Experience Colombia

Trip Length 9 Days
Group Size 4?12
Difficulty
Starting from
$3,999 for REI Members
$4,499 for non-members
Departures Jan 2020-Dec 2020

Explore bright, lovely Colombia on a 9?day multisport journey from the Andes and coffee highlands to the Caribbean coast.

This journey through Colombia will take you from tropical glaciers to underwater coral reefs as we explore three iconic natural areas. From cosmopolitan Bogota, we ascend to Risaralda, a region of rolling emerald hills and some of the world?s best coffee. After a stay on a working coffee farm, we head into Los Nevados National Park. We hike to an alpine lake, home to tropical glaciers and the paramo, an ecosystem found in only five countries. We stay at a working hacienda nestled in the mountains. Hike amidst Seussian wax palms and relax in private natural pools heated by a nearby volcano.

Say goodbye to the green hills of Risaralda and hello to the golden beaches of the Caribbean coast. Our next few days are spent exploring luscious Tayrona National Park, where mountains meet jungle and jungle meets sea. Our final stops are the romantic walled city of Cartagena and the Rosario Islands, home to an underwater national park, where we can kayak and snorkel. Journey home full of tales of Colombia?s friendliness and beauty.

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Trip Highlights

  • Hike and explore varied ecosystems, from coffee highlands to Caribbean waters
  • Tour a Spanish castle near the beautiful walled city of Cartagena
  • Snorkel and kayak over a dazzling coral reef in Rosario Islands National Park
  • Connect with the real Colombia through local guides, cuisine and experiences
  • Stay in unique places, like an hacienda with private hot springs

Activities

This trip is rated Moderate [3]. There are a variety of activities including moderate hikes, mountain biking, and sea kayaking. The hike in Los Nevados National Park is a high elevation hike (12,780'). The round trip distance is 8 miles with an elevation gain of 900'. We are not moving at a fast pace as our primary objective is to take time to enjoy the scenery. The mountain biking is on unpaved gravel roads with some small rolling hills. You can choose not to bike this portion. Sea kayaking is broken up with stops to take advantage of the snorkeling opportunities.

  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Snorkeling

What's Included

Double-occupancy accommodations at hotels; private transport throughout; arrival and departure transfers on Day 1 and Day 9; meals as noted in the daily itinerary; private bilingual guides; 24-speed mountain bikes with front suspension and bike helmets: sea kayaks, paddles and PFDs; snorkeling masks; entrance fees to various parks; internal flights noted in Additional Mandatory Fees.

Accommodations

Hotels, 8 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

Flavor & Intrigue in Bogota

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. Dinner included.

Walking: 3 hours

Day 2

Coffee Country Cycling, Bean-to-Cup Experience & Valley View Feast

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

Day 3

Land of Hot Springs & Tropical Glaciers

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?)

Day 4

Experience Hacienda Life & Learn Colombian Cooking

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

Day 5

Journey to the Caribbean Coast

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. After a short flight to Santa Marta, we transfer to 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.

Transfers: 4 hours

Day 6

Relax & Explore a Seaside Jungle Paradise

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.?

Day 7

Spanish Castles of Cartagena

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

Day 8

Kayak & Snorkel a Coral Reef Wonderland

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

Day 9

Sunrise in Cartagena

Transfer to the Cartagena airport for your international flight home or choose to extend your time in Cartagena. Breakfast included

Gear List

This gear list has been created to help you choose the best equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary, as this will help you and the field staff. The weather and other conditions at the time of your arrival will dictate what clothing and equipment you will be required to use each day and what (if anything) can be left behind. It may be a necessary precaution that you bring certain items on the list, even if it is uncertain whether or not they will be needed.

What to pack

You might also consider

Travel documents

  • Airline Tickets (Confirmation and Itinerary)
  • Final Bulletin (Emailed Prior to Departure Date)
  • Valid Passport

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 800-622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.