Day 1 - Bogota
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Colombia. With a wealth of cosy cafes, interesting museums and old churches, cosmopolitan Bogota is full of surprises. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 2pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where your group meeting will take place. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Afterwards, your leader will take you on an orientation walk in downtown Bogota. You're then free to explore as you please. Perhaps take the gondola up the Cerro de Monserrate, where a 17th-century church overlooks the town. Museo Nacional is a good option if you're interested in learning about life in Colombia before and after the Spanish conquest.
Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time for the welcome meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception.
Day 2 - Salento
Make an early start and join your leader on a morning visit to Paloquemao Market. The market is divided into distinct areas: flowers; fruit, vegetables, and herbs; and meat and fish. Take the opportunity to buy some exotic local fruits like feijoa, araza, guanabana, maracuya and lulo – many of which are seldom found outside of Colombia. Later, take a short flight to Armenia and transfer to the beautiful village of Salento. Take the time to stroll through its quaint streets and admire the colours of 'paisa' architecture at its best. For some local food, trout is the way to go. There are many ways to enjoy it, but it's most often served with a rich, garlicky cheese sauce. Colombia's national sport, tejo, is a popular pastime in Salento. Think bocce with gunpowder! If you're game, you'll have the option to visit the local tejo hall and give it a go.
Day 3 - Coffee Estancia
Travel by jeep out to the magnificent Cocora Valley, home of the towering wax palm (Colombia's national tree). Spend the morning walking among the region's incredible scenery, perhaps hiking up to Acaime Reserve where colourful hummingbirds feed. The hike to Acaime (approximately 5 hours) is quite strenuous, with some steep and slippery sections, so you'll need good walking shoes, as well as plenty of water and snacks. A generous boxed lunch will be provided. If you'd rather take it easy, you can explore the valley as you please, then take a jeep back to town. Later, travel deep into Colombia's coffee region for a two-night stay in a traditional coffee estancia, where you'll have a unique opportunity to learn first hand about this wonderful bean.
Day 4 - Coffee Estancia
Thanks to its tropical altitude and fertile volcanic soil, Colombia is one of the world’s largest coffee producers. You’ll get to know this addictive little bean a whole lot better on a guided tour of the coffee plantation and processing centre. Dig into the history of the plant, learning the inside story of the industry that's long buoyed the country's economy. See how the beans are grown and harvested, processed, dried, roasted and ground, and then sample firsthand what all the fuss is about. Try different types of coffee grains and get a lesson on preparing different types of coffees, finishing it all off with a steaming cup of freshly brewed joe. Afterwards, relax amid the estancia's beautiful surrounds of sloping green hills and valleys.
Day 5 - Medellin
Today you will travel via comfortable public bus (approximately 6 hours) to Medellin. Your leader will take you on an orientation walk of this beautiful city. Along the way, learn a little more about the town's interesting recent history. Having spent the 1980s and 90s with an international reputation as one of the world's most dangerous cities (thanks to Pablo Escobar's infamous drug cartel), Medellin has turned itself around to become one of the most exciting cities in South America. And with some of the country's finest museums, parks and architecture (as well as a much safer and comfortable atmosphere now) it's easy to see why its popularity is increasing.
Day 6 - Medellin
Today you'll enjoy breathtaking views of Medellin and its surrounds during a cable car ride up to Santa Elena, a beautiful town nestled in the mountains just east of the city. Sail up the mountain over brick houses, watching as the corrugated metal roofs give way to vistas of green valleys and forested peaks. Thanks to the elevation, things are usually a little cooler up here. Santa Elena is also known for its extravagant arrangements of colourful flowers, called silletas, which the local farmers are fond of strapping to their backs and parading through the city come August's annual flower festival. Back in Medellin, you might want to search out one of the city's lively salsa bars (many count Medellin's nightlife as the best in Colombia).
Day 7 - Medellin
Enjoy a free day getting to know Medellin. Visit the Museo de Antioquia to see some of Botero's famous works or get more modern at the beautiful Museo de Arte Moderno. Alternatively, venture further afield on an optional day trip to Santa Fe de Antioquia. This 16th-century township has maintained much of its colonial-era charm, its narrow streets and leafy central plazas providing plenty of places to relax away from the midday heat. The Bridge of the West, Metropolitan Cathedral and House of Two Palms are certain to impress, and the plaza is also home to a daily market where vendors sell various varieties of locally-grown Tamarind product (be sure to try a few samples). One of the greatest pleasures here is simply pottering through the town's cobblestone streets and taking in the local scene.
Day 8 - Cartagena
Fly to Cartagena (approximately 1 hour). Cartagena is one of South America's most historic cities. The leader will take you on a short orientation walk around the hotel. Afterwards, we recommend you explore the old city by yourselves, particularly the inner walled town, is the main attraction – it's packed with beautiful churches, monasteries, plazas and mansions. This town, founded in 1533 by Spaniard Don Pedro de Heredia, was a major centre of early Spanish settlement in the Americas. Its gold and silver exports made it a popular target for pirates, and its walled fort (now on UNESCO's World Heritage list) was built to protect both shipping and the slave trade. Perhaps visit San Felipe de Barajas Castle, the largest of the fortresses, or head out of town for a mud bath at Volcan de Lodo El Totumo. The nearby group of tiny coral islands and stunning expanses of Playa Blanca (White Beach) reveal the hidden beauty of Colombia's Caribbean coast. Maybe end this adventure people-watching in the heart of Getsemaní, Plaza de la Trinidad, where kids play football and singers strum their guitars.
Day 9 - Cartagena
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
Flights, Travel Insurance, Visa, Vaccinations or Personal Spending Money