Colombian Adventure: Summit to River - 9-12 Days

From the ice-capped summits of the Sierra Nevada glaciers to the lush tropical rainforest, discover Colombia's astounding biodiversity and contemporary cultures. This tour takes you from city culture to scenic mountain landscapes to the famous coffee region. Finally, experience Colombia as few do, on a river rafting expedition through lush forest.

Highlights

  • Unique city tour of Medellin, Colombia’s most innovative city
  • Stay at a Spanish hacienda and take a cultural tour in the coffee regions
  • Trek, raft, paraglide with professional, multi-lingual guides
  • Visit five unique ecosystems including tropical rainforests and rare Páramo alpine tundra

Overview map

Overview map
Overview map

Detailed itinerary

Our suggested 9-day itinerary starts and ends in Medellin. If you’re interested in a longer trip, it is possible to build a custom trip with an additional river expedition on the Samana. Either itinerary features outstanding cultural and adventure travel in Antioquia, Colombia.

Day 1: Arrive in Medellin: City of Eternal Spring

Medellin
Looking down on the city of Medellin from a popular spot for paragliding

Begin your journey by flying to Medellin’s José María Córdova International Airport. Stay at a beautiful Spanish hacienda style hotel with a great view over the city and experience Colombia’s fine dining.

Day 2: Paraglide over Medellin & experience culinary, artistic, and urban innovation

Start your day by paragliding over Medellin and visiting the illustrious Botanical Gardens. Next, begin your city tour by visiting the iconic collection of bronze sculptures at Botero Plaza, the fascinating “Casa de la Memoria” museum, the indigenous site of Nutibara Hill, and the urban renewal project “Pueblito Paisa”. Dine in the city’s award-winning restaurant, El Cielo, and stay at a luxurious hotel in the heart of Medellin’s salsa dancing and musical cultural hub, “Poblado”.

Day 3: Explore Antioquia’s coffee region & Andean foothills

Coffee plantations
Take a tour through the coffee plantations of Colombia

Today, explore Antioquia’s mountainous coffee region on an unforgettable scenic drive. Enjoy lunch at “El Mirador de La Pipinta”, a spectacular restaurant overlooking the Cauca canyon, Colombia’s second largest river. Take a walking tour of Manizales and arrive at the high altitude hotel "La Laguna " for dinner. Rest to acclimate to high altitude before your trek.

Day 4: Trek through Los Nevados National Natural Park to a high-altitude lake

Begin your day by driving in a comfortable 4X4 vehicle through vast mountain landscapes. Arrive at the entry of "Los Nevados" national park to enjoy lunch and tea with a knowledgeable and warm Colombian family, the “guardians” of the natural park. Hike three hours to the stunning alpine Lake Otun.

Take in vistas of mountains beyond mountains and cloud forests at the "Mirador de la Laguna Otun”. Trek through surreal, endemic Páramos ecosystem. Occupying just 1.7 percent of the national territory, this special ecosystem produces 85 percent of its drinking water. Dine at the mountain chalet camp near the Lake Otun and learn about the natural environment from the on-site park warden.

Day 5: Summit El Nevado del Santa Isabel and trek through Páramos ecosystem.

Start your day with an alpine start in the fresh mountain air. Depart from Lake Otun and hike six hours to the summit of El Nevado del Santa Isabel. Depending on the weather, enjoy spectacular 360-degree views of rolling peaks that plunge into the Caribbean Sea. On your descent, take an alternative loop around the opposite side of Lake Otun through a unique Páramos microcosm to the park entrance. Return by 4 by 4 vehicle to Laguna Hotel.

Day 6: Rejuvenate, swim, horseback ride, bike on your private Colombian estate

Focus today on relaxing before your next adventure. Rest in the morning before flying to Medellin. Drive a short distance to a fully staffed, luxurious and relaxing fruit and orchid “Finca” estate. Unwind by the pool with the option to horseback ride, bike, or walk along countryside trails. If you are curious, visit the local town. Rest in comfortable, gorgeous rooms.

Day 7: Begin the Green River Rafting Expedition & hike a river canyon 

Today, your next adventure begins! Take a comfortable, modern passenger van to the canyon of the Green River, “Rio Verde”, located in the east side of Medellin near the small town of San Francisco. Access the canyon by hiking for an hour while mules transport your gear. Join a professional team of multi-lingual raft and kayak guides on a self-supported river expedition on a pristine river in a tropical jungle paradise. The river is named after its clear, translucent verdant water. If it interests you, we can set you up with a fishing guide and equipment in this ideal place to fish. Enjoy a captivating descent on exhilarating Class IV white-water.  Camp in sheltered hammocks and savor gourmet meals cooked by the river.

Day 8: Raft the Green River and bathe in a tropical rainforest waterfall

Continue rafting the Green River, “Rio Verde”. Visit waterfalls, lagoons, and secluded beaches ideal for wildlife and birds. More bird species than any other nation, nearly 2000, Colombia in terms of biodiversity is second only to Brazil in the world. At the end of the second day, arrive at Puente Samana, the only road access over the river. Drive 20 minutes and spend the night at Rio Claro Nature Reserve, where you, resting in a romantic room in the rainforest canopy, overlook a magnificent river canyon. Delight in a last night celebration party at the lodge’s beautiful restaurant and bar.

Day 9: Birdwatching, Rafting, and Caving at Rio Claro Nature Reserve

For your last morning in Colombia, you have the choice to rise early and admire an incredible array of birds at the reserve with a naturalist, raft the gentle Rio Claro, or explore marble caves. In the afternoon, depart directly to Medellin’s José María Córdova International Airport and fly to your home destination. Your final day itinerary may be adjusted according to your return flight availability.

Extend your trip to 12 days

Extend your 9-day trip to a 12-day trip and experience an additional 3-day river adventure on the mighty Samana River after your stay at Rio Claro Nature Reserve. The Samana River is a Class IV+ river that carves through a spectacular canyon in Colombia’s most bio-diverse convergence zones.

Recent Trip Reviews

Related trips planned by kimkim specialists

Colombian adventure from summit to river (9 days or 12 days), Colombia - May 1 - May 13, 2017

Traveler: Ralph A. - Local specialist: Nathalie Clavel

Suggest that the trip summary include the start times of tours.

Nathalie was great