Begin in the burgeoning Colombian capital of Bogotá, the fastest growing city in South America, which exudes confidence and culture in its modern facades. So too does it remember its past in its historical La Candelaria, where whitewash and brick form the heart of the expanding city and at the Gold Museum, where thousands of indigenous artworks in gold glimmer and gleam within beautifully arranged displays. From the breakneck pace of the growing metropolis, move to the quietude of Zipaquirá, a town caught in the amber of time then on to the wonder of the Salt Cathedral. Then visit Medellin, once embroiled in the violence of the cartels, it is now a symbol of modern civil organization and process, which remains at its center, a walled colonial town. In Cartagena, your taste buds will be stimulated with a gastronomic tour and your eyes by the city’s storied monuments.
Slightly Active. May involve some walking and climbing.
Because of the proximity to the Equator, Colombia’s temperature does not vary much throughout the year. What makes more of a difference is the altitude, and Colombia has some extremes – from the hot lowlands to the freezing Andean peaks, you could travel a few hours and have completely different temperature, both during the day and night. The best time to visit is when it’s driest, which is generally between December and March and during July/August. Many festivals and fiestas take place during this time as well, so planning will be required to ensure accommodations can be booked during festival times.
Fly to the exciting city of Bogota, Colombia’s capital city, home to 8 million people and home to some of the finest collections of indigenous gold artifacts in the world. SOFITEL VICTORIA REGIA.
Today’s activities begin with a tour of Bogotá’s historical neighborhood of La Candelaria. Pass the Luis Angel Arango designed public library on your way to Plaza De Bolivar and Congress Palace, Cardinal’s Palace and the church of El Sagrario. Afterwards visit the Museao Botero which highlights the art of Fernando Botero and as well features works by Picasso, Dali and others. At the Santo Domingo Arts and Crafts School, watch as young budding artists hone their skills. This evening enjoy dinner at Andres D.C. one of the most popular dining destinations in the city, for a uniquely Colombian dining experience. SOFITEL VICTORIA REGIA. (B,L,D)
Leave the city and drive across the high plateau of northern Bogotá to the small town of Zipaquirá. Here you will find the awe inspiring underground cathedral hewn from the walls of a salt mine. The cathedral is comprised of 14 small chapels that represent the Stations of the Cross and Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, a sanctuary, and a main cathedral. Explore the town of Zipaquirá and take in its colonial flavor in the form of whitewashed houses and cobbled streets. Return to Bogotá and explore the Gold Museum which houses a collection of over 30,000 indigenous gold objects which makes it the biggest collection of pre Columbian gold artifacts in the world. SOFITEL VICTORIA REGIA. (B,L)
In the morning make your way to the airport for a flight to Pereira in the foothills of the Andes. A short drive from the city finds you at Hacienda Génova a coffee plantation that has been creating fine coffee for 60 years. Here you will watch as the coffee beans transition from bush to bag and have a chance to taste the finished product. Return to Pereira and your hotel where you will be treated to an exotic fruit tasting. HOTEL SAZAGUA. (B)
Awake early and leave for the oft fog shrouded peaks of the Cocora Valley, home of Colombia’s national tree, the wax palm. Able to reach heights of up to 200 feet on occasion, these majestic trees are the world’s tallest variety of palm. From there, the quintessential Colombian mountain town of Salento awaits you with the colorful baroque balconies that surround its Plaza de Bolivar. See also craftsmen’s workshops along Calle Real. End your day enjoying an expertly prepared cappuccino at Jesus Martin Store before returning to Pereira. HOTEL SAZAGUA. (B,L)
Embark on a scenic drive through the Andes on your way to Medellín. Along the way be treated to panoramic views of the Cuaca River and lunch amongst the majestic peaks of the Andes. Summit at 5,900 feet and descend into Medellin where you will be treated to a lecture on the city’s transformation of homicide capital to harmony central. NH COLLECTION ROYAL MEDELLIN. (B,L,D)
Today’s tour will feature key historical sites that include vestiges of Colombia’s struggle with drug cartels. In El Poblado you will visit sites associated with Pablo Escobar such as his grave site. Next visit the Parque de las Esculturas to view sculptures of artist Fernando Botero. Continue on to Pies Descalzos Park then to the Museum of Antioquia. Take a funicular to Santo Domingo Savio neighborhood in which you will visit the Spain Library designed by Giancarlo Mazzanti. A grand view of the city is afforded you at Cerro Nutibara then end your city tour at the popular Parque Lleras. NH COLLECTION ROYAL MEDELLIN. (B,L)
You will be conveyed to the airport in Medallín where you will catch a short flight to Cartagena. Tonight you will take a walking gastronomic tour within the venerable walls of Cartagena’s delicious colonial district. You will make seven stops on your pampered promenade, sampling the creations of local food vendors. At the tour’s conclusion you will be given a cooking demonstration at Mar restaurant. Here you will learn to prepare ceviche and then enjoy the fruits of your labor with an expertly prepared dinner. HOTEL BASTION. (B,L,D)
Arise and make your way to Convento de la Popa, for wonderful views of the city. Built in the 17th century as a convent, Convento de Popa sits atop Cartagena’s highest point. Move on to the formidable Castillo de San Felipe then on to Las Bóvedas (The Vaults) built by colonial Spaniards as storerooms which now house a crafts market. Round out your tour at Iglesia y Convento San Pedro de Claver, a baroque style convent named for a Jesuit priest who spent his life ministering to the enslaved people brought from Africa. At the tour’s conclusion make your way to the port and board an “auquabus” which will take you to Club de Pesca, the location of tonight’s farewell dinner. HOTEL BASTION. (B,D)
You will be driven to the airport in Cartagena for your flight home, with mementos, memories, and a brand new recipe for ceviche! (B)
Drive from the hustle of Bogotá to the quietude of Colombia’s bucolic past. Start in the town of Ráquira, where the ancient Muisca tribe still converses in their native tongue while they create some of the finest handmade ceramics in the country. Visit the oldest Augustine monastery in Colombia at Monasterio del Desierto de la Candelaria, founded in 1604. Drive on to Villa De Leyva, a place frozen in time. Here, the fossil faceted bricks pave quaint lanes lined with whitewashed buildings with crowns of red terra cotta and flowers explode from planters and spill over balconies, caressing the air with perfumed tendrils. On your return trip to Bogotá, stop at the auspicious Puente de Boyacá, where Simon Bolivar wrested the fledgling Colombia from the grip of Spain.
Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.
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