- Hike the nature reserves and national parks around Bogotá
- Visit a salt cathedral and ride horses in historic colonial towns
- Tour Barichara and brave whitewater rapids on the Fonse River
- Travel to the coast and hike to the legendary Ciudad Perdida
|Day 1||Arrive in Bogotá, Monserrate Hill Tour||Bogotá|
|Day 2||Day Hike in Chingaza National Park||Bogotá|
|Day 3||Day Trip to Chicaque Natural Park||Bogotá|
|Day 4||Transfer to Villa de Leyva, Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral||Villa de Leyva|
|Day 5||Villa de Leyva Walking Tour & Horseback Riding||Villa de Leyva|
|Day 6||Transfer to Barichara, Hike to Guane||Barichara|
|Day 7||Fonse River Rafting, Visit Chicamocha Park||Barichara|
|Day 8||Fly to Santa Marta, City Tour||Santa Marta|
|Day 9||Trek to Ciudad Perdida - Day 1||Lost City Trek|
|Day 10||Trek to Ciudad Perdida - Day 2||Lost City Trek|
|Day 11||Trek to Ciudad Perdida - Day 3||Lost City Trek|
|Day 12||Trek to Ciudad Perdida - Day 4||Minca|
|Day 13||Birding in Minca, Transfer to Santa Marta & Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Bogotá, Visit Monserrate Hill
Welcome to Colombia! This jewel of Latin America has both a rich indigenous and colonial history, plus it boasts some of the most stunning natural beauty anywhere on earth. You'll arrive in Bogotá, the nation's high-altitude capital (it sits at 8,661 ft/2,640 m), which is home to over seven million people. Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will transfer you to your hotel in the city. After checking in, you can then head out and explore.
The best way to take in Bogota's massive urban sprawl is on the famous hill overlooking the city, Cerro Monserrate. On a three-hour tour, you'll arrive at the base of Monserrate and ascend it via cable car. A few minutes later you'll arrive at a plateau 10,341 feet (3,152 m) above sea level. Here, you can visit Monserrate Sanctuary, a whitewashed Catholic church that was completed in 1657. But the real star is the panoramic view of the city below—make sure your phone is charged!
Day 2: Day Hike in Chingaza National ParkIn the morning, a driver will pick you up in a 4WD vehicle for the ride northeast out of Bogotá to Chingaza National Park. This large protected area covers 188,000 acres (76,000 ha) and is located just a couple hours outside the city, yet it seems a world apart. Rather than bustling neighborhoods and blaring horns, here you'll find remote forests, lagoons, and rivers. In fact, the misty páramo (high-altitude plateau) ecosystem here is responsible for generating 80% of Bogotá's drinking water.
Day 3: Day Trip to Chicaque Natural ParkToday, you'll visit another stunning protected area near Bogotá—this one a mere hour away! Chicaque Natural Park is an unspoiled cloud-forest reserve filled with miles of hiking trails and great birding opportunities. After a pickup from your hotel, you'll transfer west of Bogotá to the park entrance. From there, your guide will lead you on a walk to El Refugio, a lodge and meeting point for hikers.
Day 4: Transfer to Villa de Leyva, Zipaquirá Salt CathedralIn the morning, your driver will pick you up for the 3.5-hour trip north to the colonial town of Villa de Leyva. About 45 minutes outside of Bogotá, you'll stop in the city of Zipaquirá to visit its highlight attraction: the Catedral de Sal ("Salt Cathedral"), an old rock salt mine that was converted into a church in 1954. The church spans three subterranean levels, features 14 shrines with sculpted crucifixes, and contains various rooms including naves, a choir, and a baptistery. Unsurprisingly, the church is dedicated to Nuestra Señora del Rosario, the patron saint of miners.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 5: Villa de Leyva Walking Tour & Horseback RidingAfter breakfast, head out on a walking tour of Villa de Leyva. During colonial times, the village was used as a summer retreat for the rich, as the region reminded the Spanish of Madrid's vast plateau. For centuries, it has drawn all kinds of people, from artists and monks to tourists and retired politicians. You'll learn all about its history as you stroll the 150,000-square-foot (14,000 sq m) Plaza Mayor.
Day 6: Transfer to Barichara, Hike to GuaneYour driver will pick you up this morning for the 4.5-hour ride north into Santander Dept. and the town of Barichara. With its cobbled streets, sandstone church, and an idyllic location next to a dramatic canyon, Barichara is one of the loveliest colonial towns in Colombia.
Day 7: Fonse River Rafting, Visit Chicamocha Park
After breakfast, you'll travel to the nearby Río Fonce. This is one of the most popular rivers for whitewater rafting in all of Colombia, and today you'll experience it on a four-hour ride. The route you'll be traveling has a length of 7 miles (11 km) and will get your adrenaline pumping with its Class III rapids. It's perfectly safe, as leading the excursion will be a professional instructor/guide who will ensure you're fully prepared to conquer the river.
Back on land, meet your driver for a half-day trip to Chicamocha National Park, home to the awe-inspiring canyon of the same name. It stretches 141 miles (227 km) and reaches depths of 6,600 feet (2,000 m). That makes it the second-largest canyon in the world, and you'll get to cross it by cable car. Optional activities include visiting the Museo Guane (an archeological and paleontological museum) and Socorro. This colonial town is a cradle of history in Latin America, as it was here in 1781 that the first act of revolt against the Spanish occurred, eventually leading to Colombian independence.
Day 8: Fly to Santa Marta, City Tour
In the morning, your personal driver will pick you up for the three-hour ride north from Barichara to the airport in Bucamaranga. Here, you'll catch a one-hour flight to the coastal city of Santa Marta, the capital of Colombia's Magdalena Dept. Upon arrival, another driver will transfer you to your hotel. After settling in, head out on a guided walking tour of the city.
Founded in 1525, Santa Marta is the oldest city in Colombia, and its Cathedral (whose foundations date to 1531), is one of the oldest on the continent. You'll visit other major landmarks like Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, the hacienda where the great Libertador and Venezuelan president, Simón Bolívar, spent his last days. Other stops include Santa Marta's historic center and the coastal viewpoint in the adjacent fishing village of Taganga.
Day 9: Trekking to Ciudad Perdida - Day 1Santa Marta is the main hub for trips into Tayrona National Park. One of the natural highlights of the entire country, this 1,614 sq mile (150 sq m) region protects unspoiled coast, mountains, and archeological sites in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region. The park is overseen by descendants of the Tairona people, who have lived here since at least the first century CE.
Day 10: Trek to Ciudad Perdida - Day 2
After an early breakfast, you'll depart Adán's Cabanas on the second leg of the hike, which covers 9 miles (14.6 km), ascends 2,952 feet (900 m) above sea level, and takes about eight hours to complete. No doubt this is a difficult trek, but you'll break up the march with some fun and interesting stops.
For example, you'll visit the Indigenous village of Mutanyi. Here, your guide will share fascinating info about the history, culture, and daily life of the village's more 3,000 Indigenous residents. They're all descendants of the Tayrona people and belong to the Arhuaco, Kogui, Wiwa, and Kakuamo communities that inhabit the area. After lunch, take a refreshing dip in the Buritaca River then enjoy a leisurely cup of local coffee amid the gorgeous mountain scenery before getting back on the trail.
As you continue hiking through the tropical forests, there will be ample opportunity to observe native animals in their natural habitat. Count on seeing monkeys, hummingbirds, and plenty of butterflies. Eventually, you'll arrive at your overnight accommodation at Rumualdo's Camp, where you'll have dinner.
Day 11: Trek to Ciudad Perdida - Day 3Leave around daybreak from Rumualdo's Camp and embark on the final leg to Ciudad Perdida, which takes about one hour. Upon arrival at the site, you'll ascend 1,200 steps to see the ancient terraces of the Lost City hidden within the mountains. The views here are incredible and look out not only to Ciudad Perdida but over the surrounding forests as well.
Day 12: Trek to Ciudad Perdida - Day 4
It's another early start today, as you Ieave Gabriel's Camp on the route back to Machete Pelao. The hike covers 9.7 miles (15.6 km), mostly downhill, and takes about seven hours. Upon arrival in town, you'll have lunch, and then the group will transfer by vehicle to the mountain town of Minca, where you'll overnight in a hotel.
Day 13: Birding in Minca, Transfer to Santa Marta & Depart
After an early breakfast, you'll embark on a sunrise birding tour around Minca. The area's dry tropical forest is home to many of the country's whopping 2,000 species of birds, including sparrows, hummingbirds, flycatchers, and more. The tour leaves at dawn and is a moderate forest hike accompanied by an expert guide. During this three-hour excursion, the guide will point out rare and exotic species like the keel-billed toucan, golden-winged sparrow, and the rosy thrush-tanager.
After the birding tour, you'll transfer from Minca about an hour north to Santa Marta Airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Adiós!