This trip begins in Medellín, Colombia. We meet at our host hotel at 12:30. After a short briefing, we start our exploration of the city by public transit. Riding the metro, the cable cars and the escalators, we’ll venture all around the city learning about the past, the present and the future. Our day ends in Communa 13 where a local activist will tell us about how innovation, street art, and music changed this neighborhood from one of Medellín’s most dangerous to a shining example of how change can happen. Welcome dinner is at a speakeasy in Medellín renowned for their modern take on Colombian classics. Dinner included.
Walking: 4 hours
Note: a portion of the proceeds from this trip are donated to the Communa 13 Project. Ask us for more info if you’d like to learn more.
Today we head out of the city and into the surrounding areas. Our day begins with an exploration of La Catedral, an important historical site that also offers some of the best views of Medellín. After a short hike through the cloud forest, continue out of the city to El Penol where you’ll have a chance to climb the 1,200 stairs to the top of the rock. The 360-degree views of the island-dotted landscape below are well worth the effort. After refreshing with a cool drink, a short transfer brings us to our mountain bikes. We'll hop on and cycle our way through quiet backroads until we reach La Manuela. This house is now in ruins but was once the grand lakeside estate of one of Colombia’s most infamous characters. After time for exploration, we board a boat headed for the colorful town of Guatape. Famous for its vibrant wood siding on the homes, this town is a photographer’s dream. We head back to Medellín in the late afternoon, with free time to explore on your own from our centrally located hotel. Dinner on your own.
Transfer: 3 hours; Hiking: 2 hours; Biking: 1 hour
Enjoy one final morning in Medellín before we transfer midmorning to the airport for our flight to Santa Marta. Santa Marta is located on the Caribbean coast with a notable temperature change from eternal spring into warm summer. Once we arrive at our hotel, you’ll have free time to explore Santa Marta’s bustling plaza filled with cute restaurants and local breweries. Breakfast included.
Transfer: 1 hour; Flight: 1.5 hours
Today’s the day! We start off from Santa Marta bright and early to beat the heat. Hopping into 4x4 trucks, we make our way into the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains. After donning our day packs, we set off into the jungle. The trail is steep to start, but there are stops whenever you need them, complete with freshly squeezed orange juice and fresh fruit for the taking. Arrive at our refuge for the night where lunch is served at an incredible mirador overlooking the lush valleys below. After lunch, spend your free time relaxing or heading off to a local waterfall for a dip. Before dinner at the refuge, we’ll have the chance to talk about life in the mountains with a farmer whose family has lived there for years. All meals included.
Transfer: 2 hours; Hiking: 5.5 miles, gain 1,946ft/ loss 1,033ft
Wake up bright and early for a hearty Colombian breakfast then set off on the trail again. Nothing in Colombia is flat, so be prepared for steep uphills followed by even steeper descents. The trail today passes from land owned by local farmers to protected indigenous land. The indigenous tribes have lived in harmony with the land for thousands of years and view the earth as the ultimate living being and humans as her children. Lunch is at a local swimming hole, perfect for cooling off in the midday heat. In the afternoon, we’ll arrive at our next refuge for the night. Take a shower, go for a swim or just relax before dinner. All meals included.
Hiking: 10.8 miles, gain 3,780ft/ loss 2,352ft
Rise and shine as we prepare to climb the steep steps up to the Lost City! Nothing can prepare you for the feeling of stepping out of the dense jungle onto perfectly flat terraces rising high above you. After a short briefing with your guide about the city, enjoy free time exploring and perfecting your photography skills. Descend back to the camp for lunch then trek towards Santa Marta, arriving at our final refuge in the late afternoon. The day’s hike calls for yet another local swimming hole invitation before sitting down with a local tribal elder to learn more about the life of the indigenous in this area. Dinner is at the refuge. All meals included.
Hiking: 10.5 miles, gain 2,329/ loss 3,691ft
This may be the last day of the trek but the hard work is certainly not over! We pass through jungle and farmlands as we descend through the rolling jungle back towards Santa Marta. After stopping for lunch at the first refuge we pass continue down the same trail we came up, pausing to drink refreshing juices and spot toucans in the trees around us. We leave the jungle and The Lost City behind us as we head out to the coast. Once we check in at our beachfront hotel, the afternoon is yours to relax and enjoy beach life. Dinner on your own.
Transfer: 1 hr; Hiking: 10.5 miles, gain 2,589ft/ loss 3,445ft
No visit to Colombia would be complete without a stop by Tayrona National Park. It’s a magical land where the mountains meet the jungle and the jungle meets the sea, resulting in a wild, untamed beach destination. There’s a four-mile trail that weaves through the park, but we’ll hike two miles in together to one of our favorite beaches, then it’s free time for the rest of the day. Choose to relax and enjoy REI base camp or continue on to the end of the trail to the iconic Cabo San Juan beach. In the afternoon, we’ll all head back to the hotel where we’ll have a final celebratory dinner.
Hiking: 4–8 miles
We say a heartfelt goodbye to Colombia today. A transfer will leave the hotel bound first for Santa Marta and then on to Cartagena. Choose to remain in the Tayrona area on your own or transfer to Santa Marta or Cartagena for continued exploration or your international flight home.