Step beyond the preconceptions that you may have about Colombia to discover a country of vibrant colors and welcoming people. A country that is ornamented with coffee plants growing on terraced mountains and decorated with the largest Spanish fortress in the Americas, the coast is bejeweled with glistening salt crystals that blend into cave walls that support a subterranean cathedral. Your custom tailored tour will immerse you in Colombia’s true splendor, from the fusion of cultures embodied in...
Bogota – Arrive to the Contrasts of Historical and Contemporary Bogota
High-rises soar into the sky with the verdant Andean summits edging the borders of Bogota. Cobblestone streets and colonial architecture decorate the northern districts of the city that lead to the foothills of Cerro de Monserrate, a cathedral-topped hill that offers stunning views of the sprawling cityscape. Your flight will descend into El Dorado Airport, and you will see the rosy hues of the brick rooftops peppering the hills that border the outlying streets along the low-lying mountains. Your private transfer will greet you at baggage claim and escort you to your lavish hotel near the historical city center that blends the cultural elements of the city’s history while focusing on the pleasures of contemporary luxury.
Fruit vendors post their stands in Plaza de Bolivar, filling the antique public square with the vibrant hues of the country’s tropical fruits, embellished by the enticingly sweet aroma of the produce. The vendors squeeze fruit fresh for passersby, blending the flavors to balance sweet and tart, from pineapple to tangerines. The district of Santa Fe-Los Martires surrounds the historical center of La Candelaria with a mixture of financial culture, bohemian art galleries, cozy cafes, and a youthful ambiance emanating from the students that linger in the charming restaurants. The Museum of Modern Art presents galleries of the country’s most famous artists, including Alejandro Obregon and Fernando Botero. For the best view in the city, you can venture to the top of Torre Colpatria, the tallest building in Bogota at the height of more than 640 feet, providing a perfect panorama of the distant mountains.
Bogota – Discover the Vibrant Streets, Markets, and Museums of Bogota
The traditions of the Andean spirit continue on the streets of Bogota amidst the colonial structures and luxurious, modern skyscrapers. At breakfast, the aroma of fresh arepas—a corncake cooked on a griddle—fills the dining room, accompanied by the refreshing scent of Colombian coffee. Your guide will meet you at your hotel and lead you through the perfect display of the thriving Andean traditions in Bogota at the Paloquemao Market. Sands spread beneath the arching, grated rooftop of the arcade as produce, meat, and fish vendors showcase their freshest wares and call to passersby. The aroma of anise emanates from a stand that offers medicinal herbs, still used by many locals around the outer rims of the city.
Florists draw your attention to their colorful displays of blossoming orchids and roses, birds of paradise and delicate crocuses. Exotic mangoes and rambutan are piled side-by-side in elegant pyramids beneath dangling banana bunches. You will continue out into the streets of La Candelaria, the historical colonial district, to explore the beautiful bordering structures of Plaza de Bolivar. The Cathedral of Sagrario has a Baroque façade, often overshadowed by the magnificent structure of the Catedral Primida. The structure was built in the 17th century with aged brickwork embellishing the church’s significance. The bells adorning the façade sway in the mountain breeze as the interior features six paintings crafted by Gregorio Vasquez, a Colombian painter of the Baroque movement known for grand projects humanizing divine figures.
Bogota – Explore the Tunnels and Halls of the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral
At breakfast, the pleasing aroma of arepa con queso, a corn cake with cheese, emanates from the cafes that pepper the colonial structures of La Candelaria. After your meal, your guide will collect you at your hotel and lead you outside of the city to the former salt mines in the colonial town of Zipaquira. The wide cobblestone avenues lead to the main entrance to the mines. The cave mouth connects tunnels that wind more than 620 feet into the mountain, where miners removed more than 250,000 tons of salt to create the subterranean cathedral. Voices bounce off the stone walls and echo down the cavernous tunnels.
The smooth rock keeps the temperatures cool throughout the year to bring a near ten-degree difference between the deepest cavern and the outdoors. Following the path takes you along an artistic interpretation of the 13 stages of Jesus’ final day. The air contains an element of salt, making it dry and cool. The original mine was constructed in the 17th century with the cathedral taking shape more than three centuries later. The hollowed cross in the main altar reaches a height of 16 feet, adding to the already dramatic ambiance of the subterranean network of chapels and tunnels.
Pereira – Venture to Pereira for a Coffee Tour and Exotic Fruit Sampling
In the morning, the sunlight washes over the inspiring murals of Bogota. Local artists tell stories through their works, symbolizing the life of the city, the politics of the country, and the importance of community. You will notice similarities in the colors and the shapes inspired by Andean tradition. After breakfast, your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you to the airport for your flight to the Quindio region. Your plane will descend into Matecana International Airport in Pereira, providing you with the perfect panorama of the abundant mountain summits that shape the valley floor.
Your transfer will meet you at baggage claim before escorting you to your charming boutique hotel that combines the comforts of wide-open space with the luxury of a hotel located in the heart of a city. You will continue to a celebrated plantation known for cultivating coffee along the Andean plain and foothills. The plant thrives in a particular tropical climate for which Colombia is known. Eucalyptus trees grow along the surrounding forest, towering above sugarcane crops and banana plantations while the crops grow in long rows with plants resembling shrubs. The coffee plantation has planted the crops between 4,920 and 5,920 feet above sea level, allowing the rich soil to feed nutrients into the Arabica bean.
The labor-intensive harvest selects the finest crop by hand. After strolling along the plantation, you will see how workers strip the outer layer of the grain until it resembles a large cranberry. They then dry the coffee before it can be roasted. Roasting the coffee releases the natural oils from the beans, which accounts for both flavor and aroma. Once in the tasting room, your guide will pour you a sample of one type of coffee produced on the plantation, teaching you the proper way to discover the subtle aromatics of the blend, from soft hints of chocolate to caramel notes.
Pereira – Traverse the Landscape of Cocora Valley and Colonial Salento
In the morning, you will find the exotic flavors of guanabana and lulo lingering on your palate from the previous day’s tasting of the exotic fruits growing wild around Colombia. At breakfast, similar fruits, including pitahaya, also known as dragon fruit, adds bright hues to your breakfast. The scent of cocoa and nutmeg drifts upwards from your coffee cup as a hummingbird shimmers in the morning light as it flutters around a blossoming flower dangling from the canopy around the hotel. After your meal, your guide will lead you into the protected landscape of the Cocora Valley. En route to the valley, you will find Brahman cows grazing on the lush grass that overtakes the valley floor and surrounding foothills.
Once in the nature park, the eucalyptus forests shine above the trickling rivers. Tapirs graze on the underbrush as yellow-eared parrots linger on the tree branches browsing for nuts and fruits. You will stop at a small farmhouse that offers a panorama of the valley floor and the encircling mountains. The grass flushes the landscape with emerald that drapes the rolling foothills beneath the towering, slender figures of wax palms, Colombia’s national tree. They can grow to nearly 200 feet tall and resemble the twisting, unique plants from a Dr. Seuss book. After wandering the wilds of Cocora Valley, you will venture to the charming colonial town of Salento to traverse the cobblestone streets and relish a refreshing café latte.
Medellin – Fly to Medellin with an Introductory Tour to its Tumultuous Past
In the morning, you will spot another hummingbird whizzing around the flowers blossoming outside of your hacienda. The iridescent plumage of the tiny bird captures your attention with feathers glowing blues and green that border neon hues. After breakfast, your private transfer will escort you to Matecana International Airport for your flight to Medellin. The city once known for its troublesome past has focused on community efforts, bringing it into one of the most popular and enjoyable cities in Colombia. Homes rise along the bordering hills as the mountains frame the high-rises of the country’s second largest city.
Your private transfer will meet you upon your arrival and escort you to your luxurious hotel in the heart of the city that offers views to the mountains and the skyline decorated with crisscrossing gondolas. Meet your guide in the lobby to begin your historical tour of the city’s complex relationship with its past, beginning with the Monaco Building, the non-descript five-story structure with a white façade. The exterior has cement walls, adding to the fortress-like ambiance that once protected to the drug lord Carlos Escobar and his syndicate. Escobar lived on the top floor with his family and recruited members for his organization from the poorest neighborhoods of the city. This unique tour traces the history of Escobar in relation to Medellin allows you to ascertain the shift from a city once known for violence, into a city now referred to as the “Eternal Spring.”
Medellin – Visit Penol Stone, Guatape and Ancient Penol on a Guided Tour
Medellin averages a temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, providing a perfect climate along the valley floor and in the surrounding mountains for the tropical fruits of Colombia to thrive. At breakfast, the brilliant hues and enticing aromas of the surrounding produce bonanza fills the dining room. Star fruit and passion fruit combine for a sweet and tart cocktail, whether in juice or a creamy smoothie made with homemade yogurt. After breakfast, you will venture into the hills with a guide eager to show you the captivating landscape and history edging the bustling streets of Medellin.
You will travel through the trees to reach the town of Guatape. The trees will fade into the rolling plain and offer a remarkable view to the unique monolith known as the Penol Stone. The rock reaches a height of more than 620 feet above the supporting floor with a staircase of 740 specially crafted steps traversing the rock split, resembling stitches holding the rock together. You have an unobstructed view of the plain below, water, islands, and trees stretching to the mountains on the horizon. Upon reaching the grassy floor beneath the monolith you continue to explore Guatape, wandering along the colorful colonial structures decorated with intricate wainscoting and colorful windows, creating a jovial and inviting ambiance.
Cartagena – Travel to Cartagena for a Historical Culturally Immersive Tour
Cartagena is a city of Caribbean delight, Colombian passion, and Spanish charms. Old fortress walls create a unique path to the past accentuated by the sapphire Caribbean Sea and cool coastal breeze. Your private transfer will escort you to Jose Maria Cordova International Airport for your flight to Cartagena. As the plane descends onto the runway you find the sparkling waters lapping against stretches of gold sand. The skyline undulates between the luxurious high-rises of Bocagrande and the colonial church spires of the historical city center.
You will meet your private transfer at baggage claim before embarking on a brief ride through the elaborate cobblestone streets that wind around inside the antique city walls. The aged stone supports the flickering yellow façade of the Clock Tower, which features a Swiss timepiece crafted in the early 20th century. After taking a moment to settle into your beautiful accommodations with colonial embellishments and contemporary comforts, your guide will meet you in the lobby eager to lead you through a remarkable introductory tour of the coastal city. Bougainvillea dangles over the balconies and brightly colored rooftops of the vintage homes. Magazine stands that highlight current pop culture lean against the mustard yellow walls. Orange vendors set their carts along the edges of the road to offer fresh fruit or pressed juices to passersby.
You will enter into the Church and Convent of San Pedro Claver, a 17th-century construction named after a local monk who lived inside the convent walls and preached the gospel to the slaves brought by the Spanish. The gigantic three-story building rises out of a blossoming courtyard. The museum contains religious and pre-Colombian ceramics, along with artifacts shedding light on the vibrant Afro-Caribbean culture. A narrow staircase leads to the choir loft, offering a tranquil view of the adjacent church.
Cartagena – Delight in the Cuisine of Cartagena with a Half-Day Food Tour
The cultures and peoples of Cartagena have had nearly 500 years to marinate together, shaping the fusion of Afro-Caribbean, Spanish, and pre-Colombian flavors accentuated by the abundant sea and tropical climate. At breakfast, you will find the delicate aroma of griddled arepas filling the streets. Vendors stuff the corncakes with egg and top the fluffy concoction with marinated red peppers. The flaky golden exterior and burning red hues of the peppers create a mixture of intoxicating colors. Your guide will meet you at your hotel ready to take you back through the charming streets of Old Town to discover the thrilling blend of cultures through the unique regional cuisine. Fruit vendors once more set their stalls alongside the walkways, showcasing pyramids of produce ranging from pineapple to passion fruit.
You will soon find another arepa vendor standing beneath the draping bougainvillea, and cooking stalks of corn over a charcoal grill. Turn the corner to discover one of many carts offering papas rellenas, deep-fried and stuffed potatoes. The offerings include a variety of sauces, from sweet chili pepper to spicy ketchup, along with achiote, a spice used similarly to saffron. Your guide will explain that you cannot visit Cartagena without a stop for ceviche. You can sit in a popular local restaurant to end your tour and order the traditional citrus-cured seafood dish in the true Caribbean ambiance of colorful tables and seductive music. The finely chopped seafood is dressed with fresh herbs and a hardy squeeze of lime and mandarin orange, offering a surprisingly sweet zest to the delicious dish.
Cartagena – Depart for Home
In the morning, locals and visitors alike venture to a café where baristas are known for their knowledge in crafting a perfect morning coffee, driven by a passion for the bean and an urge to show off their treasured skills. The cafe fills with a selection of aromas emanating from the roasted coffee beans and fresh-brewed tea, blending jasmine, chocolate, and minty aromatics into a single sensational fragrance. The sunlight glints off the sapphire Caribbean Sea, showcasing the kite surfers that skitter along the water’s wake. When you are ready, your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you to Rafael Nunez International Airport for your flight home.
- Venture deep beneath the hillside in Zipaquira to explore the historical salt mine, which was converted into a stunning subterranean church
- Discover the thrilling culture of Bogota, which embodies the variety of Colombia’s traditions on display in the Paloquemao Market
- Enjoy an immersive cultural tour of Cartagena by sampling the diverse cuisine shaped by the blending of Afro-Caribbean, Spanish, and Pre-Colombian peoples
- Witness the awe-inspiring Penol stone, a monolith that rises 620 feet above the valley floor
- Traverse the eucalyptus forest and the meandering rivers of the opulent plains of the Cocora Valley to find the remarkable wax palm, a 200-foot tall palm tree
- Wander along the charming cobblestone streets and colonial homes of the historical Spanish settlements found across Colombia
- Visit a traditional coffee plantation to learn the secrets to cultivating the temperamental crop, along with properly producing a perfect cup of coffee
Colombia is a country unlike any other in the world, boldly stepping out from the shadow of its tumultuous past and showcasing the beauty its heritage, traditions, and blending of cultures. Your 10-day tour will embody Colombia’s history and atmosphere, allowing you to discover the true stories of the people both past and present through the markets and museums, cityscapes and country haciendas. Your journey will begin with your arrival at El Dorado Airport in Bogota. Your private transfer will meet you at baggage claim to escort you to your luxurious hotel near the historical city center.
The next day, your guide will meet you after breakfast eager to lead you through the exuberant daily life of Paloquemao Market. Visit the colonial streets of the La Candelaria district before entering the exhibits at the Gold Museum and Botero Museum. Wake the next morning to travel across the Bogota Savanna to the town of Zipaquira. Spend time wandering the tunnels and elaborate galleries of the Salt Cathedral before returning to Bogota for the evening. Your private transfer will meet you at your hotel to escort you to the airport for your flight to Pereira. Upon your arrival, you will meet your transfer for a private escort to a coffee tasting, following by a sampling of locally harvested exotic fruits.
Traverse the hidden trails and inspiring scenery of the Cocora Valley the next day in search of wax palm, after which you discover the charming colonial town of Salento. Fly next from Pereira to Medellin, a city known as the “Eternal Spring.” You will take a moment to settle into the grandeur of your centrally located hotel before taking a tour of the city as seen through a historical lens. Visit the former home of Pablo Escobar before exploring the vibrant, positive changes the city has made over the last two decades. Travel next to the mountains to see the magnificent Penol Stone and town of Guatape before finding the rebuilt ancient town of Penol. Fly next from Medellin to Cartagena.
Your private transfer will greet you at the airport and take you to your hotel in the heart of Old Town. Your guide will meet you in the lobby before leading you on an introductory tour to take in Castillo de San Felipe, Convento de la Popa, and Convento San Pedro de Claver. The following day, you can wander the meandering cobbled streets of Old Town during a guided food tour that will highlight the mixture of Colombian traditions and cultures embodied in the cuisine. The remainder of the day is at your leisure to relax on the golden shores and visit the distinctive neighborhoods outside of Old Town. Conclude as your private transfer will meet you at your hotel and escort you to Rafael Nunez International Airport for your flight home.
$3,495 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.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
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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