Colombia is an amazing land of contrasts and after being off the wish list for many travellers for some years it is rapidly becoming one of the highlights of South America. With its rich cultural history, amazing architecture, geographical diversity and the warmth and hospitality of its people it’s easy to see why this coffee-rich country is becoming an increasingly popular spot for visitors. It’s the only South American country to boast two coast lines on the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and it also shares Amazonian rain forest with Brazil and Peru making it a fascinating and rewarding country to tour.
On arrival at the Colombian capital of Bogota you will be met at the airport by one of our tour representatives and driven to your hotel in the city and the rest of the day and evening is free for you to go out and explore.
Vibrant and diverse Bogota is the country’s commercial backbone and a bustling metropolis with a mix of old and new, trendy and traditional, stately and charming. Home to a dazzling array of museums, churches, colonial mansions and stately buildings, it has a fine balance between its historical past and modern future.
Today you have a walking tour of La Candelaria, which is the city's heart and soul. From its humble beginnings this is the oldest part of the city and you visit the Plaza Bolivar (Main Square) and see Colonial style buildings including the Palace of Justice, Colombian Congress and the cathedral. As you wander the streets of La Candelaria, your guide will explain the history of Bogota and the intricacies of current Colombian culture and daily life. Stop for refreshment in one of the coffee houses before visiting the superb Botero Museum.
This morning you are taken the city's Paloquemao market, abundant with fresh food and flowers, to get a great insight into the life and customs of Bogotanos. Then a short drive or interesting walk from the centre of the old town takes you to the base of the hill that leads up to the view point and monastery of Monserrate. The summit can be reached by either funicular railway or cable car. Then you will have a bird's eye view across the city and be able to pick out all the different areas of Bogota.
Bogota to Pereira
Today you are taken to the airport for your flight to the coffee growing area of Colombia. This region for many people is the heart and soul of Colombia, its cultural epicentre. With every turn there is a new spectacular panorama from the rolling hillsides of fertile plantations to plunging valleys and bold elevations. Campesino, or rural life, continues as it has done for centuries harvesting coffee, bananas and many other fruits in this lush and fertile land. You can now experience the tranquillity of the region and meet the friendly locals.
Day tour to Filandia, Salento and Cocora Valley
This tour takes in the culture of the region along with stunning natural beauty and takes you from the far northeast of Quindío to the beautiful Valle Cocora where the magnificent Wax palm grows. At Filandia walk around the main square which has not changed in decades. From here drive to the Cocora Valley, which is part of the Parque Nacional Los Nevados, along the central Andean range. The valley has a unique landscape like a lush version of a Swiss valley. Later stop at Salento, a pretty town rimmed by snow capped mountains.
Coffee culture tour
Continue your travels in the region with a half day coffee culture tour at Hacienda Venecia. Coffee makes this region tick - it’s the heart and soul of the area and its culture. Travel through some stunning scenery, carpeted rolling hills of lush green coffee, plantain and yucca seeing the workers in the fields and children walking to school. Tour one of the coffee plantations and see the whole process from seedling to cup and every part in between. Drinking a cup of coffee will never be the same again!
Pereira to Cartagena
Today you are taken to the airport for your flight to Cartagena. Founded in 1533 this city was formerly the Caribbean gateway port used by the Spanish. Here they would store the riches plundered form the interior before they were transported back to the old world making it a draw for buccaneers and pirates and our own Sir Francis Drake. Cartagena's rich history, diverse culture and energy absorbs every visitor allowing them a glimpse into the past and a chance to relax in superb surroundings.
After breakfast enjoy a half day walking tour of the city. Carved from a colourful pirate history, with fusions of African, indigenous and European culture, Cartagena is Colombia’s living, breathing and pulsating museum. Absurdly photogenic, the La Heroica district has splashes of colour in every corner, balconies overflow with blossom, and energy seeps under the ancient wooden doors of hotels and restaurants. Walk into the old town through the clock tower entrance to Plaza San Pedro Claver with its stunning church and on to Plaza Bolivar.
A free day to discover more of the delights of Cartagena by exploring on your own. You will have plenty to keep you occupied as the bustling streets are perfect for people watching. This can be done strolling the cobbled alleys or from the comfort of a restaurant with cool fruit juice in hand. Cartagena is an attraction in itself, but there are also plenty of local shops to occupy even the most ardent souvenir hunter. If you fancy a good walk a trip down to the beaches of Boca Grande will let you soak up some sun and see how the locals relax.
End of tour
Today your wonderful tour around Colombia comes to an end. Maybe there's time for some last minute sightseeing or shopping before you are taken to the airport for your flight back to Bogota from where you can catch an onward flight or begin your journey home. This comprehensive tour around one of South America's less visited countries will leave you with so many great memories and you can always extend your stay in Bogota and see more of the capital if you wish.