Day 1: Arrive Bogotá, Colombia
Welcome to Colombia’s lively capital city, Bogotá, where a representative from Big Five will be waiting to escort you to your hotel. Hotel Charleston Casa Medina
Day 2: Bogotá
Bogotá is the country’s economic and political hub. The city’s attractions include historical sites including historic colonial churches, Spanish-influenced architecture, lovely parks and more than 40 museums, shopping malls, restaurants and night clubs.
Today you will have a half day visit to the historic center known as La Candelaria. The ancient quarters, of great patrimonial and architectural importance, are formed by old “casonas” or grand houses of profound Spanish influence with iron windows, thick wooden doors, balconies and internal patios that hide beautiful gardens. The area unfolds around the Plaza Bolívar with a statue of Simón Bolívar, El Libertador, right in the center. Originally called Plaza Mayor, it was used for civil and military events, as a market, bull ring and execution platform. The cathedral is next to the square, on the site of Bogotá’s first church built in 1539 and holds an important collection of liturgical, textile and ornamental objects collected over four centuries. Next to it, the Capilla del Sagrario, the religious architectural jewel of the city. Nearby is the Capitolio, built between 1847 and 1926, of Ionic, Neoclassical and Renaissance influence, it was made of white stone and was built by several generations of stonemasons. The central area is occupied by the Salón Elíptico, where the meetings of congress take place, and the wings house the current Cámara de Representantes and Senate. The internal patios are lined by busts of former presidents and of General Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera and Rafael Núñez, composer of the national hymn.
The visit continues on to the Palace of Justice and to the seat of the Alcaldía Mayor, Edificio Liévano, which are always on the Plaza Bolívar. Following is a visit to La Casa de la Moneda, a colonial style building that hosts the art collection of the Banco de la República de Colombia which in turn owns about 250 works mainly by Colombian artists, as well as the numismatic collection which includes machinery used in colonial times to mint currency. Next, visit to the Museo Botero that houses works donated by the artist Fernando Botero and others by Picasso, Renoir, Dalí, Matisse, Monet and Giacometti, to mention a few. Next, you will visit the Museo del Oro which features nearly 34,000 gold objects and 20,000 in stone, ceramic, textiles and precious stones of the Quimbaya, Calima, Tairona, Sinu, Muisca, Tolima, and Tumaco and Magdalena cultures and is considered the most important collection of its kind worldwide.
Next, visit by cable car to the sanctuary of Monserrate, where you can enjoy
the marvelous panoramic view of the whole city from one side and the Andean
mountain range from the other. Visit to the North zone of the city Zona Rosa,
Zona T, Zona G, and Parque de la 93. Hotel Charleston Casa Medina (B)
Day 3: Bogotá
Travel north toward Zipaquirá across the central region of the savanna, home to Colombia’s famous flower cultures as you can see from the greenhouses along the road After about an hour and 15 minutes, you arrive at Zipaquirá. Explore the impressive Salt Cathedral, a magnificent work of engineering. The name Zipaquirá evokes Zipa, chieftain of the Muiscas community and absolute master of the area’s rich salt mines.
The visit begins in a tunnel that exhibits the 14 stations of the Way of the Cross and leads to the dome where you can observe an impressive cross sculpted in low relief. You finally arrive to the three naves of the cathedral joined by openings that represent the birth and death of Christ. The central nave houses the main altar, a 16-meter/52-foot cross, and the Creation of Man, a marble statue by the sculptor Carlos Enrique Rodríguez. Hotel Charleston Casa Medina (B)
Day 4: Bogotá / Medellin
Transfer to the airport to board your flight to Medellin. Upon your arrival, you will be met and transferred to the city (about 45 minutes drive). Capital of the Department of Antioquia, Medellin is located in a fertile mountainous valley named Valle de Aburra. The name honors Don Pedro Portocarrero y Luna, a count from Medellin in Extremadura, Spain. In those days, Medellin was a modest small town, which is evident from the colonial buildings that are far from sumptuous. Its origins date back to the coffee boom of the 20th century, and it acquired great notoriety in the 1980s as the world capital for cocaine and the figure of Pablo Escobar. Today, it is an example of modernity, culture and tradition. It is Colombia’s second industrial, commercial and high technology center.
City of eternal spring, flowers and the “bella vita”, it displays harmonious architecture, beautiful parks, important museums, theaters and art galleries. You feel a surge of energy the busy city center, full of people, restaurants, bars and shops. It is worth visiting during the time of the “Feria de las Flores” that runs for two weeks between July and August. It is particular interesting to see the exhibit of orchids, birds and flowers, and the parade of the “silleteros” is not to be missed as it is the most representative event of the fair. The men carry a 60 kg chair adorned with varied combination of flowers. Tradition goes that the name “silleteros” comes from the fact that the farmers would transport their children in chairs. Charlee Hotel - Superior Spice Room (B)
Day 5: Medellin
Discover the places that represent the social transformation that has taken place in Medellin. Take in important areas of Medellin from the 1980s when the city was one of the most dangerous in the world. Visit the barrio Pablo Escobar where there are approximately 500 houses donated to the poor by the notorious capo. Also visit other outlying barrios that have been drawn into the city by the advent of the construction of the metro-cable cable car. This has been life changing to many of the inhabitants of the city. One of the city’s more curious attractions is the Biblioteca España Park, which makes up part of a series of 30 urban and social regeneration projects that helped transform the urban, social and cultural landscape of Medellin.
Another cultural and tourist attraction is the group of Botero sculptures in the center of the city. These were placed here in the 1990s after the city had fallen into decline the decade before. After lunch, continue to the Parque de los Pies Descalzos, which was inspired by oriental philosophy and contains a small bamboo forest, a sandy area, and streams all designed to allow people to relax in the middle of this urban setting. The final part of the trip will take us to the El Poblado district, where the upper class live and which is recognized as one of the key recreational zones in the city with the Zona Rosa and the Milla de Oro. Charlee Hotel - Superior Spice Room (B)
Day 6: Medellin / Cartagena
This morning you will depart to the airport for your flight to Cartagena, endowed with the title of “The Heroic City.” You are welcomed on arrival and transferred to your hotel, located inside the city walls. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Ananda Hotel Boutique – Superior Junior Suite (B)
Day 7: Cartagena
Spend the day with a private guide exploring this fascinating city. Start by venturing outside the wall. Discover the most important monuments from the colonial city such as St. Philip’s Castle and La Popa Monastery. You will make your way back into the ancient walled city, listed as both “Mankind’s Heritage” and “Colombian National Heritage” site by UNESCO. Continue your sightseeing on the narrow, colonial streets, adorned with antique doorways and flower-filled balconies. Enjoy a leisurely three-hour walking tour of the historic center visiting the Cathedral of Cartagena, the Plaza de Bolivar and the Temple of Santo Domingo. Tonight, you will have a delicious dinner at “Club de Pesca.” Ananda Hotel Boutique – Superior Junior Suite (B)
Day 8: Cartagena - Mompox - Cartagena
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport to board your short flight to Mompox on the western bank of the Magdalena River, about 200 km south east of Cartagena. It is surrounded by rivers and lush vegetation. It was named Santa Cruz de Mompox by Alonso de Heredia on May 3, 1537 after a ferocious battle with the Kimbay tribe, which ended with the defeat of the great chief Mompoj. Mompox quickly became an important commercial center, as merchandise destined inland moved from Cartagena to its port. It was also a refuge for aristocratic women and children from Cartagena during the attacks by English pirates. On August 6, 1810, this was the first town to declare independence from Spain when it destroyed the tools of torture of the house of the Inquisition. During a short stay, Simon Bolívar said: “To Caracas, I owe my life, to Mompox, the glory”. But the glory and splendor of Mompox were forgotten when, by the end of the 19th century, navigation along the Magdalena was channeled to another branch of the river.
Mompox today is semi intact from an architectural point of view as well as the preservation of the traditions of its people. It is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take in the atmosphere as you wander along the streets, seeing the unique architecture. Calle de la Albarrada runs parallel to the river and the city walls, and is worth a walk to the church of Santa Barbara, built in 1630, which is perhaps the most interesting for its bell tower in Moorish style. Also see the Iglesia de la Concepción and the market along the river. The Calle Real del Medio is flanked by beautiful colonial houses whitened with lime and with imposing wooden doors.
Mompox is famous for its Easter celebrations which attract many faithful and tourists. Another outstanding feature of this town is the high quality artisan work in gold and silver filigree and the handmade furniture, particularly the rocking chairs. This afternoon, transfer to Mompox Airport and departure by flight back to Cartagena. Ananda Hotel Boutique – Superior Junior Suite (B)
Day 9: Cartagena / Depart
Today you transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)
Departure Dates: Valid until December 15, 2013
Land price, per person, double occupancy: Starting from $3990