Colombia Gems, A unique 12 days experience that takes you deep into the unique natural landscapes and historical- modern cultures of Colombia. We will go from Bogota through the star-speckled skies of the Tatacoa desert and travel on through spectacular mountain scenery to San Agustín where fascinating pre-Columbian statues dot the fertile countryside of cattle farms and coffee.We will continue by road to Popayán, a restored Spanish colonial city of charming white colonial buildings, from where you can visit the villages of the Guambiano indians. Medellín, now one of the most exciting cities on the continent for gastronomy and arts, is also part of this itinerary. We will finish in Cartagena, with its history of pirates and modern day arts scene.
Day 1. Arrival in Bogota.
Arrival at El Dorado airport in Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia at 2600 meters (8530.1837 feet) above sea level and which is quickly becoming one of the Latin American urban highlights with more than 7 million inhabitants. Check in at your hotel in the city located in the old historical district of La Candelaria surrounded by plenty of cafes, museums and churches. (No meals)
Day 2 . Bogota
We begin our second day with a fueling breakfast at the hotel, then we’re off to enjoy a tour of the city, starting with a ride on the world-famous Bogota cable car. You will enjoy breathtaking views of the city and surrounding nature as the cars climb 3160 meters to the peak of Cerro Monserrate (10,367 feet). We will then walk through the historical suburb of La Candelaria, with its old churches and cobblestoned streets, surrounded by colonial architecture, baroque churches, art deco houses, and street art. We will visit Plaza Bolivar and its stunning Cathedral. We will also visit the Museo del Oro (The Gold Museum) to see the most iconic and amazing gold artifacts of Colombia, and Fernando Botero’s permanent exhibition at the Banco de la República. For lunch you will be on your own and provided with ample time to explore and sample the incredible tastes of the city. We will drive for about 1 hour and a half to Zipaquira. Dinner not included.
Day 3. Zipaquira- Tatacoa Desert
After breakfast at the hotel we drive for about 1 hour to visit one of the Colombia’s landmarks, the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira, a huge underground salt cavern almost 200-meters below ground.This amazing structure dates back to pre-Columbian cultures and was used as a place of worship before converting into a Catholic Church. Get stunned at the towering religious effigies carved by local artists out of the very rock itself as you wander amongst the monolithic caverns. Lunch on your own and time to explore the town of Zipaquira where you will find interesting historic buildings and a charming street market. Right after that, we will drive to El Dorado Airport to catch our flight to Neiva, located in the valley of the Magdalena River in south central Colombia.
Day 4. San Agustin.
We will have a walking tour to enjoy the dawn in the Tatacoa Desert, we will explore the dunes and rock formations surrounded by tropical ecosystems, we will roam among the tall cactus plants and spot wildlife species such as scorpions, turtles, eagles, and wildcats. After breakfast, we will drive 6 hours to San Agustin with a few stops along the way (coffee, fruits, view point of the Magdalena River and more). After lunch we will reach San Agustin and we will have an exploration tour in the afternoon by foot. Overnight at standard hotel.
Day 5. Archaeological Park of San Agustín- Popayan
After an early breakfast, we will visit The Archaeological Park of San Agustín, this UNESCO World Heritage Site which was created in 1935 and is a perfect place for history and nature lovers. We will find about 500 impressive pre-Columbian statues (they can go up to 7 meters high) and sacred tombs surrounded by a very green tropical valley. Visit to Mesitas A, B, C, the ceremonial source of Lavapatas, the Alto de Lavapatas and finally the Bosque de las Estatuas. After lunch, we will drive for about 7 hours to Popayan.
Overnight at Popayan.
Day 6. Popayan-Silva-Cali
Breakfast and we set off on a walking tour in the Capital of the department of Cauca, Popayán, called the “White City”, possibly the most beautiful colonial city of Colombia. Popayán is also known for its religious fervor, particularly during Easter Week, as well as its gastronomy. We will visit the cloister of San Francisco, the Caldas Park, the sundial and the Humilladero bridge. After lunch, we will drive 60 kms to Silvia where we will visit the the artisan district, beyond we will see the Guambianos Indians who still wear their colourful costume, a traditional dark blue poncho and distinctive black hats, going about the business of their daily lives in gorgeous landscapes of bright green hills, waterfalls and lakes. We will drive to Cali for about 2 hours for overnight.
Day 7. Cali- Salento.
Breakfast and we will visit Cali by both car and walking. We will enjoy the best panoramic view of Cali from the main hills of Cristo Rey and Sebastián de Belalcázar, Then we will tour the Cali River and the Gato de Tejada (Cat Park). After this interesting tour, we will drive about 5 hours to Salento, a stunning village with quaint streets where we can admire the best of ‘paisa’ architecture and its colours. Lunch en route. Overnight in Salento at centric located hotel.
Day 8. Valle de Cocora- Pereira- Cartagena.
After breakfast at the hotel you will visit the amazing Cocora Valley, inside Los Nevados National Natural Park, home to the national tree and symbol of Colombia, the Quindío wax palm, these slender trees
stand at an impressive 60 meters. In this 12 kilometers walk we will have a big chance of spotting the largest flying bird in the world, the Andean Condor as well as the Long Tailed Sylph Hummingbird and the Blue crowned Motmot . Lunch at local restaurant and drive to Pereira to catch our flight to Cartagena by the end of the afternoon. Overnight in Cartagena, dinner not included.
Day 9. Cartagena
Breafkast and we will go and explore one of the most iconic cities of the Caribbean. Visit the Convent La Popa, San Felipe Castle and the working-class district of Gestemani.Balance of day to relax.
Overnight in Cartagena.
Day 10. Cartagena
Breakfast. As optional: Transfer to the tourist dock of Cartagena. Boat trip to Corales del Rosario National Park, you can witness a stunning 27 small coral island archipelago with turquoise and blue waters. We will navigate through the Cartagena Bay passing between the Bateria de San José and Fuerte de San Fernando Spanish forts. After that we will visit the Oceanarium Aquarium or snorkel for an hour and will go for a tasty lunch at Playa Blanca on Isla Barú. Boat ride back by 4pm to Cartagena’s dock. Overnight in Cartagena.
Day 11. Cartagena-Bogota
Transfer to the airport. End of tour.
All excursions as enlisted.
English speaking native tour guide or interpreter
All air, land & boat transfers
Accommodation at standard hotels.
Meals as enlisted (B,L,D)
Travel insurance (mandatory)
Alcoholic and soft drinks
Spending money – budget for meals, snacks, drinks, laundry, tips and any extras