Day 01: Arrive Bogotá
Upon arrival at Bogotá International Airport, we are cordially met and transferred to our hotel located in the colonial part of the city. The Spanish and Islamic styles exhibit a taste of 19th Century style with large houses artistically designed “zaguanes” (entrance corridors), interior patios and massive walls. One detects an influence of Neoclassicism or as it is locally called, Republican.
Overnight: Hotel Casa Deco, Bogotá (3 nights) (D)
Day 02: Bogotá
We begin our Colombian experience with a half day tour of Bogotá concentrating first on the rich and historical colonial part called La Candelaria, followed by the International Centre, the world famous Gold Museum (closed on Mondays), the Botero Museum and Bolivar Square. The tour culminates with a cable car ride to Montserrat Mountain where we get a majestic view of the landscape of Bogotá. Afternoon is free to enjoy shopping or walking around the maze of colonial streets. (B, D)
Day 03: Bogotá
A full day excursion takes us to Zipaquira, where we visit the unique Salt Cathedral. After the tour of the Cathedral, we continue through a picturesque Andean landscape. After lunch at a typical restaurant, we continue for the famous Guatavita Lagoon where we get to hear the interesting myth related to the lagoon. Late afternoon we return to Bogotá. (B, L)
Day 04: Bogotá / Neiva / San Agustin
In the morning we are transferred to the airport for a short flight to Neiva, which is located close to the Magdalena River between the East and Central Cordilleras. Upon arrival, we are transported along the Magdalena River and cross the Tatacoa Desert to reach San Agustín. After a brief siesta, we take a detailed tour of the San Agustín Archaeological Park*, the largest group of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America that stands in a wild, spectacular landscape. Gods and mythical animals are skilfully represented in styles ranging from abstract to realist. These works of art display the creativity and imagination of a northern Andean culture that flourished from the 1st to the 8th century.
Overnight: Hacienda Anacaona, San Agustin (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 05: San Agustin
Another day into the history and culture as we explore Isnos with its “Alto de las Piedras”, the second most important archaeological park in this area. Here we find the largest statue at 7m in height followed by the “Alto de los Idolos” which contains tombs lined with stone slabs painted in different colours. Afterwards we continue to visit the two impressive cascades of “Salto de Mortiño” and “Salto de Bordones”. (B, D)
Day 06: San Agustin / Tierradentro
In the morning a scenic over land journey gets us to the National Archaeological Park of Tierradentro*. Several monumental statues of human figures can be seen in the park, which also contains many hypogea dating from the 6th to the 10th century. These huge underground tombs (some burial chambers are up to 12 m wide) are decorated with motifs that reproduce the internal decor of homes of the period. They reveal the social complexity and cultural wealth of a pre-Hispanic society in the northern Andes.
Overnight: Hotel El Refugio, Tierrandentro (1 night) (B, D)
Day 07: Tierradentro / Popayan
After breakfast we continue to visit the surrounding sites. From El Aguacuate, which is the most remote burial site, we have the best views over this breathtaking landscape. Before midday another beautiful scenic over land trip leads us to the colonial city of Popayan, famous for its chalk-white facades, which give the city the name of the White City.
Overnight: Hotel La Plazuela, Popayan (1 night) (B, D)
Day 08: Popayan / Coffee Region
This morning we enjoy a short walking tour of Popayan to soak in the local atmosphere before head out to Silvia, a small mountain town just outside of Popayan. Each Tuesday the Guambiano people, one of the most traditional indigenous groups in Colombia, hold their traditional market and sell fruits, vegetables and handicrafts. Afterward we continue getting back to the Pan-American Highway and head north passing Cali to the wonderful lush coffee region of the country. In the afternoon we have time at leisure to enjoy the warm pool and jacuzzi of our coffee hacienda.
Overnight: Hotel Bosque del Saman, Coffee Region (3 nights) (B, D)
Day 09: Coffee Region
We explore the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia*. An exceptional example of a sustainable and productive cultural landscape that is unique and representative of a tradition that is a strong symbol for coffee growing areas worldwide - encompasses six farming landscapes, which include 18 urban centres on the foothills of the western and central ranges of the Andes Mountains in the west of the country. It reflects a centennial tradition of coffee growing in small plots in the high forest and the way farmers have adapted cultivation to difficult mountain conditions. The urban areas, mainly situated on the relatively flat tops of hills above sloping coffee fields, are characterized by the architecture of the Antioquian colonization with Spanish influence. Building materials were, and remain in some areas, cob and pleated cane for the walls with clay tiles for the roofs. We walk through a coffee farm learning about coffee production. In the afternoon we visit the Botanical Garden of Quindio with its huge butterfly house. (B, D)
Day 10: Coffee Region
We spend another day in rural Colombia, as we visit Salento, a typical village famous for its diverse landscapes. Here we have a good opportunity to befriend with the locals before we take an afternoon walk or horse ride into the enchanting Cocora Valley. (B, D)
Day 11: Coffee Region / Cartagena
After breakfast we are transferred to Armenia or Pereira Airport for our flight to Cartagena via Bogotá. Upon arrival, we are met and transferred to our hotel, acozy colonial structured property. In the afternoon we explore the Port, Fortresses and Group of Monuments of Cartagena*. Situated in a bay in the Caribbean Sea, Cartagena has the most extensive fortifications in South America. A system of zones divides the city into three neighbourhoods: San Pedro, with the cathedral and many Andalusian-style palaces; San Diego, where merchants and the middle class lived; and Gethsemani, the 'popular quarter'. We will visit the heart of the colonial part to include also the modern parts of Bocagrande and El Laguite, the fortress San Felipe and the monastery La Popa. Colombia is known for its emeralds and time permitting, we also get an orientation of emeralds, and how they are prepared.
Overnight: Hotel Monterrey, Cartagena (1 night) (B, D)
Day 12: Cartagena / Mompos
After breakfast, we drive south through rural areas of the Caribbean until Palenque, a small village where the black rebellion against the white started in Colombia. In order to protect themselves, they “invented” their own language which is still spoken here. From there we continue via Magangue where we and our transport cross the Magdalena River in ancient freight and passenger ships. From that “side” of the river we feel moved to an epoch 500 years ago. The sleepy Mompos has already enchanted us.
Overnight: Hotel La Casa Amarilla, Mompos (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 13: Mompos
We spend the entire day exploring the Historic Centre of Santa Cruz de Mompox*. Founded in 1540 on the banks of the River Magdalena, Mompox played a key role in the Spanish colonization of northern South America. From the 16th to the 19th century the city developed parallel to the river, with the main street acting as a dyke. The historic centre has preserved the harmony and unity of the urban landscape. Most of the buildings are still used for their original purposes, providing an exceptional picture of what a Spanish colonial city was like. (B, D)
Day 14: Mompos / Cartagena
After breakfast we return to Cartagena where we arrive in the afternoon. The rest of the afternoon and evening at leisure to enjoy the last night in Cartagena.
Overnight: Hotel Monterrey, Cartagena (1 night) (B, D)
Day 15: Depart Cartagena
After our incredible journey of marvelling at Colombia's cultural and natural heritage, we are transferred to the airport. (B)