Explore Colombia’s Tayrona National Park. Considered one of the best nature reserves in the Caribbean, at least 56 endangered (and elusive) species call this reserve home. The park is celebrated for its lush rainforest, limestone rocks and white sandy beaches. The park hugs the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta range, which boasts Colombia’s highest peak, Pico Cristóbal Colón. This mountainous region is also home to the Kogi people, a pre-Colombian culture who are descendants of the Tayrona Nation. The Kogi are one of the few cultures in Colombia that still preserve their traditional way of life. Enjoy a relaxed afternoon in the park, exploring Tayrona’s trails and beaches. Finish your day watching the sunset over the Caribbean. Overnight at beachfront accommodations.
Return to the park to explore, El Pueblito, a significant archeological site that was once home to an estimated 4000 citizens of the Tayrona culture. This city was built in the 5th century and inhabited until the 16th century before being abandoned and engulfed by the jungle. El Pueblito was part of network of cities, connected by stone paved paths. You’ll hike one such path through dense, wildlife-rich rainforest to reach this ancient stone city. At the ruins learn about the complexity of the city’s waterways, stone bridges, stairways, and explore the 250 terrace structures that supported agriculture, storage, and housing. In the afternoon, begin your return hike to the coast in time for another Colombian sunset.
This morning, drive south along the Caribbean coast through fishing towns and coastal cities until reaching Cartagena de Indias, a recognized World Heritage site. After settling into the hotel in Cartagena’s Old Town, you’ll spend the day discovering the modern-charm and history of this beautiful colonial city. Cartagena was one of the richest and most influential cities of the Spanish colony. Its greatness is displayed throughout the architecture, museums, churches, plazas and famous fortressed walls. This city pulses with legends of pirates, gold, romance and revolution; it is a city that has inspired artists, writers and inquisitive travelers throughout the past and present. Spend the evening enjoy the many cafés and courtyards of Cartagena.
Begin your day exploring the fortress, Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. Possibly the greatest fortress ever built by the Spaniards in any of their colonies, this 16th century complex is strategically located on San Lazaro hill to protect the city of Cartagena. Learn about the fortress’s engineering triumphs, military tactics and numerous battles withstood from the English and French at this impenetrable fortress. Explore nearby monuments before returning to Cartagena. In the afternoon, transfer to the airport for your return flight.