With this outdoorsy, yet culturally rich 8-day tour, you'll explore the historic and cosmopolitan side of Bogotá before heading north through the scenic Colombian highlands towards two of the country's most photogenic cobblestoned towns. Here, you’ll visit the underground salt mines, hike the Iguaque Lagoon, bike the Suarez Canyon, and finally explore the Spanish Colonial wonder that is Barichara — oozing with charm — before flying back to the capital's buzzing restaurants and nightlife.

Highlights

  • See the famous salt cathedral of Zipaquirá
  • Stroll the cobble streets of the colonial towns of Barichara
  • Hike the Iguaque Lagoon - thought to be the birthplace of man
  • Explore the capital's history and it's vibrant restaurant and nightlife

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bogotá - Explore the City Bogotá
Day 2 Bogotá City Tour Bogotá
Day 3 Zipaquira Salt Cathedral - Transfer to Villa de Leyva Villa de Leyva
Day 4 Hiking the Iguaque Lagoon Villa de Leyva
Day 5 Driving Tour of Villa de Leyva - Transfer to Barichara Barichara
Day 6 Suarez Canyon Biking Tour Barichara
Day 7 Tour of Barichara - Transfer to Bogotá Bogotá
Day 8 Depart Bogotá  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bogotá - Explore the City

Plaza Bolívar, in La Candelaria, Bogotá
Plaza Bolívar, in La Candelaria, Bogotá

Welcome to Bogotá! A driver will meet you at the airport and transport you to your hotel.

Colombia's biggest city has culture to spare, and its regional gastronomy has made it a global foodie destination. You'll have ample free time to explore this Andean capital on foot. Start with the cobblestone streets of the La Candelaria neighborhood, where trendy restaurants and colonial-era landmarks are located. You'll also find excellent museums, shopping, and street food ranging from empanadas to exotic fruit salads. 

(Optional add-on.) Depending on what time you arrive, you can experience Bogotá's local history and culture by taking a tour with an English-speaking guide.

Day 2: Bogotá City Tour

Sunset in La Candelaria
Sunset in La Candelaria

After breakfast, it's time to hit the streets and explore! A local guide will pick you up and accompany you on a half-day walking tour of the city. You'll begin in colorful La Candelaria—the heart of Bogota's historic center. Amble along its narrow streets, visiting cultural landmarks and local shops selling artisanal goods. Eventually, you'll reach Plaza Bolívar, the city's main square dating back to 1539. There's a grand cathedral here as well as many important government buildings, such as the Capitolio Nacional (Colombia's congress building). 

(Optional add-on.)
To spend a full day with your guide, take the aforementioned walk through La Candelaria and then explore two of Bogotá's best museums in the afternoon: the Gold Museum (closed on Mondays), which features the largest collection of Pre-Columbian gold artifacts in the world, and the Botero Museum (closed on Tuesdays), which houses a collection of masterpieces from renowned Colombian sculptor and painter Fernando Botero.

(Optional add-on.)
If you are an early riser, start the morning sunrise tour of Bogotá by visiting its best and biggest food market—Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao—which supplies produce for many of the city’s best restaurants. Return to La Candelaria and downtown, strolling the streets and stopping to photograph walled graffiti art.

Half-day tour duration: Four hours (with an English-speaking guide)

Day 3: Zipaquira Salt Cathedral - Transfer to Villa de Leyva

The Salt Cathedral at Zipaquirá
The Salt Cathedral at Zipaquirá

Today you'll transfer to Zipaquirá. This town, declared a Colombian heritage site, is known for its famous underground Salt Cathedral—a Roman church built within the tunnels of an underground salt mine. Entry to this popular site includes a guided tour along with some free time to explore on your own. 

From here, continue driving north through the Andean highlands and stay overnight in Villa de Leyva, one of the most beautiful colonial villages in Colombia, featuring cobblestone streets and whitewashed buildings.

Zipaquira visit: Two hours (guided tour)

Day 4: Hiking the Iguaque Lagoon

After breakfast, take a challenging hike with a local guide in the heart of Iguaque Sanctuary—a scenic pathway through the Andeans near Villa de Leyva, considered by the sedentary indigenous Muiscas as the birthplace of mankind. The trail winds upwards all the way to Laguna Bachue, a beautiful high-altitude lake; the higher one climbs, the more unique stages of vegetation one will experience from moss-covered-trees and ferns, to pine forests, to frailejones—plants that look like palm trees. 

When not foggy, the panoramic views allow you to see layers upon layers of mountains, villages, and farms.

Hike duration: 6 hours (with an English-speaking guide)

Day 5: Driving Tour of Villa de Leyva - Transfer to Barichara

After breakfast, you'll have the opportunity to learn more about the village's outer surroundings visiting main points of interest with a driving tour. (Optional add-on.) The sites include El Fossil (a museum built around a bus-sized fossil on the side of the highway), the pre-Colombian archaeological park, and the Monastery of Santo Ecce Homo.

In the afternoon, you will be transferred to Barichara by private car, which is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Colombia. 

Tour duration: 3-4 hours (with an English-speaking guide)

Day 6: Suarez Canyon Biking Tour

The spectacular village of Barichara is located in the northern-central department of Santander, surrounded by beautiful craggy mountains and powerful waterfalls and rivers. After breakfast, you'll have the chance to explore the region on two wheels.

This bicycle tour* (medium difficulty) is led by a Spanish-speaking local guide. This beautiful and rewarding 15-mile (25 km) route starts in the Cabrera area, which is 1800 meters above sea level and descends downhill to the bottom of the majestic Suarez Canyon. There will be opportunities to stop for photos along the way and make sure to bring a bathing suit if you want to cool off with a dip in the river. On the way back to Barichara, enjoy some free time, perhaps stopping for an authentic Colombian lunch on your own. 

*For those who prefer hiking, you can choose a half-day trek to the village of Guané led by an English-speaking guide.

When you return from the bike tour, spend the rest of the day exploring Barichara on your own. 

Bicycle Tour Duration: 4-5 Hours (with a Spanish-speaking guide)

Day 7: Tour of Barichara - Transfer to Bogotá

This morning is your chance to explore Barichara, considered one of the most beautiful Spanish Colonial villages in Colombia, on a more intimate level. Stroll along atmospheric streets, visit the ornate churches (Cathedral of Immaculate Conception and Santa Barbara Church), and discover local workshops including stone carvers and a cigar factory. End your walking tour at the watchtower, which offers a splendid panoramic view over the Rio Suarez and the Cordillera de los Cobardes.

From here, you will drive north to Bucaramanga, stopping through scenic Chicamocha for a chance to snap some pictures along this scenic route. From Bucaramanga, you will fly out in the afternoon to Bogotá.

Day 8: Depart Bogotá

La Candelaria district, Bogotá
La Candelaria district, Bogotá

It's now time to say farewell to Colombia! Enjoy your last hours in the capital with a leisurely lunch, a city stroll, and/or souvenir shopping.  A representative will meet you at your hotel and drive you to the airport for your return flight home.

Map

Map of Bogotá & the Colombian Highlands	- 8 Days
Map of Bogotá & the Colombian Highlands - 8 Days