Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, Salento, Cocora Valley, Armenia, Filandia
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Let the culture of Colombia embrace you, and the contrasts of the country reveal themselves during your custom-tailored exploration of colonial charms and high-rise luxuries, beautiful emerald jungles and white sand beaches. Contemporary murals represent the pulse of today’s culture draped across walls that span the centuries. Iridescent hummingbirds enjoy the nectar of tropical fruit and cable cars traverse the skyline above the network of city streets. From the countryside to urban museums,...
Bogota – Arrive in Colombia’s Captivating and Bustling Capital City
Bogota bustles in the cobblestone square of the Plaza de Bolivar as a youthful ambiance emanates from the eight different universities spread around the cityscape. The emerald forest that overtakes Cerro de Monserrate rises above the northeast corner of the city to overlook the edge of the La Candelaria, Bogota’s oldest neighborhood. A funicular travels between the trees to reach the top of the summit as the mountains surround the edges of the sprawling urban expanse dotted with luxurious high-rises and murals that wash over the old walls. Your flight lands at El Dorado International Airport where your private transfer will meet you at baggage claim. Your hotel offers the best of contemporary luxuries inside the cozy ambiance inspired by colonial colors and artistry.
Exotic flowers endemic to the Colombian countryside radiate down the halls and in the lobby, with abundant pinks, purples, and reds contrasting with the terracotta walls. The surrounding city offers a glimpse into the cultural amalgamation of Bogota, with Colombians gathering from all around the country inside the nation’s capital. In the afternoon, women along the cobblestone streets blend fresh fruits to make sweet, refreshing juices for passersby, filling the walkways with the aroma of pineapple and orange. A man pushes his cart near the business district offering arepas, delicious corncakes, beside a woman grilling corn. You settle into the comforts of your hotel with the rhythm of salsa drifting out of the colonial homes of La Candelaria and filling the public plazas around the city.
Bogota – Explore Bogota’s Historical Streets and Cultural Museums
In the morning, the restaurants and cafes around the Chapinero district open for the residents of the high-rise luxury apartments that add to Bogota’s skyline. Fruit vendors return to the cobbled walkways of the city to stack the fresh produce on ice and present the delicious mangos and jackfruit to passersby. Students fill the street en route to Universidad Santo Tomas, and the aroma of sweet crepes emanates from the popular local restaurants that abound. Your guide will meet you at your hotel after breakfast eager to lead you through the historical streets of La Candelaria and into the Museo de Arte del Banco de la Republica, a museum complex that houses five separate institutions.
The pastel colors that decorate the facades of the colonial homes in the neighborhood trickle onto the Baroque and art-deco inspired architecture built in the later years. Wrought iron balconies overlook avenues and the peak of Monserrate rises above the end of the street. The foundations for the Church of John Bosco were laid in the mid 19th century, and the façade features candy cane striping that leads upwards into the central spire. Frescoes adorn the tripartite doors depicting stoic saints.
When you arrive at the museum complex, you will enter into the Museo del Oro, the famous gold museum of Bogota that exhibits the indigenous people’s connection to the precious metal. The history of the country leading up to and past the arrival of the Spanish is told through a collection of more than 55,000 gold artifacts. The galleries glint with intricate sculptures and jewelry, including the Muisca Raft, a gold votive established to recreate the crowning of the chief crafted as early as the 7th century.
Bogota – Enjoy a Full Day Excursion to Lake Guatavita’s Mystic Scenery
The sunlight will wash over the exterior of the Museo Iglesia Santa Clara, one of the oldest churches in the city erected in the 17th century. The interior glints with gold paint that drapes over the walls and ceiling to embellish the more than 145 paintings and sculptures that represent various saints. After breakfast, your guide will greet you in the hotel lobby eager to immerse you in more of the regional culture, along with the hidden treasures found in and around Bogota. You will leave the borders of the city behind you, passing the eclectic images of the murals that decorate the city’s structural walls.
The art pieces offer insight into local movements and show the pulse of the people, representing topics ranging from pop culture to politics. The city streets fade into the winding roadways of the mountains, bordered by lush rainforest. The scent of wet soil and herbaceous leaves graces the air outside your vehicle. Guatavita Lake is located less than 30 miles outside of Bogota, and mountain summits encircle the sparkling cobalt water that reflects the greenery found along its edges.
Your guide will remind you of the Muisca Raft you saw in the Gold Museum, which encapsulates the rituals performed on the waters of this very lake. During the ceremony, the incoming chief would cover himself in gold powder before plunging into the water to obtain the powers of the deities. The short hike to the top of the lakeside takes you to a lookout at an altitude of 9,800 feet above sea level, and treasure hunters believed the lake was the source of the mystical city of El Dorado.
Armenia – Travel to Armenia, the Capital of the QuindÃo Coffee Region
In the morning, the shops in the Galeria Artesanal de Colombia open their doors to visitors and locals alike. Craftspeople showcase their goods beneath the pitched rooftop of the arcade and woven panama hats and handcrafted purses decorated with vibrant Colombian colors dangle against the stalls. The aroma of chocolate and coconut overtake the walkways that drift from the candy shop. Your private transfer will meet you at the hotel and escort you to the airport for your short flight to the Quindío Coffee Region, famous for its stunning landscape, colonial towns, and relaxed charms. Look out the plane window for views of the staggering mountaintops that edge the meandering valley.
Your private transfer will meet you at El Eden Airport in Armenia before leading you to your luxurious hacienda located in the lush hills. En route to your accommodation, you will find a countryside that glows emerald against the powder blue sky. Brahman cows graze on the tall grass as ginger and bananas grow rampant near the bamboo forests. The scent of tangerines overtakes the fragrance of blossoming flowers with the dozens of birds that flutter in the treetops. Howl Monkeys fill the air with low groans in the morning and evening ambiance, with voices echoing across the trees for up to three miles. Relax in the comforts of your private balcony that gives you a perfect view of your surroundings and the charms of the countryside.
Armenia – Relish Cocora Valley and Visit Colonial Filandia and Salento
A cool morning breeze will blow over the valley grounds and rustle through the trees outside of your room. The call of the howler monkeys fills the air, drifting from the Otun Quimbaya Natural Park, which blends Amazon wilds with Andean topography. The scent of calentado—a traditional Andean breakfast of beans, rice, egg, and chorizo—fills the dining room, accompanied by the enticing aroma of decadent hot chocolate. Hummingbirds dip their beaks into the blossoming bougainvillea wrapping around the hacienda and will capture your attention as you enjoy your meal.
Today your guide will take you around Quindío in search of the celebrated wax palm of the Cocora Valley and the colonial charms of the nearby towns. After your excursion across the landscape, you will arrive in Salento, a 19th-century settlement with enchanting streets framed by paisa architecture, the traditional colonial style structures defined by the simple doorways and balconies that adorn the two-story structures.
Vibrant colors add dimension to the architecture, framing windows and the walls like wainscoting. Local craft stalls line the main street of Calle Real with locals showcasing their handmade statues, paintings, and woven baskets. At the end of the street, you will ascend the staircase to the top of Alto de la Cruz, a peak adorned with a large cross to bless the township. The views from the summit overtake the Cocora Valley, offering a spectacular image of the trails you forged while traversing the pristine landscape.
Armenia – Delight in a Full Day Coffee Tour and Botanical Garden Excursion
At breakfast, you will savor the tart flavors of freshly squeezed orange juice, and the lingering fragrance of the blossoming flowers found around the hacienda. You will search for more hummingbirds, excited to see their tiny wings fluttering in a blur. After breakfast, you will set out with your guide to visit a coffee plantation known for its remarkable cultivation process spread over the valley and foothills of Quindío. After wandering along the thriving rows of coffee plants, you will continue to the Quindío Botanical Gardens, which features 30 native plant species spread over 37 acres.
Orchids blossom with opulent white and flush pink petals as bamboo sprouts out of the soil allowing you to feel its smooth exterior. The butterfly house encompasses nearly 7,320 square feet located inside a structure designed to resemble the eponymous attraction, housing 50 different species. The Queen Flasher butterfly stands out against the limestone rock it perches on with wings that have thin, dark wavy lines that resemble the shifting hues of a kaleidoscope, ranging from midnight blue to indigo. After wandering along the plants and butterflies of Colombia, you will visit a celebrated café filled with the strong aroma of coffee to meet a coffee connoisseur happy to lead you in a sampling of the region’s different flavor profiles.
Medellin – Transfer to the Revitalized and Welcoming City of Medellin
As the sun rises, you can hear the lingering calls of citron-throated toucans as they perch in the trees. The plumage around their throat shines yellow with a hint of green beneath the sheer hues of their arching bill. At breakfast, you will enjoy the flavor of arepa boyacense, a sweet Andean arepa made with corn meal and stuffed with savory cheese. After breakfast, your private transfer will escort you to El Eden Airport for your flight to Medellin, referred to by locals as the “City of Eternal Spring,” due to its comfortable climate averaging a consistent 75 degrees Fahrenheit. People enjoy the fresh air and walk along the charming cobblestones of Caradobo Street as the upscale district of El Poblado hugs the lush hills that edge the valley.
Tree-lined streets lead to shady parks and locals linger in cafes to sip coffee beneath the dangling gondolas of the city’s unique cable car metro system. Meet your transfer at Jose Maria Cordova International Airport for a private escort to your centrally located hotel situated near the lively atmosphere of Plaza Botero. The interactive square offers more than 75,300 square feet decorated with 23 sculptures crafted by celebrated Colombian artist Fernando Botero. Visitors and locals alike wander along the elegant stone-paved plaza and pose with the likes of the Man on Horseback, set beneath the checkered dome of Palacio de la Cultura Rafael Uribe Uribe.
Medellin – Traverse the Streets, Art, and Cable Cars During a Guided Tour
The morning light washes over the city and brings a new light to the unique façade of the 1920s structure of Rafael Uribe Uribe Palace of Culture. The Gothic revival style creates spires and towering domes in the skyline accentuated by the alternating colors of black and white. After breakfast, you will meet your guide for an immersive exploration of Medellin, accounting for the significant shift in recent years from a place many framed as the image of danger to a renaissance of culture and community.
The downtown district of the city shapes the skyline with high-rises that imitate the surrounding mountain peaks in both grandeur and style. The cable car metro provides an unforgettable view of the expansive city, from the towering buildings of the business center to the baked brick rooftops that shine with rosy hues in the passing sunlight. The metro runs for a length of nearly 6,800 feet over 1,300 feet above the city streets, crisscrossing the sky to reach hillside barrios and connecting communities with the city center.
Paragliders cruise through the air in circles descending from the mountains. Kids play soccer in the smaller public plazas and parks, and you will wander the city like a local as you enjoy the culture and the flavor of the streets. The air fills with the aroma of sweet fruits juiced fresh as the sounds of salsa blend with street performers playing Reggaeton. Local artists shape the discussion of the city’s progress along the escalators that climb Comuna 13, a community that embodies the city’s cultural shift.
Cartagena – Fly to the East Coast City of Cartagena for an Introductory Tour
The greenery of Cerro Nutibara ascends over the cityscape at more than 260 feet above the city center. The small town of Paisa crowns the hilltop the features the City Museum, full of exhibits that delve into the unique history of Medellin, showcasing old photographs of the streets, structures, and locals to shape the story of the city’s evolution. Your private transfer will collect you at your hotel and escort you to Medellin’s airport for your flight east to Cartagena. The cultures of Colombia change from city to city, with Cartagena representing an amalgamation of Spanish heritage and Caribbean tradition.
The historical walls that surround Old Town glint against the sapphire Atlantic Ocean that splashes at the edges of the antique fortress. You will meet your driver at Rafael Nunez International Airport for your private escort into the heart of the seasoned city. The scent of the seaside blends with the rich minerals that emanate from the stone. Colonial homes with bright facades border cobblestone walkways as horse-drawn carriages trot down the streets to offer a unique insight into how the aristocrats once viewed the city.
Before settling into your hotel’s remarkable blend of colonial architecture and contemporary luxuries, your guide will lead you through the labyrinthine streets of the 16th-century city for an unforgettable introduction to the pearl of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. The church frames the edges of San Pedro Claver Square. Avant-garde sculptures crafted by artist Edgardo Carmona decorate the open spaces against the row of colonial structures filled with jewelry stores, artisan shops, and a row of local restaurants. The Church of San Pedro Claver was erected in the 17th century by the local Jesuit community, and the brickwork and unique rose window shimmer in the tropical sunlight as scattered palms cast thin shade over the large square tiles of the plaza.
Once finished with your introduction to Cartagena, you arrive at your accommodation located right by the beach, Castillo Ines Maria. The only castle turned hotel in Cartagena, Castillo Ines Maria seamlessly blends old world charm with new world comfort. This century-old castle was built in 1910 during the height of Colombia’s Republican Architectural Period. It was renovated into a boutique hotel in 2009 while preserving the architectural highlights of its storied past, including ornately decorated columns and high ceilings emblematic of the early 20th century.
Cartagena – Stroll along San Felipe Castle and La Popa Convent
In the morning, ake up to a complimentary hot breakfast consisting of a spread of fresh seasonal fruit, scrambled eggs with toast, and regionally sourced rich coffee. Afterwards, consider taking a beachside stroll, as Castillo Ines Maria is located only a couple minutes away from the beautiful beaches of Marbella. Another possibility is to walk to the historic home of Raphael Nunez, the first president of the Republic of Colombia, also located only a few minutes walking distance away.
The aroma of traditional cayeye drifts out of local cafes. The dish is comprised of small green bananas mashed and refried, before mixing with garlic, tomatoes, and achiote spice. You will meet your guide after enjoying your breakfast for an adventure into the iconic sites of the old city, beginning with Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. It is easy to imagine upwards of 40 ships weighing anchor alongside the massive walls of the 17th-century fortress heading for Spain, with priceless amounts of gold, silver, cacao beans, and tobacco. The walls wind up the hillside to reach the 130-foot high summit, creating the greatest Spanish fortress erected in the New World.
Hints of golden bricks glimmer in the sunlight between the old gray stones that support the fortress towers. From the top of the walls, you will have a stunning panorama of Bocagrande’s high-rise condos and the spires of Old Town’s historical churches. Seemingly endless rows of arched doorways and wrought iron balconies decorated with lush flowers and lattices radiate from the town’s streets. Your guide will lead you through the complex maze of the tunnel network that begins beneath the fortress’s grand entrance. Your footsteps will echo off of the surrounding stone, which once allowed soldiers to hear if enemy troops had entered the complex. People’s whispered words overtake your footsteps, resounding down the halls until reaching the interior doorways.
Cartagena – Enjoy the City and its Surroundings at your Preferred Pace
The bright white sands of Playa Blanca emerge from the crystalline waters of the Caribbean Sea as oyster vendors walk the breadth of the beach offering shellfish caught that morning, shucked to order, and dressed with freshly squeezed lime. Restaurants overlooking the water offer large langoustines and lobsters cooked to order. After breakfast, you will have the entire day to enjoy the Caribbean coast and vibrant culture in and around Cartagena at your preferred pace. Venture to Playa Blanca by speedboat or continue your walking tour of the city by visiting wondrous representations of the region on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. For a unique experience of immersing yourself in the flavors of the region, you could meet with a local guide to learn the secrets of the cocoa bean.
Your two-hour tour will tell you the history of cocoa in the region, along with its connection to the indigenous peoples before being exported to Europe. After an overview of the plant’s connection to Colombia, you will learn the differences of the grain, along with the importance of harvesting the cocoa bean properly. The large pod resembles a mango in its size a white, pulpy interior. The bean enters a six-stage process before being able to make chocolate, beginning with fermentation and ending with pressing the bean to make cocoa powder. Your instructor will guide you through the process of mixing the cocoa with sugar, while melting the concoction into different batches to create, first and foremost, a frothy and decadent hot chocolate.
Upon your return to the comforts of your accommodation, Castillo Ines Maria, take a moment to unwind and relax at the outdoor pool with a drink from the bar. The hotel is pleasantly situated near the some of Cartagena’s rated restaurants, cultural and historical attractions, and vibrant nightlife yet remains still far enough to offer peace and tranquility for your vacation. The sounds of the Caribbean Sea gently lull you to sleep on your final night in Cartagena.
Cartagena – Depart for Home
The light from the dawn slowly illuminates your room at the Castillo Ines Maria through the large windows which provide ample ventilation and comfort. The familiar scent of rich South American coffee and fresh fruit greet you at breakfast.The streets of Cartagena fill with makeshift cafes manned by locals eager to sell a stunning cup of coffee to passersby, whether local or visiting. The rich aroma of roasted beans emanates from the collection of vendors, blending with the sweet scents that drift off of fruit carts that radiate the hues of the rainbow from large amounts of pineapple, mango, oranges, and lychee.
Locals venture to San Alberto Coffee shop in the morning to enjoy the award-winning variety of coffee served by baristas referred to locally as coffee connoisseurs, turning the local flavor into an impassioned art. Hotel Boutique Castillo Ines Maria is conveniently located only 2.4 miles away from Rafael Núñez International Airport. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you to Rafael Nunez International Airport for your flight home.
- Wander through the historical and cacophonous tunnels of Castillo San Felipe de Barajas in Cartagena
- Spend three nights at the Castillo Ines Maria Hotel Boutique, the only castle that has been converted into a hotel in Cartagena
- Learn to detect the subtle aromas and diverse flavors of Colombia’s celebrated coffees cultivated in the Quindío Coffee Region
- Traverse the collection of plant life and radiant butterfly wings that decorate the Botanical Gardens in Quindio
- Discover the marvelous gilded figures and handcrafted works of precious metal in the Gold Museum for insight into the pre-Spanish Colombia
- Stroll along the charming streets of colonial towns surrounded by the stunning countryside near Cocora Valley
- Experience the renaissance of community and culture in Medellin while visiting Botero Plaza, decorated with statues donated by the famous artist
- Venture to the shores of Lake Guatavita, source of the legend of El Dorado and the home to the chieftain’s crowning ceremony
- Indulge in the rich combinations of Colombian chocolate during a private class to teach you the history of the bean and proper cooking techniques
- Enjoy the panorama of Medellin’s vibrant and artistic streets from the cable car metro soaring over the city’s rooftops
The youthful atmosphere of contemporary Colombia rises from the streets through the incredible artwork and stories that show an emerging social awareness of the country’s diverse cultures and unique traditions. This 12-day Colombia tour will encompass the hidden treasures of Bogota and the community-centric paradigms of Medellin. Traverse the countryside known for its lush landscape and coffee plantations, and then bask in the sunlight of the Caribbean Coast dotted with a mixture of historical structures and luxury high-rises for a true introduction to the contrasting images of Colombia. Your adventure will begin with your arrival in Bogota, the bustling capital of the country. Your private transfer will meet you at El Dorado Airport and escort you to your luxurious hotel located near the cobbled streets of the historical district. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to settle into the charms of the exciting city.
Wake the next day and your guide will take you along the cobblestone streets of La Candelaria and into the museum complex of Museo de Arte del Banco de la Republica before leading you to the top of Monserrate for a view of the city. The next day, you will venture outside of Bogota to enjoy the enticing scenery of Lake Guatavita while being given insight into the majestic legends of El Dorado. Leave Bogota behind the following day and fly into the countryside at El Eden Airport in Armenia. Your luxurious hotel overlooks the forest and valley, with plantations and cattle fields that dot the landscape. Travel deep into the Quindío region to visit the colonial town of Filandia, and then wander through the Cocora Valley on an adventurous excursion before relaxing in the colonial streets of Salento.
The next day, you will have a private tour of a coffee plantation to learn about the cultivation of the well-loved coffee bean. Visit the gorgeous Botanical Gardens of Quindío to see the butterfly house and enjoy a coffee tasting and learn about the subtle differences of the region. Fly the next day from Armenia to Medellin, Colombia’s second-largest city. Your private transfer will escort you from Jose Maria Cordova International Airport to your vibrant hotel near the business center of the city. Enjoy an engaging tour of the city to learn about its tumultuous past and the community focused efforts that brought art and culture back to the streets before traversing the cable car metro for a visit to Botero Plaza.
Travel next to Cartagena for a journey through the historical cobblestone streets in Old Town, where the Spanish first settled after arriving on the eastern seaboard. Your accommodation will be the charming Castillo Ines Maria, the only castle that has been renovated into a boutique hotel in Cartagena. Located right by the beaches of Marbella, this stunning hotel has preserved the cultural and historical traditions of Colombia’s Republican Architectural Period. The authentic Pompeii flooring gives the establishment a refined sense of splendor.
Next day, your guide will take you through the remarkable complex of Castillo San Felipe, along with the unique convent of La Popa. The next morning and afternoon are yours to relax or discover, taking your time to enjoy the pleasures of Cartagena. Venture to Playa Blanca, located on the Rosario Archipelago, or traverse the numerous museums in Old Town for a deeper understanding of the city’s rich history. Conclude as your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you to Rafael Nunez International Airport for your flight home.
$4,195 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
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Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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