Private Journeys

Signature Colombia: Culture and coffee

11 days from £2,310pp

Colombia

Itinerary

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Day 1

Arrive in Bogotá and transfer to hotel.

You’ll be met at the airport and escorted to your hotel in the capital. Bogotá is a city of sparkling prosperity, oppressive poverty, and everything in between. Its centre is awash with splendid colonial churches, fascinating museums, futuristic architecture and lively universities. Its population is diverse and engaging and its cultural life vibrant and seductive. 

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Day 2

City tour with Gold Museum.

On your first full day there is a guided exploration of the city with a walking tour of the historic core, the colonial Candelaria colonial district.

Set off from the Plaza de Bolivar, where the Cathedral and Congress buildings are located, continue on foot through the steep colonial streets towards the Gold Museum for a visit to this extraordinary, well-displayed collection of pre-Columbian artefacts housing more than 34,000 gold pieces. It’s arguably the most impressive museum of its kind in the world.

In the evening there's an ascent of the steep hill towering over Bogotá, with a white church at its peak. The path up is quiet throughout the week, but on Sundays city dwellers depart en masse to climb or take the funicular railway or cable car to visit this place of pilgrimage. From here, at 3,152m, you’ll have splendid views. You'll be driven to the cable-car/funicular railway station at the base of the mountain. Visit the church, the 14 stations of the Cross, handicraft and souvenir stands, and pause to enjoy the sunset. Take the cable car/funicular railway to return to the city.

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Day 3

Drive to Villa de Leyva via Zipaquirá salt cathedral.

3-4hrs’ 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 call in at Zipaquirá, home to a centuries-old salt mine, which is still functioning. Nearly 200m beneath the earth is an extraordinary, mysterious salt cathedral, its vast pillars and walls made from glistening salt. There are 14 stations of the cross sculpted by different Colombian artists.

During the week, you can wander alone through Villa de Leyva’s vast, cobbled main square, winding narrow streets lined with picturesque whitewashed houses bedecked with flowers. The little town sits in a hilly landscape peppered with the sites of pre-historic remains, some of which you can visit.

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Day 4

Discover Villa de Leyva and its surroundings, including el Fosil.

Head into the surrounding countryside and visit El Fósil, a 7m fossil of a marine dinosaur found in the area. Continue to the Dominican convent of Ecce Homo and the archaeological site of El Infiernito. An optional horse riding trip to a beautiful waterfall in the surrounding hills is also available.

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Day 5

Fly and drive to the coffee region.

Drive 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. Fly onwards to Armenia in the coffee region on the western slopes of the Cordillera Central. It has a pleasant, warm climate, and lovely bucolic scenery; with a mountainous, lush, green landscape of shiny coffee bushes interspersed with enormous bamboo jungles and banana plants.

You spend a couple of days in this beautiful, relaxing region, with walking trails, horse riding opportunities, zip-line canopies and colourful flora and fauna and fresh coffee omnipresent throughout.

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Days 6-7

Excursions from the coffee farm.

Spend time at one of the region’s very best coffee fincas 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. You’ll also visit the Quindio butterfly farm, whose vast glass butterfly house is home to over 50 different species, and wander around the botanical gardens whose orchid collection is particularly impressive.

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Day 8

Drive to Salento and Filandia

Drive to Salento, a charming, traditional and picturesque village set in high in the Andes, its houses adorned with balconies bursting with flowers, and wonderful views of the Cordillera Central emerging from behind elegant colonial buildings.

Hike through the cloud forest to explore Valle de Cocora, a valley full of hundreds of wax palms, the only palm found at this altitude in the Andes and the national tree of Colombia. Follow a well-marked path up the valley and look out over the mountains' lush foothills, and the cultivated patchwork patterns made up of a dozen shades of green. Continue to Filandia, one of the most quintessential villages of the coffee region.

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Day 9

Walking tour of Cartagena.

Transfer to Pereira airport and fly via Bogotá to Cartagena de Indias on the Caribbean coast. Founded in 1533, the city quickly blossomed to become the main Spanish port in the Caribbean, and a gateway to the north of the continent.

Treasure plundered from native inhabitants was stored here until the galleons could ship it back to Spain, and it therefore became a tempting target for pirates. In order to protect their booty, the Spanish constructed an elaborate system of ramparts, which encircle the town.

Today, the walled centre has changed very little, allowing a glimpse of 16th- and 17th century Spanish architecture and town planning. Enjoy the shade provided by the buildings in these labyrinthine, cobbled streets, and explore the monasteries, palaces, churches, plazas and imposing mansions whose balconies are heavy with flowers.

Beyond this, the city opens up: an eclectic and seductive mix of Caribbean and African influences produces a vibrant street life, with fruit stalls lining the roads and pulsating rhythms emerging from cars and houses. A guided tour will help you soak up the atmosphere of this unique city.

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Day 10

Excursion to the Rosario Islands.

A full-day excursion takes you to the Rosario Islands, a group of some 30 offshore islets, with white, coral sand and dense mangrove vegetation.

Make your way independently (by foot or taxi) to the colonial hotel Santa Clara on Plaza San Diego in the old town. At the dock, continue by boat (sometimes choppy and bumpy, 1 hr) to the archipelago of El Rosario, 35km south of the Bay of Cartagena. 

The surrounding reefs have a huge variety of fauna, and the whole area has been declared a national park. Spend your time wallowing in the warm, turquoise waters, or sipping coconut milk from the husk beneath the shade of a palm tree.

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Day 11

Transfer to the airport for flight home.

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

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    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our Sales team.

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