Colombia

Culture and Coast

9 nights / 10 days

From £2,935 per person

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

From the world renowned art and antiquity collections of Bogotá to the vibrant street art and glittering nightlife of Medellín, this fascinating country radiates culture. Relax on palm-fringed beaches of golden sand set against a tropical backdrop and explore the diverse flora and fauna of the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Category:

Itinerary

Culture and Coast

9 nights/10 days from £2,935 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 Medellín
Following breakfast, you will have a private transfer to El Dorado International Airport for your domestic flight to Medellín. On arrival, you will be met by your Avventura representative for your private transfer to your hotel.

Forget everything you have heard about Medellín as it is old news. It was the headquarters of one of the country’s most notorious drug cartels, but it is now undergoing a remarkable transition. Medellín is the second largest city in Colombia and regarded as one of the most important, in business, politics, fashion and of course its nightlife. Its growth has been impressive over the past ten years, and the advance in the security situation has been such that Medellin is now regarded as one of the safest cities in South America.

This afternoon your will have a private half day tour to Santa Elena, a small flower growing village approximately one hour from the city. Santa Elena is the birthplace of the ornate flower arrangements called silletas that are the cornerstone of the flower festival of Feria de Las Flores in Medellin. During the festival cut flowers are woven into tapestries and mounted onto wooden frames which the inhabitants carry on their backs in a parade through the streets of the city.

Accommodation: Hotel Diez Medellín in a Superior Room with Balcony. Hotel upgrade options available – Hotel Park 10 or Hotel Patio del Mundo.

Meal Plan – Breakfast & Lunch.

Day 4 – Medellín
Today you will have the opportunity to experience modern Medellín. After breakfast, you will tour the working-class neighbourhood of San Javier or Comuna 13, famous for its amazing storytelling graffiti, open-air electric escalators and its incredibly welcoming inhabitants. Your guide will take you around the neighbourhood and give you some special insight into some of the social initiatives that are taking place in the area. After visiting the San Javier library park, you will have the opportunity to ride on the escalators to enjoy a beautiful view of the city from the top of the hill. You will also visit the “Plaza Botero” the famous Botero sculpture park where many giant sculptures of Colombia’s most famous artist, Medellin born sculptor Fernando Botero are exhibited. Your tour will end with a ride on the city’s famous metro and cable car system to visit Santo Domingo.

Accommodation: Hotel Diez Medellín in a Superior Room with Balcony. Hotel upgrade options available – Hotel Park 10 or Hotel Patio del Mundo.

Meal Plan – Breakfast & Lunch.

Day 5 – Medellín To Cartagena Des Indias
Following breakfast, you will have a private transfer to Jose Maria Cordova 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 6 – Cartagena Des Indias
Following a leisurely breakfast, your morning is at leisure.

In the afternoon, you will be met by your guide for a walking tour of this historic city.
Carved from a colourful history, sultry Caribbean heat with fusions of African, indigenous and European culture, Cartagena is Colombia’s living, breathing and pulsating museum. Colour splashes every corner, balconies overflow with blossom and energy seeps beneath the ancient wooden doors of hotels, restaurants and Casa Privadas. Your tour will take you through the old town under the Puerta Del Reloj (Clock tower entrance) into the Plaza de los Coches. Your guide will share the myths and legends of Cartagena from ancient times through to the present. From the Plaza San Pedro Claver with its stunning Church, on through to the Plaza Bolivar; with its shady areas, where a fresh lemon juice can be enjoyed while watching the world go by. Cartagena is steeped in history and it is a delight to stroll the streets with your own personal guide sharing their encyclopaedic knowledge of this fascinating city.

During the walk you will visit the Inquisition Palace. In September 1610 the inquisition was established in Cartagena de Indias. Its jurisdiction covered the kingdom of Granada, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Panama, Santa Domingo and the Barlovento Islands. The inquisition adopted this building as its headquarters. The building itself is considered one of the most elegant and characteristic colonial constructions of its time. Throughout its interior, visitors to the museum will find instruments of torture and prison cells.

A short walk away, your final stop is San Pedro Claver Cloister, a monastery and museum built in homage to San Pedro Claver, the protector of slaves, and serves as reminder of the city’s turbulent past. The cloister where San Pedro lived and died has become a special place of silence and reflection – a shrine to the life’s work of this extraordinary man. Here, visitors will find examples of pre-Colombian ceramics and an extensive museum rich with religious art. Adjoining the cloister is a beautiful baroque church, designed by German and Dutch architects. At the high altar, within a glass case, lie the remains of San Pedro Claver, “the slave to the slaves”.

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 7 – Cartagena Des Indias To Tayrona
Following a leisurely breakfast, you will be met by an Avventura representative for your private transfer to Tayrona, a journey time of approximately four and a half hours.

Tayrona National Park sits at the edge of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range, the highest coastal mountain range in the world stretching over 35 miles from Santa Marta in the west to Rio Piedras in the east. The National Park is everything you could want from a picture post card beach location. Palm-fringed beaches and golden sands stretch out against a backdrop of lush, green rainforest. The numerous paths that link the various beaches and bays make perfect walking trails to while away your days in paradise.
This is an amazing place to sit back and relax, amble the beach and jungle trails and spot the abundant local wildlife. Although the sea can be choppy at times there are several swimming locations to cool down from the tropical heat. For photographers the area is divine with beautiful landscapes and fascinating flora and fauna. The park was once home to the indigenous Tayrona Indians and archaeological remains can still be found. The best preserved of these is the Pre-Hispanic village of Pueblito, believed to have been the site of a major Tayrona settlement. The park is covered by virgin tropical forest and inhabited by over 100 species of mammals, 200 species of birds and 50 species of reptiles. The Paujil, a kind of hen, is often represented in Tayrona gold work and is indigenous to the area, as is the majestic condor which nests in the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Monkeys can often be seen along the fringes of the beaches, especially around the Ecohabs. This is a place where nature and tourist peacefully co-exist.

Your afternoon will be at leisure.

Accommodation: Hotel Villa Maria in a Bungalow (Sea View). Hotel upgrade option available – Hotel Cayena.

Meal Plan – Breakfast.

Day 8 – Tayrona
Following a leisurely breakfast, your Avventura guide and driver will meet you for the short journey to Tayrona National Park. You will pass along the foothills of the famous Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta the highest coastal mountain range in the world. Approximately 20 minutes past the park entrance the road ends and it’s time to get your walking boots on. For those who prefer a more sedate pace, horses can be arranged to carry you or your bags. You will be able to specify exactly the length and difficulty of walk – from as little as 30 minutes to one of the main beaches, to over two hours to go deeper into the forest and reach the main swimming beaches. During your walk you may see members of the Kogi tribe who still live in the park. Your experienced guide will be on hand to explain not only the culture and history of the park but also about the wildlife that you may see. Wherever you finish your walk you have the same trip back to the pickup point then transfer back to the hotel leaving time to reminisce over a cocktail on one of the most unspoilt beaches of the region.

Accommodation: Hotel Villa Maria in a Bungalow (Sea View). Hotel upgrade option available – Hotel Cayena.

Meal Plan – Breakfast & Lunch.

Day 9 – Tayrona
As this is your last full day, you may choose to just relax at your hotel, take a leisurely walk along the beach or lounge around the pool area.

Alternatively, you can have one final guided tour to Minca and Hacienda La Victoria. Minca is a small town of only five hundred inhabitants nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and hidden among the lush vegetation. Minca is an ecological paradise with its crystalline rivers and its immense green vegetation. This wonderful landscape served in the past as the home of the ancient Tayrona culture whose traditions are still followed among the highland indigenous people. You will visit a local coffee farm, the area being famous for producing some of Colombia’s finest beans and have the opportunity of bathing in some natural river pools and waterfalls. Finally, you will have a chance to visit Hacienda Victoria, a local coffee growing farm to learn about coffee production, from plant to bean to cup.

Accommodation: Hotel Villa Maria in a Bungalow (Sea View). Hotel upgrade option available – Hotel Cayena.

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 Simon Bolivar International Airport in Santa Marta for your onward 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 liquors.

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.

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, massage 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.

TAYRONA

HOTEL VILLA MARIA

Villa Maria Tayrona is located just on the outskirts of the Tayrona National Park. The original colonial house is two hundred years old with much of the original property painstakingly preserved. The private beach and jungle trails are superb and breakfast looking out on the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada is not to be missed. The air-conditioned rooms are constructed from bamboo and sit in their own secluded area of the jungle grounds.

CAYENA BEACH VILLA

Cayena Beach Villa is a new hotel that balances a strong local character with a touch of luxury. Located just two minutes from the beach, the hotel has a very laid-back ambience, with a pool, yoga studio and open-air restaurant serving a mix of traditional and international dishes. Each spacious room has a personal balcony, tasteful traditional décor and air-conditioning. An ideal place to enjoy the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere of this beautiful tropical coast.

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.

 

MEDELLÍN – CITY TOUR

From the harrowing journey across the Andes led by the city’s founding fathers, to the dark days of drug cartels, to the city’s rebirth as one of South America’s most vibrant and progressive communities, Medellín is a city with a history. To understand and appreciate its rich and turbulent past, you will set out with a private guide to explore central Medellín on a leisurely walking tour. The tour starts with a visit to Parque Berrio and Botero Plaza, renowned for the impressive sculptures of Medellin-born artist Fernando Botero which are scattered throughout. Next you will walk through the core of the city, passing the historic train yard and several stunning churches, to the Memory House Museum (Casa del la Memoria). Recently established, the gallery is dedicated to honouring and remembering the victims of violence that plagued the region through much of the 1980s and 1990s. Putting the city’s recent history into perspective, it is the best place to understand the direct links between Medellin’s troubled past, cosmopolitan present and bright future. Following your time at the Memory House Museum, return to your hotel, taking in the eclectic scenery and warm spirit of the city and its people.

 

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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