From Highland to Caribbean & Carnival in Barranquilla

Barranquilla, San Vicente del Chucurí

Don’t miss the second largest carnival celebration of the world: Carnival in Barranquilla!
This Seat in Bus Tour brings you from Bogotá via the colonial villages to the coast.

• Gold Museum in Bogotá – on the path of El Dorado
• Colonial villages – Villa de Leyva and Barichara
• Coffee process in a Coffee Hacienda
• Mompox – Where time is standing. One Hundred Years of Solitude, UNESCO World Herit-age Site
• Carnival in Barranquilla
• 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.
Hotel: Casa Deco ***

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.
Hotel: Casa Deco ***

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.
From there you drive to the lake of Guatavita. After a 30 minutes’ walk through a little forest and typical highland vegetation you will reach the crater border at 3000m above sea level. Enjoy the nice view on the Crater Lake, where once coronation ceremonies of the monarchs of the Muiscas took place.
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.
Hotel: Campanario de la Villa ***

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.
Hotel: Campanario de la Villa ***

Day 5 Villa de Leyva – Barichara
The journey slowly leads from the highlands to warmer region. 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.
Hotel: Hicasua ***

Day 6 Barichara
Explore the region while an easy downhill hike from Barichara to the quiet village of Guane. Along the way, you’ll pass tobacco fields and cow paddocks, enjoy the view over the Valley of the Río Suárez and the powerful 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 a leisurely 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.
Hotel: Hicasua ***

Day 7 Barichara – San Vicente del Chucurí
You leave the mountains and reach the Colombian lowlands. From Barichara you go to the Canyon del Chicamocha. When the conditions are right you may cross the canyon with the cable car to enjoy the fantastic view at the deep gorge. At a height of 1.600m lays this sustainable and certified coffee farm “El Robles” with its excellent coffee. You learn more about the way from the seed to the bean and how it is processed. In the end, you can taste the finished coffee. You continue your journey to San Vicente del Chucurí.
Hotel: Quinta Tibigaro **

Day 8 San Vicente del Chucurí – Barrancabermeja
On this tour, everything is about chocolate. You will start with a walk through the cocoa plantation with many different cocoa trees. They all have up to 25 cm long fruits that can be red, yellow or brown. After peeling and washing the beans are fermented and toasted which gives them their typical taste. Subsequently the beans are ground and the chocolate is produced. You will make your own chocolate to take home. Back in San Vicente you will see the cocoa trading sector of the village.
In the afternoon you will leave San Vicente and drive to Barrancabermeja.
Hotel: Park-inn by Radisson ****

Day 9 Barrancabermeja – Mompox
The boat starts the adventure on the Río Magdalena. Far away from the roads the river curls his way through the landscape. After 5 hours, you reach El Banco, a small village in the south of the department Magdalena. Hundred years ago this was the only access from Bogotá to the Atlantic coast. From El Banco the route takes you two more hours by bus/van/car to Mompox, a magical colonial town in the north of Colombian, which teaches you a lot of history, romance and nostalgia in every corner of this town.

Day 10 Mompox
You explore Mompox and surroundings. You go to the small village Santa Teresa which can be reached by motorcycle and ferry. The first stop is at a home of a native family where you get an overview of the life and their daily routine. Enjoy the hospitality and let the natives spoil you with coffee, maize and cream cheese. You will get to know the famous delicate jewelries from the Mompox region. The precious metal is handmade by pulling, turning and flattening to get fine gold wire and in the end to become nice and lovely gem. Nowadays the jewelry is mostly made of silver because the gems in gold are much more expensive. If you want to have them in gold you have make a request. The six churches and one chapel reflect the religious importance of this town. The most known church, Santa Barbara, is located at a branch of the Magdalena River and is unique for its octagonal masoned tower.
Hotel: Hostal Doña Manuela **

Day 11 Mompox – Barranquilla
From Mompox you will drive to Barranquilla, the city where the famous singer Shakira was born. Everyone in the city will be busy already with preparations of the big carnival festival.
Hotel: Majestic ***

Day 12 Barranquilla – Cartagena
The Carnival of Barranquilla, which was declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO,is the most popular festival, not only in the Caribbean but also in all of Colombia. He has an almost 200-year unbroken tradition and is one of the most Cosmopolitan places of culture and coexistence in Latin America. It turns the whole city and its thousands of visitors, as by magic, in both actors and spectators of this common experience. Tradition and folklore mark the scope of this fantastic Sunday parade, in which cumbia dancers (Cumbiambas), Congo Dancers (Danzas de Congos) and Garabato dancers present themselves in an extraordinary choreography and pay tribute to the musical traditions of the Colombian Caribbean. We start the tour at 11:00 am and drive to the Cumbiadrome on the Vía40. We enter the Palcos (cascaded tribunes full of seats) and enjoy the parade from 01:00 pm to 06:00 pm.
In the evening you will drive to Cartagena.
Hotel: Bantú ****

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.
Hotel: Bantú ****

Day 14 Cartagena
Enjoy this day in Cartagena at your free disposal. Explore the old town or spend the day at the beach.

Optional: A private car/van will take you to the National Aviary in Baru. Join this eco-tourism activity at a unique bird sanctuary in Colombia. In a tour through the aviary you will encounter 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. Lunch is not included. Return journey to Cartagena.
Hotel: Bantú ****

Day 15
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)

02. February 2021 – 16.February 2021