Arrival in Bogota, Colombia’s capital city (elevation 8,660'). We’re greeted by our local guide and transferred to our centrally-located hotel where a brief orientation meeting will be held. The hotel is located in the Zona Rosa area of Bogota, featuring leafy streets, bicycle lanes, and a variety of shops and restaurants. Early afternoon, we depart on a walking tour of the city's most intriguing sites including La Candalaria, Plaza de Bolivar, and the Gold Museum. We return to the hotel in the afternoon and have some time to freshen up before we trade historical Bogota for modern and head to the trendy Zona T neighborhood for a welcome dinner. Lunch and dinner included.
Walking: 3 hours
A short flight lands us in the heart of Colombia’s coffee region. Known worldwide for its high quality coffee, the coffee region in Colombia is as beautiful as the coffee is smooth. We hop on mountain bikes and cycle through coffee plantations and along quiet country roads to arrive at a working coffee farm, locally known as a finca, set in the rolling, emerald green hills. After lunch, we’ll have the chance to set out into the fields for an interactive experience with a coffee farmer, learning the many steps from bean to cup. We’ll soon see that it’s hard work to make coffee but our efforts are rewarded with copious coffee samples at the end. The finca is ours for the night and after some time to relax in the pool or the courtyard, we’ll head up to a viewpoint overlooking the whole valley for a special dinner and a chance to play Colombia’s traditional explosive game, tejo. All meals included.
Biking: 1.5 hours. Hiking: 2 hours
We wake up very early today to depart for Los Nevados National Park. Nevados is one of Colombia’s most beloved national parks, featuring the unique paramo ecosystem–only found in a few countries around the world –and tropical glaciers topping active volcanoes. Our drive will be in 4x4 cars as we journey through the heart of the park on high altitude dirt roads, passing through five separate ecosystems on our ascent. We’ll stop near volcano Santa Isabel where we can hike to an alpine lake surrounded by paramo. Here we hike amongst frailejones, enveloped by the dramatic backdrop of the Nevados tropical glaciers and one of the alpine lakes that provides the pure water used to make Colombia’s famous coffee far below. After our hike, we continue our 4x4 adventure through the park, descending a different valley to arrive at a working hacienda accessible only by foot. The hacienda has been opened to us for the next two nights and features traditional architecture of the region, one of the region’s most spectacular waterfalls, private hot springs sourced from the Ruiz volcano, and friendly Colombian hosts. Relax in the natural hot springs of the lodge before dinner. All meals included.
Transfers: 4 hours. Hiking: 5 hours, 8 miles, gain 900' (ending elevation 12,780’)
Today we experience the private oasis that the hacienda provides. After a typical breakfast, we’ll join our local host on a spectacular trail, passing through high Andean forest before emerging into open meadows filled with Colombia’s famous endemic wax palm trees. We’re the only ones here so no need to wait in line to get close to these unique trees rising more than 200' in the air. We continue through the farmland, learning about how the hacienda works day to day. We then descend back to our lodge to enjoy free time in the afternoon. Later, we join our hosts for a Colombian cooking class featuring traditional cuisine from this region. There’s no better way to spend our last night than relaxing in the hot springs while searching the night sky for the Southern Cross. All meals included.
Hiking: 5 hours, 5 miles, 1,300' gain
We bid a fond farewell to our mountain hosts as we prepare to venture to a completely different region of Colombia–the Caribbean coast. The food & culture of the coast is completely different from the coffee region or Bogota, as is the temperature. Today is a long travel day. Retracing our steps, we hike out from our lodging and hop into 4x4 vehicles for our trip to the airport. After a short flight to Santa Marta and an hour drive, we arrive at our hotel, located near the entrance to Tayrona National Park. The park offers a completely different experience from Nevados—the steep slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta range descend directly into the ocean forming a beautiful combination of jungle, sea, and rock. Breakfast and dinner included.
Choose to relax at the beach near our hotel or embark on an 8 mile hike through the park. Tayrona is a magical world where thick jungle and palm trees collide with endless lines of golden sandy beaches. The Santa Marta range, the highest coastal mountains in the world, tower behind making for a truly unique beach experience. If you choose to explore the trails of the national park, we’ll scramble over granite boulders and wander through mangroves while keeping an eye out for monkeys and caiman. A shade is set up at one of the beaches but the rest of the exploration (or relaxation) is up to you today. Return to the hotel in the evening and have the night free. Breakfast and dinner included.
Hiking: 4 hours, up to 8 miles
Important Note: Tayrona National Park is routinely closed to tourists in order to allow the ecosystem and local communities space to breathe and rest. Closures are generally announced a year in advance and typically take place in February, June and November. If your trip falls within a resting period for the park, we'll provide a great alternative activity in the area.
Depart Tayrona for a coastal drive to the historical, walled city of Cartagena. Cartagena is a photographer's dream–colorful colonial buildings live in a maze of cobbled streets interspersed by leafy plazas. The charm of the city is amplified by the imposing city walls that rise up on all sides. After settling into our hotel we set off on foot to learn about the history of the city and explore the food and culture that exist within the walls today. We’ll visit the San Felipe castle as well, a UNESCO Heritage Site that is considered to be the most impressive fortress the Spanish ever constructed in their colonies. In the afternoon, we head back to the hotel and the evening is free to explore the city on your own. Breakfast and lunch included.
Transfer: 4 hours. Walking: 3 hours
We travel by boat to arrive at our final national park in Colombia–Rosario Islands and San Bernardo National Park. This is a unique park in that the protected areas are both above and under water. Departing Cartagena’s main pier, we’ll have the chance to see the city from the water, including the forts of San Fernando and San Jose as we motor towards the Rosario Islands. Upon arrival, we’ll be fitted to our sea kayaks and head out on a route that follows the shoreline of this coral island. Keep a sharp eye out for sea turtles and colorful coral. We leave behind the kayaks and jump into the clear water to view the underwater part of the park. Exploring by snorkel an entire world blooms into view below the surface, a coral forest teeming with life. We continue by boat to a small island where we’ll have a traditional Caribbean lunch and some free time on the beach. We head back to Cartagena, arriving mid afternoon. Free time to shop and explore on your own before our farewell dinner at a special restaurant in town. All meals included.
Kayaking: 1.5 hrs. Snorkeling: 1 hour
Transfer to the Cartagena airport for your international flight home or choose to extend your time in Cartagena. Breakfast included