Print this trip dossier
Cookies

At Journey Latin America we use cookies to give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse, you accept that you are happy to receive all cookies on our website.
Find out more


Chachalaca: Colombia’s Colonial and Coffee Culture

14 days from £3,334pp

Dates & Prices Get in touch

Chachalaca: Colombia’s Colonial and Coffee Culture:
Trip Dossier

On this new tour, Colombia offers you an experience of riches galore in a range of sumptuous landscapes and vibrant towns and cities. Having emerged from a period of social and political unrest, the country is resurging with a new optimism which permeates the very fibre of society both in rural villages and the vividly contrasting major cities. The welcome from its youthful, friendly people has always been warm, but now that is imbued with a tangible confidence in the future.

The dynamic capital Bogotá and romantic, Caribbean Cartagena have long been on the radar for visitors, and the gorgeous coffee region has been welcoming guests for some time to its historic fincas. Here we also take you to Villa de Leyva, a beautifully preserved Spanish colonial town; arty villages Salento, Filandia and Guatape, and a wholly transformed Medellín, now one of the most exciting cities on the continent for the arts, entertainment and gastronomy.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

UK clients depart, arriving Bogotá, Colombia, the following morning.

Days 1-2

City tour, including a visit to the Gold Museum.

Day 3

Drive to Villa de Leyva via Zipaquirá salt cathedral.

Day 4

Guided visit to the varied highlights of the surrounding area.

Day 5

Fly to Armenia in the coffee region.

Day 6

Guided visit to a coffee farm.

Day 7

Guided day trip to Valle de Cocora, Salento and Filandia.

Day 8

Travel from Armenia to Medellín by road.

Day 9

Guided city tour of Medellín.

Day 10

Guided visit to El Peñol and Guatapé.

Day 11

Fly to Cartagena on the Caribbean coast.

Day 12

Guided city tour of Cartagena.

Day 13

Day at leisure in Cartagena.

Day 14

Transfer to airport for international flight.

UK clients arrive home the following day.

Detailed itinerary

UK clients depart, arriving Bogotá, Colombia, the following morning.

Days 1-2

City tour, including a visit to the Gold Museum.
 
Bogota

Those of you arriving on an international flight will be met at the airport by the tour leader or a local representative and escorted to your hotel in a commercial and residential quarter in the popular north of the city. Bogotá is a city of sparkling prosperity and creative innovation, but also home to people living on the margins of society, and everything in between. It’s awash with splendid colonial churches, fascinating museums, futuristic architecture and lively universities. Its population is diverse and engaging and its cultural life vibrant.

You have time to relax, get accustomed to the altitude, get to know your fellow travellers and familiarise yourself with your surroundings. A short hop from the hotel is the up and coming quarter Usaquén, once a town in its own right but now absorbed into the capital with a vivacious flea market on Sundays.

We take you on a guided exploration of the city with a walking tour of the historic core, the colonial Candelaria district, crammed with baroque churches, museums and graceful Spanish-style buildings with intricate balconies, shuttered windows and huge wooden doors. You head to the historic centre and the vast central Plaza de Bolivar, framed by the imposing Cathedral and Congress building. Explore the steep colonial streets ultimately reaching the Gold Museum. This is an extraordinary, well-displayed collection of pre-Columbian artefacts housing more than 34,000 gold pieces.

Later there's an ascent of the mountain towering over Bogotá, with a white church at its peak. From there, at a heady 3,152m above sea level, there are splendid views. There’s a steep path up to the top but you won’t have to climb: a cable-car and funicular railway station whizz you to the top.

Show more Show less
Bogota

Day 3

Drive to Villa de Leyva via Zipaquirá salt cathedral.
 
Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral

3-4 hours’ drive from Bogotá, Villa de Leyva is a well-preserved colonial highland town steeped in history, popular among Colombian and foreign visitors alike and busy at weekends. En route you make a stop at Zipaquirá, home to a centuries-old salt mine, which is still functioning. Nearly 200m beneath the earth are two extraordinary salt cathedrals, their vast pillars and walls made from glistening salt. There are also 14 stations of the cross sculpted by various Colombian artists.

Villa de Leyva is a small Spanish-style town founded in 1572 which has been home to many important politicians, artists and wealthy families of the colonial period. The town is extremely well preserved. The enormous plaza mayor (the largest in Colombia) is flanked on all sides by red-tiled, whitewashed houses and most of the streets are cobbled. You can wander around a leisurely place absorbing the atmosphere, browsing in the handicraft shops and popping in to any of the small museums.

This region of Boyacá was once submerged under the sea and a large number of marine fossils can be seen in the area. The scenery of the immediate surrounding countryside is somewhat Mediterranean in appearance and olives, oranges and other citrus fruits are cultivated there. However, nearby are both near-desert, arid landscapes and chilly high altitude puna blanketed in rough grassland.

 

Show more Show less
Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral

Day 4

Guided visit to the varied highlights of the surrounding area.
 
Villa de Leyva

Today you visit El Infiernito, a pre-Columbian Muisca indian site at the outskirts of Villa de Leyva. It is composed of several earthworks surrounding a setting of upright standing stones. The site was a centre of religious ceremonies and spiritual purification rites, and also served as a rudimentary astronomical observatory.

You also visit the ‘Ecce Homo’ Dominican convent, constructed in the XVII century, which has experienced a chequered history of military occupation, abandonment and restoration. You also get to view the fossil of a reptile revealed just outside the town which is reckoned to be more than 150 million years old. Contrasting with the colonial baroque style is the Gaudiesque Casa Terracota which looks a bit like the cosy, rustic home of a hobbit. As its name suggests it is virtually completely constructed and furnished with locally made terracotta ceramic tiles, including mosaics and an ingenious use of light.

Show more Show less
Villa de Leyva

Day 5

Fly to Armenia in the coffee region.
 
Laguna Guatavita

You are driven back to Bogotá via the Boyacá Bridge, where Simon Bolívar and his troops won the most important battle against the Spanish, sealing Colombia’s independence. There’s also a stop at Laguna Guatavita, an emerald green lake filling a crater hidden below steep cliffs in a tightly forested nature reserve. This lake pinpoints the origin of the legend of El Dorado, triggering many subsequent ill-fated quests for gold.

From Bogotá airport you fly to Armenia in the famous coffee region, centred on the western slopes of the Cordillera Central. This green and fertile area has a pleasant climate, and lovely bucolic scenery with a mountainous, lush, green landscape of shiny coffee bushes interspersed with enormous bamboo jungles and banana plants. You’ll be staying at traditionally styled countryside accommodation in this photogenic region.

Show more Show less
Laguna Guatavita

Day 6

Guided visit to a coffee farm.
 
Coffee region

Many working fincas (coffee farms) have embraced tourism and welcome visitors onto their plantations to learn all about the coffee-growing process. It is particularly interesting to visit during the harvests (April to May, October to December) when the farms are a hive of activity. You visit one of the region’s estates and learn about the intricacies of coffee production, from the picking of the coffee cherries to the various stages of processing, sorting, grading, roasting and the final brewing of the beans.

Show more Show less
Coffee region

Day 7

Guided day trip to Valle de Cocora, Salento and Filandia.
 
Coffee country

You take a guided day trip out to Valle de Cocora, a beautiful nature reserve which is home to the wax palm, Colombia's national tree and the only palm which grows above 3,000m. There’s a well-marked path up the valley to look out over the mountains’ verdant foothills, and the cultivated patchwork of fields made up of a dozen shades of green.

On the way back to Armenia we visit the to traditional Colombian village Salento, its houses adorned with balconies bursting with flowers, and with wonderful views of the Cordillera Central emerging from behind elegant colonial and bahareque (traditional mud and wood intertwined) buildings. It still has a villagey ambiance but is a popular weekend destination for Colombians these days and here you can browse a number of artisan craft shops.

You also make a stop in Filandia, one of the most quintessential villages of the coffee region where the window frames, doors and balconies are painted in bold paint-box bright primary colours.

Show more Show less
Coffee country

Day 8

Travel from Armenia to Medellín by road.
 
Medellín, the capital of Antioquia department, has a year-round temperate climate, which explains why it is also known as the ‘City of Eternal Spring’. Its population is about 3 million, which makes it the second-largest city in the country. We are delighted to be able to include a visit on our itinerary as we are sure you’ll be captivated.

Medellín has left behind its somewhat dodgy reputation for newfound celebrity as a dynamic cultural and gastronomical centre. This exciting city exudes youthful innovation and enthusiasm hosting numerous internationally recognised events such as the August Flower Fair and the International Poetry Festival. You’ll find well-managed parks and plazas dotted with sculptures, while the whole city is serenaded by music.
Show more Show less

Day 9

Guided city tour of Medellín.
 
Medellin Centre

Explore downtown Medellín and the historical centre with its soundtrack of traditional Guasca music, performed by musicians in Parque Berrio. Stroll through the hustle and bustle of downtown to Plaza de las Esculpturas which hosts an exhibition of the work of Colombian artist Fernando Botero, whose voluptuous sculptures have become a landmark of the city.

Take the Metrocable service up to Santo Domingo, in the past a notorious area ruled by gangs but where now the focal point is the library, Parque Biblioteca, featuring thousands of books, which was opened by the King and Queen of Spain in 2007. The cable-car system was constructed to make the inner city more accessible to people from the outskirts. While enjoying bird’s-eye views over the sprawling residential and commercial quarters you learn more about the transformation of Medellin into a fascinating melting pot of cultures with some of the friendliest and warmest people in Latin America.

Show more Show less
Medellin Centre

Day 10

Guided visit to El Peñol and Guatapé.
 
El Peñol
You’ll travel by road through the eastern highlands of Antioquia. The Peñol Boulder is one of the most spectacular natural features in the landscapes surrounding Medellín. This striking 200m high sugar-loaf shaped granite monolith can be climbed via a 740-step pathway. If you choose to ascend this way your efforts will be rewarded with breathtaking views over the picturesque countryside where bright green, crinkly mountains are studded by spidery blue lakes.

You also make a stop at the tranquil village Guatapé, a lakeside town with a pleasantly warm climate. It is famous for its Greco-Roman church and the vivid paintings, called zócalos, featuring local families and historical events which adorn the base of the Technicolor, paint-box-bright houses. Here you have time to explore independently, perhaps savouring a traditional Colombian lunch on the lake shore, taking a boat ride on the placid waters or just strolling through the streets, which are quiet except at weekends when they are thronged by families from Medellín.

 

Show more Show less
El Peñol

Day 11

Fly to Cartagena on the Caribbean coast.
 

The country’s most exotic and atmospheric colonial city, Cartagena, was founded in 1533. It quickly blossomed to become the main Spanish port in the Caribbean. Treasure plundered from native indians was stored there until galleons could ship it back to Spain, and the city became a tempting target for pirates. In order to protect their booty, the Spanish colonists constructed an elaborate system of ramparts which still encircle the town.

Today, while Cartagena has expanded dramatically, the walled centre has changed very little, preserving an uninterrupted display of 16th and 17th-century Spanish architecture. Here you can enjoy the shade provided by the buildings in the labyrinthine cobbled streets, and explore the many monasteries, palaces, churches, plazas and imposing mansions where the overhanging balconies are heavy with flowers.

Show more Show less

Day 12

Guided city tour of Cartagena.
 
Cartagena

The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an eclectic and seductive mix of Caribbean and African influences producing a vibrant street life, with fruit stalls lining the roads and pulsating rhythms emerging from cars and houses. Your guided tour of the historic walled city, the forts and battlements will help you soak up the atmosphere of this seductive city, possibly the most evocative and romantic on the continent.

Show more Show less
Cartagena

Day 13

Day at leisure in Cartagena.
 

Now you enjoy a day at leisure, free further to explore the streets, visit the famous fort, have a meal in one of the many fantastic al fresco restaurants or even travel further afield and take a speedboat to spend the day on the coral, palm-kissed beaches of the nearby Rosario Islands.

Show more Show less

Day 14

Transfer to airport for international flight.

UK clients arrive home the following day.

Essential information

Tour Leader

On this tour, you’ll be accompanied from start to finish by one of our exceptional Journey Latin America tour leaders. From the moment you land in Latin America until the day the tour ends they will deal with all the practicalities, expertly adapting to the circumstances and individual needs of the group. Rather than different guides in different cities, your leader will get to know the group and keep you informed and entertained as you go.

Transport

3 flights (longest 1.5hrs); 4 road journeys (longest 7-8hrs with stops for drinks and lunch).

Accommodation

On this journey we use mid-range and upper mid-range hotels and lodges.

Examples of hotels on the Chachalaca include:

• Bogota: Artisan DC
• Villa de Leyva: Posada San Antonio
• Coffee region: Estrella de Monte
• Medellin: Park 10
• Cartagena: Hotel Boutique Bovedas de Santa Clara 

On very rare occasions these hotels can change, however please speak to one of our consultants who can provide full details for each departure if you have any doubts. Address and contact details will be sent out with your final documents.

Meals

Breakfast daily.

Included excursions

• Bogotá: city tour and Gold Museum
Zipaquirá salt cathedral and Laguna Guatavita
• Villa de Leyva: Ecco Homo, El Fosil, El Infiernito and Casa Terracota
• Coffee region: tour of Coffee farm
Coffee region: Cocora Valley, Salento and Filandia
• Medellín: city tour
• Medellín: Antioquia region tour
• Cartagena: city tour

Summary of nights

14 days, 13 nights: Bogotá 2; Villa de Leyva 2; Coffee region 3; Medellín 3; Cartagena 3. 

Included in the journey price

• Services of Journey Latin America tour leader
• All land and domestic air transport
• Accommodation as specified
• Meals as specified
• Excursions as specified

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and insurance
• Meals other than specified
• Optional excursions

Optional excursions

Most days are filled with included excursions on this tour although there are a few times you might want to add an optional excursion. These are booked locally through your tour leader once you are in Latin America. Not all excursions available will suit everybody, whilst others only operate within certain seasons, with minimum numbers or may not be included due to time constraints. A budget of around $80 should cover participation in most of the following options, but prices can fluctuate depending on the size of the party and so cannot be provided accurately until travel commences.

• Bogotá: visit local markets
• Bogotá: graffiti tour
• Villa de Leyva: winery visit
• Cartagena: Rosario Islands day trip

Travelling alone

There is no extra cost for single travellers who are willing to share a room. You will be accommodated with a same-sex member of the group who is usually also travelling solo. For single travellers who wish to be sure of having their own room there are a limited number of single supplement places available, which carry a surcharge.

Currency

The unit of currency in Colombia is the Colombian peso.

Budget

A budget of around $45USD per day should cover the cost of meals, drinks and the odd souvenir.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so a debit or credit card with a PIN is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds.

We recommend that you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. These bills should be in good condition as soiled or torn bills may be refused. Travellers’ cheques are increasingly less favoured by visitors who find them difficult to exchange as well as offering a poor rate of exchange. If you do decide to carry some with you they should be US dollar cheques only (American Express are by far the most accepted brand).

Tipping

Tips are normally welcomed and expected. Local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. We recommend approximately $3 USD(or local equivalent) per person per day for each of guides and drivers, depending on the size of the group.

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

If you would like to show your appreciation to your Journey Latin America tour leader, who you may feel has exceeded your expectations, a discretionary gratuity would be gratefully received. As a guideline we recommend an amount of between $4 and $6 USD per person, per day. You are obviously free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Airport taxes

International airport tax is included in the cost of your ticket.

Journey grade

All walks on this journey are optional and you should discuss with your tour leader which are suitable for you.

Climate

Bogotá and the central Andes has a temperate climate; with an average temperature of 14°C and a mixture of sunshine, cloud and showers during the day. There's a dry season from December to March and it is also drier July to August.

Cartagena has plenty of sun throughout the year with temperatures consistently around 30°C. The rainy season is August to November when showers can be heavy. December to April should be pretty rain free.

Altitude

Several days are spent at high altitude (over 2,500m). You may notice the effect of high altitude; symptoms vary: most common are mild headaches and breathlessness. If you drink plenty of water and allow your body to acclimatise (don’t exert yourself or drink alcohol) in the first couple of days after arrival, you will minimise your chances of being adversely affected.

Please refer to our Briefing Dossier for further information.

Clothing and special equipment

Bring plenty of light cotton clothing and good, comfortable walking shoes. Warm items and a good waterproof jacket are also necessary for all departures. We suggest that you plan to 'layer' your clothing; it is easier and more efficient to put on a couple of light layers than one thick jumper. Sandals are a good informal option for evenings.

Protection against the sun (sun block, sun hat) and mosquito repellent are essential and you should bring swimwear. A backpack or soft holdall is the most sensible and comfortable way to carry your belongings. Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts.

Reduce plastic waste

Journey Latin America has partnered with Water-To-Go to offer JLA Group Tour passengers the opportunity to purchase 75cl filtered water bottles for a 50% discount. The bottle can be refilled at any water outlet and has a filter that eliminates 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, allowing the water to be safe to drink. Please call your contact at JLA to add it your booking and it will be delivered to your address. More information about this initiative can be found on our website here.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. Yellow Fever vaccination may be required for your visit to the coastal region please consult your GP for advice on this and malaria tablets. You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.

Cases of Zika virus have been reported in parts of Latin America. If you’re pregnant, or planning to be, you should follow the advice of the  National Travel Health Network and Centre

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins. Clients with different nationalities should enquire with us or check with the Colombian consulate.

ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online which costs $14USD per person. This must be done by you personally. Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the departure of flights. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.
Close

Sign up to our newsletter

Sign up to our twice monthly newsletter and be the first to know about our latest news, offer and competitions.

Sign up with...

Your email

Or...

Using a social account is fast and means you don't need to remember a password.

We never share your data either - see our terms & conditions

Facebook Connect

Remember, you can unsubscribe at any time.

To see how we take care of your data please review our Privacy Policy

Thanks for subscribing – we’ll be in touch!

You are not subscribed. Some error happened.

Share this Page

Social share page will open in new window

Page Full Path: /sitecore/content/JLA/Home/destinations/colombia/holidays/chachalaca-colombias-colonial-and-coffee-culture/trip-dossier

Page ID: {A71519D9-8F54-43F2-BE8D-2E20F0F321DA}

Page Name: trip-dossier

Page Display Name: Trip Dossier

Page Template Name: T054-TripDossier

Page Template ID: {4B17EDBB-85D2-4A79-B178-A0CE05055C05}

Parent ID: {4CA04DB9-DD96-4E9E-A0AF-404B932EADCF}

Parent Name: chachalaca-colombias-colonial-and-coffee-culture

Parent Display Name: Chachalaca: Colombia’s Colonial and Coffee Culture

Parent Template Name: T013-Tour

Parent Template ID: {9701B79C-85FD-4A45-8072-3FFF55338F72}