Cities, Culture, Coffee and Caribbean

Highlights:

• Gold Museum in Bogotá – on the path of El Dorado
• Valle de Cocora – the tallest palm trees in a cloud forest
• Coffee process in a Coffee Hacienda
• Medellin – the so-called city of eternal spring
• Tayrona National Park – wild Caribbean beaches
• Cartagena – Colonial architecture, pirates and the sea, UNESCO World Heritage Site

Day 1 Bogotá
Welcome to Bogotá! Your guide or driver will wait for you at the airport. It is recommended to change money directly at the airport. The most convenient is to withdraw money from the ATM. They are located after exiting the customs area in the arrival lobby. Your guide will be pleased to assist and look after your luggage. Subsequently you will drive to the hotel and can have some rest after your flight.

Day 2 Bogotá
During the walking tour of Bogotá, you will enjoy the contrast of the modern and historical part of the city. You will see the most important buildings from the colonial era in La Candelaria, the old town of Bogotá, as well as the government district around Plaza Bolívar with its Cathedral, Palace of Justice, Parliament and Town Hall. Visit Bogotá’s famous museum of the artist Fernando Botero, with its outstanding collection of contemporaneous art. Experience how the unique emeralds were traded. The Gold Museum is a highlight, with its unique collection of pre-Columbian gold jewellery. If the weather is nice you will drive to Monserrate where you have a spectacular view of the big city.

Day 3 Bogotá – Villa de Leyva
You drive from Bogotá to Zipaquirá, which depending on the traffic can be reached after 1.5 hours. The nice colonial old town of Zipaquirá gathers numerous buildings of the 18th century. Marvel at the imposing underground salt cathedral, a complete church inside a salt mine and learn more about the religious significance of the place and the importance of the salt for the region and its history. The cathedral is an important religious place and the same time a unique architectural work. Afterwards you take the main road to Tunja and stop at the Sisga dam, where you can take a break and enjoy a fresh trout (food not included). If you are interested in history, quickly stop at the Puente de Boyacá, which is the place where in 1819 Simón Bolívar won the last and decisive battle against the Spanish colonial rulers. From there it’s only a short ride to Villa de Leyva, a village which in colonial times used to be a “summer residence” of the bishops from the cooler Tunja and gathers spacious and beautifully preserved churches. Walk through the cobbled streets and end the day at the Plaza Mayor.

Day 4 Villa de Leyva
If you like walking, you can start with an easy two-hour hike through the hills of Villa de Leyva, from where you can enjoy a beautiful view over Villa de Leyva and surroundings. Visit the monastery of La Candelaria, an Augustine convent of the 17th century and admire how the abundant fossils have been integrated into the architecture of the buildings of the area. A special highlight is the garden of the monastery. Afterwards you can make a short stop in Ráquira, a small town that lives traditionally by the pottery. Visit the numerous souvenir shops, with all kinds of crafts from all over Colombia and take the chance to buy a souvenir of the region. If you fancy you can learn more about the ceramic items and the handcrafted pottery. On the way back to Villa de Leyva, you have the opportunity to visit a fossil museum in which, among other things an 8-meter-long ichthyosaur found in the region is exposed.

Day 5 Villa de Leyva – Alcalá
On the way from Villa de Leyva to Bogotá you stop at Guatavita. A short hike leads to the lake of Guatavita, the place where the legend of El Dorado was born. According to the myths, on crowning day the Muiscas heir throne was covered in gold dust and then swam in the lake while the people threw golden offerings in the lake. Even today the remnants of the efforts of generations of treasure hunters are visible in what now is a national monument.

Day 6 Alcalá
You will visit the Cocora valley, located at an altitude between 2000 and 2400m (6.500 and 7.900ft) this cloud forest is part of the Los Nevados National Natural Park and the principal location of the national tree and symbol of Colombia, the Quindío wax palm. The journey is meant to be walking for about 60min but if you want to travel a longer distance your guide will arrange horses to discover the valley! On your way back from the mountains, you will have lunch in the restaurant that overlooks the valley so you can enjoy the view while eating.
Afterwards you will visit the charming town of Salento. The town is easy to discover, walk through the Calle Real street until you reach the stairs (250 steps*) that will take you to el mirador (look-out point) Alto de la Cruz. From the view point, there are extensive views of the Cocora valley and many of the mountains of the Los Nevados National Natural Park.

Day 7 Alcalá – Medellín
In the morning you will learn everything about Colombian coffee, one of the world’s best. The Colombian coffee landscape, declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO has unique geographic qualities, resulting in a cup of coffee characterized by a medium-high acidity, round body, good balance and pronounced aroma. The tour in the coffee farm will follow the procedure of growing, harvesting and peeling of the beans. Learn about the particular attributes of the Colombian coffee through a delicious sensorial trip. By the end of the session you will be able to recognize coffee beans according to its characteristics and will have a guided tasting of 3 different coffee categories.

Day 8 Medellín
The guided tour of Medellín starts at Pueblito Paisa, from where you can enjoy a wonderful view over the city. The next destination is the historic center of Medellín. At the Parque Berrio you can listen to local musicians playing traditional Guasca music. Then visit the Plaza Botero, where you can see an exhibition of the Colombian artist Fernando Botero. The tour continues through the busy streets of the center of Medellín to the Parque Bolivar, one of the most beautiful places of the city. The tour continues with a cable car ride (Metrocable) into the neighborhood Santo Domingo, which was in Escobars time notorious for gangs and violence. Immerse yourself in the exciting story of the transformation of Medellín, which was once one of the most dangerous cities in the world and has transformed into an exciting cultural place.

Day 9 Medellín – Santa Marta
You visit the flower village Santa Elena. The small village is located less than an hour outside of Medellín in the mountains of Antioquia. It is home to a great variety of traditional flower farmers. The flower arrangements of the Flower Festival (“Feria de Flores”), called “silletas”, have an impressive history and are today a cultural symbol of Medellín. On this tour you visit an organic flower farm and experience the traditional and pleasant culture of Santa Elena.
From there you will continue to Guatapé, a peaceful and beautiful town located in Eastern Antioquia. On this daytrip we will take you on a scenic drive through the Eastern Highlands of Antioquia. You can climb the Peñól, enjoy a typical Colombian lunch on the waterfront of the Guatapé reservoir, explore the lake on a boat ride and take the time to relax.
Transfer to the international airport of Medellín on time for your flight.

Day 10 Santa Marta
You drive along the mountain range Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and around 30 minutes later you arrive at the Tayrona National Park. There is a trail that takes you after an almost 2-hour hike to Arrecifes, where you can relax and enjoy the beach. If you hiked not enough after another hour you will arrive at the famous Cabo San Juan, where you can cool off in the crystal-clear water. For active hikers, there is the possibility to take over a more extended version of the hike to the ruins of Pueblito, a city of the Tayrona indigenous people.

Day 11 Santa Marta – Cartagena
You will drive from Santa Marta to Cartagena. You will cross the Río Magdalena in Barranquilla, where the famous Colombian singer Shakira was born. This river measures 1538m and is the longest river of the country. Enjoy the beautiful sea view during this ride along the Caribbean coast. If you like, you can visit one of the small fishing villages you drive through during this trip.

Day 12 Cartagena
To get to know the city better you start with a visit to the hill of La Popa. At this highest point of Cartagena, Augustinian monks built a monastery in the 16th century. From here, you have a perfect view of the bay of Cartagena and the most important colonial port city of the Spaniards South America. Then visit the Fort San Felipe, which was built by the Spaniards to protect the rich city of Cartagena against attacks from the mainland. Cartagena was the place, where the looted treasures of the Incas by the Spaniards and the gold and silver treasures from the mines of Peru and Bolivia were stored for shipping to Spain. Thus, the city was repeatedly the object of desire of many pirates. In the labyrinthine corridors of the fortress, you feel transferred back to the pirate’s time. From the fortress, you walk through the colonial Old Town. If desired, you can stop for a cold fruit juice drink. During a walk through the well-preserved old town, visit the important historic buildings and churches. Get an overview of the city and try to orient yourself to be able to walk through the city on your own in the afternoon, go souvenir shopping at the city wall and admire the sunset from the Café del Mar on the city walls.

Day 13 Cartagena
Transfer to the airport in Cartagena on time for your flight.

Services included:
• Transfers in private car/van/coach from/to the airport
• Overland transfers in private car/van/coach according to the program
• Excursions with English speaking local guides according to the program (incl. entrance fees) (other languages on request)
• Meals like indicated (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner)
• Accommodation in double room
• Domestic flights: Bogotá – Armenia / Armenia– Medellín / Medellín – Santa Marta

Services not included:
• International flight to Colombia
• Tip and local taxes (e.g. airport or port taxes, none apply as of August 2019)