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Discover the romantic side of Colombia exploring the colonial towns of Villa de Leyva and Barichara, make a visit to García Márquez birthplace, the lively Cartagena, and close with some days of sun and sand in Rosario Islands.
This trip takes you across the Andean heritage of Colombia, visiting the cosmopolitan Bogotá, the archaeological treasures of San Agustín, and the country's most picturesque market in Popayán.
*Due to certain attractions closing throughout the week, the ideal starting travel date for this trip is on Monday.
Unearth Colombia's bounty of nature traveling to the jungles of the Amazon Rainforest, then fly to the other side of the country and relax on the white sand and turquoise waters of its Caribbean islands.
Venture into the lively Medellín and learn about its moving history, unearth the secrets of Colombian coffee as you ride a hot air balloon over the plantations, and finish with some world-class whale watching in Nuquí.
Get off the beaten path and explore Colombia's most remote indigenous communities, trek across the jungle to the mythical Lost City, and unwind at the picture-perfect beaches of the Guajira Peninsula.
Cartagena de Indias’ UNESCO World Heritage-listed old town is a place to lose yourself, with a maze of cobblestone streets lined with colourful colonial buildings. Photograph the bougainvillea-draped balconies, explore the museum of Iglesia de San Pedro Claver and admire the cityscape from Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. Then join a guided walking tour to discover the magical realism of renowned Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez in the city where he forged his career.
From the beautiful sands of Palomino that nestle at the base of the Sierra Nevada to the crystal clear waters of Capurganá near the Panama border, Colombia’s Caribbean Coast has no shortage of stunning beaches. Escape to the palm-backed white sands of Playa Blanca on Isla de Barú, trek to the untouched beaches of Tayrona National Park where massive boulders dot the shore or jump aboard a flight to the remote islands of San Andrés and Providencia.
Travel into Colombia’s Central Andes region to explore its atmospheric colonial towns, including the beautifully preserved streets of charming Villa de Leyva. Wander its expansive town square where street artists perform and peruse the boutiques, then continue to the tiny pueblo of Barichara. Celebrated as "Colombia’s most beautiful village", it’s home to the magnificent Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and boasts picturesque views across the Suarez River Canyon.
As the cultural heart of Colombia, Bogota is renowned for its excellent museums and galleries, particularly within the historic Candelaria district. Revive the legend of "El Dorado" at the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) that showcases highly-prized, pre-Hispanic gold items, including ancient masks and pieces used in shaman ceremonies. Then take the short walk over to the Botero Museum which celebrates Colombia’s most famous painter and his voluptuous characters.
From its years at the mercy of Pablo Escobar in the 1980s, Medellín’s transformation has to be seen to be believed, with cutting-edge modern architecture and enticing public spaces to discover. Photograph the larger-than-life sculptures of Fernando Botero within Plaza Botero, dance to vallenato music in the clubs of Sabaneta and travel to the colourful lakeside neighbourhood of Guatapé.
Travel from Pereira to Manizales and on to Armenia, the three towns that form Colombia’s Coffee Triangle, for a bean-to-cup experience at its plantations. Join local farmers on a guided tour to see how the beans are grown and harvested before watching the roasting operations first-hand. Then sip on high quality arabica coffee while taking in the breathtaking views across the undulating green hills.
Believed to be the world’s largest necropolis, San Agustín Archaeological Park features ancient religious monuments and megalithic stone idols hidden in the foothills of the Colombian Massif. Go horseback riding or trekking through this immense UNESCO World Heritage Site, with monuments scattered on either side of the Magdalena River.
Jump aboard a boat to cruise up the Yavarí River for an unforgettable lodge-based Amazon jungle experience. Trek through its dense forests to spot colourful birds, three-toed sloths and squirrel monkeys, go fishing for piranhas and visit indigenous villages to discover their traditional lifestyle in harmony with nature.
Witness the sunrise over Colombia’s UNESCO-listed coffee landscapes on an early morning hot air balloon tour. Soak up the sweeping views across the coffee plantations, picturesque villages and surrounding mountains while enjoy a fresh brew to start the day.
Colombia’s most vibrant and colourful folkloric celebration is the Carnival in Barranquilla, which ignites the streets each February with traditionally dressed dancers and musicians. Watch the Battle of the Flowers kick-off the festival, then dance along to the cumbia and African congo rhythms of The Great Parade.
Time your visit from the end of July to November when Caño Cristales explodes in colours of yellow, green, blue and red in what has been referred to as a "liquid rainbow". This natural wonder lies within the beautiful Serrania de la Macarena National Park and has only recently been opened to visitors, with its unique phenomena resulting from the Macarenia clavigera plant that thrives on the river bed.
Whether you join a group lesson or opt for a one-on-one class, don’t miss the chance to learn a few distinctly Latin moves in Cali’s world-famous salsa schools. Then head out after dark to perfect your skills in the energy-infused salsa clubs of Juanchito.
Take a day trip from Popayán to the small village of Silvia, which ignites on Tuesdays with the colourful market of the Guambiano Indians. Shop for hand-spun textiles and photograph the fruits and vegetables piled high, then visit an authentic Guambiano village to experience first-hand their traditional life.
Trek through the jungle and mangroves that line the narrow inlet of Ensenada de Utría while keeping an eye out for humpback whales which calve and play just offshore. Then hire a kayak to explore the shoreline at leisure and slip into the water to snorkel in the clear waters.
Experience the traditional music, dance and mochila crafts of the Wayuu people within the arid La Guajira peninsula that they call home. Go hiking through the wind-sculpted dunes, watch a spectacular sunset over the desert landscapes and spend the night sleeping in a hammock just as the Wayuu do.
Hike through unique neotropical alpine páramo ecosystems in the "Valley of the Sun" that is home to Colombia’s largest lake, Lago de Tota. Go cycling through its picturesque colonial villages and relax on the mesmerising white sands of Playa Blanca, which sits at more than 3,000 metres.
Traversing the lush jungles and wild rivers of the Sierra Nevada, embark on the 4-day hike to the photogenic "Lost City" of Teyuna, the ancient capital of the Tayrona civilisation. Learn about the Wiwa, Kogi, Arhuaco and Kankuamo indigenous groups who inhabit the surrounding mountains and discover the mystery of these little-visited ruins.
Trek past glaciers and crystal streams beneath the rugged peaks of El Cocuy on the 6-day trek to its highest point at Rita`k Uwa. Or enjoy one of the less strenuous day hikes through Parque Nacional El Cocuy, with a soak in the hot springs at the end of the day.
Whether you’re zip-lining, paragliding or riding across the Chicamocha Canyon in its aerial tramway, be treated to the incredible views across its densely forested slopes. Or join a guided canoeing trip down the Chicamocha River which carves through the canyon floor, finishing at the Chicamocha National Park.
Take on the thrilling rapids of the Suarez River on the outskirts of San Gil, with cloud forest hugging both sides of the banks and natural pools to swim in. Or enjoy a more relaxed, family white water rafting experience on the Class III rapids of the beautiful Fonce River.
Explore the majestic alpine lakes, endemic species and glacial-covered peaks of Los Nevados on a day trek or multi-day trip. Hike through Colombia’s unique páramo ecosystem, featuring endemic frailejones and cojines plants, and stand atop one of the last remaining glaciers in Colombia, then tackle Santa Isabel’s peak as paramo eagles soar above.
Backed by lush jungle and swaying palms, Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona boasts untouched beaches and offshore islets that exemplify "paradise". Hike or horseback ride to go swimming in the turquoise waters where huge boulders protrude from the sea and camp out under the stars in its eco-campsites.
With its palm-fringed beach promenade, luxurious resorts and wildlife-rich mangrove forests, San Andrés Island is closer to Nicaragua than Colombia. Go kayaking to explore idyllic Johnny Cay, relax on the pristine white sands and admire the colourful Caribbean architecture of La Loma and San Luis.
Travel across the desert dunes and rocky cliffs of Punta Gallinas where they meet the bright blue Caribbean Sea at the far northern tip of La Guajira Peninsula. Go swimming in the untouched bays at Taroa and Bahia Hondita and watch the sunset from the Punta Gallinas' lighthouse at South America’s northernmost tip.
Protected as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Providencia’s healthy walls and coral reefs offer some of Colombia’s best scuba diving. Coupled with calm waters, it’s also a great destination to learn to dive, with colourful tropical fish, dolphins and sea turtles to spot. Explore the caves and fissures of Tete’s Place, cruise along the steep walls at Blue Hole and enjoy the magical shallow reef dives at Bajo de San Felipe.
Protected as a natural park, the Rosario and San Bernardo archipelagos are a Caribbean paradise just to the southwest of Cartagena. Relax under the thatched umbrellas of Mucura Beach, go snorkelling to witness the archipelago’s colourful coral reefs and explore the mangrove forests that serve as a vital breeding and feeding ground for the abundant marine life.