21 Days Hidden Treasures of Colombia

 

Hidden Treasures of Colombia

21 Days /20 Nights

Colombia – a breath taking mystic country with incredible biodiversity and abundance, a country full of colourful contrasts, vibrant energy, tropical sounds and beautiful landscapes. Explore the natural and cultural treasures of Colombia starting in Bogota – the Andean capital of Colombia – follow its colonial past.

Visit the unique gold and emerald museums and see the city from the famous Monserrate mountain. Experience the ancient sacred indigenous lake of Guatavita where you’ll get to know the legend of the gold of El Dorado, then visit the world´s biggest underground cathedral in the old salt mine in Zipaquira.

Get to know the hidden treasures of Colombia’s coffee triangle starting in Armenia, where you’ll get to know the art of making coffee and the delicious cuisine of the region. See the national tree of Colombia in the Andes: The iconic wax palm, hidden in a valley far apart from mass tourism.

Go on in the direction of Manizales and bath in Colombia’s most famous hot springs in Santa Rosa de Cabal, from where you have an amazing view on a waterfall and its surroundings. On the next day we visit the biggest private orchid farm of Colombia with more than 400 varieties of orchids. Further along the Cauca river is the cultural heritage village of Jericó located that is famous for its beautiful chapels and its well conserved historic centre.

Medellín – the City of Eternal Spring – has gone through a transformation from one of the most dangerous cities in the world into a fascinating melting pot of cultures. Here you get to know its dark past with Pablo Escobar and the infamous neighbourhood ‘Comuna 13’ but also its transformation into one of the most innovative cities in the world. Try all kind of exotic fruits on Medellin’s biggest market, the ‘Minorista’.

Fly to the Caribbean coast and discover Santa Marta, the second city the Spaniards founded in Latin America. Here you learn more about Colombia’s history and its famous ‘Libertador’ Simon Bolivar as well as the colonial centre.

Enjoy some of best white sandy beaches the Caribbean Sea visiting the Tayrona National, known as one of the top nature destinations on the Caribbean Coast of South America and explore ancient indigenous trails in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Then go off the beaten track and discover the natural reserves around Santa Marta that barely get to see any tourists. Paddle along the rivers in the mangroves and enter a UNESCO biosphere reserve.

Experience the beauty of Cartagena de Indias and its colonial atmosphere that brings you closer to the Caribbean Soul and learn more about the colourful colonial history of the city. Discover the Caribbean National Park Islas del Rosario and enjoy white sandy beaches when snorkeling through coral reefs.

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Explore the colonial heart of Bogotá
  • Enjoy the view on Bogota from Monserrate mountain
  • Hike around the nature reserve Laguna de Guatavita
  • Visit the famous Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira
  • Ride above Medellín in a cable car observing the cities transformation
  • Enjoy the beautiful coffee village of Jerico
  • Follow the footprints of Simon Bolivar and enjoy the colonial centre of Santa Marta
  • Explore the famous Caribbean Tayrona National Park with breathtaking beaches
  • Get to know colonial Cartagena – one of the best colonial destinations in South America
  • Explore the Caribbean National Park Islas del Rosario and snorkel in crystal clear water•
  •  In case of unforeseen circumstances and to assure the passenger’s comfort and safety the itinerary might be subjectof change

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ITINERARY

Included

  • Travel insurance
  • 3 Domestic flights (Bogotá – Armenia /
  • Medellín – Santa Marta / Cartagena – Bogotá)
  • Private airport transfers
  • Private transport (as mentioned in the program)
  • Bilingual guide
  • Meals as mentioned in the programme
  • Accommodation (20 nights – double room)
  • All Entrance Fees included
  • Water & Snacks
  • Taxes

Accommodation

Bogotá

Hotel la Opera*****
www.hotelopera.com.co

Hotel Casa Deco ***
www.hotelcasadeco.com

 

Circasia (Quindío)

Finca Hotel Estrella del Monte
http://www.hotelestrelladelmonte.com/

 

Manizales (Caldas)

Hacienda Venecia
http://www.haciendavenecia.com/

 

Jericó

Hotel El Despertar
http://eldespertarhotel.com/

Hotel El Porton Plaza
http://www.hotelportonplazajerico.com/

 

Medellín

Hotel Boutique la Campana ***
www.lacampanahotelboutique.com

Hotel Park 10 *****
www.hotelpark10.com.co

 

Santa Marta

Hotel Boutique Casa del Farol****
www.lacasadelfarol.com

Hotel Boutique Don Pepe*****
www.hotelboutiquedonpepe.com

 

Tayrona

Hotel Boutique Villa Maria****
http://www.kalihotels.com/en/hotel-villa-maria

 

Cartagena

Hotel Boutiqué Tres Banderas***
www.hotel3banderas.com

Hotel Boutiqué Bantu*****
www.bantuhotel.com

Day 1: Arrival in Bogotá

On arrival in Bogotá we will transfer you from the international airport El Dorado to your hotel.

Hotel la Opera*****/Hotel Casa Deco ***

Day 2: Bogotá – Monserrate Hill and the colonial heart oft he city (B)

Experience Colombia´s capital on a guided walking tour of the colonial centre. The tour starts with a ride in a cable car to the famous Monserrate hill. From 3170 m altitude, you can view a large part of this enormous city. The tour continues from the colonial neighbourhood La Candelaria to Plaza Bolívar where you get to know the city’s rich and colourful history strolling through the narrow colonial streets before finishing at the Gold Museum, where you get an insight of the variety of pre-Hispanic cultures and the famous El Dorado legend. Enjoy the afternoon on your own in the famous Candelaria district close to your hotel.

Hotel la Opera*****/Hotel Casa Deco ***

Day 3: Excursion to the Guatavita Lake and the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira (B, L)

This day combines Andean nature and cultural experiences visiting two of the most characteristic touristic destinations of Bogota´s surroundings. In the morning you get to know the famous lake Guatavita. Since the days of the Spaniards the Guatavita Lake represents the origin of the “El Dorado“ legend. According to the legend of “El Dorado“ the lake is filled with artefacts made of gold by the indigenous tribe of the Muisca. 500 years ago, the tribe used to live in the region and dropped the treasures into the lake during their sacred ancient rituals. From there, you will head towards the tiny town of Zipaquira. The wealth of the Muisca indigenous did not derive from the gold but the salt ; that is why there has been salt mines in the area of Zipaquira until this day. In a former tunnel of the salt mine Colombian engineers built the biggest underground cathedral of the world. The place is unique and one of the main touristic attractions of Bogota. In the early evening you will be back at your hotel in Bogota.

Hotel la Opera*****/Hotel Casa Deco ***

Day 4: From Bogotá to Armenia (B)

In the morning you will fly directly to Armenia that is located in Colombia‘s coffee region. Enjoy a beatiful view from a coffee plantation on the stunning, ever-green landscape

Finca Hotel Estrella del Monte

Day 5: Coffee & Barista Workshop La Morelia (B)

Immerse yourself in the interesting history of the Colombian coffee culture. Explore the coffee plantation, get to know the numerous types and the variety of Colombian coffee and visit cultural laboratories. Observe the different steps of coffee production. In the end, try the delicious hot drink during a coffee tasting and learn how to prepare an excellent cup of coffee during professional a barista workshop.

Finca Hotel Estrella del Monte

Day 6: Culinary Colombia– Cooking class with Doña Gloria (B, L)

After breakfast you will drive through the picturesque countryside to the Finca Rincon del Molinillo and meet Doña Gloria. The passionate cook combines in her cooking class traditional culture of the Andean coffee region and the influence of other country parts which makes this visit to a unique culinary experience. Spend the afternoon in the park of the Finca

Finca Hotel Estrella del Monte

Day 7: La Carbonera – Wax palms off the beaten track (B, L)

Today you discover the characteristic wax palms of the Colombian Andes. The Palma de Cera is the national tree of Colombia and can only be found in this part of the country. Explore the Cocora valley with its famous wax palms and the Nevado Mountains as marvelous backdrop. Drive through the valley in a pick-up truck into its undiscovered part far away from mass tourism. In an idyllic location you will find the Finca Carbonera, a hundred years old farmer’s house. After a traditional lunch you will continue your journey to Manizales. Spend the night in the Hacienda Venecia close to Manizales.

Hotel Hacienda Venecia

Day 8: The hot springs of Santa Rosa de Cabal (B)

Today you relax in the hot springs of Santa Rosa de Cabal, located at the foothills of the Nevado National Park. They are most likely the country’s most famous hot springs that have view on a waterfall with several baisins with different temperatures and sulphur content. Later on you will return to the Hacienda Venecia.

Hotel Hacienda Venecia

Day 9: Visit of the Orchid Farm Finca La Romelia : (B, L, D)

Explore the biggest private orchid collection of Colombia. The owners dedicated their lives to collect and cultivate an immense variety of around 400 different orchids. Walk through the beautiful garden passing native forests and enjoy a traditional lunch before we continue our journey along the Cauca river. After about two more hours we reach our hotel in Jericó.

Hotel Boutique El Despertar / Hotel El Porton Plaza

Day 10: Jericó – Colombia’s cultural heritage (B, D)

Travel to the precious coffee village of Jericó – already listed as Cultural Heritage Village with the 16 most beautiful chapels of Antioquia in its town centre. Take a guided tour of the historic centre with its traditional facades and the local “carriel” workshops. These special leather accessories are handmade in Jericó and quiet the best place to get a different Colombian gift for family and friends. Try the famous “Luisa” pastries and unique cardamom sweets of the region. Spend the night in the historic centre of Jericó.

Hotel Boutique El Despertar / Hotel El Porton Plaza

Day 11: Medellín – History of Transformation(B)

In the morning, a private driver will bring you to the airport , from where you will head off to Medellín and get to know the city on our extraordinary tour about the city’s past and present. Sadly, Pablo Escobar Gaviria is still the most famous son of the city of Medellin. During the 1980s, Escobar controlled huge parts of the international cocaine traffic and violence in Medellin was at its peak the early 90s, when the hunt for Pablo Escobar until his death in 1993 took place. Learn why he is still one of the most controversial persons in Colombia’s history and where he left his marks. In the year 2002 though Medellín began its huge change. Local politicians started to invest heavily in infrastructure and public education and today the “City of Eternal Spring” is one of the most innovative metropolises in the world. Learn more about the transformation of this fascinating city that became a totally different one and is now the favorite city for the vast majority of Colombians.

Hotel Boutique la Campana ***/Hotel Park 10 *****

Day 12: Medellín – Local markets & urban graffiti art (B)

Today explore the centre of Medellín and visit one of its typical local market areas. Stroll through stalls brimming with fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers at Medellín’s local market “La Minorista”. Try exotic fruits and interact with the local vendors bargaining for a good price. Explore the world of the local markets and discover the tiny corridors full of flavors and exotic products and typical Colombian food. You will taste a variety of delicious tropical fruits and finish your trip with a 100% pure fruit juice.

After lunch we continue to the Favelas of Medellin. The City of Medellín offers a great variety of urban arts due to the city’s transformation over the last 20 years. Nowadays, the city is so full of countless street art expressions that the local authorities declared urban art a cultural landmark of Medellín. Graffiti is not only about strong artistic and cultural elements, it is a way of political expression. See the graffiti of the Comuna 13 guided by some of the local artists themselves. This tour gives you an insight on history and daily life in this area and the importance of street art for social communication and identity.

Hotel Boutique la Campana ***/Hotel Park 10 *****

Day 13: Caribbean Coast – the colonial Santa Marta (B)

In the morning, you are going to leave Medellin to fly to Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast, where you will learn more about the history and independence of Colombia. On this tour, you will visit the most important historical places of the city and learn about the life of Simon Bolivar, “the Liberator”. We start with a visit of La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, the place where Simon Bolivar passed away in December 1830. Afterwards enter the Bolivarian Museum and learn about the most important events in Simon Bolivar’s life and the historical context of Colombia during that time. Continue to the center of Santa Marta and visit to the oldest cathedral in the country. We finish with a walk through the historical third street, visiting the boardwalk of the city with its impressive buildings and monuments.

Hotel Boutique Casa del Farol****/Hotel Boutique Don Pepe*****

Day 14: National Park Tayrona (B, L)

With its white sandy beaches surrounded by rocky atolls and tropical forests, washed off by the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, the Tayrona Park is one of the most impressive destinations of Colombia. It offers a variety of trails that infiltrate the rainforest and archaeological sites, which were of great importance for pre- Columbian Cultures. After arriving at the entrance of the national park, we begin the hike from Canaveral through the tropical forest and along some beaches up to Arrecifes (approx. 1 hour) and continue to paradise like beaches of Arenillas, Piscina and Cabo San Juan (approx. 1 hour), where we have time to enjoy a swim in the sea.

Hotel Boutique Villa Maria

Day 15: Eco-lodge close to Tayrona National Park (B)

Enjoy the day in an idyllic atmosphere in a comfortable hotel close to the National Park Tayrona.

Hotel Boutique Villa María

Day 16: Nature reserve Taironaka (B, L)

Today we are going to the Natural reserve Taironaka, a small nature paradise on the banks of the river Don Diego. The former indigenous village still has the ways and terraces of the Tayrona Civilization and is frequented by its descendants, the Kogi. After getting to the river you will drive upstream with a motorboat into the nature reserve. Here you will visit a small Tayrona Museum and get to know the history and culture of this interesting civilization. Then explore the historical terrace constructions of the Tayrona. Now you will paddle up the river yourself in a kayak until its mouth at the Caribbean coast After lunch on the beach a motorboat brings you back to Taironaka

Hotel Boutique Villa

Day 17: Nature reserve La Caoba (B, L)

After breakfast you will be picked up at your hotel and travel towards the foothills of the famous Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The Eco-Lodge La Caoba was first founded as a natural retreat and a private natural reserve in 2007 by a biologist couple from Germany and Colombia in order to create a bank of plants, hence contributing to the preservation of the natural environment. On a visit to La Caoba, enjoy the tropical environment, stroll through the nature reserve and explore the impressive garden of medicinal plants collected by the owners. They have collected an impressive variety of more than 300 catalogued species, regional and exotic trees and protected animals. Visit the butterfly house, take a bath in the clear river and enjoy one of the unique and less visited spots around Santa Marta.

Hotel Boutique Casa del Farol****/Hotel Boutique Don Pepe*****

Day 18: Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta (B, L)

After breakfast you take a drive through the breath-taking landscape on the coastal highway past Barranquilla. On the way to Cartagena is the nature reserve ‘Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta’ located, one of the most important lagoon complexes of Latin America and meanwhile a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Explore the lagoon with a motor-equipped Canoe and visit lake dwelling villages Nueva Venecia, Buenavista and the labyrinth of mangrove forest. The people here live from traditional fishing amid a unique lakeland. Here you support directly the cooperative of the indigenous fishers and contribute to the preservation of this unique landscape. You will arrive Cartagena in the early evening and spend the night in an atmospheric boutique in the historic center.

Hotel Boutique Tres Banderas***/ Hotel Boutique Bantu*****

Day 19: Colonial Cartagena (B)

Cartagena de Indias is one of the most beautiful cities in America. Its fascinating history make it a place of big importance and colonial highlights. The City-Tour will start visiting the Cerro de La Popa, a former Augustinian convent rising 150 meters above the city, where you will have the best view of Cartagena. Thereafter, visit the largest military construction ever built by the Spaniards in their colonies, the Fort of San Felipe de Barajas. Then, head to the historic centre, where you can visit the plazas, churches and the most beautiful and important streets and buildings of the city.

Hotel Boutique Tres Banderas***/ Hotel Boutique Bantu*****

Day 20: National Park Islas de Rosario (B)

The Islas del Rosario are a crystal clear water paradise, ideal for watching colourful coral reefs and marine wildlife in the shallow ocean. Located only 45 km from Cartagena Bay, this National Park protects unique underwater ecosystems, mainly coral reefs, inhabited by a multitude of invertebrate species and a big variety of fish. Another highlight of this pristine environment are the beautiful beaches that invite to relax in the sun. A speedboat will take you from the historic center of Cartagena to Isla Grande (1 hour), where you will a typical lunch. Arriving on the island you will have time to go swimming, snorkelling or kayaking.

Hotel Boutique Tres Banderas***/ Hotel Boutique Bantu*****

Day 21: From Cartagena to Bogotá (B)

Enjoy the morning in the colonial centre of Cartagena before flying back to Bogota’s International Airport El Dorado.

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