple bean - your life as a coffee drinker will never be the same, once you have tasted the elixir of life from Colombia! However coffee is not the only bean of importance in Colombia as the country is home to some of the finest cocoa found anywhere on the planet. That fact alone should be sufficient reason for any avid chocoholics to place it at the top of their to-do list and this afternoon will be dedicated to learning more about the cultivation of this beloved crop. There will be an opportunity to see the plantations themselves, the raw cocoa fruit and all-important bean as well as the processes used to turn this into our beloved chocolate. At the end there will even be the option to create your own personalised chocolate bar!

    Day 6

    DAY 6: Manizales - Salamina

    Heading north from Manizales we avoid the main road to Medellin and instead take a quieter backroad which traverses some truly spectacular scenery and allows us access to the lesser visited northern coffee region. Here we’ll make for the colonial hilltop gem of Salamina with its very steep streets and the nearby village of San Felix. Here we will be able to take a stunning walk through an area rich with some of the highest and most extensive swathes of wax palms in the entire country. The wax palm has become a national symbol and with some reaching upwards of 200ft it is the world’s tallest palm tree. Later we’ll return to Salamina for our overnight in this historic town.

    Day 7

    DAY 7: Salamina - Aguadas

    Continuing along the backroads of the northern coffee region, we’ll make for the town of Aguadas. This equally picturesque colonial town is not only part of the UNESCO listed coffee culture landscape but is also a famed centre for local handicrafts. As such, this afternoon we’ll have the opportunity to observe the skills involved in the making of the traditional aguadeño hat, a treasured symbol of the region made using fibres from the locally grown iraca palm. Later there’ll be time to explore the tranquil streets of the old town and to meet the friendly locals, for whom foreign visitors are still a relative rarity.

    Day 8

    DAY 8: Aguadas - Medellin

    A morning’s drive takes us to Medellin, known for its nightlife, lively culture and friendliness. On arrival we’ll take an orientation tour highlighting the incredible changes this city, whose name was once synonymous with drug cartels, has undergone in the last few years. Surrounded by mountain peaks, the city offers stunning scenery and, is known as the “City of Eternal Spring”. We’ll take the metro into the city centre to visit and wander amongst Botero sculptures in Parque Berrio. Although static works of art, we can watch the local Colombians climbing all over them and interacting with the sculptures the way Botero intended. The sculptures also include the pajaro de paz or ‘bird of peace’ sculpture, ironically damaged by a bomb by the insurgents and a reminder that Medellin was not always the trendy cosmopolitan hub it is today.

    Day 9

    DAY 9: Medellin

    A full day in Medellin enables time to gain a greater appreciation for this fascinating city. We’ll start off by taking the outdoor escalators up the hill to the outer limits of the city and this bird’s eye view looking down on Medellin will help to put the entire city in to perspective. Once these barrios, or neighbourhoods, were no-go areas for even the police, but the city’s revival and revolutionary transport system has opened the city up to social and economic development in even the poorest parts. There is an immense pride in these local barrios and there will be opportunities to see a flourishing urban art and music scene, and to interact with the locals of Comuna 13 to get a better understanding of how these parts of the city tick and now contribute to Medellin’s vibrant cultural fabric. After lunch you’ll be free to head to explore more of this city for yourself, perhaps heading for the lively Parque lllaeras to see the hip and trendy of Medellin strut their stuff.

    Day 10

    DAY 10: Medellin – Santa Marta

    A final morning in Medellin allows us time to take in the Santa Helena flower-growing region just east of the city. Although Medellin is famed for its yearly flower festival in August there is an entire year-round industry involved in the cultivation of a myriad of flower varieties. There will be an opportunity to visit one of the flower farms and see their spectacular blooms and how these are grown and cultivated. Later we will take a flight to Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast, one of the oldest surviving colonial towns in Colombia. Santa Marta will be our base for the next two nights enabling us access to the nearby beautiful Tayrona National Park.

    Day 11

    DAY 11: Tayrona National Park

    Today we set off for a full day trip into Tayrona National Park. This stunning marine and coastal park offers a variety of great trails and nature walks, and we’ll trek through the jungle and along the coast, before stopping at one of the pristine, golden sandy beaches for lunch. After some free time for swimming and relaxing we shall head back to our hotel and a free evening.

    Day 12

    DAY 12: Santa Marta - Cartagena

    Heading southwest along the coast, we shall drive to the colonial town of Cartagena de Indias. For many, Cartagena remains a favourite destination in South America and after just a short time it’s easy to understand why. This afternoon we will take a guided walk through the historic walled city. The Spanish colonial architecture is some of the most impressive and holds some of the best preserved in South America with its imposing merchant’s houses, narrow streets, flower bedecked balconies stunning civic buildings and beautiful churches. Soaked in sunshine and steeped in history, Cartagena is liberally sprinkled with a wealth of wonderful old buildings that line the flower-filled streets.

    Day 13

    DAY 13: Cartagena

    With a full day to take in more of the charms of this stunning colonial city with its lavish cathedral and bustling plazas, we’ll spend the morning visiting La Popa Convent and Castillo San Felipe, the largest Spanish fortification in the Americas, and a structure which dominates the old town. Underneath there is a labyrinth of tunnels, some of which are lit and accessible to visitors. The afternoon will be free for personal exploration before we meet up for our final group dinner.

    Day 14

    DAY 14: Tour ends in Cartagena

    Although the tour officially ends after breakfast and rooms will need to be vacated by midday, those on the suggested group flights this evening will have most of the day free for wandering the streets of this delightful city at your own pace and perhaps taking in some last minute souvenir hunting.