Expert-Led Group Tour

Colombia group tour - A Cultural Journey from Capital to Coast

15 days

from $4,395pp
  • Cultural and culinary exploration of Bogota, Colombia's compelling first city
  • Explore the towering Andean landscapes of the Coffee Region from a Willys open-top jeep
  • Introduction to Medellin - from Escobar's legacy to rejuvenated regional capital
  • Get lost in the maze of cobbled streets, squares and colourful colonial buildings of Cartagena

Immerse yourself in a country emerging from over half a century of lawless solitude.  Colombia now offers a freshness, vitality and warmth of welcome that will appeal to the most jaded traveller. 

We’ve designed this tour to showcase historic, artistic, cultural and scenic highlights in a circular itinerary that includes the cities of Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena.  These vital national and regional capitals tell the story of Colombia from early indigenous communities, through colonial rule, the annexation of power by drug cartels to a modern and stable nation.  We’ll also see epic Andean scenery in the Coffee Region and visit the remarkably well-preserved Spanish colonial town of Villa de Leyva, among a long list of tour highlights. There will be a focus throughout on traditional and modern Colombian cuisine.

This is a thrilling time to visit what is arguably South America’s most engaging and exciting county.

WHY SHOULD I TRAVEL TO COLOMBIA?

This specialist tour offers an opportunity to be in the vanguard of visitors that are re-discovering this remarkable country. Security issues have been addressed and the warm welcome you will receive is a far cry from the hackneyed image of Colombia as a “troubled” nation that’s ruled by drug cartels.  Colombia has a wealth of interest for the curious traveller from world’s highest bird count to some of the most important pre-Columbian archaeological sites in South America.

WHY SHOULD I JOIN THIS GROUP TOUR to Colombia?

This small group will be supported throughout by an experienced guide and joined at each location by a selection of Colombia's foremost historians and specialists. It will be educational, entertaining and experiential, not only providing an insight to history and culture but the opportunity, for example, to try your hand at the traditional and popular game of Tejo, that involves tossing lumps of metal at small packets of explosives.

IS THIS GROUP TOUR SUITABLE FOR SOLO TRAVELLERS?

Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers.  Visiting as part of an organised group in faraway places provides security and peace of mind. We handle all the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed.

If you are willing to share, we will always do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex so that you do not have to pay the single supplement.

If you would prefer the privacy of your own room and would like this guaranteed, then the single supplement will apply.

WHAT IS THE ACCOMMODATION LIKE IN COLOMBIA?

We use a good standard of accommodation throughout, occasionally in historic buildings. Sometimes the accommodation will be functional but always clean and en-suite. 

ARE INTERNAL FLIGHTS INCLUDED IN THE BASE TOUR COST?

Yes, all internal flights are included starting from Bogota and ending in Cartagena.

HOW FIT SHOULD I BE?

You ideally need a moderate level of fitness to participate. There are no challenging hikes or particularly strenuous activities other than one two-hour trek to a nature sanctuary across rocky terrain and this is optional. Please bear in mind that some days are fairly long, and you may be on your feet for a number of hours.

WHAT IS THE FOOD LIKE IN COLOMBIA?

Colombian food is very diverse, each region of the country having its own characteristic dishes. Recipes are handed down from generation to generation, influenced by not only indigenous Colombian culture, but Spanish, African and Arab cultures as well.

Bandeja paisa is the hearty national dish of Colombia. It comprises of Colombia’s staple ingredients - rice, plantain, an arepa (corn cake), avocado, ground beef, chorizo, black sausage and fried pork rind, with a fried egg thrown on top for good measure. This rather intimidating plate of calories and carbohydrates is generally accompanied by a rich bean soup.  Good luck!

However, while meat features heavily in most restaurants, vegetarians and vegans are easily catered for.

WHAT WILL THE WEATHER BE LIKE?

Colombia is a year-round destination, however, September is within the dry season and a perfect time to travel to Colombia. Days will be warm and the evening's cooler, possibly requiring a light jacket, other than in Cartagena, which is on the tropical Caribbean coast and consistently hot and humid.



Departing on:
  • 5th September 2019

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

STARTFINISHPrice Excluding Flights $Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour ExpertStatus 
5th Sep 2019 19th Sep 2019 $ 5,933.25 $ 1,215 $ 1,080 Juan Ortiz Available
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Accommodation as indicated
  • Accompanied by expert guides throughout
  • All activities as detailed in the itinerary
  • Domestic economy flights
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers and porters.
  • Transportation throughout

what is excluded

  • Alcoholic and soft drinks
  • All items of a personal nature
  • International flights
  • Meals other than those shown
  • Travel Insurance (mandatory)
  • Visas (where applicable)

TO ALLOW FLEXIBILITY, OUR GROUP TOURS DO NOT INCLUDE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS AS STANDARD. WE CAN ARRANGE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS ON YOUR BEHALF AND THE ABOVE IS AN INDICATION OF COST, BASED ON RETURN FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM LONDON. ALL INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS FROM THE UK ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

Collapse all
Day 1

Airport arrival
After customs, exit airside through a set of sliding glass doors to meet your guide who will be waiting for you with a name board.

Bogota is rapidly developing into one of Latin America's most interesting and cosmopolitan capital cities, the city is at a high elevation of 2640m.

Rivalling London for size, this sprawling metropolis is still fringed with shanty towns to the south. However, beautiful churches, engaging museums, cultural events and gastronomic experiences fill the centre of the city, while the cool mountain air and smattering of public parks make for a relaxed and genial atmosphere. The Baroque and Spanish colonial architecture and plazas of historic La Candelaria neighbourhood are some of Bogotá's big draws while the modern uptown zone is packed with restaurants, bars and cafes that buzz with a new generation of Rolos enjoying an era of peace and stability.


Arrival evening
There will be a brief group meeting early this evening to discuss the itinerary and answer any questions that you may have.

Dinner is included at a local restaurant in the Zona T or at the hotel.


You will be staying at Hotel de La Opera, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Morning visit to Paloquemao Market
Early transfer to Paloquemao Market, where you'll be introduced to typical Colombian produce - try the delicious 'Lulo' fruit and see the various potato varieties that are a speciality of the high Andean Cundi-Boyacense plateau.

Walk around the various stalls, familiarising yourself with typical Colombian food and eateries in a mix of sounds, smells and sights in one of Bogota's largest and most well-known markets.

Your guide will buy ingredients in preparation for a late morning cooking class at a local chef's house, where lunch will also be served.


Afternoon visit to Catacion Publica
After lunch, transfer to Usaquen to visit Catacion Publica, Colombia's very first coffee laboratory where international coffee certifications take place. Learn about the varieties of coffee that are grown in Colombia and the ways in which they are prepared.

Join a short walking tour of the township of Usaquen before dinner this evening. In keeping with the food-themed day, a tasting menu will be prepared for you at one of Bogota's most innovative restaurants.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Hotel de La Opera, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Morning visit to the Gold Museum
Depart after breakfast to Bogota's famous Gold Museum, considered one of the most important museums of its type internationally. This museum has been operating since 1939 and in 2007 underwent a complete renovation introducing interactive experiences and vastly improved the presentation of the gold objects. The Gold Museum has a permanent exhibition of some 32,000 pieces of gold and 20,000 stones, ceramics and textiles, all precious to the Quimbaya, Calima, Tayrona, Sinu, Muisca, Tolima, Tumaco and Magdalena cultures.


Graffiti murals walking tour
Continue on foot to Los Andes University, taking in the various graffiti murals that line the way to the restaurant for lunch. A local Bogota graffiti expert will accompany the group for this walk. The capital city is home to many renowned artworks but perhaps less appreciated are the huge murals created by Bogota's street artists. It's this highly imaginative and colourful graffiti that is the focus of this tour. The murals often convey strong social and political messages relating to current and past injustices but are often very witty and darkly comedic.

Lunch will be at a local restaurant in the centre of Bogota where contemporary Colombian cuisine will be served.


Afternoon visit to La Candelaria
Return to La Candelaria to explore the armed conflict of Colombia. Accompanied by a local expert, the tour gives an in-depth account of the assassination of Liberal Party leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, the subsequent El Bogotazo riots and how this violence spawned the decades-long armed conflict in Colombia.


Afternoon visit to the Botero Museum and Cerro Monserrate
Continue to the Botero Museum, a colonial house exhibiting some of Fernando Botero´s works of art plus pieces from his own personal collection including works by Picasso, Renoir, Dalí, Matisse, Monet and Giacometti.

Finish the afternoon at Cerro Monserrate, the 3,152 metre-high peak that towers over Bogotá. From the summit there are outstanding panoramic views of the city and surrounding Andean mountains. Sitting atop the peak is a seventeenth century church, containing a shrine dedicated to 'El Señor Caído' (The Fallen Lord), earning its name from a 350 year-old sculpture of Jesus being taken off the cross.

Dinner is not included this evening; however, Juan will be more than happy to recommend restaurants.


Breakfast and lunch included.


You will be staying at Hotel de La Opera, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Bogota to Zipaquira
In the morning, depart from Bogota and travel north towards Zipaquira. Transfer through the Bogota Savannah, an area famous for flower production. After a journey of approximately one hour, reach the impressive Salt Cathedral, a true achievement of engineering. Walk underground through the saline rock where three naves have been excavated that represent the birth, life and death of Christ. Above the main altar is a cross that measures 16 metres in height and 10 metres in breadth - the largest cross made from salt in the world.

After lunch, continue for two hours to the Puente de Boyaca monument, that's dedicated to Simon Bolivar and his successful battle for independence. The conflict took place at the site of a small white washed bridge that crosses the river Teatinos. From here travel to Tibasosa, a beautiful Spanish colonial town located in the heart of Boyaca, there will be a short walking tour of the town before heading to Hacienda Suescun for the night.

In the evening, Margarita Silva, the director of the Sogamoso museum and Monquira archaeological park, will accompany you for dinner at Hacienda Suescun. There will then be an after-dinner presentation on the region.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Hacienda Suescun, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Visit the Eliecer Silva Celis Museum
Morning visit to the Eliecer Silva Celis Museum of Sogamoso. This museum houses the most complete collection of Muiscan artefacts on the continent. The Muiscan culture that inhabited the Cundi-Boyacense Plateau dates back from between 310-800 AD until the arrival of the Spanish in 1537, when the Muiscans were decimated by disease and war.

The Muiscan culture was highly skilled in the crafting of gold and it was this skill that, by and large, led to their downfall. The museum dates back 70 years and is situated on the site where most of the artefacts were found, home to the Muiscan Chieftain 'Sugamuxi'.

The outside exhibits include human burial grounds near to the 'Templo del Sol' or 'Temple of the Sun'. This was the main religious centre for the Muiscans who worshipped the sun. Gold was of immense religious importance due to its properties in being able to reflect sunlight.

A ritual will be held and an ancestral song will be chanted in the temple.


Afternoon at leisure
Return to Hacienda Suescun for lunch and an afternoon at leisure to relax and explore the grounds.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Hacienda Suescun, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Drive from Sogamoso to Villa de Leyva (Road Journey)


Declared a national monument in 1954, Villa de Leyva contains some of the finest examples of Spanish colonial architecture in Colombia. The town is beautifully preserved and modern architecture is almost completely absent amidst the cobbled streets and whitewashed buildings.

Among this array of colonial buildings, the town's square stands out. The largest in Colombia, this flagstone construction is vast in comparison to Villa de Leyva's modest size.


Monquira Archaeological Park
Explore the Monquira archaeological park where the various upright carved stones and monoliths were thought to be foundations of temples, but after much investigation it was deduced that the stones were actually part of the most important solar observatory in the Americas. Walk around two main holy grounds, observing the stone layout and tombs thought to have been made around 1,000 - 2,000 BC which were then re-used by the Muiscas.

Continue to the Paleontological Centre for a private tour that focuses on the centre's work and the impressive collection of fossils that have been found in the region.


An afternoon tour of Villa de Leyva
After lunch at Casa de Barro (house of clay), explore the streets of Villa de Leyva on foot, visiting the Villa de Leyva Cathedral, the Convent of San Francisco, the Convento del Carmen, the Cloister of St. Augustine and the Royal Factory of Aguardiente and Congress House.

Dinner will be taken at El Mercado Municipal, regarded as the best restaurant in the town.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Hotel Plazuela, bed and breakfast

Day 7

Villa de Leyva to La Candelaria
Following breakfast, depart for a full day adventure through La Candelaria desert, a duration of approximately one and a half hours. Visit the town of Raquira, famed for its clay works and pottery. Here, join a pottery workshop, learning more about this ancient craft.

During lunch, the local delicacy of Ajiaco is served in giant black-clay bowls. Ajiaco is a hearty soup made from three different kinds of potatoes (criolla, sabanera and pastusa), chicken, guasca leaves and corn. Usually, Ajiaco is accompanied by a plate of rice and a slice of avocado. Ajiaco is the most common dish of the Cundiboyacense plateau.

After lunch, visit La Candelaria Monastery before heading back to Villa de Leyva where your afternoon is free to explore the town. Dinner is not included today, however, please speak to Juan for his recommendations of the best local eateries.


Breakfast and lunch included.


You will be staying at Hotel Plazuela, bed and breakfast

Day 8

Drive from Villa de Leyva to Bogota (Road Journey)

Fly Bogota to Armenia


Coffee production tour
On arrival into Armenia airport, you will be met and transferred to a local coffee farm for an insight into Colombian coffee production by a small local producer.

The Coffee Region, also known as La Zona Cafetera or Coffee Triangle, is a beautiful area of Colombia, lying between the three cities of Manizales, Pereira and Armenia. Colombia produces some of the best quality coffee in the world and the majority is grown in this part of the country.

Drive from Armenia to Pereira (Road Journey)


This afternoon you are free to explore the hacienda grounds or partake in a Cacao tour.


Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Hacienda Castilla, bed and breakfast

Day 9

Cocora Valley and Salento
Depart early this morning and transfer to Salento, ready to change vehicles for a 30-minute transfer in brightly painted 1970's Willy Jeeps, the traditional mode of transport in the mountains, to the Cocora Valley. On arrival at the viewpoint, depart for a short hike (of around one hour) through the stunning Valle de Cocora, in the foothills of the Los Nevados mountains.

Head to Salento for lunch, this picturesque working town is a colourful and vibrant place with brightly painted colonial houses and flower-draped balconies.


Colombian Tejo
In the afternoon take a short walking tour of Salento. Afterwards, visit a Tejo 'pitch' to play this popular Colombian game. Tejo is the modern version of an ancient regional sport called turmequé. The game involves throwing a small, thick disc (typically made of metal) at a small, triangular target approximately 60 feet away. The goal of tejo is to score points by landing a disk within a metal ring surrounded by small, triangular targets, called mechas. In the modern version of the game, these targets are small pouches filled with gunpowder, which flash and smoke when struck. Tejo was declared to be the country's national sport by the Congress of the Republic of Colombia in June of 2000.

Return to Hacienda Bambusa for an evening presentation by Diego Miguel Garces - renowned explorer, documentary maker, editor and photographer of over 200 books on Colombian natural history.


Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Hacienda Castilla, bed and breakfast

Day 10

Fauna & Flora Sanctuary
In the morning, transfer to the Fauna and Flora Sanctuary, Otun Quimbaya, for wildlife watching and a trek to La Pastora refuge in Ucumari Natural Regional Park. The walk involves an ascent of around 300 metres and the total walking distance will be around 13 kilometres there and back. This moderate walk follows the course of the River Otun, within one of the best-preserved river basins in South America. You will be walking along rocky terrain and through cloud forest. This trek showcases the Colombian Coffee Region's biodiversity and gives an idea as to what Cocora used to be like before its transformation to pastures for cattle.

There is an alternative option for those not wanting to hike, this involves having a free day to explore the sanctuary with a local English-speaking guide. Later, join the hiking group and continue onto Pereira.

Drive from Salento to Pereira (Road Journey)


Breakfast, packed lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Hacienda Castilla, bed and breakfast

Day 11

Morning at leisure

Fly Pereira to Medellin


Pablo Escobar Half Day City Tour
Follow in the footsteps of Pablo Escobar. During the years of the Medellín-Cartel, the city of Medellin was one of the most dangerous cities in the world and the cartel's influence is still visible in the city.

Learn about the effects of drug trafficking in Medellin. Back in the early 90s, when the hunt for Pablo Escobar took place, the head of Medellin's drug cartel was at his most powerful. During the tour, visit some of the emblematic sights of Escobar's life in Medellín, starting at his old house, which today is a ruin in one of the fanciest areas of the town. Continue to the "Virgin of the Murderers", where the cartel prayed before every crime and learn why Pablo Escobar was so popular in the poorer neighbourhoods. Visit the former prison that was built for him outside of Medellín before finishing the tour with a visit to his grave at the Monte Sacro Cemetery and understand why people still bring him flowers today.

When Marshal Jorge Robledo first set eyes on the Aburra Valley in 1541, even he - a conquistador of great vision, would not have imagined what this city, founded in 1616 would have become - a centre of industrial Colombia in the first instance and now declared as the most innovative city in the world.

Nestled at over 5,000ft above sea level, in the depths of a stunning Central Andes valley, Medellin quite rightly claims to be the city of eternal spring, with temperatures hovering at around 24 deg. C all year round, creating a perfect climate to enjoy one of Colombia's most vibrant nightlife scenes with great bars, restaurants and clubs.

One of the most surprising and interesting attractions however, are its various new-age projects that aim for social inclusion and equality that have transformed the lives of those living in the poorer neighbourhoods that hug the mountainsides. Medellin is definitely a city that is looking forwards, not back.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Hotel Diez, bed and breakfast

Day 12

Medellin morning Innovation tour
After breakfast, meet with Juan and your local guide for a morning 'Innovation' tour of Medellin. Travel by metro and the metro cable car to visit Parque de Los Deseos (Wishes Park), Jardin Botanico, the Santo Domingo neighbourhood and the Comuna 13 sector to check out their inter-neighbourhood open-air escalators and mural initiatives.


Lunch at local restaurant.


Free afternoon in Medellin


Breakfast and lunch included.


You will be staying at Hotel Diez, bed and breakfast

Day 13

Fly Medellin to Cartagena


Half Day Visit to the City's Colonial District
Half day visit to the city's colonial district, starting in Bolivar Park. Located on the square is the Gold Museum, which exhibits a fine collection of archaeological objects dating back to the pre-Hispanic period and the Inquisition Palace (recognised for its large baroque style door). The Inquisition held its meetings here and it was also the prison and torture chambers of opponents of the Catholic Church.

The visit continues to the Santo Domingo Church and the Cathedral and ends at the Terraplenes and Museum of the City's Fortifications.

One of the most vibrant and colourful cities in South America, Cartagena should not be missed. Founded in 1533 by the Spanish, the city was one of the most important ports in South America, sending plundered riches back to the mother county whilst attracting an eclectic combination of African and Caribbean cultures. This mix lives on and can be seen through the love of music and dance that the city's inhabitants thrive on today.

A meander through the old city's labyrinth of lively streets and plazas, all encased within several miles of thick, fortified, sea walls, is like a step back in time.

This is a captivating, vibrant city and veritable highlight for any visit to Colombia.


Dinner at Monika Therrien's residence
Dinner at Monika Therrien's residence in the old city to discuss her archaeological investigations and insights of Cartagena, which will be discussed in depth the next day as she accompanies the group on a morning walking tour.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Tcherassi Hotel and Spa, bed and breakfast

Day 14

Walking tour with Monika Therrien
After breakfast, Monika Therrien will accompany the group on a walking archaeological tour of Cartagena.


Zenu Gold Museum
As an agriculture-based economy, natural resources and barter: that was the foundation of the Zenú people, whose legacy is preserved at the Zenú Gold Museum, opened by the Bank of the Republic in 1982. Gold jewellery and other pre-Columbian artefacts unearthed in Cordoba, Sucre, Bolivar and Antioquia are on display.


Lunch at Club de Pesca.


Bid farewell to Monika. Afternoon free to explore the old city.


Sunset cocktails at Café del Mar before heading to the group's farewell dinner.


Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.


You will be staying at Tcherassi Hotel and Spa, bed and breakfast

Day 15

Morning at leisure.

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Hotel de La Opera

Hotel de La Opera

Hotel de la Opera is located in the historic centre of the Colombian capital, near attractions such as the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum), Teatro Colón and Palacio San Carlos....

View Accommodation

Hacienda Castilla

Hacienda Castilla

Hacienda Castilla is coffee plantation house with 9 rooms, located outside the town of Pereira....

View Accommodation

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Colombia

James Armitage, Travel Expert

"The help and great knowledge James offered really made the holiday special"

"James listened and managed our expectations and therefore made sure we were prepared for all eventualities when going on our holiday to Brazil"

"James was brilliant and all the advice was spot on."

Read More

John Faithfull, Travel Expert

"Personalised service. Seemed to really want to get it right for us. Very impressed when I first called and John spent 40 minutes finding out what we wanted to do and tailoring it for us."

"The expertise that John has really gave us faith in where we were going, the regions, the hotels, the trips. John knew about it all, he described them in detail, and when we asked for different regions he was straight in there with suggestions and ideas. The way the whole trip was planned and presented to us, never any pressure to book or any problem to change plans /ideas."

"John Faithful was wonderfully helpful and conscientious in arranging the itinerary and was always ready to suggest alternatives or rearrange matters without any hesitation; this and his detailed knowledge gave one great confidence."

Read More

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour expert

Juan Ortiz

Juan Ortiz
Juan is an ex-project engineer and manager from London who moved to Colombia to make a new life for himself in the travel business after experiences here that changed his life.

A lover of all things natural, he loves to share his knowledge and wonderment for Colombia with others. He is always looking for the next adventure in the middle of nowhere. Juan also loves writing and telling the world about what he has just seen. Juan is an avid birder and photographer.



As well as Juan, our Colombia group tour will be joined by some of Colombia’s leading experts:

Juan Ortiz - Tour host for whole trip

Byron Leon - Expert Guide in Bogota

Monika Therrien - Expert Guide in Cartagena
Enquire about this Expert Led tour:

Group Size:

Min 6 / Max 15

Tour Expert:

Juan Ortiz

Departure Date (S):

  • 5th September 2019

Holiday Ideas in Colombia

You are unique, so we believe your holiday should be too.

We listen to what you want and create a personalised itinerary tailored around you.

Your holiday. Your experience. Your way.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Call our Travel Experts on +01285 880 980
Start Your Journey
 

Expertise

  • Established for over 25 years creating journeys across 100 destinations worldwide
  • Exclusive access to the best private guides

PRICING

  • We negotiate the best rates with hotels and expert guides
  • Be protected from fluctuations in exchange rates

RESPONSIBLE STEPPES

  • Each time you travel with us we donate £5 to a local charity in the UK and £10 to an international charity

Fully Protected

  • Your monies are financially protected
  • 24/7 Emergency UK contact whilst abroad
 

Featured in the Press

Financial Times
The Telegraph
Sunday Times logo
CNT
Wanderlust

Our Partners

African Parks
Galapagos Conservation Trsut
OF_Primary_Logo_Tan
Restless Development
Save The Rhino
Tusk Trust
World Land Trsut
Gorilla Doctors
 

© Steppes Travel, 51 Castle St, Cirencester, GL7 1QD, United Kingdom