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Self-drive Colombia: Exploring the coffee region and beyond

Included exursions

• City tour with gold museum, Bogotá.
Hike in the Cocora Valley.
Santuario de Fauna y Flora Otún Quimbaya.
Coffee tour at Hacienda Venecia.
Salamina walking tour.
La Samaria Wax Palm Forest.
Honda walking tour

Transport

1 domestic flight (1 hour) from Bogotá to Pereira; self-drive car hire – manual Renault Duster or similar.

Accommodation

In the coffee region you will be staying in small, independent mid-range hotels as well as a traditional coffee farm (finca). Your two hotels in Bogotá are bigger and more modern in style but are well located to explore La Candelaria, the colonial district, and La Zona Rosa, a neighbourhood with a vibrant dining and nightlife scene.

Meals

Breakfast daily; lunch days 4,8.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, most of whom we have worked with for many years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Summary of nights

12 days, 11 nights: Bogotá 2, Salento 2; coffee finca near Manizales 2; Salamina 2; Honda 2, Bogotá 1.

Included in the journey price

• Services of our team of experts in our London office 
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
• All land transport within Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified
9 day car hire from Pereira to Bogotá.
• Meals as specified
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Not included in the journey price

• International flights to Latin America.
• Tips and gratuities
• Meals other than specified
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
• Optional excursions

Currency

The unit of currency in Colombia is the Colombian peso.

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$45 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number 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 additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money. Never change money on the street.

Tipping

Tips are welcomed and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. 

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. We recommend approximately $10 per person for a half day and $20 for a full day for guides and half that for drivers. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. 

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

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

This is a self-drive holiday and will suit independent-minded clients seeking the freedom to explore on and off the beaten track parts of Colombia. You should be confident driving a manual 4WD on the right.

Main roads are generally in good condition but some rural roads can be unpaved and bumpy. A smattering of Spanish as well as some mechanical knowledge - the ability to change a tyre, for example – will be very useful. Your hire car will include a satellite navigation system in English, pre-loaded with all of your hotels and destinations, as well as petrol stations, and we will also send you our Rules of the Road document with helpful tips specific to driving in Colombia

Climate

The dry season in Colombia is from December until March and then June to September. Temperatures during this period average around 30°C, although are reasonably consistent throughout the year. Bogotá, and towns in the coffee growing region, because of their altitude, have a spring-like climate and can be chilly at night. Honda, on the other hand, is hot and humid all year round with an average temperature of 33 °C.

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 as well as some warm items and a good waterproof jacket. 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. You may want to bring swimwear too. 

Good, comfortable walking shoes are very important and you may wish to bring walking poles with you when hiking in the Cocora Valley and La Samaria Wax Palm Forest. Protection against the sun (sun cream and sun hat) and mosquito repellent are also essential.

If you plan to go to good restaurants or out on evening entertainment trips (most likely in Bogotá) you might bring something a bit smarter (although formal attire will not be required).

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and can be hard to come by in Latin America.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements, including advice on yellow fever and malaria tablets.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.

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.  Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online. This costs $14 per person. This must be applied for by you personally.

Passports must also be digital e-passports with an embedded chip. Aoid 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 flight departure. 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.

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