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Argentina | Brazil | Chile | Peru | Bolivia | Uruguay | Equador | Belize | Costa Rica

South America pulsates with a vibrant fusion of traditional and cutting-edge culture. While Buenos Aires is uniquely urbane with its southern European heritage, bohemian neighborhoods and the rippling essence of the tango, to the west and south, Patagonia and the rugged range of the Andes provide dramatic beauty, solitude and pristine lakes. A visit to an authentic estancia is a cultural must. A bit further west of this remote region and on the opposite side of the Andean divide stretches Chile with her fjords and vineyards. North of the cosmopolitan capital of Santiago and seaside cities of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar, one finds the spectacular desert landscapes of the Atacama with its resident pink flamingoes.

Still to the north, Peru is home to the archaeological wonder of Machu Picchu and ancient Incan city of Cuzco. Lima's trendy sophistication and unsurpassed culinary scene are not to be missed. From Peru, the mighty Amazon flows to and through the massive country of Brazil whose resource-rich terrains and tropical eco-regions, indigenous peoples, colonial cities, expansive beaches and natural wonders like Iguassu Falls have given rise to Rio's sultry sound of the samba.

In our short summary, we shouldn’t fail to mention the pre-historic archipelago and living laboratory of the Galapagos Islands, and the pacific beauty and biological diversity of prosperous Costa Rica. Discover the high-spirited wonders of our immediate neighbors. These remarkable countries - on our doorstep – are only the tip of the iceberg!

A Week in Colombia


The energy in Colombia is palpable. Not only is it home to some of Latin America's most progressive cities and passionate people, it's also one of world's most biodiverse nations.  Colombia works especially well for travelers who have already visited other popular destinations in South America and are seeking a more off-the-beaten-path experience. This beguiling nation is in the middle of an incredible renaissance after years of internal conflict, and there’s no better time to visit than now before the rest of the world catches on! 

Positive press is relatively new to Colombia, but a visit to South America's fourth-largest country is all it takes to put any preconceived notions behind you, for Colombia is a gem simply awaiting discovery. With its political situation calming, travelers to Colombia will appreciate its welcoming people, charming colonial architecture, and lively music. The United Nations Environment Programme lists Colombia as one of the world’s 17 most biologically megadiverse countries - filled with tropical rain forests, lush jungles, the soaring Andean mountain range, coastal beauty, and 2000 bird species. In short, few places on earth are as beautiful as Colombia. 

Your journey begins in Bogotá, the modern and cosmopolitan capital, with explorations of the colonial old city. You relish views from 10,300-foot Monserrate and savor some of the country’s most beloved dishes before flying to the  Zona Cafetera - coffee region. Amid its stunning tableau of lush green hillsides and plantations, spend a few days tasting coffee right from the farm and hiking among towering wax palms in the spectacular Valle del Cocora. Relaxed and refreshed, fly then to Cartagena, a magnificent Caribbean city that pulsates with energy. Here you can wander its cobbled streets, learn to make traditional platos in a cooking class, or spend a day in the Rosario Islands watching the sun set as you sail around the bay.

FLAVORS OF COLOMBIA

    • Explore pulsing, progressive cities as well as colonial villages where time seems to have stopped.
    • Experience culturally engaging Bogotá with an up-and-coming food and arts scene.
    • Learn the subtleties of coffee making - and tasting - with passionate experts with the Andes Mountains as your backdrop.
    • Hike amidst the wax palms in the stunning Cocora Valley, or enjoy a horseback ride among cacao and pineapple fields.
    • Enjoy a seaside culinary tour and hike through towering wax palms.
    • Enjoy a sunset cruise on the Caribbean while in Cartagena.

 

Day 1:  Arrive Bogotá
Upon landing at Bogotá’s international airport, you’re met and taken to your hotel. As many flights to Bogotá arrive late, the remainder of the day is yours to relax.  Four Seasons Casa Medina

Day 2:  Bogotá
Today you get to know Colombia’s capital, the country’s largest and most populous city. You begin with a visit to Bogotá’s famous Paloquemao Market, where the locals shop for flowers, meat, fish, and fresh fruits and vegetables. This is a wonderful introduction to the cuisine of Colombia and offers an opportunity to taste and discover the products unique to the region. The market visit is followed by a walking tour in La Candelaria, Bogotá’s historic quarter, and the city’s political, religious, and administrative center since the 16th century. This neighborhood is a labyrinth of small, cobblestoned streets framed by colorful, Spanish-colonial and baroque-style façades with elaborate entrances. The neighborhood also is home to the Fernando Botero Museum, which houses a vast collection of works by celebrated Colombian and European artists, and the Museo de Oro, home to the most important collection of pre-Columbian gold in the world. Sunday is an exceptional day to explore as many of Bogotá’s main and secondary roads are closed to vehicles and opened exclusively to bicycles and pedestrians. The event is called Ciclovia and if you wish, you can participate by hopping on a bicycle this morning and riding side by side with residents, discovering refreshment stands and local life along the way. This famous event has inspired other cities around the world to create Sunday cycling days of their own.  Four Seasons Casa Medina - B,L

Day 3:  Bogotá and Environs 
This morning, make your way to Encenillo, a small nature reserve named for one of its native trees. A guide who grew up in the area leads you on a walk through the beautiful cloud forest, introducing you to the wide variety of thriving flora and fauna. As you move past the encenillo trees, bromeliads, and ferns, you’re likely to see many types of orchid and hummingbirds. This evening when you return to the hotel, you will have time to relax or explore the neighborhood. Later this afternoon ride the gondola to the cathedral atop Cerro de Monserrate, 2000 feet above the city center. From this vantage point, the entirety of modern Bogotá sprawls out below you. Now with a population exceeding eight million people, it’s hard to imagine that it was composed only of twelve huts and one chapel at the time of its founding in 1538. After taking a good look around, descend the mountain and dine at Andre Carne de Res in the northern section of the city not far from your hotel.  Four Seasons Casa Medina - B,L

Day 4:  Fly to Armenia and the Coffee Triangle
Your morning flight (about 35 minutes long) carries you southwest over the Andes to the small city of Armenia, your gateway to the Triangulo del Café. The Coffee Triangle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2011, is comprised of the departments Quindío, Caldas and Risaralda. The area yields more than half of Colombia’s coffee. Estimates suggest that the livelihood of more than four million Colombians (roughly 15 percent of the nation) is directly connected with the coffee industry - down significantly from the peak year of 1940, when coffee accounted for over 80 percent of Colombia’s export income. Due to its economic importance, the Coffee Triangle has always been one of the country’s safest and most stable regions, a fact reflected in the welcoming and laidback attitudes of its residents. This afternoon check in to Hacienda Bambusa and enjoy lunch before striking out on an optional afternoon hike, exploring the lush surroundings. Hacienda Bambusa - B,L,D

Day 5:  Valle del Cocora
After breakfast at the hacienda, you may head straight for the Cocora Valley, which is part of Parque Nacional Los Nevados. Valle del Cocora is located along the central Andean range and its vast green pastures are peppered with cattle and towering wax palms. You amble through the palms - an endangered species and a national symbol - walking past gurgling streams and into thick cloud forest. Keep your eyes out for hummingbirds and blooming flowers. En route back to your hotel, you may stop at another charming town in the area, Filandia, to admire its well-preserved square, brightly painted homes, and handicraft workshop. You can also try your hand at a local game of tejo.
Hacienda Bambusa
- B,L,D


Day 6:  Armenia

Today you remain near Hacienda Bambusa to enjoy a variety of activities on the 500 plus acres of adjacent countryside. This morning you might want to rise early for a hot-air balloon ride, gliding tranquilly over the coffee plantations below. Later you can choose from a number of options including a guided walk through cacao fields and guadua forest, which reveals a unique ecosystem. Bring your binoculars, because there are more than 160 species of birds here, including the spectacled parrotlet, buff-necked ibis, rufous-tailed hummingbird and fork-tailed flycatcher. Horseback riding, zip lining and mountain biking opportunities are also a possibility, and slightly further afield is the La Vieja River, which you may experience by bamboo raft with lunch served on a shaded beach. For a glimpse into the area’s history, consider visiting the Quimbaya Gold Museum in Armenia, which contains exhibits of spectacular gold work attributed to the Quimbaya civilization (4th to 7th centuries CE).  Hacienda Bambusa - B,L,D

Day 7:
 Fly to Cartagena
This morning you catch your flight to Cartagena, beloved native city of Nobel Laureate Gabriel García Márquez. Encircled by an impressive stone wall that is interspersed with 20 small forts, the romantic colonial city - a World Heritage Site - is a maze of narrow streets punctuated with ornate cathedrals, monuments, convents, palaces, and shady plazas. Stroll through them on your guided walk, noting horsedrawn buggies on cobblestones, bougainvillea spilling from carved wooden balconies, and women under colonial arches donning billowing skirts with bowls of watermelon on their heads. The vibe of Cartagena manifests even in the movements of the locals, who stroll with a languid grace and exude an effortless sensuality. This evening you’re joined by an expert dancer for a lively salsa lesson. Colombian-style salsa originates in the north of the country and is rooted in Cumbia, the national music and dance of the nation. You’ll also have the opportunity to taste several varieties of local rum.  Casa San Agustin - B

Day 8:  Cartagena
Today you may choose from two options:
Option 1: This morning, depart the city by boat, bound for the calm Caribbean waters and the Rosario Islands. Thirty individual islands make up the archipelago, an area protected with its designation as a national park. The coral reefs surrounding the islands host a great variety of sea life including colorful fish, nurse sharks, dolphins and turtles. Spend the day snorkeling and beachcombing before returning to Cartagena in the afternoon. 

Option 2:
Embark this morning on a special culinary tour led by a local chef. Together you stroll through the Bazurto Market exploring the variety of fresh fruits, vegetables and fish, absorbing the jovial ambience and learning about typical regional dishes such as ceviche, barbecued prawns, or cazuela de mariscos (shellfish stew). With the purchases made at the market, venture to a private home for a cooking demonstration, and then partake in the delicious end result for lunch. The later afternoon is yours to relax, shop, or continue exploring. Your day ends with a sailboat cruise around the Cartagena Harbor. Outside of the fortifications surrounding the city, a breezy trip on the bay allows you to appreciate the geographical significance of why Cartagena, easily defensible, was built here. From the vantage point on the water, you can admire both the historic city center and the glitzy, modern high-rises along the Bocagrande peninsula. After returning to the hotel, you’re on your own for dinner to try one of Cartagena’s renowned restaurants.  Casa San Agustin - B

Day 9:  Depart Cartagena
You may choose to kick off your morning with an electric bike tour through the colorful streets of the up-and-coming Gestemani neighborhood. You can also make a stop at a viewpoint of Convento de La Popa, which sits perched on a nearby hilltop. If you prefer, you can go beyond the walls of the city center to La Boquilla, home to many families of African origin, to see another side of Cartagena. You can fish from a canoe with a local fisherman or learn to make coconut jewelry with a local association, followed by a late-afternoon rum tasting. Later you will picked up from the hotel and taken to Cartagena’s airport for your flight home or onward. 

Trip Extensions 
Your trip ends in Cartagena, a great launching point for visiting other regions of Colombia. If you’re interested in exploring more of this captivating country, such as Medellín (see description below), or other Latin American destinations after your journey, please ask about our carefully crafted post-trip extensions.

Medellín - 3- to 4-Day Extension

Some would say that it’s not possible to know Colombia until you have experienced Medellín. Tucked in the lush Abarra Valley in the heart of the country and Colombia’s second largest city, Medellín is nicknamed “the city of eternal spring,” as temperatures hover in the mid-80s year-round. It’s the epitome of progress in Colombia, with its troubled past in striking contrast with its pacific present. It is now one of the safest and most contemporary cities in South America. Medillin's paisas (locals) are cultivated and well mannered, and as agreeable as the city’s perfectly tempered climate.

in association with GeoEx

 


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