Treasures Of Colombia10 days & 9 nights, Escorted Discovery Group
Escorted Discovery Group
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Bogota, Pereira, Medellin & Cartagena
Colombia is fast becoming a favored destination for travellers. This journey explores the best of this fascinating country, travelling from Andean peaks to tropical Caribbean coastlines. Visit the mountain capital of Bogota with its excellent Gold Museum, continue through fertile valleys and delightful coffee country and explore vibrant Medellin, Colombia's second most important city. End in the colonial port of Cartagena, one of South America's most beautiful towns.
Day 1Arrive Bogota
You will be met and taken to your hotel.NH Pavillon Royal - 2 Nights
Embark on a city tour this afternoon. Begin the tour with a visit to La Candelaria, the oldest part of the city with many colonial buildings still present. Nearby is the main square of Bogota, the Plaza de Bolivar, surrounded by the cathedral and many government buildings.
Continue to the famous Gold Museum. With over 32,000 pieces, this is the World's largest collection of pre-Hispanic gold artefacts. Finally visit the Botero Museum. Housed in a restored colonial mansion the collection includes many works by the Colombian artist Fernando Botero, together with pieces by other artists such as Picasso, Renoir and Monet.
The Gold Museum is closed on Monday and the Botero Museum is closed on Tuesday.
Make an early morning visit to the largest food market in Bogota. Paloquemao market offers a vast array of Colombian fruits and ingredients. The popular food stalls serve local delicacies and the flower market provides an amazing array of smells and colors to enliven the senses.
Located on the outskirts of the small town of Zipaquira, the Salt Cathedral is an amazing underground church built in a tunnel of salt mines 656 feet inside a mountain. Curving and twisting tunnels descend in to the temple, passing 14 small chapels representing the stations of the cross illustrating the events of Jesus' last journey. The crosses and kneeling platforms of each section are carved into the salt. The main room, which is 82 feet high can accommodate a staggering 8,400 people and holds masses each Sunday as well as the occasional concert.
Enjoy the afternoon at leisure or take an optional cable-car ride to the Montserrat Hill for panoramic views of the city and the surrounding mountains. Should you wish to book any optional excursions locally, please enquire with our local agent on arrival in Bogota.NH Pavillon Royal (B)
Day 3Fly to Pereira
You will be collected at your hotel and taken to the airport for your flight to Pereira.Hacienda San Jose or Hacienda Castilla - 2 Nights (B, L)
Upon arrival, drive to your Coffee Region hacienda with a full-day exploration of the Cocora valley en route. Total journey time is approximately 8 hours, including sightseeing stops.
You will be met at Pereira airport and transferred by road to the Cocora valley, a journey of approximately 1 hour 20 minutes. Part of the wider Los Nevados National Park, the Cocora valley is one of the largest wax palm habitats. The wax palm or 'palma de cera', is the world's tallest palm variety reaching heights of up to 196 feet. The sight of the unusually slim and high trunks covering the surrounding hills is astonishing. The palma de cera is also the only palm species that can grow above 8,200 feet and is Colombia's national tree.
Take a walk in the cloud forest and by the Quindio river, where it may be possible to see hummingbirds and palm parrots, as well as other regional flora and fauna. After lunch, take a 20-minute drive to the town of Salento, founded in 1850 and the oldest settlement in the area, also known as the 'town of short streets and long memories'. Colorful colonial houses, a charming main square and leafy courtyards add to the town's bygone atmosphere. Take another short drive and visit the picturesque and well-preserved village of Filandia to further enjoy the regional charms and beautiful views.
Following the tour, continue by road to your hacienda, a journey of approximately 1 hour, arriving in the late afternoon.
Day 4Coffee region
Visit one of the area's coffee producing farms to learn about the plantation and production of the world's most famous coffee. The process begins with growing plants from selected beans in nurseries. After the seeds germinate, the healthiest plants are selected and transplanted into the plantations where they are carefully cultivated. Coffee beans are ready to harvest when they mature and become red in color; the main seasons in Colombia are in May, June and October. Once the fruit is picked, the pulp is removed and the beans are washed and sun dried. You will also visit the "trilladora" to observe the manual selection process of the grains as well as the tasting which ensures good quality flavor.Hacienda San Jose or Hacienda Castilla (B)
Day 5To Medellin
Travel by road from the Pereira area of the Coffee Region to Medellin, stopping at the Mirador del Pipinta viewpoint for scenic views over the Cauca river. Total journey time is approximately 5 hours.Hotel Poblado Alejandria - 2 Nights (B)
Today explore the highlights of Colombia's second most important city. This morning, take the metrocable car, that joins the north-east area with the city center, and travel to Arvi Park, a natural reserve located on the outskirts of the city. From the metrocable see the barrio (neighborhood) of Santo Domingo Savio, which used to be one of the most unsafe suburbs of Medellin. Located some 4 miles from the city center, it is a clear example of the social transformation that has taken place in the last few years. The neighborhood houses the distinctive library, the Biblioteca Espana, inaugurated in 2007 and one of a series of 30 urban and social regeneration projects that helped transform the city. Take a 30-minute ride by cable car through the Arvi reserve, visit a farmer's market and the Piedras Blancas park where there is a lake and ecological trails.Hotel Poblado Alejandria (B)
Return to the center of Medellin to visit the Parque San Antonio, also known as La Plazoleta, where there are 23 sculptures by the famous local artist Fernando Botero. Continue to one of the oldest parts of the city and the Plazuela de San Ignacio to see the baroque San Ignacio church and statues of historical figures. Pass by the Monaco building in the Poblado district, in the south-east of Medellin, where Pablo Escobar once lived. Visit the electric stairs, another one of the places that best represent the social transformation that has taken place in Medellin, and see some graffiti that represents a form of expression of the community.
Day 7Fly to Cartagena
You will be collected at your hotel and taken to the airport for your flight to Cartagena.Hotel Kartaxa - 3 Nights (B)
Upon arrival, you will be met and taken to your hotel.
This morning depart your hotel at 8:00 am on a walking tour to explore the picturesque streets and plazas of Cartagena's colonial walled city. Start at the Bolivar Park, shaded by large trees and featuring four fountains and a statue of Simon Bolivar. See the collection of archaeological objects dating back to the pre-Hispanic period at the Gold Museum, stop at the Inquisition Palace, which has a magnificent baroque entrance hall and torture chambers where presumed heretics were tried and executed, and visit the 16th-century cathedral. In the late morning, stop at a local cafe for a refreshment break and the chance to sample a traditional Colombian snack.Hotel Kartaxa (B)
Continue the tour with a visit to the city walls, which are over 49 feet thick in places. Drive up to the Convento de la Popa, which was founded in 1607 by the Augustinian order and is situated on a hill with panoramic views over the whole city and the bay. Finally visit the Castillo de San Felipe. A masterpiece of Spanish colonial military engineering, the fort was built and reinforced during the 16th and 17th centuries to defend the city from pirate attacks. Walk around the fortress to learn about its construction and explore the underground galleries, tunnels and passageways. The tour will finish at approximately 2:00 pm.
Enjoy the day at leisure or take an optional boat excursion to the Rosario Islands. Should you wish to book any optional excursions locally, please enquire with our local agent on arrival in Cartagena.Hotel Kartaxa (B)
Day 10Depart Cartagena
Enjoy the morning at leisure(B)
You will be collected at your hotel and taken to the airport.
Generally, road travel in Latin America is reasonably good, however conditions vary greatly between the modern capital cities and the more remote areas. When traveling off the beaten track, roads are frequently narrow, bumpy, pot-holed and have stretches which are not paved, or which are under reconstruction. In Costa Rica, northern Chile and Bolivia particularly, conditions are very dusty and / or bumpy, and the road journeys tend to be quite strenuous. Road conditions change throughout the year and heavy rain and extreme weather patterns can affect journey times. Types of vehicles vary according to the country visited and the numbers on a tour: on escorted groups, transport will usually be in the form of a European-style coach or, for smaller groups, may be by mini-bus. On individual journeys, transport will generally be by sedan car. In destinations where conditions require it, off road driving will be in 4 x 4 vehicles.
Internal Flights / Delays / Insurance: Many countries within Latin America have their own air pass and, wherever possible, our tours will be constructed with the appropriate air pass, which will minimize the costs of the internal flight. Please note that the majority of air passes have restrictions; therefore if you require an itinerary with full flexibility, please contact your tour consultant who will advise the additional cost to provide you with a more flexible ticket. Please also note that in certain cases we may not be able to book internal flights under an airpass. In this event a supplement may be payable.
Because of increased air traffic, government restrictions and/or changing weather conditions, flight delays have become more commonplace. These delays can cause problems with your holiday arrangements, and additional costs may well be involved. This may be in the form of added accommodation costs, transfers and/or onward tickets. If this should occur, everything possible will be done to minimize the inconvenience. Cox & Kings will endeavor to ensure that arrangements go as smoothly as possible. As services are paid for in advance any services missed due to delays and/or schedule changes are non-refundable. Please also bear in mind that many international flight tickets are non-changeable and non-refundable. The insurance policy offered by Cox & Kings is designed to mitigate the costs and effects of such delays in certain circumstances and we strongly advise that you are insured against such eventualities.
Flight Amendments: Flights on these tours are in general quoted separately and use special airfare. These have certain conditions, which normally restrict changes of date, route and airline. Any such change made after a ticket has been issued will normally necessitate the purchase of a new ticket at the passenger’s expense.
Airport Departure Taxes: Most cities in Latin America levy a departure tax for passengers departing on international flights, which have to be paid in local currency or the equivalent in US dollars. Other cities within a country may also levy a small charge for departures on domestic flights. Occasionally, taxes may be included on your ticket and we will advise you accordingly. Since there is no standard charge between countries, and taxes are subject to change, it is not possible to list the taxes in this brochure. We will advise you of the current charge with your final documents, and our local agents will confirm the amount payable on arrival. Please ensure you keep enough local currency or US dollars to cover these taxes.
During some itineraries, it may be necessary to depart for excursions or transfers to the airport very early in the morning, sometimes before dawn. This is normally either due to the flight schedules within Latin America, or in order for us to maximize the opportunities for sightseeing during your tour. A number of flights to Latin America arrive / depart early in the morning and, while we will endeavor to schedule your tour with a flight which arrives / departs at a reasonable time, sometimes there is little or no alternative and early check-in / check-out times may be required.
Accommodation standards vary dramatically throughout Latin America. In the larger cities, the hotels we use are fully modernized and have excellent facilities, unless you choose to opt for the more colonial style property, where facilities may be limited. In some smaller cities and more remote areas, we try to offer the best hotels available. However, these may be quite simple - sometimes small colonial-style properties, in which rooms may vary in size - and often have relatively basic facilities. Please note, all rooms reserved on your tour are standard; however, if you wish to upgrade your room (e.g. to a lake or falls view, deluxe or suite etc.), please speak to your tour consultant, who will be able to advise you about the options and the applicable supplements.
Check-in & Check-out Times: For all group and individual tours, hotel check-in / out time is normally 3:00 pm, but this does vary between hotels.
Jungle Lodges & Remote Areas: Accommodation in some wildlife lodges in the Amazon rainforest, are not comparable to the better properties found in parts of Africa and Asia. Accommodation is often reached via narrow and unpaved roads, or by boat, and can be a long way from other civilization. Even when you travel off the beaten track with Cox & Kings, you can be sure that your accommodation is the best available; however sometimes the best hotel may be the only hotel, which may be very modest. In these cases, we feel that the inconvenience of such accommodation is outweighed by the experience of staying in these more remote areas.
Currency: Colombian Peso
Official Language(s): Spanish
Colombia offers an intriguing mix of forgotten ancient cultures, colonial architecture and Caribbean beaches. The country is much safer now than it has been in recent years. The most popular place to visit in Colombia is the colonial city of Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast - one of the best preserved in all of Latin America.
What To See
Colombia is the only country in South America with coasts on the Pacific and Caribbean. It’s a beautiful country, with the Andes, beaches, colonial cities and archaeological treasures.
When To Go
Colombia’s proximity to the equator means its temperature varies little throughout the year. The temperature does change with altitude, creating various climatic zones from hot lowlands to freezing Andean peaks, so you can experience completely different climates within a couple of hours of travel. The most pleasant time to visit Colombia is in the dry season, between December and March or in July and August.