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Quest for El Dorado - 10 Days

Quest for El Dorado

Colombia · Private Tour · 10 Days
j
Private Tour
e
culture
@
nature

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. 

Itinerary

Day 1 - Bogotá
Day 2 - Bogotá
Day 3 - Guatavita & Zipaquirá
Day 4 - Bogotá → Tatacoa Desert → San Agustín
Day 5 - San Agustín & Strait of Magdalena
Day 6 - Alto de los Idolos & Alto de las Piedras
Day 7 - San Agustin → Tierradentro
Day 8 - Tierradentro → Popayán
Day 9 - Popayán
Day 10 - Popayán

What is included

  • Internal transfers, transportation and sightseeing as per itinerary with private air conditioning car
  • 9 nights accommodation at comfort hotels with breakfast
  • Meals mentioned in this itinerary
  • Entrance fees to the visits and excursions mentioned as included
  • Bilingual speaking guide during visits

What is NOT included

  • International flight
  • Domestic flights Bogotá-Neiva, Popayán-Bogotá
  • Visits not mentioned in this itinerary
  • Meals and beverages not mentioned in this itinerary
  • Tips and personal expenses
Did you know you can make this trip even better? Customize this tour

day
1
Bogotá

Arrival to El Dorado airport in Bogota on an intercontinental flight. Reception and transfer to the hotel.

Overnight at the hotel.

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
]

Cite Hotel

Bogota

day
2
Bogotá

After breakfast, enjoy a full day visit to the historic centre of Bogotá known as La Candelaria. It has great significance in the country´s history due to its cultural heritage and is also a great example of Spanish colonial time architecture. 

Visit the main square Plaza de Bolivar, where a statue of the great emancipator Simon Bolívar is located. The Cathedral, on the eastern side of the plaza, is constructed on the same spot where the first church was built in Bogota in 1539 and houses an important collection of religious artifacts. The Capilla del Sagrario is just beside the Cathedral and is a gem of religious architecture, it houses valuable pieces of colonial religious art by Gregorio Vasquez de Arce y Ceballos. The Capitol, built between 1847 and 1926, shows its renaissance and neoclassical influences with its carved stonework and tall columns, its central area, known as the Elliptic Hall, is where the Congress meets and is the actual chamber for politicians and the Senate. 

Around the Plaza de Bolívar are buildings such as the Palacio de Justicia, the Mayor of Bogota’s offices called the Edificio Liévano, the oldest school in the county called San Bartolome and the Casa de los Comuneros, named after the leaders that participated towards the end of the XVII Century in some of the first movements towards independence from Spain and the formation of the Republic.

Next is the Gold Museum which has a permanent exhibition of some 32,000 pieces of gold, 20,000 stones, ceramics and textiles all precious to the Quimbaya, Calima, Tayrona, Sinu, Muisca, Tolima, Tumaco and Magdalena cultures. 

After a traditional lunch, visit the Santuario de Monserrate, a symbol of Bogota. Take the cable car up to Monserrate at 500 mts above Bogotá (total of 3140masl). The site offers the incredible panorama of the city on one side and the Andes on the other.

Then, head north travelling along on the Carrera 7. Called Vía Real del Comercio in colonial times it was used as the main exit north to the salt mines. Along this avenue we can appreciate the contrasts of Bogotá passing by various styles of architecture, old and modern, with influences from all over the world and combined with touches from our Pre-Columbian ancestors. The trip will end in Usaquen, a colonial district that was formerly a town in its own right but has now been taken by the city. Appreciate the atmosphere of the area that is slightly rural, colonial in style and at the same time modern. Walk through the streets, take in the colonial plaza and wander through its small boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. 

Overnight at the hotel.

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
]

Cite Hotel

Bogota

day
3
Guatavita & Zipaquirá

After breakfast, depart from Bogotá and head north passing the towns of Tocancipa and Gachancipa, travel for approximately 1.5 hours until reaching the legendary Guatavita Lake

The lake is located within the forest reserve of Cacique Guatavita and Cuchilla de Peñas Blancas. In this magical and mystical place, formerly inhabited by the Muisca people, it is possible to observe a great variety of flora and fauna endemic to the high altitude Andean woodlands. See hummingbirds, hawks, blackbirds flitting between the trees. There is also a great variety of interesting trees with exotic names such as Mano de Oso, Uvos de Monte and Té de Bogotá. Visit the town of Guatavita and the Lake of Tomine, striking with its white painted houses, beautiful square and tranquility. 

The legend of El Dorado came from Muisca traditions. When the Muisca elected a new cacique or chief he would be accompanied to the lake bathed first in honey and then in gold dust before being launched out into the lake on a raft with offerings of gold and precious stones to later throw them into the depths of the water. This ceremony and act of transformation created the legend known as El Dorado.

After lunch, depart towards Zipaquirá. After a journey of roughly 45 minutes reach the impressive Salt Cathedral, a true achievement of engineering. The name Zipaquirá refers to Zipa, the leader of the Muisca tribe and the chief of these rich salt mines. The excursion will begin by visiting the cathedral in a tunnel that passes the fourteen Stations of the Cross and continues on to the dome. The dome is lit in such a way that it allows one to contemplate the universe and the relationship between man and nature. Later, reach the enormous cross carved into the saline rock and finally the 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 the cross that measures 16m in height and 10m in breadth, made by the Colombian artist Carlos Enrique Rodriguez. This is the largest cross made of salt in the world. The trip ends at a mirror of water where it is possible to experience the amazing visual effects of water on carved saline rock.

Overnight at the hotel.

Q
Bogotá → Zipaquirá108 km
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
]

Cite Hotel

Bogota

day
4
Bogotá → Tatacoa Desert → San Agustín

After breakfast, we will take a flight to Neiva. Upon arrival, immediate transfer to the north to visit the town of Villavieja and the Museo Paleontológico. Then, visit the Tatacoa Desert crossing crevasses eroded by wind and water. 

The trip continues 217km to the south over a paved road up to San Agustín. This scenic journey allows enjoying views of the extensive floodplains of the Magdalena River Valley from 700m all the way up to 1,730m and in balmy temperatures of 20ºC just as in San Agustín. 

Overnight at the hotel.

p
Bogotá → Neiva 1h
Q
Neiva → San Agustín220 km
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

day
5
San Agustín & Strait of Magdalena

After breakfast, morning visit to San Agustín Archaeological Park, World Heritage Site declared by the UNESCO in 1995. See these enormous stone statues up close with your own eyes; how each raised plateau is man-made and has been created specifically for the stone monuments, making it a holy and sacred ground. 

You will walk on to the ceremonial Fuente de Lavapatas before heading up the hill to the Lavapatas terrace from which you can enjoy a remarkable view over the surrounding
countryside. Also visit the small Museo Arqueológico.

After lunch, visit the wonderful Colombian massif and the strait of the Magdalena River, a spectacular rocky gorge that forces the river to pass through only 2.20 meters. Drive back to San Agustín and short visit to the town. Return to the hotel.

Overnight at the hotel.

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

day
6
Alto de los Idolos & Alto de las Piedras

After breakfast, set off for the rural town of Isnos to see further Archaeological Parks such as the Alto de los Idolos and the Alto de las Piedras where there are some well preserved tombs that still show some of the original paint work and some of the largest stone figures found so far. 

Moving between these sights gives you the breathtaking view of the Macizo Colombiano and the incredible waterfalls of Salto del Mortino and Salto de Bordones. Time for lunch in Isnos and return to San Agustin.

Overnight at the hotel.

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

day
7
San Agustin → Tierradentro

After breakfast, set off in the morning to Tierradentro Archaeological Park, following the Central Andes and bordering the Banks of the River Paez. 

Pass through the town of La Plata, from where the road is unpaved. After 7 hours journey, arrival at Tierradentro and check in at the hotel.

Overnight at the hotel.

Q
San Agustín → Tierradentro204 km
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
]

Albergue El Refugio

Tierradentro

day
8
Tierradentro → Popayán

After breakfast, visit Tierradentro Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. Observe incredible subterranean galleries and tombs called “hypogeum” in the areas of Alto de Segovia and the Alto del Duende. 

Then, visit the Archaeological and Anthropological Museums and the village of San Andres de Pisimbala to see the Templo Docterino and the Casa del Cabildo to
learn more about their history, political and economic breakdown of the Paeces community which inhabited this region. 

In the afternoon, leave on a 5 hour-journey on an unpaved drive to Popayán, the capital of the department of Cauca. Enjoy the journey surrounded by the Andean scenery
of mountains and high altitude plains. Arrival at Popayán and check-in.

Overnight at the hotel.

Q
Tierradentro → Popayán91 km
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

day
9
Popayán

After breakfast, visit to the small town of Silvia, located in a temperate mountainous area near Popayán and consisting of picturesque houses surrounded by vast sugar cane
plantations. 

The Indigenous Guambiano community with a population of 12,000 inhabitants lives in
small mountain villages nearby. Every Tuesday, on market day, the village of Silvia is transformed into a colorful, bustling and picturesque place when the Guambiano indigenous people descend dressed in their traditional “anacos”, a blue knee-length skirt-like wraparound to sell, fruit, vegetables and handicrafts.

Return to Popayán and time for lunch. Then visit to the historical center of the town founded in 1537, concentrating on Parque Caldas. Around Parque Caldas are the main religious and government buildings as well as the city’s original buildings, such as the Torre del Reloj, considered one of the symbols of the city, built between 1673 and 1682 and set in 1737. 

Continue towards the Puente de Humilladero, built in 1873 to facilitate access from the city center to El Callejón up a steep rise, particularly for those pilgrims making the journey on their knees. Visit to the Iglesia de Santo Domingo, a baroque style church designed by the Spanish architect Antonio García and commissioned by the Arboleda family, the Iglesia de San Francisco, considered the most beautiful baroque church in town, and the Panteón de los Próceres

Visit the Museo de Arte Religioso, which houses an interesting collection of religious art, and the Casa Museo Mosquera, the Settecento style house that belonged to General Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera. Return to the hotel.

Overnight at the hotel.

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

day
10
Popayán

After breakfast, transfer to the airport in Popayán to take the departure flight.

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Accommodations

Bogota
]

Cite Hotel

San Agustin
]

Hotel Monasterio San Agustin

Tierradentro
]

Albergue El Refugio

Popayan
]

Hotel Dann Monasterio

Price for comfort experience

Customizable private tour
Prices per person2-3 pax
Double Sharing
4-6 pax
Double Sharing
20 Apr 2018 - 8 Nov 2018$2381$1762
9 Nov 2018 - 15 Dec 2018$2405$1787

Photos

San Agustín
Bogotá
San Agustín
Popayán

Map

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