Colombia

Classic Colombia

9 nights / 10 days

From £3,110 per person

To book please complete the form below or call us on 01604 961931

Colombia will astound and delight you with mountains of ancient gold and an entire cathedral hewn from a disused salt mine. Former colonial splendour mixes with the vibrant colour and light of indigenous art and the world’s finest coffee, cultivated using centuries old traditional techniques in the most beautiful tropical surroundings.

Category:

Itinerary

Classic Colombia

9 nights/10 days from £3,110 per person (excluding international flights)

Day 1 – Arrival Bogotá
On arrival at El Dorado International Airport you will be met by your Avventura representative and taken by private transfer to your hotel.

Accommodation: Hotel B.O.G in a Superior Room. Hotel upgrade options available – The Four Seasons Hotel Bogotá or Hotel Sofitel Victoria Regia.

Day 2 – Bogotá
After breakfast at the hotel, enjoy a full day tour of the capital. Explore the Candelaria neighbourhood and the Gold Museum. Entrance to the gallery of the famous Colombian artist Botero is included as is a visit up the mountain to the Monserrate Monastery. Finally take a cultural experience at Paloqueamo local market with exotic fruit tasting.

La Candelaria is Bogotá’s heart and soul. Of humble origins, this is the oldest part of the city and the Plaza Bolivar (Main Square) are high on any visitor’s agenda. The Plaza is also home to the Mayor’s office and the Primary Cathedral of Bogotá that dominates an entire corner. As you wander the streets of La Candelaria away from the main square, your guide will not only explain the history of Bogotá but also the intricacies of current Colombian culture and daily life. There will be time for a refreshment stop in one of the city’s coffee houses.

The Botero Museum is a permanent exhibition of works of art by Fernando Botero, Colombia’s most famous artist whose “oversized” art is instantly recognisable. There are several rooms over two floors with displays of his work both on canvas and in sculpture. The museum not only houses work by Botero but also other world-famous artists such as Dali, Monet and Van Gogh. Next door is the Casa de la Moneda, or mint and is home to a museum that takes you on a tour of the history of Bogotá through the currency and money used in Colombia.

With your guide the next stop will be the Gold Museum at the northeast corner of the Parque Santander. The Museum is within the premises of the Banco de la Republica and is one of the finest collections of Pre-Hispanic gold in the world. This is a “must see” when in Bogotá, with more than 35,000 pieces of pre-Colombian gold work in the collection. Many of the pieces are said to be unsurpassed by goldsmiths of today.

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 hilltop viewpoint and monastery of Monserrate. The summit can be reached by either funicular railway or cable car. From the highest point the view across the city will enable you to see the different sectors of Bogotá. Bogotá Paloquemao market, abundant with fresh food and flowers, offers a great insight into the life and customs of Bogotános. It is the second largest market in the city and one of the most important retailers in the country, where 750 merchants and a labyrinth of stands offer a large variety of fruit, vegetables, dairy products, meats and one of Colombia’s biggest exports, flowers.

Accommodation: Hotel B.O.G in a Superior Room. Hotel upgrade options available – The Four Seasons Hotel Bogotá or Hotel Sofitel Victoria Regia

Meal Plan – Breakfast & Lunch.

Day 3 – Bogotá to Villa de Leyva
Following breakfast, your guide will meet you with a driver for a private transfer to Villa de Leyva. En route you will stop at one of the country’s most spectacular and artistic feats of engineering, the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá.

For the beauty of its landscapes, the richness of its soil and the hidden jewel beneath the earth’s surface, Zipaquirá has to be seen during a stay in Bogotá. Travelling north of the city, through the countryside once occupied by the native Muisca Indians, Zipaquirá is one of the more popular tourist destinations in Colombia. Zipaquirá is most famous for its cathedral carved underground in still functioning salt mines just west of the town. The subtle lighting reveals the fourteen Stations of the Cross as you descend into the mine, each station sculpted by a different artist. At the deepest point of the cathedral, 180 metres below the earth’s surface, you encounter the nave and the north and south aisles dominated by a 16m high central cross. The illumination and execution of the work is a tribute to modern techniques and years of work by miners and artists. Your guide will explain all about the cathedral’s construction and how it and the mine still function in harmony. However you view this construction, you can’t fail to be impressed by its size and grandeur.

After a picnic lunch, you will continue your journey to Villa de Leyva passing through stunning savannah landscapes on the way.

Your late afternoon and evening are at leisure.

Accommodation: Hotel Casa Terra in a Suite Deluxe. Hotel upgrade option available – Hotel Campanario de la Villa.

Meal Plan – Breakfast & Lunch.

Day 4 – Villa de Leyva
Today you will have a full day guided tour of Villa de Leyva and its surroundings.

With its myriad of winding cobbled streets, lined on either side by orange roofed whitewashed houses and surrounded by mountains, Villa de Leyva is a charming place to while away a few days. With scarcely a modern building in sight and boasting one of the largest cobbled-stoned squares in South America, this village where time stands still is a great place to see a snapshot of historical Colombia preserved in its entirety. The Hosteria del “Molino de la Mesopotamia” used to be an old mill but has been turned into a hotel packed to bursting with antiques. You can also visit the birthplace of Antonio Ricaurte (a heroic patriot during the War of Independence) and the house in which Antonio Nariño (a patriot, writer and revered politician) lived. The latter translated the “Rights of Man” into Spanish and both men became important figures in the Independence Movement.

Just outside Villa de Leyva, there are some wonderful walks and excursions. You will visit local historic sites such as the “Museo El Fósil” a fossil museum, the eerie Muiscan observatory and attend a wool and weaving workshop.

Your evening is at leisure to further explore this pretty town.

Accommodation: Hotel Casa Terra in a Suite Deluxe. Hotel upgrade option available – Hotel Campanario de la Villa.

Meal Plan – Breakfast & Lunch.

Day 5 – Villa de Leyva to the Coffee Region
Following breakfast, you will have a private transfer to El Dorado International Airport for your domestic flight to Pereira. On arrival, you will be met by your Avventura representative for your private transfer to your hotel.

After lunch at the hotel, you will be joined by your guide for an afternoon exploring this area’s most famous export. Coffee makes this region tick; it’s the heart and soul of the region and its culture. This journey will take you through some stunning scenery, carpeted rolling hills of lush green coffee, plantain and yucca. As campesinos (local rural workers) pass by on their way to work in the fields, and children walk to school or wait for the morning bus, you can start to imagine how life is for these rural Colombian populations.

Today is time to take a tour of one of the region’s coffee plantations. You will see the whole process from seedling to coffee cup and every stage in between. You will learn about the trials and tribulations that face the regions coffee growers and how their whole way of life is governed by this simple bean.

From the planting to the picking to the toasting and the tasting your life as a coffee drinker will never be the same, once you have sampled the elixir of life from Colombia.

Accommodation: Hotel Hacienda Sazagua in a Standard Room. Hotel upgrade options available – Casa San Carlos Lodge or Hacienda Bambusa.

Meal Plan – Breakfast & Lunch.

Day 6 – Coffee Region
After a leisurely breakfast, your guide will meet you for your full day tour of the coffee towns and valley that define this region.

Colombia produces some of the world’s finest coffee, so much so that this area is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Most of the best crop goes for export because of its high value although there will be plenty of opportunities for you to taste a Colombian brew at its best. After breakfast at the hacienda you will have a full day tour of this fascinating region.

You will first visit the traditional, brightly painted colonial town of Filandia. As you enter the town, you know you are in the Coffee region of Colombia. The main square has not changed in appearance or in character in decades. A coffee break in one of the many small coffee shops will allow you to take in the atmosphere of this quaint and pretty town.

After lunch, you will drive to the Cocora Valley. This unique landscape is like a lush version of a Swiss valley and is regarded by Colombians as a sanctuary for its national symbol the Wax Palm (Ceroxylon quindiuense). Your guide will accompany you on a trek through the area where you can take in the stunning scenery and learn about the hugely diverse flora and fauna.

Accommodation: Hotel Hacienda Sazagua in a Standard Room. Hotel upgrade options available – Casa San Carlos Lodge or Hacienda Bambusa.

Meal Plan – Breakfast & Lunch.

Day 7 – Coffee Region to Cartagena Des Indias
Following breakfast, you will have a private transfer to Matecaña International Airport for your domestic flight to Cartagena des Indias. On arrival, you will be met by your Avventura representative for your private transfer to your hotel for an afternoon at leisure.

Quite rightly, Cartagena is seen by many as the jewel in South America’s colonial crown and is possibly the best preserved example of what life was like in the region during the 16th and 17th centuries; a time which – although tumultuous – left its mark through enchanting architecture, evocative structures and fascinating historical sites. The 1533 founding of Cartagena by conquistador Pedro de Heredia, in what was then an abandoned coastal village, quickly led to an influx of riches and rapid growth. As a result, beautiful churches, atmospheric plazas and defensive structures came to characterise a port town where residents enjoyed the comforts of cobbled streets, balconied homes and cosy meeting places; all of which can be still seen in their glory today.

Fast forward to the 21st-century, and a visit to iconic old Cartagena could happily be spent doing not very much at all; wandering streets or sipping coffee in the square, relishing the brightly coloured buildings as you’re transported back in time by flower-laden balconies and moody side-streets.
This evening you will be taken to Café del Mar for cocktails. From the café, you can see the illumination and the nocturnal magic of the old town of Cartagena. You will dine at the Restaurant Club de Pesca and then be taken to the Getsemaní neighbourhood; renowned for its culture and bohemian bonhomie. Your evening will conclude at the Havana Salsa Bar, for an exciting evening of salsa music.

Accommodation: Hotel Casa Cochera del Gobernador in a Superior Deluxe Room. Hotel upgrade options available – Hotel Anandá or Hotel Casa San Agustín.

Meal Plan – Breakfast & Dinner.

Day 8 – Cartagena Des Indias
Following a leisurely breakfast, your morning is free to explore the city at your own pace.

In the afternoon, you will be met by your guide to visit the Castillo San Felipe, the largest Spanish fortification in the Americas which dominates the old town. The first fort on the site was established in 1536 and further extended over the following 200 years mostly by African slave labour. Underneath this amazing structure, you will find a labyrinth of tunnels. The sun-soaked fortification and its tunnels are richly atmospheric and hold many tales of their long and tempestuous history.

Accommodation: Hotel Casa Cochera del Gobernador in a Superior Deluxe Room. Hotel upgrade options available – Hotel Anandá or Hotel Casa San Agustín.

Meal Plan – Breakfast.

Day 9 – Cartagena Des Indias
As this is your last full day, you have a day at leisure to just relax at your hotel, take a pleasant and scenic walk along the beach or lounge around the pool area.

If you are still feeling adventurous, you have the inclusive option of a Colombian rum and coffee tasting tour. This tasting experience takes place in Restaurant 1621 at the Hotel Sofitel Legend Santa Clara. The rum which is produced from sugarcane by-products is a common drink in Colombia and has been awarded several accolades throughout the world. Your sommelier will combine various rums with some of Colombia’s most delightful chocolate. A wonderfully tasty way to end your Colombian tour.

Accommodation: Hotel Casa Cochera del Gobernador in a Superior Deluxe Room. Hotel upgrade options available – Hotel Anandá or Hotel Casa San Agustín.

Meal Plan – Breakfast.

Day 10 – Departure
Unfortunately, it is time to leave this marvellous country. After breakfast, you will be taken by private transfer to Rafael Núñez International Airport for your international flight home.

Location

Accommodation options

BOGOTÁ

HOTEL SOFITEL VICTORIA REGIA

The elegant Hotel Sofitel Victoria Regia is situated in the heart of one of the most absorbing areas of Bogotá among the best restaurants, bars and cultural attractions of the capital.

Charming and cosy, the excellent Basilic restaurant specialises in French haute cuisine where chef, Mauricio Rodriguez, combines the best of Mediterranean tradition with the latest international trends and local ingredients. The restaurant also boasts an enviable selection of wines and spirits.

HOTEL B.O.G

Hotel B.O.G is ideally situated between the two principal dining and night life areas of Zona Rosa to the south and Park 93 to the north. This contemporary hotel takes its inspiration from two of Colombia’s most important historical influences, gold and emeralds. The rooms are sleek and clean in design with all the amenities you would expect from a five-star hotel. The hotel has an excellent restaurant, gym, bar and social areas and is one of the few hotels in Bogotá to have a roof top pool and sun terrace.

THE FOUR SEASONS HOTEL BOGOTÁ

The Four Seasons Hotel Bogotá, situated in the buzzing Zona T area, is just steps away from the city’s best shopping, nightlife and cafés. Contemporary and chic, this beautiful hotel has all the facilities and services you would expect from the Four Seasons brand. Rooms are spacious, have good natural light and are superbly appointed. The hotel boasts an excellent spa and casual all-day dining is available from Nemo, an international bar and grill by world-renown Colombian chef Harry Sasson.

VILLA DE LAYVA

HOTEL CASA TERRA

Hotel Casa Terra is a small boutique hotel that has been superbly created from an original sixteenth century building in a style in harmony with this pretty town’s colonial architecture. Hotel Casa Terra has just seven exclusive, individually designed and furnished rooms, which feature a unique combination of traditional heritage elements with contemporary designed furniture. Breakfast is taken on the patio around the fountain or under the eucalyptus trees.

HOTEL CAMPANARIO DE LA VILLA

Hotel Campanario de la Villa is an excellent hotel, colonial in character but with all the luxury amenities and services you would expect. With white-washed walls and ornate balconies, the hotel has gorgeous views of the mountains, best enjoyed on its roof top viewing platform. The hotel has an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, a spa and wellness centre and an excellent restaurant serving both local and international dishes. Rooms are spacious and very well equipped.

COFFEE REGION

HOTEL HACIENDA SAZAGUA

Hacienda Sazagua is in the heart of the Coffee Region just outside of Pereira. With just 15 well appointed, air-conditioned rooms, there is a wonderful private and relaxed feel to this pretty property. The picturesque grounds are complemented by a spa, sauna and outdoor pool. The restaurant is excellent serving traditional fare with local in-season produce. This is a great boutique hotel option combining comfort and elegance in beautiful natural surroundings.

CASA SAN CARLOS LODGE

Originally built as a coffee farm in 1925, Casa San Carlos Lodge is an artisan-designed lodge featuring 23 individually styled rooms. Each has unique features and comprises all the luxury amenities you would expect. Surrounded by picturesque rolling hills teeming with animal life, the lodge has a restaurant, outdoor pool, hot tub and steam room.

HACIENDA BAMBUSA

Hacienda Bambusa is an ideal spot from which to explore Colombia’s Coffee Region. This perfect piece of tranquillity is set on a large estate in the shadow of the mighty Andes. The hotel has been built in the traditional local style with clay tiled roofs and rustic bamboo balconies. Rooms are light, airy and tastefully decorated and your air-conditioned suite will also have a private terrace. The restaurant produces traditional recipes using local produce.

MEDELLÍN

HOTEL PATIO DEL MUNDO

Patio del Mundo is a charming boutique villa in the heart of Medellin lovingly restored by a French family. Each of the seven rooms is travel themed; from Al-Andalus with its shades of blue, white and brown celebrating Andalucía to Cartagena des Indias and its colonial Caribbean ambience. The villa boasts a lush tropical garden where you can escape the hubbub of “the city of the eternal spring” and relax in the Jacuzzi or just take in the serenity from your hammock. Wellbeing services include yoga classes, massages and beauty treatments.

DIEZ HOTEL CATEGORÍA COLOMBIA

Inspired by the five artisan cultures of Colombia, Diez offers luxurious rooms, a restaurant serving traditional Colombian and international fare and a multi-therapy spa. Located in the commercial centre of Medellin, Diez is an excellent choice for guests visiting the multi-faceted city of Medellín. The hotel features a rooftop terrace, concierge services and a fitness centre.

HOTEL PARK 10

Hotel Park 10 oozes class and style, with a traditional charm. Dark panelling contrasts with crisp white walls to create a sophisticated elegance. This sophistication extends to the guestrooms, all handsomely furnished with polished wood floors and quality furnishings; some suites have an irresistible Jacuzzi to add to the luxury. Step into the spa and relish reinvigorating treatments, a hammam and sauna, there’s even a pure oxygen centre. The Lussac restaurant serves superbly prepared classical dishes, as well as a mix of innovative international and Colombian cuisine.

CARTAGENA DES INDIAS

HOTEL CASA COCHERA DEL GOBERNADOR

Casa Cochera del Gobernador is a delightful boutique hotel set in a sixteenth century colonial house. Situated next to the Santa Catalina Cathedral, it is perfectly located for an exploration of this wonderful historic city. Each room is elegantly decorated and very well appointed. The hotel boasts a terrace bar, spa, indoor pool and Jacuzzi.

HOTEL ANANDÁ BOUTIQUE

Located in the heart of the old town, this pretty boutique hotel offers, charm, luxury and excellent service. The word “Ananda” comes from the old Sanskrit word meaning bliss and that’s how you can expect to feel relaxing in this hotel. Bigger than most of the boutique hotels in Cartagena, it retains that personal feel yet has the space to incorporate three patios, pool and Jacuzzi, restaurant and rooftop mirador to enjoy amazing views of the old town.

HOTEL CASA SAN AGUSTÍN

This beautiful property, comprising three white-washed seventeenth century buildings will give you an authentic experience of old Cartagena. The seventeenth century theme continues in your spacious Deluxe Room with king-size bed. Outside there are elegant terraces laid out with palm fronds and stylish loungers. One of the three historic structures which make up the hotel’s main buildings was once part of an aqueduct system which took water into the walled city and which has now been incorporated into the delightful swimming pool. Dining is chic and relaxed under the guidance of creative and imaginative local chefs with a reputation for great seafood. The hotel enjoys its own tranquil private beach with crystal clear waters and a cooling breeze. If pampering of a more humankind appeals, the hotel also has its own relaxing and invigorating spa.

Activities options

BOGOTÁ – GUIDED TOUR OF LAGUNA DE GUATAVITA & NEMOCÓN

Laguna de Guatavita is a circular lake in the mountains northeast of Bogotá formed in what many believe to be a meteor crater. The actual origin of the crater is unclear; but it was most likely the result of local volcanic activity. The lake is believed to be one of the sacred lakes of the Muisca people. A Muisca ritual conducted at Guatavita is thought to be the basis for the legend of El Dorado. As the legend goes, the Muisca celebrated a ritual in which the Zipa (the indigenous tribal head named “El Dorado” by the Conquistadores) was covered in gold dust. He then ventured out into the water on a ceremonial raft made of rushes, dived into the waters washing off the gold. Worshippers would then throw trinkets, jewellery and other precious offerings into the waters. Since the mid sixteenth century, various attempts have been made to recover the alleged treasure trove but as yet only a few golden artefacts have been recovered.

After lunch, the tour will continue to Nemocón, a small town approximately 25 kilometres northwest of Guatavita to visit its 400-year-old salt mine. Eighty metres below the ground, the mine comprises many different rooms, including La Recepción (the reception) an astonishing 30 metres high construction, El Espejo (the mirror), a room where the salt crystals have condensed and make reflections of the caverns and El Corazón (the heart) a beautiful heart shaped salt sculpture weighing over 1,600 kilogrammes.

 

COFFEE REGION – BAMBOO RAFTING

You will be taken from your hotel to the Rio La Vieja to join your cruise by bamboo boat. Locally known as “balsaje”, you will take a calm and leisurely journey down the river on your guadua bamboo rafts surrounded by breathtaking scenery and local wildlife. You will visit stunning waterfalls and there is the opportunity to swim in the river. This tour provides a rare opportunity to see the coffee region from a different perspective. Safety is the utmost priority for the raft operators as you soak in the sights and sounds of the river. You will enjoy a traditional lunch before returning to your hotel in the early afternoon.

 

CARTAGENA DES INDIAS – THE ROSARIO ISLANDS

This full day tour gives you the opportunity to discover one of the most beautiful archipelagos in the Caribbean. The fast motorboat departs directly from the pier and will take you on a 60-minute ride through the Bay of Cartagena to the beautiful crystal clear waters of the Rosario Island archipelago. This group of 27 islands, surrounded by coral reefs, is the perfect location to go snorkeling and swimming from the pristine white sandy beaches. It´s one of the 46 Natural National Parks of Colombia, created to protect one of the most important coral reefs of the Caribbean Colombian Coast. This marine habitat is one of the most diverse and richest marine ecosystems in Colombia. The park covers over 450 square miles and is home to marine pastures, mangroves and numerous species of algae and animals; all of which feed the many corals and fish life that inhabit the reefs. You will have time to relax, snorkel, sunbathe and enjoy a swim on this tropical retreat. You will be served a delicious lunch consisting of locally caught fresh fried fish, accompanied by coconut rice, plantains and salad. After lunch you will have time to relax and enjoy a final swim in the Caribbean before returning to Cartagena on your speed boat.

 

CARTAGENA DES INDIAS – HALF DAY TOUR TO BOQUILLA FISHING VILLAGE

This tour combines experiencing a traditional local fishing community and exploring the mangroves by canoe. The fishing village of La Boquilla is located 30 minutes east of Cartagena in an area of mangrove swamps.

The Cueva Del Manglar is the Spanish name given to this protected ecosystem which is rich in birdlife and in keeping with Colombia’s reputation of being one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet. You may well spot kingfishers, white heron and pelicans. The tour through the mangroves is taken by canoe paddled by a local fisherman, an ideal way for you to navigate the shallow waters through the “tunnels” naturally created by the mangrove trees.

 

CARTAGENA DES INDIAS – BAZURTO MARKET AND COOKERY CLASS AT CARMEN RESTAURANT

Mercado Bazurto is Cartagena’s labyrinthine central market, an enthralling yet dizzying experience which will guarantee a full assault on the senses. Guided through this captivating world by an expert local guide, the market seems to offer all variety of species known to man from the abundance of fish to the endless vivid rows of vegetables and fruits. Bazurto market was featured by Anthony Bourdain in his Travel Channel TV programme in 2008 and like him, you will be accompanied by a local chef who will select ingredients with you for a typical local lunch cooked in a private colonial house in the walled city. The house is a short drive from the market and on arrival a Colombian soda will be served before the cooking class begins under the tutelage of your local chef, using the fresh ingredients purchased in the market. A gastronomic delight.

 

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