Cartagena, Tayrona Park, Arrecife and Cabo San Juan - 9 days

Explore the beauty of Colombia's northern coast, from stunning Tayrona Parque to the colonial town of Cartagena. This 9-day itinerary starts and ends in Cartagena, with a variety of local activities including hiking, a visit to a coffee farm, touring through authentic local fishing villages and, of course, great salsa dancing.
Map of northern Colombia tour
Map of the 9-day route through northern Colombia

Day 1: Cartagena

You'll be picked up at the airport and transfered to your hotel, located in the historical center of the city. The rest of the afternoon and evening are your's to discover and enjoy the magic of this jewel of colonial architecture.

Day 2: Cartagena - Tayrona Park

In the morning, follow the footsteps of famous pirates and discover the "Pearl of the Caribbean", a city rich in culture, diversity, exotic and heritage. This tour throughout the beautiful city of Cartagena will bring you back to colonial times, amidst colorful houses and lively squares.

Walking tour in the colonial neighborhoods of San Diego and Santo Domingo. You will pass by: Plaza de los Coches, plaza de la Aduana, parque Bolívar, el Museo del Oro, el Palacio de la Inquisición, plaza de Santa Teresa, plaza de Santo Domingo, las murallas y Las Bóvedas.

In the afternoon, a private transport will take you to your ecolodge located near the amazing Tayrona Park, a perfect place to relax surrounded by exuberant nature.

Day 3: Tayrona Park - Arrecife, Cabo San Juan

This hike in the Tayrona Park will take you to a magical place located between mountains, tropical forest and the sea. You will discover the most beautiful white sand beaches of the country surrounded by ancestral volcanic rocks and swim in the crystal clear Caribbean Sea.

Today, you will discover the jungle and the beaches of the Tayrona Park. You start with a hike in the tropical jungle from Cañaveral. You will then visit the exotic beaches of Arrecifes and stop at La Piscina, ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Continue to the Cabo San Juan del Guia, a wonderful bay of white sand surrounded by huge volcanic rocks. On the way, observe the local fauna and flora of this magnificent park with your guide.

Free time to lunch in Cabo San Juan and to enjoy the beach (Lunch not included).. Afterwards, we will walk back to the park’s entrance passing through the park’s beautiful paths, where your driver is waiting to take you back to the hotel.

Day 4: Tayrona Park - Cerro Kennedy

Cerro Kennedy is a mountain located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta. Its highest point is 3,100 meters above sea level and is covered by a cloud forest. It is also home to hundreds of endemic and migratory birds.

From the top of this iconic mountain you can get an incredible view of the Bolivar and Colon snowy peaks, Santa Marta and all the mountains of the Sierra Nevada.

Early morning departure from your hotel, taking the road leading to the village of Minca, a picturesque village located 40 minutes from the city of Santa Marta and at 650 meters above the sea level.

Visit of the Victoria coffee farm where you will learn about the production process of organic coffee. After this tour, we continue the journey in our 4x4 up to La Maria farm located in the village of La Tagua. From there you will start a 3 kilometers walk up to the Santa Elena farm (2 hours hike, medium  difficulty). Arrival and free time to settle in. You will be welcome with a snack and then enjoy a typical Colombian lunch.

In the afternoon you will have a tour around the area. Then you will have the chance of watching the incredible sunset over the mountains, the great swamp and the Caribbean Sea.

Day 5: Mirador De Cerro Kennedy - Santa Marta

You must get up very early to get the chance of watching the beautiful sunrise over the Sierra Nevada. Observe the snowy peaks while enjoying a delicious cup of organic coffee. A traditional breakfast will be served afterwards.

At 6:30 a.m., the hike begins! Walk throughout private trails to reach the top of the mountain. An incredible viewpoint over the Sierra Nevada, located at a height of 3,100 meters above sea level. During the tour, you will have an excellent view of the mountains, especially the Bolivar and Colon snowy peaks. You will cross different types of trails and see many endemic birds species.

Return to Santa Elena farm for lunch, before walking back to the parking spot and returning to Santa Marta. The end of the day is free for you to explore!

Day 6: Santa Marta - Cienaga Grande

Authentic encounters with local communities, you'll discover this amazing place located in Cienaga Grande, a small village of fishermen living on the water.

Cienaga Grande is the most important and widest lagoon of Colombia. It is also one of the main fishing resources on the northern coast of the country. It is considered a strategic point and of vital importance for the planet. It is also home to a fishermen's’ community living in picturesque villages on stilts.

Departure from Santa Marta at 6 AM. You will take a private boat to reach the mangrove where you can observe some endemic birds species before arriving to the small village of Buena Vista. Here you will meet the fishermen and discover their activity.

Lunch in the colorful village of Nueva Venecia. Then you will visit the local school where you will have the chance of interacting with the Palafitos

Return to Santa Marta in the late afternoon.

Day 7: Santa Marta - Cartagena

In the morning, a private transport will take you back to Cartagena.

In the afternoon, you will have the chance to improve your dancing skills in a fun salsa class. 

The dance academy is located in Cartagena’s historical center. The class is perfect for all levels. You will be seduced by the creativity and the enthusiasm of the teachers.

The academy as a bar, ideal spot to meet and share with locals after the class.

Day 8: Cartagena

Today, you will start with a historical city tour of Cartagena. The first site is La Popa monastery, from where you will enjoy a panoramic view on the whole of Cartagena. Afterwards, explore the San Felipe Castle which represents the main work of Spanish military engineering during colonization. Your guide will then take you to the old and lively neighborhood of Getsemani.

Free time for lunch and, in the afternoon, transport to the fishermen village of La Boquilla. Walk around the town and then take a canoe trip on the Juan Polo Swamp through the mangrove tunnels, Fisherman Island and the Birds Park.

Day 9: Cartagena

Today, transfer to the airport according to the time of your international flight.

Recent Trip Reviews

Related trips planned by kimkim specialists

Colombia caribe, Colombia - Mar 7 - Mar 22, 2017

Traveler: Jim L. - Local specialist: Nathalie Clavel

We were very pleased with our experience in Cartagena and Isla Mucura. We did not appreciate the difficulty of the 13.3-mile hike planned for our second day in Colombia. (For example, we did not know how long the hike would be. We had an estimate of how many hours in would last, but not of the difficulty.) We are in good shape, but this was a daunting scramble though and over boulders and with a 300-meter plus gain in altitude in a tropical jungle.
We were disappointed in the Casa Lina... read more

We were very pleased with our experience in Cartagena and Isla Mucura. We did not appreciate the difficulty of the 13.3-mile hike planned for our second day in Colombia. (For example, we did not know how long the hike would be. We had an estimate of how many hours in would last, but not of the difficulty.) We are in good shape, but this was a daunting scramble though and over boulders and with a 300-meter plus gain in altitude in a tropical jungle.
We were disappointed in the Casa Lina Hotel in Palominos and in the Casa Amarilla Hotel in Mompox. The language barrier was high in both locations, the beds were uncomfortable and the staff were correct but not friendly.

We seemed to have difficulty understanding each other. When we needed help with a billing dispute (in Mompox) and in adjusting our itinerary (in Palominos), she was not readily available.
As in other aspects of the trip, we were to blame for some of this. We should have pursued more subjects before we left, regarding temperatures, hiking difficulties, sunscreen, etc. I was also disappointed when we were asked for full payment earlier than I expected.