Private Journeys

Undiscovered Colombia, Providencia and Panama City

18 days from £5,640pp

Colombia / Panama

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Essentials

Transport

7 domestic flights (3 connecting); 2 scenic road journeys  (4 to 6 hrs each)

Accommodation

Here you will stay at small, mid-range, friendly hotels, colonial or modern in style with well-equipped rooms, private bathroom and heating or air-conditioning. In the coffee country you stay on a traditional coffee farm (finca).

Meals

Breakfast daily.

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 clients on their return.

Summary Of Nights

18 days, 17 nights: Bogotá 2; San Agustín 3; Coffee country 3; Medellín 2; Cartagena 2; Providencia 2; Panama City 2.

Currency

The unit of currency in Colombia is the Colombian peso.

How To Take It

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns of Colombia, 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, and possibly some travellers’ cheques, though these are gradually falling out of use (American Express are the most widely accepted). 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.

There is an ATM at San Andrés airport.  There are few or no exchange facilities in Providencia, take your spending needs in pesos.

Panama City has ATMs; payment is accepted in $US dollar bills and credit cards.

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 expected 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. 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

Generally this holiday is suitable for most visitors, including families with children. Should you have a disability, please contact us.

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. Cartagena and the Caribbean islands are hot throughout the year, with the rainy seasons typically in April, May, October and November.

Panama’s ex-Canal Zone and the rainforest have a typical tropical climate with high temperatures (over 30°C) all year round. May-Nov is rainy season and the flowering months are Apr-May. The region lies outside the main hurricane belt.  

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

Temperatures will be relatively high throughout this holiday. Bring plenty of light cotton clothing and good, comfortable walking shoes. A couple of warm items and a good waterproof jacket or umbrella are also useful. 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 (sunblock, sun hat) and mosquito repellant are essential and you should bring swimwear. 

Note that the free luggage allowance on the flights to and from Providencia is low; ( 10kg in Apr 2014); however, each additional kilo is relatively cheap,  so this is unlikely to be a serious concern for most travellers. 
Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. 

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 and air transport in Latin America
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • Bogotá: Walking city tour with gold museum
  • San Agustín: tour of archaeological park
  • San Agustín: Excursion to Magdalena Gorge
  • Coffee Country: Salento, Cocora valley and Filandia
  • Coffee Country: Botanical gardens, butterfly farm, Morelia coffee finca
  • Medellín: Day trip to colonial Antioquia
  • Cartagena: Guided walking tour
  • Panama City: Canal jungle boat tour

What's not included in the price

  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • International flights to Latin America
  • 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 and air transport in Latin America
  • Accommodation as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Included Excursions

  • Bogotá: Walking city tour with gold museum
  • San Agustín: tour of archaeological park
  • San Agustín: Excursion to Magdalena Gorge
  • Coffee Country: Salento, Cocora valley and Filandia
  • Coffee Country: Botanical gardens, butterfly farm, Morelia coffee finca
  • Medellín: Day trip to colonial Antioquia
  • Cartagena: Guided walking tour
  • Panama City: Canal jungle boat tour

What's not included in the price

  • Tips and gratuities
  • Meals other than specified
  • International flights to Latin America
  • 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.

Papagaio

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Real Latin America Experts

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Consultant

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Meet the team