This 8-day adventure combines river rafting in the heart of the rainforest with two of Colombia's cities. Start with a night in Cocorná, before heading to the jungle for three days of hiking, swimming, and paddling. Then, on to Medellín and Cartagena for the second half of your trip—here, you'll explore the culture and romance of each city, and enjoy a relaxing beach day on the Caribbean sea.

Highlights

  • Get to know the Andean town of Cocorná
  • Raft, swim, and kayak on the Río Verde
  • Go caving and zip-lining at the Río Claro Nature Reserve
  • Take guided city tours of Medellín and Cartagena

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Medellin - Continue to Cocorná Cocorná
Day 2 Río Verde Río Claro Nature Reserve
Day 3 Río Claro Nature Reserve Río Claro Nature Reserve
Day 4 Río Samana Rafting Río Samana Camping
Day 5 Medellín City Tour Medellín
Day 6 Depart Medellín to Cartagena Cartagena
Day 7 Explore Cartagena Cartagena
Day 8 Depart Cartagena  

Day 1: Arrive in Medellin - Continue to Cocorná

Cocorná surrounded by the Andes Mountains
Cocorná surrounded by the Andes Mountains

Once you arrive at Medellin's Jose Maria Cordova Airport, you will be transported to your hotel located in Cocorná — a two-hour drive away. This lesser-known town is surrounded by stunning Andean mountains views with nearby waterfalls, hiking trails, and villagers on horseback. Relax at your hotel for the rest of the afternoon and then enjoy traditional Colombian cuisine in town.

Day 2: Río Verde

Rafting on the Río Verde
Rafting on the Río Verde

The Río Verde is a pristine green river that meanders through undeveloped Colombian rainforest. Accessed from a steep, jungle canyon, the area combines excellent hiking and whitewater rafting. 

After breakfast, you'll travel to this canyon for hiking; don't worry about a heavy load—there will be mules carrying your gear. Once you've reached the river, cool off with a swim and then participate in a river safety discussion. You'll be rafting with a team of experienced guides and safety kayakers who know their way around these intermediate rapids, showing you lagoons, secluded beaches, and waterfalls along the way. One of the defining characteristics of Rio Verde is the marine life; keep an eye out for a variety of fish swimming in the translucent water.

At basecamp, you'll stay in sheltered hammocks and enjoy a French-Colombian dinner cooked over a campfire. If that's not enough, the location is right next to the river.

Day 3: Río Claro Nature Reserve

Caving at the Río Claro Nature Reserve
Caving at the Río Claro Nature Reserve

Today, you'll spend the day at this beautiful nature reserve to enjoy a range of activities like caving, zip-lining, horseback riding, rafting, and tubing, If you prefer a more relaxing day, you can hike and swim along the banks of the river while looking for exotic birds.

There's also the option of driving an hour to the town of Prodigio, where you will be greeted by a community-run archeological preservation group that will guide you to a cave covered in petroglyphs from pre-hispanic cultures. In the afternoon, you will return to Río Claro Nature Reserve.

Day 4: Río Samana Rafting

Riverside cooking at Río Samana
Riverside cooking at Río Samana

This rafting trip is a real gem for adventurists. Río Samana is a short 20-minute drive from Río Claro and offers a captivating river expedition packed with natural wonders along 40 kilometers of exhilarating whitewater. No prior rafting experience is necessary since you will be guided by friendly experts.

The day starts with breakfast before you head out on the Samana River. Travel through a beautiful silver-rock canyon and admire the tropical plants and birds. Midday, you'll stop at a secluded beach for lunch. Continue down the river until late afternoon when you reach camp, which is walking distance to a secluded lagoon and natural swimming pool. After dinner, sleep in hammocks set up in the rainforest.

Day 5: Medellín City Tour

Plaza Botero
Plaza Botero

After breakfast at your hotel, spend a fun day exploring Medellín on a private tour with a local guide, including a mix of sightseeing by foot and taking the Metro through one of Colombia's most successful urban projects, as if you were a citizen of Medellín yourself.

The guide will pick you up in your hotel and you'll take a ride downtown visiting the Administrative Center (La Alpujarra) and Botero Square. From here, enjoy the views from the city's iconic gondola car system (pay directly) — and head for the Botanical Garden with more than 4,500 flowers. The tour ends by taking the Metro to Central Mayorista, Plaza Mayor, and a zen-inspired public park in Medellín before you return to your hotel using public transportation. (Hint: there's also an option that includes graffiti street art and riding the Metrocable towards remote neighborhoods on the valley side.)

The rest of the afternoon and evening is yours to enjoy at leisure.

Day 6: Depart Medellín to Cartagena

Cartagena
Cartagena

Today you will fly from the inland city of Medellín to your new adventure in Cartagena, located on the Caribbean coast. Transfers to and from both airports will be organized for you.

Day 7: Explore Cartagena

Colorful street corner
Colorful street corner

After breakfast, take your pick between numerous ways to experience Cartagena, either on your own or with a private tour (optional add-on), whether it’s a surfing trip along the coast, a boat trip to pristine Caribbean beaches, or even a sunset sail with a glass of bubbly.

Other options include a guided walking tour of Cartagena's UNESCO World Heritage walled city. Together with an English-speaking professional, you will delve deeper into South America’s most extensive fortifications and visit famous sites like the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, located on the Hill of San Lázaro, and San Pedro, with its Andalusian-style palaces and Cathedral.

If an organized tour isn’t appealing, simply create your own adventure around the city. At dusk, take part in the unforgettable atmosphere as the city comes alive with street performers and musicians.

Day 8: Depart Cartagena

Street in old town Cartagena
Street in old town Cartagena

It's time to say farewell to Colombia! After breakfast at your hotel, enjoy your last moments of Cartagena in a patio café. Or, if you haven't done so yet—take a walk around the city with an English-speaking guide (optional add-on) to gain a new perspective of the city from a local. 

A tour like this covers Cartagena's cobbled maze of vividly colorful houses and ancient squares dating from the 16th century. Meander through the colonial neighborhoods of San Diego and Santo Domingo while learning about important historical sites like Saint Philip's Castle and el Museo del Oro. Perhaps pay a visit to the Palace of the Inquisition in Plaza de Bolívar, which was once the seat of the Holy office of the Inquisition and is now a macabre museum. 

A representative will meet you at your hotel and drive you to the airport for your return flight home.

Map

Map of Colombia's River & City Adventure - 8 Days
Map of Colombia's River & City Adventure - 8 Days