On this 11-day cultural Colombia holiday, you'll get to know the people, history and traditions that make this country so special. From centuries-old colonial towns and indigenous communities, to life in and around modern cities, you will experience the fascinating contrasts between of Colombia’s rich traditional past and its huge transformation over the last 3 decades. And of course being Colombia, stunning scenery will accompany you from the coffee covered slopes of the Andes to the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean.
This is a suggested itinerary. Dates, stops & activities are all flexible.
11 Days: Bogota - Mhuysqa Community - Zipaquira & Villa de Leyva - Medellin - Cartagena
Activities: local markets, biking, history and culture, community visit, cooking lesson, family coffee farm, flower and graffiti art, mangrove canoe trip
Day 1: Upon arrival into Bogota, you will be met and transferred to your hotel for the evening.
Day 2: Your first visit today is to the Mercado Paloquemao, one of the biggest local markets in the city, where you will be guided through the exquisite flower market, overflowing with sweet scents and vibrant colours, before hitting the popular food stalls for a real local experience. After this you will hop on a bike to explore La Candelaria, the most beautiful part of this vibrant city, with streets lined with stunning old colonial buildings, the Plaza de Bolivar and some of the most beautifully constructed churches to be found in Latin America. (B)
Day 3: Just 1 hour from Bogota lies the small town of Sesquile, home of the Mhuysqa Community. After a 40 minute walk to get there, members of community will welcome you and chat about their traditions, daily activities and beliefs. You will gather around a wood fire with the village elders in the 'cusmuy' (smoky hut) then continue on a short walk in the forest to see their small school and the 'grandfather’s temple'. In the afternoon you're in for a special and memorable experience, as you cook up a storm with the villagers, learning traditional cooking methods with local ingredients. (B/L)
Day 4: Today you'll head northeast into the countryside to see 2 very different and unique places. The first lies 1.5 hours outside the city through vast flower farms - the Salt Cathedral is built into one of the salt mines common in this area and is filled with incredible atmospheric light installations.
Once you have emerged back into the light of day, continue on to the well-preserved town of Villa de Leyva where you will stay tonight. It is one of the most beautiful towns in the Andes, a colonial jewel with an enormous plaza surrounded by Spanish-style houses, small alleys, cobblestone streets and the XVII century parish church. (B)
Day 5: Head back to Bogota airport for a short flight to Medellin, where you can relax at your hotel for the afternoon. (B)
Day 6: Medellin epitomises the changes that Colombia has seen over the last few decades, from the 1980s when the city was one of the most dangerous in the world, to the present day and some of the many projects that fostered the city’s rehabilitation. Led by your local guide, you will visit areas that Pablo Escobar called home and learn how he bought the local communities' devotion with lavish donations and housing projects. To understand the history of Medellin you also have to visit Comuna 13, famous for graffiti depicting the history and transformations of the city. Guided by local artists you will gain fascinating insights into the importance of street art for social communication and identity. (B)
Day 7: Experience Colombia's coffee culture at the farm of Don Octavio Acevedo and his family. Amazingly they produce their own coffee brand on under 3 hectares of land and will guide you through the whole process from plant to cup. Stroll through the plantation learning about growing and collecting the precious beans, then see the roasting process and their own unique way to prepare the coffee. (B)
Day 8: Every year Medellin hosts the Flower Fair, a riot of colour, sounds and smells with local blooms adorning houses, floats and any other spare space! Today you will visit one of the flower farms that cover the lush Andean hills around Medellin, which are run by 'silleteros' - farmers who create masterful floral displays for the Fair that celebrate the end of slavery. Stop for a traditional lunch en route to take in the sheer beauty of the area, then spend the afternoon at the home of one of the local growers and connoisseurs of silletero art, discovering this unusual art form. Afterwards transfer to the airport for a flight to Cartagena. (B)
Day 9: Cartagena is one of the most unforgettable towns in Latin America, with the turquoise waters of the Caribbean lapping at its feet, its old town holds the secrets of a quite incredible history. You will find historical churches nestled amongst cobbled streets that are lined with beautiful colonial buildings and adorned with flowers of every colour. You will explore a fortress originally built to withstand pirate attacks, with breathtaking views and underground tunnels, galleries and passageways, monasteries dating back hundreds of years and the markets that support modern day Cartagenians' livelihoods. (B/L)
Day 10: This morning travel about 20 minutes to La Boquilla, a small fishing village just outside of Cartagena where you can experience local culture not often seen by other tourists. Take a canoe trip through the mangrove ecosystem, one of the most remarkable natural environments around Cartagena due to its rich fauna and diversity of vegetation. You have the chance to explore the village before heading back to Cartagena, where the afternoon is free to explore on your own. (B/L)
Day 11: Sadly today it's time to say goodbye to Colombia as you are return to the airport in time for your flight home. (B)
Prices from: £1750 per person
Services included: hotels on shared room basis, meals, transfers and activities as mentioned, entry fees, English speaking guide, 24 hour assistance.
Services not included: flights, drinks, tips and personal expenses.
Note: stops can be extended, added or cut - just ask us!