This 10-day intrepid adventure covers a lot of ground. Starting in the reinvigorated city of Medellín and it's surrounding Antioquia countryside, you'll journey to Colombia's central Andean region. Go from fast-paced city culture to dense tropical rainforests and up to cool highlands and snow-capped volcanoes. Through it all, you'll experience local culture and traditions in colorful mountain towns and remote villages.

Highlights

  • Tour the city of Medellín on foot and by cable car
  • Trek through the jungle near the Samaná Watershed, in Antioquia
  • Stay on a working coffee farm and enjoy an informative tour of the grounds
  • Do a little yoga in Manizales, the star of Colombia's coffee region
  • Embark on a high-altitude trek in Los Nevados National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Medellín Medellín
Day 3 Jungle Trek Camping
Day 4 In the Heart of the Jungle Camping
Day 5 Finishing the Trek - Transfer to Coffee Country Fredonia
Day 6 Fredonia Coffee Finca Fredonia
Day 7 Arrive in Manizales - Transfer to Los Nevados National Park Los Nevados
Day 8 Hike Parque los Nevados to Lake Otún Los Nevados
Day 9 Summit El Nevado De Santa Isabel Los Nevados
Day 10 Otún Alpine Lake - Transfer to Manizales Yoga Retreat Manizales
Day 11 Yoga Retreat Outside Manizales - Departure  

Detailed overview

Day 1: Arrive in Medellín

Plaza Botero, Medellín
Plaza Botero, Medellín

Welcome to Colombia and the "city of the eternal spring"! Despite its turbulent past, Medellín today is quite charming with its beautiful mountain setting, friendly locals, and vibrant culture. A car will pick you up at the airport and transfer you to a nearby hotel. You're now free to spend the remainder of the day exploring. 

Start by visiting Parque Lleras, in the heart of the trendy El Poblado district, where most of the city's tourism is centered. This is where some of the best dining, nightlife, and hotels are located. Perhaps take a ride on the city's gondola (Metrocable) system to see the views, or walk around the various parks, plazas, and museums near the downtown area. Either way, enjoy the weather—due to its elevation, Medellín has year-round spring temperatures.

Depending on the time of your flight, you can sightsee with an English-speaking guide and learn more about this thriving, modern city from a local perspective. 

Day 2: Jungle Trek

Trekking through the jungle
Trekking through the jungle

Today, the adventure begins. Meet your expert trekking guide and jump in our luxury van to reach the village of San Francisco, located two hours east of Medellín. This is the gateway to the untouched jungle of the Samaná Watershed, at the Río Samaná.
 
Ride a 4x4 to the trailhead and make your way along a narrow track through the forest. No need to carry extra rations, as all food will be provided and you'll lodge in local accommodations. After four hours of uphill hiking, you'll reach the first stop, the village of Agualinda, where a traditional lunch will be served. Continue trekking on a mild downhill slope and across many running streams. Along the way, your guide will point out many endemic plant species and their medicinal uses. Cool down in the various swimming holes in the jungle. 
 
Now it's time to meet the rural communities of El Porvenir. Enjoy their hospitality in the form of an outstanding dinner and comfortable rooms nestled in the mountains. Spend the evening resting and listening to the campesinos (farmers) regale you with local myths and stories.

Day 3: In the Heart of the Jungle

River views from a mountain lookout
River views from a mountain lookout

Today you will embark on a five-hour trek through the most remote part of this area and soak in the biodiversity. The hike will mostly be uphill until you're finally rewarded with the incomparable crest at the abandoned farm of  “La Esperanza.” It features 360° views of Antioquia, the Magdalena River, Los Nevados, and (on clear days) all the way to Bogotá. This lookout point is where you'll have lunch. Enjoy locally made tamales while staring over the range of jungle-covered mountains that compose the landscape. 

The afternoon portion of this day is more relaxed, with only two hours of mild downhill hiking. Reach Río Verde de los Henaos, (the upper section of the Río Samaná) and cool off in the river. Once again, the local communities will show exceptional hospitality and receive you in their homes as if you were family. Pack-mules are available on this trek if needed.

Day 4: Finishing the Trek - Transfer to Coffee Country

Río Samaná
Río Samaná

Rise early for an optional morning birdwatching tour or simply relax and chat with the locals. After breakfast, start your hike along the upper Río Verde and continue for about three hours before reaching populated areas. In the afternoon, discover the bucolic village of Argelia and enjoy a well deserved cold beverage and local lunch at the village’s park.

Meet your driver and journey 4.5 hours to a coffee estate in the traditional town of Fredonia. Relax in the stunning farm and let our chef serve you Colombian fusion cuisine. Stay overnight at the estate.

Day 5: Fredonia Coffee Finca

On a coffee tour
On a coffee tour

After breakfast, take a walking tour with a coffee grower and experience the coffee making process first-hand. Learn how coffee is linked to Colombia's culture and history, and how it's a source of pride for paisas (residents of Antioquia). Return to the estate for a delicious Colombian lunch and spend the remainder of the afternoon relaxing by the swimming pool.

If you have the energy, jump on a horse and discover a nearby old abandoned railway featuring a high river bridge and up-close views of the Central Andes Cordillera. Spend one last night in campo amor and rest well before the next trekking adventure.

Day 6: Arrive in Manizales - Transfer to Los Nevados National Park

Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Rosary, Plaza Bolívar, Manizales
Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Rosary, Plaza Bolívar, Manizales

In the morning, transfer four hours to Manizales, the most prominent of the three cities that make up Colombia’s “coffee triangle." Enjoy lunch by the cathedral on the city's central plaza, followed by a walk up to the Monumento a los Colonizadores (Monument to the Colonizers). The impressive bronze sculptures here tell the tale of Manizales' founding. 

From Manizales, take an afternoon excursion to the Río Blanco Nature Reserve, located just two miles from the city. In terms of biodiversity, Colombia is second in the world, with nearly 2000 bird species—and you can find hundreds of them here. Walk along the trails weaving through the over 30,000 acres of the reserve and look for endemic plant and bird species from the central Andes cloud forests. 

After your visit, take a one-hour drive on switchback roads leading to a traditional Colombian ranch located in the foothills of Los Nevados National Park. Enjoy home-cooked meals and a night of peaceful sleep in the mountains. The overnight stay here will help you acclimate to the higher altitudes.

Day 7: Hike Parque los Nevados to Lake Otún

In the morning, transfer three hours in a comfortable 4×4 truck to the entrance of Parque los Nevados. Begin your guided three-hour hike through sub-tropical páramo tundra to the panoramic view of the alpine Lake Otún. On the way, you'll learn all about this high-altitude ecosystem and its fascinating spectrum of endemic plant species, such as the iconic frailejones and cojines. This area produces a whopping 85 percent of Colombia’s drinking water while only accounting for 1.7 percent of the country’s land. 

Establish a base camp at a glassy alpine lake, enjoy quality food, and meet the local park rangers. Get some rest tonight before the final push to the summit the next day. Tents and sleeping bag are included.

Day 8: Summit El Nevado De Santa Isabel

Summiting the peak
Summiting the peak

Wake up early for an alpine start. Hike for six hours with your guide towards the snowy summit of El Nevado de Santa Isabel, which sits at 4,960 meters (16,272 feet). Along the way, look out for high-altitude flyers such as the bearded helmet-crest hummingbird, and Colombia’s iconic national bird: the Andean condor.

Near the top, the trail switches to a rockier, steeper path. Due to the high altitude, the progression can be slow and strenuous, but once at the summit, a 360° panorama reveals the entire Magdalena Valley and its coffee farms on a clear day. Atop the mountain, you'll also be treated to one of the last remaining glaciers in Colombia. You'll then return to the base camp and stay overnight in tents by peaceful Lake Otún.

Day 9: Otún Alpine Lake - Transfer to Manizales Yoga Retreat

Finishing the high-altitude trek
Finishing the high-altitude trek

This is the final day of the trek. Complete the circumnavigation around Lake Otún and return to the park entrance in the village of Potosis. Share lunch and tea with the "guardian" family of the park, a knowledgeable and welcoming Colombian family who live full time at an elevation above 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) elevation.

Drive back through Manizales and continue a short distance to a yoga retreat in the rolling green hills of Colombia's coffee country. Settle in at the hotel before an evening yoga session.

Day 10: Yoga Retreat Outside Manizales - Departure

Yoga in the morning
Yoga in the morning

Wake up at to a gorgeous view of Andes mountains. Enjoy the morning yoga classes before savoring a healthy local lunch. At this point, you'll return to Manizales where you will say goodbye to your guide and receive an airport drop off, thus concluding your grand Colombian adventure.