London – Bogota
Flying in the evening from London, you’ll arrive in Bogotá very early the following morning. You’ll be taken to your hotel, close to lovely Virrey Park in the city’s most prized entertainment and business area. You’ll have time to explore before your city tour shows you the historic La Candelaria area with its charming old Spanish casonas featuring wrought iron window grilles, balconies, courtyards and beautiful gardens.
In Plaza Bolívar you’ll find the statue of Simón Bolívar and the cathedral that houses a huge collection of liturgical and ornamental objects compiled over the centuries. Your cultural experience continues with a visit to Capilla del Sagrario, and the Museo Botero displaying masterpieces by Picasso, Renoir, Dalí, Matisse, Monet and Giacometti. The celebrated Museo de Oro has treasures of its own; 34,000 gold and 20,000 artefacts in stone, ceramic and precious stones. Next, a cable car takes you to Monserrate – 500 metres above Bogotá – to admire the soaring views over the city.
On the third day you’ll take a half day excursion north to Zipaquirá to discover it’s impressive subterranean Salt Cathedral and richly decorated colonial churches.
Stay: Three nights in a double room at Cité – bed & breakfast
A short one hour flight now zips you from Bogotá to Pereira, arriving in the early afternoon. Pereira is the capital of Risaralda, one of the three departments that make up Colombia’s coffee triangle, also known as the Zona Cafetera. You’ll be staying in a beautiful hacienda close to the area’s coffee plantations where you’ll gain an insight into the growing, harvesting, preparation, toasting and final production of world renowned Colombian coffee. Your next excursion introduces you to the beautiful village of Filandia, famous for its Antioqueño architecture and basket weaving.
Then you move on to Valle del Cocora, part of Los Nevados National Park, where you’ll find 60-metre-high palm trees and a diverse range of exotic birds including hummingbirds and parrots. After a fine lunch you’ll drive on to Salento with its winding streets lined with colourful old houses and handicraft shops selling ponchos and Panama hats.
Stay: Three nights in a double room at Sazagua – bed & breakfast
Your next journey sees you entering the central Andean Highlands to reach Colombia’s second most important city. Medellín has undergone a huge transformation over recent years, and has since been awarded the title of the most innovative city in the world. It is certainly a city dedicated to art and culture. La Plazoleta, for example, has over 20 Botero sculptures and the Museum of Antioquia is one of Colombia’s most celebrated museums with exhibits from the pre-Columbian, to the Independence and modern periods.
More unconventionally, your tour begins in graffiti-rich La Comuna 13 – once one of the city’s most dangerous neighbourhoods – where local spray paint artists will explain the importance of the graffiti art form as a tool of communication. The following day you’ll see the Parque de Los Tamarindos before visiting the extraordinary Puente de Occidente suspension bridge. You’ll then travel on to Santa Fe de Antioquina with its narrow streets and white washed buildings dating back to 1541. After lunch you’ll head back to your hotel, stopping along the way to visit another well-preserved town; San Jeronimo.
Stay: Two nights in a double room at Patio del Mundo – bed & breakfast
Today you will catch a flight to Cartagena, where you’ll be staying in a beautifully restored colonial style house with more than 300 years of history to its name.
When you walk around the Cartagena’s genteel, colourful streets, it’s difficult to associate your surroundings with the city’s history of conflict. Nevertheless, this is a place that was, at different times, inhabited by Caribe Indians, Spanish invaders, buccaneers and pirates. And it has the fortified city walls to prove it.
Today the city is a treasure trove of civil, religious, military and governmental buildings dating back centuries. In fact it’s on the UNESCO World Heritage List and your city tour will show you top attractions like the San Felipe Fortress, as well as the Convent and Church of San Pedro Claver. You’ll also visit the Monasterio and Inglesia de Popa, constructed in 1606, where you can enjoy 360° views of the city, sea and port.
Stay: Three nights in a double room at the Alfiz – bed & breakfast
Santa Marta - Bogota - London
On day twelve you will board your flight back to London, via Bogotá, landing in the afternoon of the following day.
The service was first class, professional throughout. Well done and thank-you.- JP, Sri Lanka, 2013