Arrive in Bogota and meet your guide and transfer into the city. Bogota was once the main trade center between South America and Europe due to its location in the Andean savanna on the Magdalena River that connects to the Caribbean Sea. Take a city tour of the colonial center to learn about the pre-Columbian and Spanish heritage with visits to the Plaza of Simon Bolivar, colonial churches, the bohemian La Candelaria neighborhood, and the Gold Museum. In the afternoon, drive to Villa de Leyva, a beautiful village three hours from Bogota. Villa de Leyva’s colonial charm has been preserved with cobblestone streets, tiled roofs, and whitewashed buildings, and the region is known for its dinosaur fossils. Spend the night in a colonial hotel.
Begin the day with a visit to Iguaque National Park. Iguaque is a sacred place to the native Muisca who believe that mankind originated in the Iguaque Lake. Explore the park while on the lookout for the hundreds of species of orchids, bromeliads, lichens, ferns and rare tropical birds of the cloud forest. Hop on the mountain bikes in the afternoon and ride the trails and backroads around Villa de Leyva for a 10 km ride (approximately two hours). Visit a paleontology museum which displays the most comprehensive assortment of fossils in South America and the most complete Kronosaurus fossil known to date. The ride ends in El Monasterio, a Dominican historic site with a collection of religious and colonial art. Return by vehicle to Villa de Leyva.
Drive north through diverse, beautiful landscapes over mountains and rivers and pass local villages and fertile farmland to get a glimpse of rural Colombian lifestyle (approximately 4 hours). Arrive in the Santander region in San Gil, known as a center for Colombia's adventure travel, for an afternoon of mountain biking. Ride through this unique forest, characterized by huge strands of moss hanging in the trees, and cruise along the trails through coffee and cattle haciendas (14 km ride for approximately two hours). Arrive in the colonial city of Barichara, the home for the next two nights.
Begin the day with a hike on a historic trail that was originally built by the Guane Indians and then reconstructed in stone by the Spanish colonists to gain access to the Atlantic for exporting gold and other natural resources. This preserved, scenic road is framed by old stone walls with great views of the gorge below and excellent birding as a high concentration of species feed and inhabit this area. After the 7 km (4 miles) hike, arrive to Guane, another colonial town that seems lost in time with its great Spanish architecture as well as a rich pre-Columbian cultural history of the original Guane who inhabited this area before who assimilating with the Spanish over time. Visit the local Guane anthropology museum before hiking in the lush forest to the Juan Curi waterfall, an impressive 50 m (160 ft.) drop and enjoy the spray at the base of the falls. There is optional rappelling for anyone interested in more adrenaline (additional cost). Return to Barichara in the afternoon.
Hit the river for some Class III whitewater action on the Chicamocha Gorge. Descend by vehicle nearly 800 meters to the river put-in and raft Colombia’s best one-day whitewater run. Enjoy a 20 km trip through this towering limestone canyon and the Chicamocha’s big waves. Take out in the afternoon and transfer to the charming hacienda on the other side of the gorge. A nice rest after an active rafting day during your Colombia tour.
After enjoying Colombian coffee the last few days, visit an award-winning organic coffee hacienda located near Bucaramanga. Tour the estate to see the harvest and production of various shade-grown varieties and taste a cup of brew. In the afternoon, a short thirty-minute flight takes you to Santa Marta, and you continue to the Tayrona National Park which is considered one of the best nature reserves in the Caribbean. Tayrona is squeezed between the coast and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the highest coastal mountain range in the world. Tayrona is where snow-capped mountains, sandy beach, and rainforest converge, where green jungle tumbles down the mountains into the turquoise water. The region is also home to the Kogi people, a pre-Columbian culture that descends from the ancient Tayrona, one of the few cultures in Colombia that have preserved their traditional way of life. Spend the afternoon exploring the trails and beaches of Tayrona and relax and enjoy the sunset at the beach hotel.
Hike to El Pueblito, a lost stone city originally built by the Tayrona considered one of Colombia’s best archeological sites. Follow a stone trail through the forest for three hours with great opportunities for wildlife viewing with parrots, toucans, hawks, howler monkeys, colorful lizards and hundreds of butterflies. Upon reaching El Pueblito, explore and learn about this highly developed culture and its advanced architecture of waterways, stone bridges, stairways, and terraced structures that were built in the 5th century and inhabited until the 16th century when it was abandoned and swallowed by the jungle.
Drive south along the Caribbean coast through fishing towns and coastal cities on the way to Cartagena de Indias, a World Heritage city filled with beauty, charm, and history. Cartagena was one of the wealthiest and most influential cities of the Spanish crown, and the greatness of the city can be witnessed in its fine architecture, museums, churches, plazas and fortressed walls. Explore this beautiful city with your guide
After breakfast, tour the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, a stone fortress strategically built on the top of a hill to repel enemies and protect the city of Cartagena during many conflicts. Considered as the most impenetrable fortresses of the Spanish colonies since it was never overtaken. Transfer to the airport in the afternoon for your return flight.
$815 single supplement
Rate based on 4 or more travelers $4370: 2014 Rate based on 4 or more travelers.