Colombia in Style – Nature & Culture

10 Days
DIFFICULTY

Medium

MIN. AGE

8 Years

£ 4895

Nature & Culture

Colombia – a country associated with beauty, mystery, tropical warmth and endless bounty. The natural riches found within its borders aren’t found here by chance, however. It’s Colombia’s rugged, broken and unique geography that makes it one of the world’s most diverse countries, a treasure trove of biological evolution, where this same geography has created many restricted range species, found across Colombia’s 5 main geographical regions – Andean, Pacific, Caribbean, Llanos (plains) and Amazon.

This difference between territories has formed the cultural and natural heritage of each of the regions of Colombia, making every visit to Colombia, a completely different experience.

You will start your trip in Colombia in the Cundiboyacense Plateau, located in the middle of the eastern mountain range, home of the ancient Muisca civilization, the largest indigenous pre-Columbian tribe, now the location of the Capital City, Bogotá, and the departments of Boyacá and Cundinamarca. Surrounded by mountains to the east, and lowlands to the west, this region has an amazing variety of ecosystems, where “paramo” stands out as one of the most important of the country.

After a beautiful visit to Bogotá, you will fly to toe coffee region, where we will start in the mountains and forests of Salento and Valle del Cocora, adorned by the national tree, the wax palm, you will continue to Manizales, where the mountains are covered with coffee plantations, staying in beautiful farms and typical haciendas of the region, you will be transported to the past to live one of the most beautiful and complete experiences of the coffee region.

Finally, we will fly to Cartagena, to enjoy one of the most emblematic cities of Colombia, more culture, more colorful streets, music and history in every corner of the city. Cartagena was not only one of the first cities founded by the spaniards, it was the first port to communicate Magdalena River with the ocean and where all the gold was going out, reason why with the years it was fortified and attacked many times by pirates and enemies of the spanish crown.

During this trip, a beautiful introduction to Colombia, you will be amazed with its cultural and natural diversity and the warmth of its people and it will definitely leave you wanting to return.

Price £4,895/ $5,874

Based on 2 pax. Excludes international flights.

Extension: £1,295

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Day by Day

BOGOTA

Located at 8,530 ft above sea level and surrounded to the east with its imposing Cerros Orientales (eastern hills) we find the capital and largest city of Colombia, Bogotá. With average temperatures of 62ºF throughout the year, Bogotá leans towards being a cool weather city for its 8 million or so inhabitants; a population that brings together people from all over the country, making Bogotá a multicultural city with a good representation of each region of Colombia. Bogotá offers visitors a vast variety of options for all kinds of activities related with culture, nature, history and nightlife. It boasts Colombia’s best museums, among them the world-renowned Gold Museum and an excellent gastronomic scene that is developing into an unmissable attraction. Having been the most important city since the Spanish colonial times, Bogotá is full of history and tales, where many of the most important moments of Colombia’s recent history have occurred. Also, the night life of Bogotá is amazing, its wide variety of bars and restaurants makes Bogotá a place to live and enjoy, and staying more than 3 nights, you’ll start to ‘get’ Bogota’s local vibe.

BOGOTÁ CITY TOUR

You will start the day with an early transfer to Paloquemao market after a light breakfast. This will be a great opportunity to be part of the hustle and bustle of the capital’s largest market, learn about rural culture and sample various local foods. After the market, you will be transferred to the Gold Museum, Bogotá's most famous museum and one of the most mesmerizing in South America, containing more than 56,000 pieces of gold and other materials from all of Colombia's major pre-Hispanic cultures. The museum will give you a great introduction and context for what comes later in our trip.

 

You will continue with a walking tour of the downtown colonial neighborhood of Bogotá, La Candelaria. La Candelaria is considered the city’s heart and soul; there you will see the architecture of the old houses, churches, and buildings of Spanish Colonial, Baroque, and art deco styles. Visit Bolívar Square and several important Colonial and Republican style buildings, including the Palace of Justice, Colombia Congress, Mayor’s office, and the Primary Cathedral of Bogota. You will visit the Botero Museum, a permanent exhibition of artwork by Fernando Botero, Colombia’s most famous artist, whose “oversized” art is instantly recognizable. The museum not only houses work by Botero but also other world-famous artists such as Dalí, Monet and Van Gogh.

 

You will walk a little bit through the narrow streets of La Candelaria while we admire the great collection of street art to finish our walking tour in one of the typical restaurants of the neighbourhood.

CHINGAZA NATIONAL PARK

Chingaza is located in the eastern mountain range of the Andes, northeast of Bogotá, it has 76,600 hectares and was one of the first areas in Colombia to be declared a natural national park. Chingaza is mainly known for its paramo ecosystem, which plays a very important role in the production of water for the 8 million Bogota citizens who live in the Capital. In Colombia, this ecosystem is responsible for the production of 80% of the country's drinking water, the reason why most of the páramos are protected.

 

Páramos are located above 11,000ft (3,400mts), very close to the clouds, which makes its climate very cold and humid most of the time, all the vegetation traps water from the fog and the rain creating creeks, rivers and lakes that finally are directed to big reservoirs to supply water to the cities. The importance of this ecosystem relies also on the uniqueness of its flora and fauna, being home to many endemic species of birds, mammals and vegetation.

 

ABOUT TODAY’S ACTIVITY

Today we will be transferred for about 1.5 hours to the entrance of Chingaza, here, depending on the group’s interests we can choose between different short hikes or simply take it easy in the car and have a panoramic tour of the páramo getting out of the car from time to time to feel the environment, enjoy the view and take some photos.

 

At this colder, high altitude climate we will have the chance to spot stunning birds such as the Blue-throated Starfrontlet (near-endemic) and the Amethyst-throated Sunangel hummingbirds, the raucous Brown-breasted Parakeet (endemic), diminutive Rufous-browed Conebill (near-endemic), the Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, shy Rufous Antpitta, Green-and-black Fruiteater and many more birds that are typical of the high-Andean ecosystems of Colombia. But this páramos is also home to many mammals such as deers, many rodens and the majestic Andean Bear or Spectacled Bear, the only bear in South America, its presence is a powerful indicator of the health of ecosystems and energizes the life of the forests when it knocks down bushes and branches to find food.

SALENTO

Salento, considered Quindio’s first modern settlement, is one of the most popular coffee villages to visit in the coffee region and it’s not hard to see why. Stroll the streets, lined with colourful facade houses, each built in the traditional coffee region style, using local Guadua bamboo structures, bright colours and with Spanish-era balconies. Take a walking tour of this historical town, learning about its coffee culture, brightly coloured houses, and its high quality handicrafts, before enjoying some down time with an award-winning local brew.

 

ABOUT TODAY’S ACTIVITY

Today, after arriving in Pereira, you will depart to Salento, one of the most beautiful and iconic towns in the coffee zone; you will enjoy its typical architecture, its colourful streets, restaurants, cafes, among which is Jesús Martín, where you will taste one of the best coffees in Salento and you will be surprised with a demonstration of art latte. After a visit to the town, "a few rounds of the traditional village game, 'Tejo', is highly entertaining and well worth seeking out to play with locals, usually enjoyed while having a few beers at the local corner shop. An old throwing game whose origins appear lost in the mists of time, Tejo involves throwing a metal puck or disc (the ‘tejo’) from a set distance onto a small sand-covered area in which some gunpowder targets are buried. Small explosions sound when the tejo hits the target, providing the buzz in this otherwise gentle rural game.

COCORA VALLEY

This stunning valley is home to the world’s tallest palm and Colombia’s national tree: the endemic Colombian Wax Palm. Spend time exploring the spectacular green mountain landscape of Cocora, named after the local pre-Hispanic chieftain’s daughter of the region, catching a traditional Willys Jeep to take you there from Salento. Today, after breakfast, we will be transferred to Valle del Cocora, as you get closer, you will begin to see how on both sides of the road, the majestic Palma de Cera starts to make a presence, one of the only species of palms in the world that managed to adapt to the altitude to adorn the mountains of Colombia. In Cocora Valley we will have the opportunity to choose between two beautiful hikes through the Andean forest to understand the importance of this ecosystem and enjoy the spectacular scenery.

COFFEE TOUR AT FINCA EL OCASO

This tour at the beautiful colonial coffee hacienda Ocaso is one where experts will guide you through the perfected process of producing their local specialty coffees. You will discover the important role that coffee has played in the cultural development of the region and much of Colombia. Experience each step in the growing process of coffee beans, starting at the moment the seeds are planted until the red berries are selected and harvested. Walk around the plantations and visit one of the fresh water springs on the farm. It’s the privileged climatic and geographic conditions here which result in the plants producing the sweetest of coffee beans. From here, observe the peeling, washing, drying and roasting processes required to produce a pound of Sustainable ‘Ocaso Coffee’. Round off the tour by tasting different coffee preparation methods, with different grinds and roasts.

FILANDIA

After the walk you will go to Filandía, a colorful coffee village of Filandia in the far northeast of Quindío. Your guide will explain the culture of this coffee-growing region and how small villages such as Filandia form the backbone of rural agricultural life. You’ll stroll the pretty streets of this quiet village before climbing the town’s observation tower for an impressive 360º view of the Quindio department and its small villages, as well as a view of the Central and Western Andes. You will have lunch in a delicious restaurant and continue towards Hacienda Venecia where we will spend the night.

Today we will fly to the UNESCO site of Cartagena de Indias – a stunning walled city and port that once was the main thoroughfare for most of the gold, silver and slaves that arrived and left the continent during the Spanish colonisation. The old city, which has the most extensive fortifications of the Spanish conquest in the Americas, was given UNESCO World Heritage Site status back in 1984 for its original architecture and cultural symbols, beautifully preserved and recently restored and typical of Spanish colonial times. Numerous attempts through history to take the city had failed, but it wasn’t until the famed Sir Francis Drake (considered a ruthless pirate by Colombian historians) attacked and took, ransacked and almost destroyed part of the city in 1586, did the Spanish crown invest in the impressive walls that still stand today.

 

The architecture ranges in antiquity - the older buildings, such as the cathedral, date back to the 16th century. All are prime examples of colonial times, with their intricate woodwork, small balconies, terracotta roofs and brightly coloured facades. The tour takes you through Isla de Manga or Barrio Manga where the Spanish ‘casonas’ can be viewed - immense and ornate mansions - many of them declared national monuments. The tour continues to the Popa Monastery that has panoramic views of the city both old and new. You will also visit Saint Philip’s castle (Castillo de San Felipe) which is regarded as the greatest military fortress that the Spanish have ever built. From here you’ll be taken back to the walled city, along the stone streets and plazas, soaking up the atmosphere which is undoubtedly Caribbean in its style. The rest of the evening will be at leisure where local culinary and cultural delights can be found wandering the intimate streets and beautiful plazas of this living museum.

ABOUT ROSARIO ISLANDS

While Cartagena's city beaches may be nothing to write home about, the string of islands - the protected Islas del Rosario - just a few miles offshore are another story. The Islas del Rosario are picture-postcard perfection with their white sand and turquoise seas. Today you'll enjoy some Caribbean island hopping on a private boat to some of our favorite beach spots with optional kayaking or snorkeling to get a close up of the coral reef ecosystem that make up this national park.

Today is a day to enjoy and explore the beautiful streets and cafes of Cartagena by yourself. A list of restaurants will be given to you so you can After returning to the hotel or continuing to walk the tight streets of the walled city, you’ll meet your guide for a farewell dinner, but not before enjoying the beautiful sunset of Cartagena from the comfort of the Café del Mar.

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