1 Start Bogota.
Land only passengers can arrive at the hotel in Bogota this afternoon/evening. There are no included activities today. There will be a message waiting with information about tomorrow's meeting time once the group flight and tour leader have arrived. Stay: Hotel Augusta or similar.
2 Free morning; afternoon tour of La Candelaria district.
Passengers on our Avianca group flight will have flown overnight and arrived today in the early hours of the morning. The morning is free to rest and in the afternoon the group will meet up in the hotel lobby before setting out with the tour leader on a walking tour of La Candelaria district where the hotel is located. Today we'll have an introduction to Bogota and Colombia in general, with the walking tour including a visit to the much celebrated Gold Museum. Stay: Hotel Augusta or similar.
3 Morning walking tour including Monserrate viewpoint; free afternoon.
This morning we'll have breakfast in the hotel and then set off once more to continue exploring this fascinating capital city. We'll visit the museum exhibiting works from famous Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero, and then get a cable car up to Monserrate viewpoint high above the city. Back down in the city, we learn about the diverse cultures of Colombia whilst visiting the Paloquemao market. This afternoon is free for you to do as you please - you may wish to visit one of the artisanal markets, go on a graffiti tour, or do a cookery class. Your tour leader will be on hand to give advice and assistance. Stay: Hotel Augusta or similar.
4 To Villa de Leyva via the salt cathedral in Zipaquira.
We leave Bogota this morning and drive northwards for about an hour and a half to Zipaquira, where we'll visit the unique Salt Cathedral. This subterranean cathedral was carved out of the salt bedrock in an old salt mine. We will have a guided tour, following the carved stations of the cross to reach the main part of the cathedral, which has the capacity for over 8000 worshippers. Continuing onwards by road, we should arrive at the beautiful colonial town of Villa de Leyva in the late afternoon. Stay: Hotel Meson de Los Virreyes or similar.
5 Walking tour of Villa de Leyva; visit fossil museum.
This morning we will have a walking tour of Villa de Leyva, taking in the main plaza and the most important and significant colonial buildings, and get an insight into the town's history and the local culture. We will also go to the Fossil Museum, home to an incredibly well preserved 12-metre long fossilised Kronosaurus discovered by a local farmer. The afternoon has been left free for further exploration of the town's cobbled streets and craft shops, or to simply relax in the laid-back cafes and restaurants. Stay: Hotel Meson de Los Virreyes or similar.
6 Fly to the 'Coffee Zone'; travel to Salento.
We drive back to Bogota (approx. 4hrs depending upon traffic) today to catch a short flight to Armenia, in the heart of Colombia's 'Coffee Zone'. From here it's a fairly short drive (approx. 1 hour) to the quaint town of Salento, a municipality in the north eastern part of the department of Quindío. This colourful and picturesque mountain town boasts a number of fine houses built in the traditional architectural style from the region. Surrounded by distant snow-capped mountains, Salento has a very special feel, and this evening we recommend visiting one of the music bars around the main town plaza. Stay: Hotel Salento Real or similar.
7 Walk amid the wax palm trees of Cocora Valley.
Today we'll board 'Jeep Willys' to drive out on the scenic route to the wonderful Cocora Valley. Part of the wider Parque Nacional Los Nevados, Cocora Valley is located in the central Andean range, just outside of Salento. The valley has a unique landscape and has been regarded by Colombia as a sanctuary for its national tree; the Wax palm (Ceroxylon quindiuense). The tall Palms cover the valley, which is now protected and declared as a monument to protect both the tree itself and also the endemic species that depend on it. The spectacular valley is great for walking as well as taking photos from some of the viewpoints. We'll do a two hour walk, and if anyone prefers not to walk on the rough terrain then there are a couple of cafes' in which to wait and enjoy a freshly prepared coffee. Stay: Hotel Salento Real or similar.
8 Coffee tour; orchid farm visit; fly to the port city of Cartagena.
This morning we visit a coffee plantation near the town of Chinchina (approx. 1.5 hours drive), where we will find out about the whole production process from seedling to cup, as well as learning about the plantations themselves and the many workers who rely on coffee for their livelihoods. Naturally, we will have the chance to sample some of this glorious coffee. We will also visit a nearby Orchid Farm before going to the airport in Pereira and catching a flight to Cartagena via Bogota. Upon arrival we'll transfer straight to our characterful hotel in the vibrant Getsemani district, part of the historic centre and close to the walled city. Stay: Hotel Casa Mara or similar.
9 Walking tour of Cartagena old town.
Today we explore the beautiful colonial centre of Cartagena on foot, wandering through narrow streets and colourful plazas to discover some of the city's historical gems, including the Puerta del Reloj (clock tower gate), Plaza de los Coches, Plaza Bolivar, and the church of San Pedro Claver. After a break for lunch and an escape from the heat of the day, we resume our tour of the city this afternoon with a visit to San Felipe Fortress. San Felipe dominates the old town and is the largest Spanish fort in the Americas, and its solid construction allowed Colombian forces to successfully defend the city against frequent attacks in the 17th and 18th centuries. Tonight is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the lively nightlife of this Caribbean gem of a city. Stay: Hotel Casa Mara or similar.
10 Morning mangrove canoe tour; free afternoon.
In the morning we will transfer by vehicle to La Boquilla fishing village about 20 minutes outside of Cartagena. After an introduction from a local guide, we will board canoes along with local guides who will take us on a 1 hour ride around the tropical mangroves of Ciénaga de La Virgen. Along the way our guides will explain the endemic birdlife and talk about the way of life for people who live here. Once the canoe ride is over you will have some time to visit the village and then we'll head back to Cartagena. If you prefer to stay at the beach in La Boquilla, you could do this and take a taxi back later on. This afternoon has been left free for further exploration of the city or simply soaking up the atmosphere by sitting in a shaded plaza. Tonight we'll enjoy our third and final night in Cartagena. Stay: Hotel Casa Mara or similar.
11 Morning transfer to Palomino on the Caribbean coast.
We leave Cartagena behind early this morning as we set off on a long journey (approx. 6 hours) eastwards and follow the coastline in the direction of Santa Marta, passing Tayrona National Park and then onwards to our next destination Palomino. We should arrive late afternoon and check in to the hotel opposite a peaceful Caribbean beach in time for sunset. Stay: Finca La Jorara EcoHotel or similar.
12 Free day to relax on the beach; optional day visit to Tayrona N.P.
A full day to relax on the beach or at the hotel and enjoy the tranquil setting. The fishing village of Palomino is nearby and there are some short trails around the hotel grounds for those who want to stretch their legs. Alternatively the beach nearby is a nice place to rest. The sea here is very choppy and there is a very limited designated area for swimming. You may choose to do an optional excursion to explore and hike within the nearby Tayrona National Park. Please ask your tour leader and they will help you to arrange it. (Minimum 3 participants required in order to run this excursion) Stay: Finca La Jorara EcoHotel or similar.
13 Transfer to Santa Marta; fly to Bogota; trip ends.
Our final morning, we transfer to Santa Marta to catch our flight to Bogota. If not travelling on the international group flight please be aware that you will probably not be back in Bogota till at least 17:00. The land only portion of the trip ends upon returning to Bogota.