Make It Yours
Once the principal trading center between South America and Europe, today’s Bogota is a thriving South American city and a living history lesson. Your city tour of this colonial city includes Plaza of Simon Bolivar, colonial churches, the bohemian La Candelaria neighborhood and the celebrated Gold Museum. In the afternoon, depart to Villa del Leyva. Declared National Monument in 1945, the village has been carefully preserved with cobblestone roads, tiled roofs and whitewashed buildings. Spend the night in this inviting town.
Villa de Leyva’s surrounding valley is one of the most important paleontology regions in South America. An ancient ocean floor, the valley is home to dinosaur fossils and thousands of ammonites from the Cretaceous period. Explore this region by bike. Your 12.5 mile/20 km ride takes you through Colombia countryside. Stops enroute include El Infiernito (or Estación Astronómica Monquirá). El Infiernito, “Little Hell”, is an ancient astronomical center of the pre-Chibcha, Muisca people. The site is characterized by its 115 rounded, monoliths sunk vertically into the ground. Explore the ruins and learn more about the people that called this region home centuries ago. At the Paleontological Museum, view an intriguing display of regional fossils, including the most complete Kronosaurus fossil ever unearthed. Your bike ride continues to Monasterio, Convento del Santo Ecce Homo. Established by Dominican monks in 1620, it boasts a collection of religious and colonial art, as well as those from the Muisca – all adorned with fossils from the area. In the afternoon return to Villa de Leyva to relax before transferring to Paipa for dinner and overnight.
Biking distance: 12.5 miles (20 km)
Continue your bike journey of Colombia and venture to Santa Rosita. At 11,100 ft/3400 m, this is a high altitude Andes grassland. Hop on your bike for a scenic 20.5 miles/33 km ride from the paramo into cloud forest. Your descent follows a dirt road in a winding, narrow mountain river valley and ends near the town of San Joaquin at 5600 ft/1700 m. From here, transfer by van along mountain road to Barichara. Declared a National Monument in 1978, Barichara boasts classic characteristic of a colonial town: Cobblestone streets, red-tiled roofs and plazas. Spend the evening enjoying the inviting atmosphere of this laid-back town.
Biking distance: 20.5 miles (33 km)
Elevation descend: 5255 feet (1602 m)
Max altitude: 11,020 feet (3359 m)
Spend a leisurely morning enjoying Barichara before a visit to Juan Curi Waterfall. A short trail through cloud forest leads to the base of the impressive 160 ft/50 m falls. This is great place to cool off; feel free to get your feet (and the rest of you) wet. In the afternoon, transfer to nearby San Gil, a town known for its moss-covered trees that line the banks of the Fonce River. From a nearby mountaintop, begin your bike ride back to Barichara. The journey is lined with traditional orchards and tobacco plantations and offers views of the valley and gorge. Back in Barichara, enjoy your final evening in this colonial town.
Biking distance: 6.2 miles (10 km)
Elevation descend: 2011 feet (613 m)
Max altitude: 3698 feet (1127 m)
The day begins with a hike on a historic trail, El Camino Real. Originally built by the indigenous Guane people, the trail was rebuilt in stone by the Spanish Crown during the conquest to provide access to the Atlantic Ocean for the export of gold. Your 4 mile/7 km hike on this ancient stone-trail leads to the sleepy-town, Guane. Explore the Spanish architecture and visit the local anthropological museum that includes artifacts and religious art from the all-but-vanished Guane people.
Hiking distance: 4 miles (7km)
In the afternoon, bike the impressive Chicamocha River Gorge, commonly referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Colombia”. The ride starts at the edge of the canyon along a dirt road that descends 4400 ft/1400m, zigzagging to the bottom of the gorge. Here, the landscape is dominated by dry forest filled with acacia, agave and cacti. Keep an eye out for iguanas, falcons and eagles. At the end of today’s 10 mile/16km ride, you’ll reach the town of Jordan at 1500 ft/430 m. Located along the Royal Road from the Andes to the Caribbean, El Jordan was once prosperous merchant trade center, but today reflects only shadows of this past. Finish your day on the opposite side of the canyon at near Bucaramanga. Overnight at El Roble coffee hacienda.
Biking distance: 10 miles (16 km)
Elevation descend: 4400 feet (1400 m)
Max. altitude: 5900 ft (1800 m)
Start the day with a tour of El Roble, the award-winning organic coffee hacienda. The hacienda offers an intimate look into the Colombian coffee culture. Stroll through the hacienda’s 280 hectares that cultivates 72 species of coffee, all shaded by a forest of more than 50,000 trees. Keep an eye out for some of the 122 bird species that have been cataloged at the hacienda. Learn about organic harvesting, peeling, drying and bean selection. The tour finishes with the hacienda’s catador -- or taster -- who demonstrates how to recognize distinct aromas from individual crops. And of course, you’re invited to sample some of these famous local flavors. In the afternoon, transfer to the Bucaramanga Airport for your return flight to Bogota.
$610 single supplement
Rate based on 4 or more travelers