Diversity of Colombia in 15 days

Popayan, Caribbean Coast

Colombia is a breath-taking country, which is just being discovered by tourism and his travelers. During this journey, you will experience the beauty of Colombian nature and culture. The itinerary takes you through different climates and landscapes ranging from the green highlands to the warm Caribbean coast. And everything is complemented by authentic encounters with hospitable Co-lombians. Beside the travel programme you will always have the opportunity to take a break from everyday life.

Highlights

  • Gold Museum in Bogotá – on the path of El Dorado
  • San Augustin – mysterious statues and impressive tombs, UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Colonial villages – Villa de Leyva und Barichara
  • Coffee process in a Coffee Hacienda
  • Cartagena – Colonial architecture, pirates and the sea, UNESCO World Heritage Site

  • Day 1 Bogotá

    At the airport, you will be expected from our driver. It is possible to exchange your cur-rency after arrival. The most convenient would be to withdraw money from the ATM. They are located after the arrival zone in the exit area. Ask the driver to take care of your luggage an accompany you.

    Day 2 Bogotá

    Visit the traditional market Paloquemao, a huge market hall with more than 1800 stands with fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, herbs, flowers and handcrafts. Enjoy the colourful outdoor flower market and gaze at the numerous exotic fruits.
    During the walking tour of Bogotá, you will enjoy the contrast of the modern and his-torical 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 Mu-seum is a highlight, with its unique collection of pre-Columbian gold jewelry. If the weather is nice you will drive to Monserrate where you have a spectacular view of the big city.

    Day 3 Bogotá – Popayán

    Transfer from your hotel in Bogotá to the airport on time for your flight.
    Meet and greet with the driver at the airport and transfer to Guambia. You will visit a village of a Guambiano community. These are some of the last indigenous communities in Colombia’s highlands that still live according to their traditions. They all, women and men, wear bright blue skirts and colourful ponchos. The blue colour is a symbol for the cosmos and black symbolizes the earth. You will have a typical lunch with the village elders, getting the opportunity to learn a lot about their lives between tradition and modern Colombia.
    Transfer to Popayán, a beautiful colonial city, which was named “Ciudad Blanca” because of its snow-white facades. In colonial times, Popayán was the most important commercial centre between Bogota and Quito. During a walk through the bustling nar-row streets, you can experience the traditional and modern Colombia at once. Explore the historic old town and visit the most important monuments during a city tour.

    Day 4 Popayán – San Agustín

    On the way to San Agustín you will cross the central mountain range of the Andes. Passing by the active volcano Puracé, from which with good weather you can catch a glimpse. The road winds into the typical high moorland of the “Páramo” at over 3,000 metres height. In this water rich area four of the largest rivers of Colombia rise and flow towards the Pacific, the Caribbean and the Amazon. Take the opportunity to stop and observe 3 meters high frailejones plants, which can be found only in the high alti-tudes of Ecuador and Colombia, from closer. During the afternoon, you reach San Agustín, which is situated in the hills high above the gorge of the Río Magdalena.

    Day 5 San Agustín

    The region around San Agustín is the most important archaeological site in Colombia as well as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.It is the largest group of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America. It was only in the 18th century Spanish missionaries reported the mysterious statues in the forests around San Agustín. The modern archaeology has not found out much about the culture, with its peaks from the 6th to the 8th century. Mountainous terrain and the lack of written records make it difficult to research. The Archaeological Park of San Agustín is the place where on a rel-atively small space a good cross-section is given by the legacy of the culture of San Agustín. The “Ceremonial Fountain” and the “Forest of Statues” are the highlights of this archaeological collection. At each of the mysterious statues you can spend a long time wondering if it’s a human or an animal and whether it‘s threatening or reassuring.
    After an easy walk of about one hour you will reach “La Chaquira”, an astronomical site of the San Agustín culture. A few steps lead down to the rock representation of the deity images. The platform is situated high above the Rio Magdalena. Enjoy the beauti-ful view and feel the energies of this mystical place. This excursion can optionally be made on horseback.

    Day 6 San Agustín

    You will hike through the canyon of the Magdalena River and reach the Alto de los Ídolos archaeological site. The trail rises gently from the village and cross a hill to the rim of the canyon. After many switchbacks, you will reach the bridge across the river facing another series of switchbacks to reach the Alto de los Ídolos. This is a “mirror” site to the archeological park of San Agustín and the setting is even more impressive above the canyon. After exploring the tombs, you will drive back to San Agustín. Total walking time is around 4 hours. This excursion can also be done on horseback. For those not wanting to hike or ride on a horse the car is also a viable option.
    After a short drive through a narrow street, where you will have an outstanding view of this unique mountains, you reach the “Estrecho”, the strait of Magdalena River.

    Day 7 San Agustín – Neiva

    You will go to Neiva. Pass through the narrow valley of the Magdalena River, which opens up more and more until it resembles to a valley. During a coffee break in Gigante you can marvel at a huge Ceiba in the village’s main square. This tree gave the village its name.
    The Tatacoa Desert, an area of about 20 km in diameter, is located a few kilometres north of Neiva and characterized by a dry microclimate. Visit the small desert on your way from San Agustín to Neiva. Experience the contrast to the lush San Agustín and marvel at the bizarre formations and numerous cacti during a hike. Enjoy a nice sunset in the desert with its impressive colours.

    Day 8 Neiva – Villa de Leyva

    Transfer to the airport in Neiva on time for your flight.
    Today you drive from Bogotá to Zipaquirá, which depending on the traffic can be reached after about 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 Bolí-var 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 9 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 10 Villa de Leyva – Barichara

    The journey slowly leads from the highlands to warmer climes. The road from Villa de Leyva first passes through lush green pastures. From Arcabuco the road winds through a narrow gorge, which opens in the direction of the Río Suárez. On the slopes of Suárez Valley, at an altitude between 1’000 and 1’500 meters above sea level, the way leads from Barbosa to San Gil. Along the way there are numerous opportunities to stop at, for example to look at a traditional sugar mill or to taste the typical Guava mousse. Don’t miss to taste the Cuajada con Melao, a cheese cream with sugar molasses. The Caseteja at Oiba is known for this specialty. From San Gil it’s a half hour drive to Barichara. This perfectly preserved village was declared as the most beautiful village of Colombia. The town, located at an altitude of 1’300 m above sea level offers a pleasant temperature of about 26°C.

    Day 11 Barichara

    Hike from Barichara to Guane. Along the way, you’ll pass tobacco fields and cattle pastures and can enjoy the view over the Valley of the Río Suárez and the mighty Cordillera de Cobardes. Don’t miss the little museum of fossils and relics of the indigenous Guane tribe in Guane. Drive back to Barichara by car.
    During this walk, you discover Barichara with its whitewashed houses and cobbled streets. In many small galleries and craft workshops there’s always something interesting to discover. From the small chapel of Santa Barbara, you have a beautiful view over the village and the valley of the Río Suarez. Take your time visiting the artisanal paper mill where you can watch (or do it yourself) how paper is being made of agave and pineapple fibres.

    Day 12 Barichara – Cartagena

    This tour takes you from Barichara to Bucaramanga. It leads through the Canyon del Chicamocha, where when conditions permitting, you will be able to cross the canyon by cable car and enjoy a fantastic view of the deep gorge. On the other side of the canyon, at 1’600 meters above sea, you will visit the coffee farm “El Roble”, a Rainforest Alliance certified farm operated with the principles of sustainability. Trace the path of the coffee bean from seedling into the steaming cup. Taste some of the coffee va-rieties grown on the hacienda guided by professional coffee technician.
    Transfer to the airport in Bucaramanga on time for your flight.
    Meet and greet with the driver at the airport and transfer to your hotel in the centre of Cartagena.

    Day 13 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 14 Cartagena

    Day at your leisure time.
    Option 1
    You will venture a daytrip to the Islas del Rosario. Enjoy the half an hour boat ride through the bay of Cartagena and reach Isla Tierra Bomba. It’s one of 28 Islands from Islas del Rosario. You can take your time to relax at the beach and enjoy the Caribbean sun, bath in the warm crystal clear water and discover exotic fishes while snorkelling (snorkel equipment not included, rent possible). For lunch, you will stay on the Island at the Blue Apple Beach House and drive back with the boat to Cartagena. Lunch is in-cluded.

    Option 2
    A private car/van will take you to the National Aviary in Baru. Join this ecotourism activity at a unique bird sanctuary in Colombia. In a tour through the aviary you will en-counter three different environments – tropical rainforest, tropical dry forest and desert with a total of 21 different exhibits. You will see and learn about 135 different bird species. Walk this sanctuary with your tour manager. If you would like to take lunch, the driver will bring you to the Pescador de Colores Restaurant with Caribbean and Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant with terrace is located right next to the beach where you have the possibility to take a nice bath. Lunch is not included. Return journey to Cartagena.

    Day 15 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)
  • Accommodation in double room
  • On loan prepaid mobile phone

  • Services not included:

  • International flight to Colombia
  • Domestic flights
  • Tip and local taxes