Colombia’s Colonial Cities, Coffee Culture & the Coast

Discover Bogota's colonial architecture and museums such as the Museo del Oro with displays that include some 32,000 pieces of gold. Visit the 16th-century Villa de Leyva, one of the area’s most beautiful towns. Tour the savory world of Colombia’s famed coffee region. Take in the enchanting old Walled City of Cartagena. Go whale watching, kayaking or surfing on Colombia’s Pacific Coast.

Country Information

Colombia

Colombia's Colonial Cities, Coffee Culture & the Coast New Reality

(Countries Visited)

Colombia


(Interest Type(s))

Sustainable Travel

,

Adventure Travel


(Tour Length)

16 Days


Tour Highlights

Starting at: $5,320
  • Explore Bogotá, Colombia’s capital city with its colonial era architecture, and its museums such as the remarkable Museo del Oro with its exhibition of some 32,000 pieces of gold as well as 20,000 stones, ceramics and textiles from early cultures
  • Discover the 16th-century Villa de Leyva, one of the area’s most beautiful towns, a colonial jewel with an enormous plaza surrounded by Spanish-style houses, small alleyways,  cobblestone streets and the 17th-century parochial church
  • In Colombia’s famed coffee region, learn about the complete process of producing some of the world’s best coffees, and the culture that has grown up around this crop
  • Take in the enchanting old Walled City of Cartagena, which is both a UNESCO Mankind’s Heritage Site and a Colombian National Heritage Site
  • Go whale watching, kayaking or surfing at Nuqui, on the northern end of Colombia’s Pacific Coast

Day 1:  Arrive Bogotá, Colombia
Welcome to Colombia.  You are met on arrival and escorted to your hotel.  The remainder of the day is at leisure.  B.O.G. Hotel

Day 2:  Bogotá
Begin your exploration of this dynamic capital city at the historic center known as La Candelaria.  The section is of great architectural merit with stately old homes, Spanish colonial buildings with wrought iron windows, balconies and internal patios with beautiful gardens.  The Plaza de Bolivar, with the statue of Simon Bolivar, was used for civil and military purposes, as well as serving as a marketplace, a bullring and the site of a gallows.  The cathedral, on the eastern side of the plaza, is constructed on the ruins of the first church built in Bogotá in 1539, and houses an important collection of religious artifacts including textiles and artwork from the last four centuries.  The Capilla del Sagrario, next to the cathedral, is a gem of religious architecture.  It features valuable pieces of colonial religious art by Gregorio Vasquez de Arce y Ceballos.  The capitol, built between 1847 and 1926, reveals renaissance and neoclassical influences with its carved stonework and tall columns.  The central area of the capitol, known as the Salon Eliptico, is home to government buildings.  The Plaza de Bolivar is where the Palacio de Justicia and the oldest school in the country are found.  Explore the Museo Botero, a colonial house filled with work of Colombia’s noted artist, Fernando Botero, as well as the late artist’s personal collection that includes pieces by Picasso, Renoir, Dalí Matisse, Monet and Giacometti.  The Museo del Oro has a remarkable exhibition of some 32,000 pieces of gold, 20,000 stones, ceramics and textiles from earlier cultures including:  Quimbaya, Calima, Tayrona, Sinu, Muisca, Tolima, Tumaco and Magdalena.  Visit Monserrate Mountain via funicular cable car for incredible panoramas of the city on one side and the Andes on the other.  Shopping and entertainment districts boast shopping centers, cafes, fashionable boutiques and jewelry stores as well as an active nightlife.  The trip ends in Usaquén, a colonial district, once a separate town, now part of the city.  Enjoy the atmosphere that is colonial in style and, at the same time, modern.  Walk around the colonial plaza and wander through its narrow streets and find small boutiques, art galleries and restaurants.  Sundays are busier here with a bustling flea market.  NOTE:  The Museo del Oro is closed on Mondays and the Museo Botero is closed on Tuesday.  B.O.G. Hotel (B,L)

Day 3:  Bogotá – Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral / Villa de Leyva
After  breakfast,  depart Bogotá  to  the  north,  through the fields and past greenhouses of carnations and roses.  Flower production is an important industry here.  You reach the impressive Salt Cathedral, a true feat of engineering.  The name Zipaquirá refers to Zipa, the leader of the Muisca tribe and the overlord of these rich salt mines.  The trip will begin in a tunnel that passes the fourteen Stations of the Cross and continues on to a dome.  An enormous cross is carved into the rock and there are three naves of the Cathedral that represent the birth, life and death of Christ.  In the central nave is the main altar, above which is a cross measuring 16 m/52 ft in height and 10 m/32 ft in width made by the Colombian artist Carlos Enrique Rodriguez and is the largest cross made from salt in the world.  The site also has an excellent auditorium that can seat 200 people and hosts film screenings and events such as fashion shows.  See a mirror of water, the amazing visual effects of water on carved saline rock.  Continue on to Villa de Leyva.  In the afternoon, visit Villa de Leyva, one of the area’s most beautiful towns, founded in 1572 by Hernàn Suàrez de Villalobos, who named it after Andrès Dìas Venero de Leyva, the first president of Nueva Granada.  In colonial times, Villa de Leyva played a central role and the Viceroy and his entourage spent much time here.  Today, the city is a colonial jewel with an enormous plaza surrounded by Spanish-style houses, small alleyways, cobblestone streets and the 17th-century parochial church.  Hotel Posada de San Antonio (B)

Day 4:  Villa de Leyva
Visit Museo El Fósil, founded in 1977, built on the site where a kronosaurus, an extinct marine reptile, was discovered.  It was among the largest pliosaurs found and likely dates back more than 120 million years.  The Convento del Santo Ecce Homo was established in 1620 by the Dominicans, who were the first Europeans sent to try to convert the indigenous community.  It is about 13 kilometers/8 miles from Villa de Leyva in the municipality of Sutamarchan.  Restored in 1965, it is one of Colombia´s national sites of cultural interest and is a jewel of colonial architecture.  It has an interesting collection of religious art from the colonial era such as liturgical artifacts and paintings.  Return to Villa de Leyva for a free afternoon to explore the area on your own, and maybe visit the Colonial Art Museum and the Monastery and Convent del Carmen.  The Museum of Maestro Acuña exhibits works of this important painter, sculptor and writer, who along with other artists, created the Bachue movement, which sought to recover the roots of their Chibcha ancestors.  Hotel Posada de San Antonio (B)

Day 5: Villa De Leiva/ Bogota/ Pereira
After breakfast, you are transferred back to Bogota for your flight to Pereira.  Upon arrival, you are met and transferred to the hacienda where you will spend the next two nights.  Casa Hacienda San Jose (B)

Day 6: Pereira
Today, visit Finca La Morelia where you see and learn about the complete coffee process, from picking the bean to brewing a fresh cup for your own tasting.  The coffee-growing zone is a geographic area that comprises three Colombian departments: Caldas, Risaralda and Quindío, with their corresponding capital cities of Manizales, Pereira and Armenia. The three departments have a common coffee culture, with beautiful landscapes and friendly people, but each city also has its own unique characteristics.  Armenia is the heart of the region. Most coffee production in Colombia is based here and for that reason, the region is named as the “Coffee Axis” or “Coffee Triangle.” Casa Hacienda San Jose  (B)

Day 7:  Pereira – Valle Del Cocora & Filandia
Early this morning you depart with your guide to the Cocora Valley in Los Nevados National Park. You’ll spot Colombia’s national tree, the “Quindian wax-palm.” It is known to reach an amazing 60 meters/ 197 feet in height.  Hummingbirds and endemic yellow-eared parrots live here. Upon arrival, you may enjoy either hiking or horseback riding. Hike into cloud-forest to experience the lush biodiversity of the flora and fauna.  Cross Quindio River on an ecological pathway through the tallest wax-palms in the world. Stop at a trout farm and enjoy a traditional smoked-trout meal.  Continue 10 kilometers/6 miles towards the small traditional town of Salento. Stroll past the colorful balconies and colonial architecture of Bolivar Square, "calle real," the handicrafts shops and Cocora viewpoint.  The town became isolated and therefore has retained more of its colonial architecture than almost any other town in the Coffee Region as well as a quiet and relaxed way of life.  Visit traditional town of Finlandia, a small community economically supported by agriculture and tourism. Although coffee is the major agricultural product, the municipality's diverse ecosystem makes it perfect for the production of fruits and vegetables. Spend some time soaking-up the regional atmosphere and then return to hotel in the late afternoon. Casa Hacienda San Jose  (B,L)

Day 8:  Pereira / Medellin
After  breakfast, transfer to the local airport for the flight to Medellín via Bogotá.  Upon arrival in Medellin, you are greeted and transferred to you hotel.  The remainder of the day is at leisure.  Charlee Lifestyle Hotel (B)

Day 9:  Medellin / Nuqui
Transfer to Medellin airport for your flight to Nuqui, on the northern end of Colombia’s Pacific coast surrounded by jungle.  Transfer to a dock where you board a boat for a ride to your lodge, about 45 minutes.  In the afternoon, walk to a lovely little waterfall, Cascada del Amor, with its crystalline waters.  A short stroll further into the jungle is another waterfall, Mellizas.  Lastly, enjoy empty beaches along the riverbanks.  El Cantil Lodge (B,L,D)

Days 10/11:  Nuqui
Spend your time here as you like, being as busy or laid back as you choose.  Activities include leisurely walks to jungle waterfalls; relaxing on the beaches; soaking in the warm thermal springs; setting out in search of whales; enjoying guided walks, surfing and kayaking.  El Cantil Lodge (B,L,D)

Day 12:  Nuqui / Medellin
After breakfast, travel by boat back to Nuquí and transfer to the airport for your flight to Medellín.  Upon arrival in Medellin, you are escorted to your hotel.  Charlee Lifestyle Hotel (B)

Day 13:  Medellin / Cartagena de Indias
This morning, you enjoy a half-day city tour with visits to Pueblito Paisa on the Nutibara Hill, a replica of one of the typical Paisa villages of Antioquia, with its colorful houses, church, courtyards, patios and a fountain in the middle of the village.  Small souvenir shops offer local crafts for sale, and open-air cafes are perfect for people watching.  Visit the sculpture garden park of one of Colombia’s most noted artists – Fernando Botero Angulo (born here on April 19, 1932).  This afternoon, fly to the lovely historic city of Cartagena de Indias, often called simply Cartagena.  Hotel Boutique Ananda (B)

Day 14:  Cartagena  
In the morning, start with a panoramic view of the city from the Monasterio and Iglesia de La Popa, formerly known as the “Popa  del Galeon” and  famous for resembling the stern of a galleon. Constructed in 1606, this church and monastery offers 360º views of the city and the sea as well as the port zone, one of the most important in the Caribbean.  Continuing to the San Felipe fortress, erected in honor of the poet from Cartagena, Don Luis Carlos López.  It was built on San Lázaro hill to defend the city from pirate attacks.  Walk around the fortress to see how the castle  was constructed with its tunnels, underground galleries and passageways.  Then, go on to the Ciudad Vieja (old city) to visit the Convert and Church of the San Pedro Claver compound, which was built in the middle of the 17th century.  Lastly, explore the handicrafts zone of the Bovedas, a collection of archways built into the city wall of Cartagena and that were used until the end of the 1700s to house armaments and then, in the 19th century as a prison.  Now, it serves as an artisan center.  After lunch, visit the city’s colonial district, starting in Parque Bolivar, shaded by large trees, and boasting four fountains with a statue of the great liberator in the center. Around the square is the Museo del Oro, which exhibits a fine collection of archaeological objects dating back to the pre-Hispanic period; and the Palacio de la Inquisicion, recognizable for its large baroque door.  The Inquisition held its meetings in the palace here and it was also the site of the prison and torture chambers for presumed heretics, opponents of the Catholic Church.  The visit continues to the Santo Domingo Church, the Cathedral and ends at the Terraplenes and the Museum of the City’s Fortifications.  Explore Cartagena’s historic are inside the wall.  The Walled City was declared both Mankind’s Heritage and a Colombian National Heritage by UNESCO.  Its narrow streets are adorned with antique doorways, flower-filled balconies, colonial streets and the Cathedral of Cartagena.  Continue to the Plaza de Bolivar and the Temple of Santo Domingo.  Outside the wall are important monuments from the colonial era such as St. Philip’s Castle and La Popa Monastery.  Hotel Boutique Ananda (B)

Day 15:  Cartagena
Today you spend the day on an excursion by boat to the Archipiélago del Rosario, located approximately one hour from Cartagena.  The national park is ringed by coral reefs and lapped by clear blue waters and is the habitat for a large variety of marine fauna.  Enjoy free time for snorkeling and relaxation.  Hotel Boutique Ananda (B)

Day 16:  Cartagena / Depart
Transfer to the airport for your flight home via Bogota.  (B)

Land price, per person, double occupancy:  Starting from $5,320

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