Captivating Colombia

Captivating Colombia

Please join us as we explore the dynamic cultural landscapes of Colombia—with dedicated time in Bogotá, Medellín, and Cartagena. This region, with its infamous history, is now a destination teeming with positive social transformation and new energy for innovation.

Each day is highlighted by exclusive and authentic experiences like touring historic sights and monuments, meeting locals committed to making an impact on their neighborhoods, plus visiting traditional artisans, including a full-day excursion to a popular coffee plantation.

Deluxe accommodations for this journey include eight nights at luxurious properties in Bogotá, Medellín, and Cartagena—each providing outstanding, modern amenities and a welcoming atmosphere.

Trip Itinerary:

March 13 En Route from the U.S. / Arrive in Bogotá, Colombia

Welcome to Bogotá—Colombia’s capital city some 8,600 feet above sea level, high in the Andes Mountains. This sophisticated, cosmopolitan center has become an epicenter of business, politics, and entertainment. Bogotá's residents have worked diligently to transform the city into a welcoming destination for visitors from around the globe, offering a thriving nightlife, superb al fresco dining and bar culture, as well as international shopping.

Take time to settle into your accommodations before joining the group for a welcome reception to learn more about the exciting week ahead.
Overnight: Hotel Sofitel Bogotá Victoria Regia (R)

March 14 Bogotá

After breakfast, set out for an early morning visit to Paloquemao Market, one of the largest and most important markets in the country—and a unique cultural experience in itself. Paloquemao represents the perfect mix of old and new Bogotá as it offers thoughtful insight into the life and customs of its residents. Be amazed at the variety of flowers, exotic fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, cheese, and medicinal herbs for sale. Everything is fresh and arrives daily to Bogotá from all regions of Colombia. Taste a few exotic fruits and sample various snacks during the visit.

Afterward, explore the famous and well preserved historical colonial quarter of La Candelaria, a lively area dotted with vendors and street performers. Steeped in history and draped in splendid colonial architecture, it's a must-see for photographers to capture the sights and sounds of this fascinating part of Bogotá. During a panoramic walking tour, stroll through the storied streets past the library of Luis Angel Arango to Plaza de Bolivar—the heart of Bogotá. See the Cathedral of Colombia, the National Capitol, the Presidential Palace, the Cardinal’s Palace, the colonial churches of El Sagrario and San Agustin, the Independence House, the Palace of Justice, and city hall, which are all located in this bustling square.

Continuing east up the forested mountains sits Cerro de Monserrate, home to a historic catholic church, which has been a sanctuary of worship since 1657. Embrace the expansive views while learning about the significance of this sacred mountain and the church.

Returning to town, visit the Gold Museum, considered the most important gold museum in the world, presenting the largest collection of pre-Columbian gold—thought to be only less than 1% of the gold used by indigenous Colombians in ceremony as offerings and decorations. Colombia is the most likely origin of the myth of El Dorado, the city made of gold sought after by the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century. Following a guided tour, leisurely walk the galleries found on three levels, each displaying exquisitely crafted pieces dating back nearly 2,500 years.

Today's final highlight includes a visit to the Botero Museum, situated in a renovated colonial mansion within La Candelaria, donated by Fernando Botero, Colombia’s most famous contemporary artist. Accompanied by Botero's grandson, Felipe, view nearly 120 pieces of Botero's work on display—sculptures, paintings, and drawings—all well-known for their proportionally exaggerated figures. In addition to his work, Botero's personal collection by Picasso, Renoir, Dalí, Degas, Chagall, Matisse, Monet, and Giacometti are also on exhibit.
Overnight: Hotel Sofitel Bogotá Victoria Regia (B,L)

March 15 Bogotá / Medellín

After breakfast, head north to the small town of Zipaquirá for an underground tour of the famous Salt Cathedral—still an important place for worship and pilgrimage—carved inside an active salt mine formed 250 million years ago. Experience the extraordinary architecture and engineering of this remarkable structure, including 14 small chapels that represent the Stations of the Cross and Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, a sanctuary, and a main cathedral.

Afterward, venture into Zipaquirá for a sampling of local life and cuisine during lunch before transferring to El Dorado International Airport for the flight to Medellín, where the remainder of the day and evening are at leisure.
Overnight: InterContinental Medellín (B,L)

March 16 Medellín

This City of Eternal Spring features year-round temperate weather, and it's the second most important and populated city in Colombia after Bogotá. Medellín itself is an ideal illustration of social and cultural transformation—as it is becoming one of the most innovative cities in the world as recognized by the Wall Street Journal.

Following breakfast, join in a group discussion about the importance of the city's recent history, including the legacy of Pablo Escobar and his activities that plagued Medellín and Colombia, through to the newly transformed Medellín of today.

Afterward, head into town to discover the positive impact public transportation offers for the city and its residents by taking the inspirationally clean, safe, and modern metropolitan train—an integral element of Medellín's history. The cable car network was one of the factors influencing the regeneration of the city, providing residents living steep in the hillsides with easy access to the downtown to find work.

A short walk from the Metro, view and ride the remarkable escalator system of Comuna 13, once one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Join a volunteer from the local non-profit organization, Casa Kolacho, who will take you on a tour of the neighborhood, sharing stories of the community and the public art displays, innovative transportation improvements, and neighborhood transformation/restoration. Casa Kolacho's mission is to give district youth the opportunity to inspire others through street art and hip hop music, uplifting their community, preserving their stories, and beautifying places affected by the harsh recent past.

After lunch at a lovely botanical garden, take a panoramic tour to see the city square and its important monuments like Monumento a La Raza in front of city hall.
Overnight: InterContinental Medellín (B,L)

March 17 Medellín

Following breakfast, set out for a 60-mile journey through the scenic countryside to Fredonia, home to Finca Oro Molido—one of the region's premium coffee producers.

Oro Molido's plantation includes a small inn and restaurant in addition to its coffee fields and processing areas, all surrounded by awe-inspiring views. During a tour, learn about the coffee growing process and try your hand at coffee berry picking, then visit the processing facility where raw beans are sorted, shelled, dried, and packed to be roasted and exported. The world-class coffee producer founded the Oro Molido Foundation in 2015, which focuses on resource management and developing partnerships with public and private institutions to create educational, cultural, and community based programs to positively influence the social well-being of traditionally neglected local populations.

Retire to the restaurant for a delectable lunch made with locally-sourced ingredients paired with wine, followed by dessert and a special coffee tasting of the farm's varietals.
Overnight: InterContinental Medellín (B,L)

March 18 Medellín / Cartagena

Experience a special morning in Santa Elena, an area nearby Medellín known historically and presently for growing and harvesting the most colorful flowers. Indigenous communities and farmers chose to live in Santa Elena for its rich soil and year-round, spring-like climate, which provided plenty of rain and sunshine.

Spanish colonizers who sought out gold from this region brought with them certain traditions, like using a chair as transportation. Farmers later adopted this method as a unique way to carry goods and silletas (flower arrangements) down the mountain to markets in Medellín. These silletas remain an important cultural tradition today, as farmers and families continue to design silletas for retail and cultural ceremony, including the annual flower festival, parading their flower arrangements on their backs for tradition and competition.

Visit an organic flower farm and participate in creating a silleta, then visit a local silletero family's home for tea and snacks, and tour their private orchid garden.

After lunch, return to José María Córdova International Airport for the short flight to Cartagena.

In the evening, experience the magic of old town Cartagena during a guided walking tour. This Caribbean colonial jewel was once the central trading center and port city for Colombia. The walled city is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an inspiration for artists, writers, historians, and musicians alike.

Walking the narrow streets, admire colorful foliage draping the buildings made from coral and limestone elements. Stroll by Plaza de Bolívar, the beautiful main square, and pass by Plaza de la Proclamación, where the townspeople gathered to support the declaration of independence in November 1811.

Stroll by the home of novelist and Nobel Prize winner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez—the father of literature's Magical Realism—who found great inspiration in Cartagena.

Reach the lively Plaza Santo Domingo—lined with street entertainers, cafés, open-air restaurants, and the iconic Palenqueras—fruit vendors and descendants of the world's first freed African slaves. There, admire the colonial façade of Santo Domingo Church—the oldest church in Cartagena.

Enjoy dinner together inside the plaza before returning to the hotel.
Overnight: Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa (B,L,D)

March 19 Cartagena

Today features the monuments of Cartagena. First visit San Felipe de Barajas Castle, a fortress built by the Spaniards in the 1600s, at the top of San Lázaro Hill. Cartagena was one of the most important Colonial trading centers for the Spaniards in South America, which made it a target for European pirates, including Sir Francis Drake, who laid siege to the city in 1586. This fortress was built to help protect the city and her riches by using a network of tunnels to distribute provisions or strategically escape approaching enemies.

Visit Las Bóvedas, a system of 23 vaults and the final major colonial construction made for military purposes within the city walls. The Spaniards used the vaults as storerooms for munitions and provisions, and later, jail cells. Presently, the structure is a welcoming crafts market showcasing antiques, jewelry, clothing, and souvenirs.

After leisure time for lunch on your own, take a short drive to the walled neighborhood of Getsemaní—a revitalized district rich with authentic colonial architecture, graffiti art, acclaimed restaurants, and an elegant and relaxed atmosphere. Take a walking tour through this vibrant area before tucking into a local artisan's shop for an entertaining and engaging chocolate and rum tasting. Learn about the chocolates produced by high-quality national cacao paired with Colombian mature rum from Antioquia and Caldas regions.
Overnight: Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa (B)

March 20 Cartagena

After breakfast, head north to La Boquilla, an old fishing village and former slave colony.

In traditional wooden canoes, embark upon a guided tour through mangrove forests and natural tunnels to view the fauna and flora that inhabit this unique ecosystem.

This evening offers a magical included excursion—a private, leisurely sunset boat tour around the bay of Cartagena, with included beverage service—to experience its monuments and cityscape from a different vantage point.

Later, join fellow travelers for a special farewell dinner on the Bay of Cartagena to share memorable moments from the past week's adventures. The waterfront restaurant, Club de Pesca—one of the most traditional and famous restaurants in the city—is situated within the Fort San Sebastián del Pastelillo built in 1743 and features spectacular views.
Overnight: Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa (B,D)

March 21 Cartagena / Depart for U.S.

After breakfast, guests departing during the suggested times take a complimentary transfer to Rafael Núñez International Airport for flights home. (B)


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