Itinerary Highlights
  • Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, from the Pacific to the Caribbean... travel across Colombia for a condensed hit of South America
  • From mid-July to mid-October, whales migrate along the Pacific coast
  • From Bogota artists to percussion in Cartagena, activities are included everywhere
  • Our smartphone app, local Concierge and all our usual additional services

Contact one of our Colombia specialists 020 3958 6120

Mystical Colombia

Colombia, is it the Andes, the Pacific, the Caribbean or the Amazon? It's all of them, which is one reason why this is such a special country. Colombia is home to large swathes of South American nature. This journey, which begins in Bogota - roughly in the centre of the country - gives a spectacular and contrasting overview. The capital is one of the most creative cities on the continent, while Medellin makes a perhaps unexpected contribution - the city having drawn a line under the era of infamous drugs cartels. Between the two, Villa de Leyva and Barichara, both bear witness to colonial urbanism. Life moves at the rhythm of the highlands here, with even higher mountains on the horizon.
White or colourful houses with graceful red or green wooden balconies line the cobblestone streets. In places, entire facades turn from blue, to pink or yellow. The indigenous civilisation flourishes everywhere. Change of atmosphere at Nuqui: in front of you, the sea; behind lies the forest. Then enjoy a responsible Robinson Crusoe interlude on the beach, with dolphins and coral reefs, howler monkeys and choco toucans. Hiking and watersports are highlighted. Finally, on the Caribbean coast, Cartagena, with an old city declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Three days here call to mind images of galleons, beaches, mangroves and tropical rhythms. And then there's the Eje Cafetero (Coffee Triangle) or the Amazon River, which could be added to the itinerary if you've got a few extra days.

Your trip

The many experiences on your journey reflect the richness and variety of your journey: Bogota by bike, meeting young artists, treasures on the outskirts of Villa de Leyva, hiking on the Camino Real in Barichara, aspects of Medellin and percussion in La Boquilla. Then there are the jungle and sea activities in Choco, including whale watching from mid-July to mid-October. All this in private, and with an English-speaking guide. And we've also included time for you to explore on your own and relax... By the way, your guides will also be able to give you useful tips for those occasions. Throughout the trip you'll be able to appreciate different forms and eras of Colombian architecture. Always with modern comforts in mind and exactly the services you need. Apart from the three domestic flights, transfers and local trips are made in an air-conditioned car with driver. And if, along the way, there is a sudden urge, or an unforeseen event, you have the contact details for our on-site local Concierges, reachable throughout the journey.

Route

Everything is 100% tailored to you
DAY 1

Flight to Bogota

Welcome, help with formalities and transfer. Accommodation for two nights in the Usaquen district. Chic eco-hotel. Design, energy, materials and management: everything is sustainable. The facade is covered by a vertical garden and the rooftop features a lawn, terrace, bar and swimming pool. It's an eco-efficient building with eco-design decor. The rooms are light and comfortable and well equipped; they make for a very pleasant stay. The restaurant's good, and organic of course. The last piece of the health jigsaw is the spa, with excellent treatments and beauty products. Friendly and committed staff add to the enjoyment of the stay. The hotel has bikes available for trips around town.

DAY 2

Bogota

Already included in the itinerary - Bogota by bike. With your helmet on, and accompanied by a guide, you set off to discover a vibrant capital of contrasts. From La Candelaria's grid layout, typical of Spanish colonial settlements, to the largest vegetation-covered building in the world, it's a compelling route. Since the 16th century, all architectural styles here have been given an Andean twist. In many places, the painted facades show the creativity of Bogota's fresco painters. . Colombian contemporary art is booming and galleries and workshops abound in the city. The quality of work by young artists across all disciplines promises a bright future. Discover a few key places with one of these artists.

DAY 3

Bogota - Villa de Leyva

Transfer to Villa de Leyva. Accommodation for two nights to the north-east of the large square. Quiet cobblestone street and white colonial facade. Behind it, a peaceful paved courtyard, enclosed by beautiful gallery frames, which support stone or wood columns. It is all very alluring, and it's nice to laze here in the evening, drink in hand. The furnishings are a harmonious blend of old and modern, a rustic note giving the rooms the seal of authenticity. Here and there are pretty painted ceilings. The rooms are well equipped. The restaurant serves contemporary Colombian cuisine - influenced, but not overpowered by, other cuisines.

DAY 4

Villa de Leyva

Isolation and the absence of prized natural resources can be good in the long run. That's the case with Villa de Leyva, where 400 years of slow evolution have preserved a remarkable colonial building. The large paved square, lined with white buildings, is very evocative of the conquest cities; its exceptional size was the result of civilian and military logistical requirements. Today, the village enjoys the status of a protected historical site.
Already included in the itinerary - Around Villa de Leyva. Of particular interest are the El Fosil Museum, the Monquira Archaeological Park and the Ecce Homo Convent. There is the skeleton of a kronosaurus in the first, a 26ft pliosaur that preyed on marine life in the Lower Cretaceous period. From the tombs and standing stones it contains, archaeologists at the Monquira Archaeological Park conclude it was a pre-Hispanic sacred site: purification rites and astronomical observations. The convent was built by the Dominicans in the 17th century. Tours are conducted with a private guide.

DAY 5

Villa de Leyva - Barichara

Transfer to Barichara. Accommodation for two nights in the southern part of the town. A tropical garden surrounds the house with an abundance of green. Under the eaves are deep, airy galleries. Armchairs and hammocks await those who wish to relax in the shade. On the floor, large terracotta tiles: cool and elegant. The rooms are all simple and cosy. The dining room spills out onto the terrace (in fact, there is no strict interior/exterior divide, as there is in Europe). Founded in 1705, Barichara has a provincial, languid charm which is infectious.

DAY 6

Barichara

Already included in the itinerary - Hiking on the Camino Real. Long abandoned, the old path formed during the colonial period between the region's villages has been cleared and reopened. It's an easy two-hour hike from Barichara to the village of Guane at the foot of the Serrania de los Yariguies. With a private guide, the walk is in the shade of acacias through a splendid landscape. It passes tobacco fields, a reminder of the pre-Colombian origin of this crop. Along the way, sharp-eyed walkers may see the rare red-bellied bream, an azure warbler or a red-crowned woodpecker. At the Guane Archaeological and Palaeontological Museum, ancient pottery, elongated guana skulls and fossils bear witness to the early and ancient eras in the Santander region. Return by motorbike taxi.

DAY 7

Barichara - Bucaramanga - Medellin

Transfer to Bucaramanga Airport and flight to Medellin. Transfer and accommodation for two nights in El Poblado Provenza. Printed fabrics, coloured furniture, beautiful crafts, all with a deft and tasteful touch. Colourful and comfortable. The rooms have everything you need and beautiful bedding; the tiles in the bathrooms are a treat for the eyes. Private terraces extend into a garden full of banana trees, mangos, avocados, orchids and more - which surrounds the house and hides an outdoor Jacuzzi. Breakfast is served at the hotel. Other meals are taken in local restaurants. Yoga classes, massages and a day spa are all available.

DAY 8

Medellin

Already included in the itinerary - Urban Medellin and Nature. Lessons have been learned from the violence of the 1980s and 1990s; some of the factors which contributed to the war on drugs have been highlighted. Today, the city is making a comeback: better transport, improved communication connections for poor neighbourhoods, ecological and cultural policy and research. A big shift in style. A private guide will be on hand. Visit the Antioquia Museum, which houses a large collection of works by Fernando Botero (born in Medellin in 1932) and also some by the great muralist Pedro Nel Gomez (1899-1984). Then head to the Arvi eco-tourism park on the slopes of the Aburra Valley, which serves as a suburban nature reserve and archaeological site. It's reached by cable car and you can take a lakeside walk there. In the afternoon, accompanied by two locals, you can explore a formerly run down district which is being renovated. Two Medellin residents help to give a sense of perspective on what you see.

DAY 9

Medellin - Nuqui

Transfer to the airport and flight to Nuqui, in the Choco region, on the Pacific coast. Transfer and accommodation for three nights between the forest and the ocean. The seven well-appointed rooms meet the most important requirements: privacy, peace and quiet for sleeping, a bathroom and a hammock for siestas. At the restaurant, the ecological menu is full of tasty dishes; full board is not just a practical choice.

DAYS 10 & 11

Nuqui

Included in the itinerary - First, in front of the lodge, the beach, which would make for a happy stay in its own right. Kayaking, boarding and snorkelling equipment are all available. It also has boats available so you can reach the best spots. Large dolphins, spotted dolphins and even Risso dolphins frequent the area. On land there's one hike per day: waterfall, coastline or jungle. Each outing is like a nature field trip. From the large kapok tree to the delicate orchids, the flora is breath-taking. Armadillos, spider monkeys, anteaters, sloths, toucans and harpy eagles - the wildlife is amazing. There are humpback whales from mid-July to mid-October. To get a closer look, take a small boat which approaches to within a safe distance of the whales, without disturbing them.

DAY 12

Nuqui - Medellin - Cartagena

Transfer to the airport and flight to Cartagena via Medellin. Transfer and accommodation for three nights in the old town. The building exudes Caribbean Belle Epoque charm. The late 19th century produced particularly attractive architecture. Just enter the elegant circular patio to appreciate it. The graceful layers of balconies, the avalanche of flowers tumbling over the white balustrades. In the decent-sized rooms expect whitewashed walls, painted murals and sober yet smart furnishings. And marble in the bathrooms. The cosy dining area serves breakfast and other meals on request: Colombian cuisine from the Caribbean Coast. On the roof, there is a large swimming pool and sun loungers that encourage you to do nothing. All just 300 yards from the beach.

DAYS 13 & 14

Cartagena

Cartagena has its roots in Havana and Seville. The imposing fortresses of San Felipe de Barajas and San Fernando de Bocachica (18th century), on which privateers and pirates cut their teeth, stand as a noble testament to the era. The city was prosperous then, and it's prosperous now. As for its religious history, you can see it on the streets, from the Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria (17th century) to the Palace of the Inquisition (18th century), to the Church of San Pedro Claver (17th century), the apostle of African slaves.
Already included in the itinerary - Percussion in La Boquilla. It's a fishing village for fishermen with an African aesthetic, a little north of Cartagena. Residential homes, a small school, a shop and a beach. There's a mangrove too, which long canoes can enter to lay down crab traps. With a private guide you can explore the mangrove forests, which thousands of birds consider their home. Then there is a visit to a music school for a hands-on introduction to Caribbean rhythms: led by young and talented percussionists from the village.

DAY 15

Cartagena - return flight

Transfer to the airport and return flight.

A la carte

With a few extra days - The Amazon or the Coffee Triangle

, the capital of Amazonas, Leticia, is in the far south of Colombia, at Tres Fronteras, where Colombia meets Brazil and Peru. From here, you head up the Amazon River itself to a lodge in a private nature reserve. The Amazon is a dense and engaging world, which should be entered discreetly. With that in mind if you're lucky you could see the pink dolphin, manatee, giant otter (which eats piranhas), sapphire dove, many-banded aracari or the red-fan parrot, etc. The Eje Cafetero, the coffee-producing area in the centre-west of the country, covers Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindio provinces. In listing it as a World Heritage Site in 2011, UNESCO recognised its broad cultural significance. These landscapes consist of steep slopes and sudden inclines, where humans have, with considerable effort, replaced wild bamboo groves with Coffea arabica plants. Now and then, red-roofed white finca (ranch) buildings stand out against the intense green and yellow countryside. Producers are open all year round for roasting, tasting or a ride in the fields and you go from one to another in a Willys Jeep because, up here, that's how you get around.
Optional

A Rough Idea of Price

Dependent on season, accommodation and activities
The estimated cost for this trip is £6,400 to £8,000 per person, and the final cost of the trip depends on the way we tailor it especially for you. The final cost will vary according to several factors, including the level of service, length of trip and advance booking time. The exact price will be shown on your personalised quote. The average price for this trip is £6900 per person.
  • International and domestic flights with a scheduled airline
  • Airline taxes and fuel surcharge
  • Assistance at Bogota airport
  • Private transfers
  • Two-night stay in Cartagena in a double room with breakfast
  • Bogota by bike and Bogota cultural private tours with a guide
  • Two-night stay in Villa de Leyva in a double room with breakfast
  • Around Villa de Leyva, with a private guide
  • Two-night stay in Barichara in a double room with breakfast
  • Hiking on the Camino Real, with a private guide
  • Two-night stay in Medellin in a double room with breakfast
  • Urban Medellin and nature, with a private guide
  • Three-night stay in Nuqui in a double room with full board
  • Activities included by the lodge
  • Three-night stay in Cartagena in a double room with breakfast
  • A private percussion class in La Boquilla
  • A local mobile phone
  • Our on-site Concierge service
  • A few of the benefits of travelling with us
    Get in touch
    Our experts have the inside track on the destinations they sell and will tailor-make a holiday to your unique requirements.
    Contact one of our Colombia specialists

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