Private Journeys

Self-drive Colombia: Exploring the coffee region and beyond

12 days from £1,920pp

Colombia

Mary Anne Nelson ©

Essentials

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.

Summary Of Nights

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your online ESTA application.

Country info

When's the best time to visit Colombia?

The country is an all-year destination. The highlands have a permanent spring-like climate. The Caribbean coast is mostly dry and hot with plenty of sun, at its driest Dec-Mar. The Amazon jungle is hot and humid all year. Beach resorts can be very crowded at weekends, national holidays and Dec-Feb.

What's the official language in Colombia?

Spanish

What's the official currency in Colombia?

Peso. Notes can be withdrawn from ATMs in larger towns and cities using a UK credit or debit card, though you may have to advise your bank first and amounts that can be withdrawn may be lower than in the UK. Banks will offer advances on a credit card. Money exchanges (casas de cambio) change US dollars cash (very few accept euros or sterling and the rate will be poor).

What's the time difference between Colombia and UK?

GMT - 5 hrs

What places combine well with Colombia?

A tour in Venezuela to the east, with daily flights from Caracas to Bogotá taking just 1hr 45mins; the Inca archaeological sites of Peru (flights Lima to Bogotá take 3hrs).      

What are the festivals, cultural and sport events in Colombia?

Hay Festival: Cartagena, Jan, annually. An offshoot of the famous literary festival in Hay-on-Wye, it attracts Latin American and international writers and intellectuals of international renown.

Carnival, countrywide, Feb-Mar: The most famous and extravagant carnival takes place in the Caribbean city of Barranquilla, with frenetic dancing and parades of revellers wearing extravagant costumes.

Easter (Holy Week), countrywide, Mar-Apr: Many Colombians spend this week away at beaches and other popular destinations.

Flower Fair, Medellín, Aug, annually. A sumptuous floral celebration with displays of artistic creativity.

International Jazz Festival, Bogotá, Sep, annually. World renowned artists performing in front of thousands of jazz enthusiasts.

What's included in the 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

What's not included in the price

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

What's included in the 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

What's not included in the price

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

Inspired by this trip

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

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Your edit for Latin American inspiration

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

View Extraordinary Inspiration

Real Latin America Experts

  • Evie Oswald
    Evie Oswald - Travel Consultant

    It’s hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Consultant

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is an invaluable part of our Group Tours team.

  • Lina Fuller
    Lina Fuller - Travel Consultant

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

  • Paul Winrow Giffen
    Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Consultant

    After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.

  • Kathryn Rhodes
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Consultant

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Consultant

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Manager of the Tailor-made Department.

Meet the team