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Colombia is the birthplace of Nobel Prize winning novelist, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and renowned contemporary painter/sculptor Fernando Botero. Experience the best Colombia has to offer on this 12-day trip. Explore the cultural richness of Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena and several quaint villages in the countryside. Learn about Colombia’s history that sparked the El Dorado legends, taste world-renowned locally-grown coffee, and try a variety of local traditional dishes. Wander through neighborhoods and houses historically owned by drug lords and take in the beauty of one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful national parks. Enjoy the rich and varied cultures and regions in Colombia with this extensive introduction.

Itinerary
Day 1: Arrive Bogota
Upon your arrival, a Southern Explorations representative meets you at the airport and transfers you to your hotel located in the city center.
Day 2: Bogota City Tour
Enjoy a hearty Colombian breakfast before embarking on a full day tour of Bogota. After breakfast you’ll head out to explore the Paloquemao Market, known as a popular street food hotspot due to its variety of delicious foods and fresh produce, including just-harvested fruits and vegetables, fresh-picked flowers and more. Continue to La Candelaria Bogota’s for  walking tour of street art and historic plazas.. Discover why Bogota inspired the legends of El Dorado on a trip to the Gold Museum, with more than 33,400 pieces of pre-Colombian gold on display. For lunch, try traditional Colombian cuisine followed by a visit to Monserrate where you will to take in the amazing views of Bogota’s skyline.  Tonight dine out and explore the nightlife of Bogota. (B,L)
Day 3: Bogota - Coffee Plantation
A morning flight to Armenia takes you to one of the world’s most famous coffee-growing regions. Discover the process of growing coffee, from selecting the best berries to drying and roasting the beans that turn into the aromatic beverage. As part of the tour you’ll learn to discern the various flavors you can find in good coffee, and about why the variety and quality of the beans is important. After savoring freshly brewed coffee and purchasing some beans to take home, we’ll drive north through this lush landscape to a charming hacienda for a good night’s rest. (B,L)
Day 4: Corcora Valley, Filandia & Medellin
Today you will venture into the Cocora Valley.  Part of Los Nevados National Park, this scenic valley is located in the central Andean range and is a uniquely lush landscape full of Wax Palm forests.   Continue to Filandia, a picturesque village in the Colombian mountains. Enjoy lunch at great restaurant and choose amongst a variety of delicious Colombian dishes. Explore Filandia’s streets after lunch, including the Mirador del Quindio, a viewpoint with stunning views of the surrounding coffee haciendas.  Take a late afternoon flight to Medellin, arriving in time to check into your hotel and enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants in the lively El Poblado neighborhood. (B.L)
Day 5: Medellin City Tour
After breakfast you’ll experience Medellin via its public transportation system, which received recognition in 2012 as one of the Top Transport Systems in the World. You’ll arrive at the Comuna 1 neighborhood via cable car, and walk through the streets of this infamous area that served as the stronghold for drug lord Pablo Escobar for two decades. Once considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world during the 90’s, Medellin has worked hard to reinvent itself. You’ll see some of the city’s projects first hand, including installations of local art and architecture, sustainability and literacy projects; some housed in properties previously belonging to drug lords. After stopping to see the famous sculptures in Fernando Botero Square, named for the artist, you’ll head to the Comuna 13 neighborhood to continue acquainting yourself  with this fascinating city.  (B,L)
Day 6: Guatape & El Penol
Enjoy a full day tour to El Penol and colonial Guatape. Upon arrival in Guatape, explore the quaint town center and enjoy its colorful buildings and street decorations. This charming little town also has a beautiful waterfront.  After a typical Antioquia lunch, climb the 642 stairs to the top of Penol Rock, with sweeping views of the Guatape reservoir. El Penol is a giant monolithic rock offering beautiful views of the undulating mountain scenery in these hillsides outside Medellin.  (B,L)
Day 7: Medellin - Santa Marta - Tayrona
Depart the city of eternal spring and make your way to the sunny Caribbean coast.  After arriving into  Santa Marta, Colombia’s oldest city, it’s a quick 45 minute ride to your beachfront hotel on the Caribbean Sea. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy the sun and the sand. (B,L,D)
Day 8: Tayrona National Park
Today you will explore beautiful Tayrona National Park, one of the most famous parks in Colombia. View a host of tropical wildlife and birds against a backdrop of steep green cliffs and white sand beaches. After a quick drive to the park entrance, walk 90 minutes along the flat coastal trail through tropical forests and gorgeous beaches to Cabo San Juan, the remote and iconic beach of Tayrona.  Here you can enjoy a relaxing day at the beach and have a nice seafood lunch or snack on empanadas from the restaurant.  When you are ready, you’ll head back down the trail and return to your hotel with the rest of the day at leisure.  (B,L,D)
Day 9: Tayronaka Archeological Site & River Float
After breakfast you’ll head to Tayronaka, the meeting place of several indigenous groups of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The groups gathered here to exchange knowledge and traditions. You’ll visit a Maloka (a traditional home) and see how they lived and learn about their history and legends, stretching from today back to pre-colonial times. Next, hop into the Don Diego River for a leisurely float down the river.  After an hour and a half of tubing downstream, a picnic lunch awaits on the river side! Return to the hotel in the midafternoon.  (B,L,D)
Day 10: Tayrona - Cartagena
In the morning you head south along the coast to scenic 4-5 hour drive to Cartagena, South America’s main port during colonial times. On the way, we’ll stop for lunch at the legendary La Cueva, the restaurant where Gabriel García Marquez, Colombian Nobel Prize Winning Author, started his book “100 Years of Solitude.” You will enjoy Cartagena’s perfectly restored colonial center of exquisite Spanish architecture enclosed within stone walls, its cathedral, plazas, and colonial houses, many of which have been transformed into elegant boutique hotels, cafes and restaurants.  Arriving into Cartagena in the mid to late afternoon, you are free explore this lively Caribbean city on your own tonight.  (B,L)
Day 11: Cartagena City Highlights & Food Tour
This morning you will visit San Felipe de Barajas Fortress, a Spanish architectural masterpiece built to defend the city from pirates seeking local treasures. Next you’ll explore La Popa Monastery, a church on the highest point in the city with breathtaking 360-degree views. From there you’ll head back to Cartagena to explore the Old Town on foot.  During this excursion, we’ll sample local delicacies while you learn about the city.  Walk the scenic plazas and streets adorned with flowers,  try the best “arepas de huevo”, fresh made lemonade and the famous “patacones” of Getsemany.  We’ll wrap the day up with the best typical sweets of the city.  (B,L)
Day 12: Cartagena - Bogota - Home
Today, you are transferred to the Cartagena airport for your international flight home, marking the end of your trip with Southern Explorations. (B)

Weather

When to Visit
  • jan
  • feb
  • mar
  • apr
  • may
  • jun
  • jul
  • aug
  • sep
  • oct
  • nov
  • dec

The most pleasant time to visit Colombia is in the dry season, between December and March or in July and August. The dry season also gives visitors a better chance to savor local cultural events because many festivals and fiestas take place during these periods.

Altitude
Colombia's proximity to the equator means its temperature varies little throughout the year. However, the temperature does change with altitude, which creates various climatic zones ranging from hot lowlands to freezing Andean peaks - you can experience completely different climates within just a couple of hours of travel. As a general rule, the temperature falls about 6ºC (43ºF) with every 1000m (3281ft) increase in altitude.

Two Seasons
Colombia has two seasons: verano or la sequia (summer, or dry), and invierno or temproada de lluvia (winter, or wet). The pattern of seasons varies in different parts of the country, and has been greatly affected over recent years by El Niño and La Niña. For example, in the Andean region there are two dry and two rainy seasons per year. The main dry season falls between December and March, with a shorter and less dry period between July and August. This general pattern varies throughout the Andean zone.

Los Llanos
The weather in Los Llanos has a more definite pattern: there is one dry season, between December and March, while the rest of the year it's wet. The Amazon doesn't have a uniform climate but is generally quite wet year-round.

Maps

Colombia Panorama

Pricing
Per Person
$3,695
Domestic Airfare: $450

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: +$580
Single Supplement is the additional cost of a single traveler not sharing a room in double occupancy.

Holiday surcharges may apply.
Included in tour cost
  • Private transportation
  • All airport/hotel transfers
  • All hotel accommodations
  • All listed activities
  • English-speaking certified guides
  • Entrance fees for all scheduled tours, national parks & archaeological sites
  • Meals as indicated
  • Southern Explorations pre-departure services
Excluded from tour cost
  • Domestic airfare within South America
  • International airfare to and from Central & South America
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Medical & travel insurance (highly recommended)

Colombia Panorama

Trip Dates
This tour operates year round with the best time being July, August and December through March. Can’t find a date that works for you in the list below? Southern Explorations can arrange a private departure on any date that works with your schedule. Custom tours are also available. Contact us for details.
Thursday, March 15, 2018 to Monday, March 26, 2018
Available
Friday, April 6, 2018 to Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Available
Thursday, May 24, 2018 to Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Available
Friday, June 29, 2018 to Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Available
Thursday, August 23, 2018 to Monday, September 3, 2018
Available
Thursday, October 18, 2018 to Monday, October 29, 2018
Available
Saturday, November 17, 2018 to Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Available
Thursday, December 20, 2018 to Monday, December 31, 2018
Available
Thursday, January 3, 2019 to Monday, January 14, 2019
Available
Thursday, January 31, 2019 to Monday, February 11, 2019
Available
Thursday, March 7, 2019 to Monday, March 18, 2019
Available
Thursday, April 4, 2019 to Monday, April 15, 2019
Available
Thursday, May 9, 2019 to Monday, May 20, 2019
Available
Thursday, June 6, 2019 to Monday, June 17, 2019
Available
Thursday, July 11, 2019 to Monday, July 22, 2019
Available
Thursday, August 8, 2019 to Monday, August 19, 2019
Available
Thursday, September 12, 2019 to Monday, September 23, 2019
Available
Thursday, October 10, 2019 to Monday, October 21, 2019
Available
Thursday, November 7, 2019 to Monday, November 18, 2019
Available
Thursday, December 5, 2019 to Monday, December 16, 2019
Available
Coffee Region
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Bogota
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Medellin
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Cartagena
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
Tayrona National Park
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.
colombia travelMy two friends and I just recently returned from our trip to Colombia. This is our third trip to South America in recent years and was without question our best trip directly because of our guide Nicolas Mejia. He was outstanding and incredible in every way and made our 11 day excursion a trip of a lifetime. From his expert knowledge about all aspects of Colombia to taking us to the most amazing restaurants, Nicolas fully immersed us in all aspects of Columbian lifestyle and culture. He helped create one of most authentic experiences we have ever had and even introduced us to his entire family. He always took the time to answer every question we had and always went the extra mile to create the most perfect experience wherever we were. Whether we were was hiking El Pueblito and the Lost City of the Tayrona People or mountain biking the Santa Fe Antioquia or white water rafting down the Cauca River, the totality of experiences were both exhilarating and serene. The famous philosopher Confucius once said, “Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I will remember. Involve me and I will understand forever”. Thanks to Nicholas we have more of an understanding of Colombia and all its beauty than we could have ever hoped for. Thanks again for an amazing and unforgettable experience. Very truly yours, Mark Mailman (Colombia Trip).

colombia cultureOur deepest gratitude to Nicolas Mejia for his hospitality, generosity, kindness, and his commitment to excellence in all aspects of our discovery of Colombia.  His passion for Colombia and the outdoors was contagious. He managed masterfully for our 10 days exploration to be  an unforgettable experience with in times presentations of the Colombian history and culture, other days great hikes in Iguaque and Tayrona National Parks, with emphasis on breathtaking views of unique Andean and Caribbean landscapes; mixing the discovery of master pieces of Fernando Botero  and stunning street art, unforgettable gratifies  in Bogota. In terms of food culture, we got to experience different variety of Colombian cuisine, local fruits and vegetables, coffee but also the unique cacao of Colombia with the best dark chocolate ever. Great conversations while traveling between different regions about traditions, Colombian cinema, music... In terms of organizing our stay in Colombia (arrival, transfers, hotels, restaurants, departure..) it was a seamless and pleasant experience for the entire trip. Nicolas discretely monitored the safety for both of us in terms of hiking in altitude and yet making sure the thrill and excitement were there. He introduced us to fine restaurants in every town we visited. The icing on the cake was discovering the night life in Cartagena, the salsa clubs and helping my husband with organizing the best birthday party!!  Finally a great way of ending each day was getting every night the pictures of the day. It was too short of a visit to a vast country with such a rich culture, yet it was a magical experience. Merci Nicolas! - Massy Safai (Colombia Tour)

colombia travelThank you Southern Explorations for organizing our trip to Bogota & Medellin Colombia.  The personalized service exceeded our expectations.  All of our guides were very friendly, knowledgeable and a true joy to be around. The hotels were comfy and located in just the right spot for us to really experience the cities and towns on our tour.  Everything went so smoothly we were able to really relax and enjoy the trip.  We can’t wait to book another trip with SE. - Cecilia Uribe (Bogota & Medellin Tour)

 
This is the second time we have travelled to South America using Southern Explorations as our tour organizer. This second trip was as fantastic and well-run as the first. We had no issues at all and saw and did everything we had contracted for. Our guide, Alfredo Meneses, was always a gentleman while at the same time knowledgeable and well-informed about the places we were visiting. We also had local guides, Christian Rojas and Nicolas Mejia, were kind, sensitive, equally knowledgeable, and endlessly patient!! This was a truly memorable trip, thanks to the work of Southern Explorations but also because Colombia is such a spectacular and as yet generally undiscovered country! - Fred & Karen Leitner (Colombia) 

Hi Justin,
What a fabulous trip!!!!!  We absolutely loved everything about it!!!  Your itinerary was perfection and having Alfredo as our guide was so important to the success of our trip!  Alfredo is by far the best guide we've ever had anywhere!!!  His knowledge is encyclopedic and his enthusiasm for traveling and exploration is addicting!  It also helps that he's a world class athlete!  All of the people who were added to the trip for our benefit were terrific!  So fun, knowledgeable, thoughtful and kind, just wonderful people trying to help us have a great time!  Thank you so very much for another perfect trip!!!!!  We wouldn't have changed anything!  We love Colombia and had such an amazing time!!!
 
Hugs,
Carol & Rick Abrams (Colombia Multi Sport)

 

Colombia - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I choose an itinerary?
A: We offer both active and cultural tours that visit colonial cities, the coffee region, the Caribbean coast and the three Andean cordilleras. These itineraries vary in length and level of accommodation. Our Adventure Travel Coordinators would be happy to chat with you to help you find the itinerary that best meets your needs and interests.
Q: Can I make changes or additions to these tours?
A: Yes! We are happy to put together a custom Colombia tour for you if our current itineraries are not quite what you are looking for. We can also add extensions onto any of our existing tours.
Q: Is Colombia safe?
A: Colombia has changed dramatically from the times of Pablo Escobar. Generally speaking, Colombia is a safe place to visit.  There are, of course, parts of the country that are not safe, but you will not venture to these areas on our tours.  You should practice the same safety precautions in Colombia that you would anywhere in the world (leave valuables at home, don’t wear flashy jewelry, etc). Listen to and take the advice of your guide, but relax and enjoy your trip.
Q: When is the best time to go to Colombia?
A: Colombia is a year-round destination, but the best months to visit for optimum weather are July, August and December through March.
Q: What is the weather like?
A: Temperatures in Colombia remain stable throughout the year due to its proximity to the Equator. Cartagena and the Caribbean coast are hot and humid, with averages in the mid-80s.  In the higher elevations you can expect a range of temperatures from 40s at night to 80s in the day, depending on the region.  Rainfall varies in the Andean regions with two wet seasons and two dry seasons each year. The driest months are from December to March and July to August. In the low-lying areas of Colombia, rain is more consistent year round. Please see the weather tab on your specific trip for more details.
Q: What is a typical day like on a Colombia tour? 
A: A typical day in Colombia will vary from tour to tour, but you can generally expect to start your excursions right after breakfast, with a full day of scheduled activities or sightseeing. A lunch break is included and you’ll retire to your accommodations in the late afternoon, with evenings free.
Q: How physically fit do I need to be to enjoy a trip to Colombia? 
A: Our Colombia trips vary in level of activity, so the requirements differ based on itinerary. Please check our physical ratings for each itinerary to see what may be required of you when assessing your ability to enjoy a trip. If you have any specific questions, please contact your Adventure Travel Coordinator. We have personal experience with these activities and can help you decide whether a trip is right for you.
Q: How much time do we need to visit Colombia?
A: Most of our Colombia trips are between one and two weeks, depending on how much of the country you would like to see.
Q: How far in advance should I book?
A: For the best guide availability and selection in hotels, we recommend booking three to six months in advance. December through March are especially popular times for Colombia travel, so more advance planning is ideal. For the Christmas holiday season and the week prior to Easter, we recommend booking a year in advance.
Q: What are your booking and cancellation policies?
A: Click here to see our booking and cancellation policies.
Q: Do you use certified guides?
A: Our guides have been carefully selected for their knowledge, professionalism, experience and ability to effectively manage groups with finesse. We only hire guides who are native to the destination and licensed or certified in accordance with the government regulations of their country. All are fluent in Spanish and English. Most have advanced degrees in tourism, biology, native culture or other related field. All guides are experienced in the outdoors and trained in basic first aid.
Q: What kind of accommodations can I expect?
A: In major cities we offer a variety of hotels including boutique properties and larger business-style hotels. Throughout the rest of the country we work with a combination of historic haciendas, small traditional hotels and remote lodges. The majority of the properties are family-run or locally owned. All of our accommodations are clean and comfortable, with private bathrooms and hot water. We offer basic or luxury options in many locations, depending on taste and budget.
Q: Do tours include airfare?
A: Travelers are responsible for their own international airfare. Internal flights are quoted separately from our base trip costs. We will include any necessary internal flight pricing in your quote.
Q: How many people are on your tours?
A: Eight travelers is the maximum for our Colombia trips, but the majority of our departures are private.
Q: Will I get more information on packing, vaccines, currency, electricity, etc.?
A: After booking you will receive a link to our online trip portal, which includes all of the need-to-know information that is specific to your itinerary. This includes packing lists, restaurant recommendations, tipping guides, FAQs, vaccine recommendations and currency information. Your Adventure Travel Coordinator will also be a great resource for any other information you may need.