Undiscovered Colombia Walking the Andes & Caribbean
Your journey starts with a cultural, artistic and gastronomic exploration of Bogota, and continues on a northern journey into the perfectly preserved world of the “pueblos”, where you´ll learn about their history, meet the locals, and have authentic, hands-on cultural experiences. We next turn our sights to the Caribbean, and the jungle wonders of the stunning Tayrona National Park and its remaining pre- Hispanic culture. Our adventure ends with an immersion into the historic treasures of Cartagena, and a true caribbean foodie excursion.
This is an extraordinary high-end, soft adventure with superior guides and beautiful, luxury hotels.
*Rates apply for groups of 5 passengers or more. Rates are subject to change
Reviews 1 Review5/5
Travel Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Moderate
Group Size Small Group
- Explore a colonial town decorated in a million fossils
- Hike to the lake where life began – according to ancient tradition.
- Help maintain the 15th century patrimonial town through a mud workshop.
- Hike 16th century royal roads with magical views and fascinating stories
- Try the local gastronomy based on “hormigas culonas”, or fat-bottom ants. Yes ants!
- Discover a 5th century stone city and the living culture of the Tayrona’s.
- Discover Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ magic realism through a Cartagena foodie experience.
- Interpretive guides
- Food from lunch on day 1 until dinner on the last day
- All ground transportation from airport transfer to hotel to airport transfer on your last day
- All equipment including kayaks, paddles, pfds, helmets, etc…(if applicable)
- Tips to guides
- International or domestic airfare (if applicable)
WELCOME TO BOGOTA
International flight arrival in Bogotá, the third-highest capital city in South America (after La Paz and Quito) at 8,612 ft. above sea level.
LA CANDELARIA WALKING TOUR. TRANSFER TO VILLA DE LEYVA
This morning we have a walking tour in the heart of old Bogotá, known as La Candelaria, hosting many restored 300-year old homes and public buildings. Our tour includes Plaza Bolívar, San Francisco Church, the lively pedestrian street Calle 11, bursting with local restaurants, some family-owned for eight generations, and perhaps the 17th-century Santa Clara Convent.
The day’s highlight is a visit to the famous Gold Museum, which houses some 33,400 gold pieces from Colombia’s most relevant pre-Hispanic cultures. We learn about how they used gold in political and social occasions, their metallurgical techniques, and as expressions of their Cosmo vision, myths and offerings.
This is our first introduction to the vast amount of gold belonging to pre-Hispanic cultures, and the Spanish lust for it, following the 1502 landing party led by Vasco Nunez de Balboa.
After lunch, we take a four-hour drive to the lovely colonial town of Villa de Leyva, passing lush, green cattle farms and pastoral scenes. We stop briefly at Boyaca Bridge, sight of the decisive battle of August 7, 1819, that secured independence for Colombia from the Spanish monarchy. We have our welcome dinner this evening, enjoying the spacious Plaza de Armas and its beautifully lit Cathedral. (B, L, D)
Villa de Leyva: Villa de Leyva was founded on June 12, 1572 by Hernan Suarez de Villalobos and named after the first president of the New Kingdom of Granada, Andrés Diaz Venero de Leyva. Villa de Leyva is known as one the finest colonial towns in Colombia, and was declared a National Monument on December 17, 1954 to preserve its architecture. It is located in a high altitude valley at 7,050 feet, which was once covered by sea, leaving fossil remains from the Mesozoic era, from 250 to 65 million years ago.
IGUAQUE NATIONAL PARK CLOUD FOREST HIKE AND VISIT TO THE “EL FOSSIL” MUSEUM
We leave Leyva and drive north for about 30 minutes on the main road, and 20 minutes on an unpaved road, arriving at Iguaque National Park. Here we hike through Andean cloud forest, a unique eco-system found in only 28% percent of the world. Of the 1780 species of birds in Colombia, we hopefully spot some of the more exotic ones like the Toucan barbette, mountain tanagers, cinnamon flycatchers, and colorful hummingbirds. We see a variety of cloud forest plants, such as giant tree ferns, large bromeliads, aricacia flowers, various types of orchids, and endemic Andean bamboo.
After our hike we return to Villa de Leyva for lunch, and in the afternoon visit the Eccehomo Monastery, built by Dominican friars in 1620, and unique for the amount of fossils incorporated into its floor design.
Next we visit “Museo el Fossil,” which hosts the second-largest kronosaurus discovery in the world, a prehistoric aquatic lizard from the Mesozoic Era, or “Age of Dinosaurs, about 65-140 million years ago. The kronosaurus at Villa de Leyva is approximately 7 meters long. Discovered in 1977, it was left in situ. We also see a vast amount of ammonite fossils, and have a chance to buy some for ourselves. (B, L, D)
TRAVEL TO BARICHARA WITH AN AFTERNOON STROLL THROUGH TOWN
This morning we take a 5-hour drive through pastoral green countryside, cattle farms, and small family homes. After passing the steep canyon walls and cloud forest we arrive at the region called Santander, known as the adventure capital of Colombia. Next is the stunningly well-conserved colonial town of Barichara, known for its preservation of 18th-century homes and public buildings. This afternoon we go for a stroll of Barichara, starting at a park near our hotel with a stunning view of the Suarez river gorge in the distance.
Walking through colonial streets, we make our way to a family-run paper factory and witness the papermaking process from local plant fiber extraction to finished product. As we walk along the streets of this quaint town, we find three types of traditional architecture the town is famous for: Rammed earth (tapia pisada), mud and cane (bahareque), and mud adobe brick. We also visit the elaborate and large Cathedral of Barichara, notable for its architecture in Yellowstone from the Santander region. (B, L, D)
GUANE ROYAL ROADS HIKE. HANDS-ON WORKSHOP AT TERRARIUM CREATIVE ORGANIZATION
This morning we hike on an 18th-century cobblestone colonial road, starting near our hotel in Barichara and ending at the small village of Guane. This trail is called the “Camino Suamuxi” – from the Chibcha language of the indigenous Muisca culture that lived in this region during pre-Hispanic times. Our 3-hour hike on this excellent old road is a birdwatcher’s delight. We start with bosque seco (dry forest), and hopefully see parakeets, tanagers, smooth-billed anis, sparrows, finches, vermilion flycatchers, red-capped cardinals, and mot mots. Overall we descend about 1,000 feet to Guane, the lovely and quaint rural town.
After lunch we have the privilege of meeting Santiago Rivero, a local civil engineer from San Gil that works to rescue, preserve, and promote traditional architectural techniques no longer practiced or in danger of disappearing. With his colleagues at the newly founded Terrarium Creative Organization, Santiago designs and promotes the architectural cultural patrimony of the region, designing ecologically efficient homes for the well-to-do, using local materials and techniques. We will literally have a hands-on workshop, trying our best to recreate the tapia pisada, bahareque, and mud adobe brick walls. (B, L, D)
CHICAMOCHA GORGE HIKE AND EL ROBLE COFFEE HACIENDA VISIT
This morning we take a 2.5-hour drive on a windy road to Parque Nacional del Chicamocha and the Chicamocha Canyon, enjoying a spectacular view of cliff walls and the Rio Chicamocha down below. Here we hike partly on the caminos reales that were part of a network connecting Santander to the coast, and eventually to outer regions to Venezuela.
1) We start at a small town known as “15 letras” and hike up about 500 feet to the Umpala ridgeline at 2900 feet with stunning views all around. We then hike zigzag down on well-maintained paved camino real through town of Umpalá. We walk through a green river valley to the village of Mensulí.
2) Starting at the small town of Jordan, we hike nearly 3,000 feet gradually making our way up on a beautiful Camino Real, used for crossing the river canyon to reach the ports in north. We end at Los Santos, and take a 1 hour drive to the peaceful coffee hacienda of El Roble, for a late afternoon coffee with the charming Señora Miriam, who was born at the hacienda, has worked with the family for decades, and has many delightful stories to share about the place. If we have some time left, those who are interested could take a one-hour, afternoon horse ride through the coffee plantation. Dinner is in the old family dining room. (B, L, D)
ORGANIC COFFEE TOUR AND TRAVEL TO SANTA MARTA
We start our morning with a two-hour walking tour of the coffee hacienda. Of the 320 hectares (990 acres), about 280 (780 acres) are dedicated to coffee production. The organic shade-grown coffee includes 72 varieties of the 320 in existence. We end our coffee tour with barista José Antonio Martinez, a 30-year veteran coffee-tasting expert. José will teach us about coffee fragrances helping us discern between sweet, salty, bitter and smooth flavors.
We continue our day with a 1-hour drive through the lovely countryside known as the “cattle capital” of Colombia. From Bucaramanga, we fly to Santa Marta and move on to Tayrona National Park. (B, L, D)
TAYRONA NATIONAL PARK HIKE TO “STONE CITY”
Today we hike all day through a variety of ecosystems. Beach and cove scenery, cloud forest with monkeys and colorful birds, and the reward of walking through the extensive ruins of an ancient Tayrona city dating from 300 A.D.
The first half of the hike is a 3.5 to 4 hour long excursion of Tayrona’s famous and paradisiac beaches. This undulating section shows us pristine blue water coves and cliffs lined with vivid green wooded areas, sometimes along the beach. We pass by the beaches of Canaveral, Piscinita, Arrecife, and La Piscina and finish our mid-day hike at, Cabo San Juan.
After a refreshing drink, we leave the beach and begin a steep, challenging uphill climb of 900 feet on an ancient stone-paved road through beautiful cloud forest, with monkeys and exotic birds and birdcalls. After 2 hours uphill, we are rewarded with the extensive Tayrona ruins called “El Pueblito,” with an incredible vast system of stone terraces, aqueducts, and round platforms where round stone homes were built. On this latter section of the hike we may see some Kogis, the indigenous group still living in this area, known for their white woven clothing and caps. After we explore this extensive ruin site, we continue up another 600 feet. Return by car to our hotel to spend the evening and night. (B, L, D)
TRAVEL TO CARTAGENA. DAY STREET TOUR
Today we drive on one of Colombia’s main coastal roads for about 4-5 hours to the city of Cartagena de Indias, a city that combines within its walls centuries of history, culture and flavors product of Spanish miscegenation. The landing of thousands of slaves from West Africa and migrations late nineteenth century make this a very diverse region. Walk with us through “Seven Paradises” street food, unnoticed by tourists and worshipped by locals. Tempt yourself at every stop with the original recipes that inspire the new Colombian cuisine, and enjoy the product of this unhurried life in a tête – à – tête with Caribbean Cartagena cuisine. (B, L, D)
SAN FELIPE FORTRESS AND THE MAGIC REALISM FOODIE EXPERIENCE
Start the day with a visit to the fortress of San Felipe, a masterpiece of military strategy against pirates and corsairs, and immersing you in a world of Magical Realism. The literary foodie experience called the “Gabriel García Márquez Menu” is a Cartagena de Indias gastronomic tour serving dishes and drinks consumed by the characters of Gabriel García Márquez´s novels, praising the traditional cuisine of Colombian Caribbean. (B, L, D)
We transfer you to the Cartagena airport for your flight. (B)
No. International flights are not included but we are happy to give you some online resources to book your flights.