Journey from the Andes to the Caribbean coastline on this spectacular 16-day trip through Colombia. Start in Bogotá for an introduction to its culture and cuisine, then jet off to the "Coffee Triangle" to see towering wax palms, tour a coffee farm, and float down the Río La Vieja on a bamboo raft. It's on to Medellín to tour its notorious favelas and see its inspiring urban regeneration, then over to the Caribbean coast to hike in Tayrona National Park before ending in the "Magic City" of Cartagena.


  • See Bogotá's architectural highlights and sample its vibrant cuisine
  • Stroll among towering wax palms and visit a coffee farm near Salento
  • Discover the street art and graffiti of Medellín's regenerated neighborhoods
  • Spot monkeys and iguanas as you hike through Tayrona National Park
  • Explore Cartagena by bike and take a boat trip to the nearby Rosario Islands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bogotá, Dinner at Andrés Carne de Res Bogotá
Day 2 Bogota Highlights Tour Bogotá
Day 3 Guatavita, Zipaquirá & Salt Mines Day Trip Bogotá
Day 4 Fly to Pereira, Visit Santa Rosa Hot Springs & Transfer to Salento Salento
Day 5 Valle del Cocora Hike & Coffee Farm Visit Salento
Day 6 La Vieja River Rafting Salento
Day 7 Fly to Medellín, Medellín Transformation Tour Medellín
Day 8 El Peñón de Guatapé & Guatapé Boat Trip Medellín
Day 9 Street Food & Market Experience, Dinner & Tango Medellín
Day 10 Fly to Santa Marta, City Tour & Transfer to Tayrona National Park Tayrona 
Day 11 Hike in Tayrona National Park Tayrona 
Day 12 Day Trip to the Taironaka Nature Reserve Tayrona
Day 13 Transfer to Cartagena, Cartagena Bike Tour Cartagena
Day 14 Boquilla Mangrove Tour, Totumo Volcano Excursion Cartagena
Day 15 Rosario Islands Day Trip, Cartagena Dance Class Cartagena
Day 16 Depart Cartagena  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bogotá, Dinner at Andrés Carne de Res

Streets of Bogotá
Marvel at Bogota's diverse architecture and neighborhoods

Welcome to Bogotá! Your private driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. Take some time to rest before you start exploring. Consider visiting La Candelaria, the historic center, to discover the colorful colonial architecture and lively atmosphere. Explore the vibrant neighborhood of Chapinero, known for its trendy bars, restaurants, and cafés, or check out the street art in the bohemian district of La Macarena, which is filled with galleries, restaurants, and boutique shops. Or, simply wander the city and discover its hidden gems at your own pace.

A driver will be waiting to take you to Andrés Carne de Res for dinner this evening. Not just a restaurant, this local institution offers a festive, almost circus-like atmosphere, allowing you to experience the Colombian party spirit. After enjoying various typical dishes and mouthwatering barbecues in an authentic setting, your driver will take you back to the hotel.

Day 2: Bogota Highlights Tour

Bogotá as seen from above
Wander Bogota's charming streets on a guided tour

Embark on a full-day tour of Bogotá's most iconic highlights, starting in La Candelaria, the city's charming historic center. You'll begin at Plaza de Bolívar, the main square and government seat, before going to the world-renowned Gold Museum. With over 34,000 pre-Columbian gold artifacts, this museum boasts the most extensive collection of its kind. Next, visit the Museo de Botero, home to an impressive art collection donated by the celebrated Colombian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero.

Stroll through Paloquemao Market, a bustling hub of activity where 750 vendors sell everything from fresh produce to meats and cheeses. Here, you'll have the chance to mingle with locals and vendors while sampling delicious Colombian treats like empanadas and various tropical fruits. Once you've fueled up, head to Cerro Monserrate for some of the city's best views. Whether you opt to hike or take a cable car or funicular to the top at 2,690 feet (820 m), the stunning panoramas will be well worth it. Explore the Monserrate Sanctuary before making your way back down the hill.

Day 3: Guatavita, Zipaquirá & Salt Mines Day Trip

Descend to the illuminated halls of the Catedral de Sal in Zipaquirá

Lace up your hiking boots for a full day outside the city to explore salt mines, lagoons, and villages. Start with a hike to crater-shaped Laguna de Guatavita, where your guide will reveal the area's rich history and the rituals of the Muisca people, who offered gold and precious stones to the gods at the lagoon. Take a lunch break in Sesquile village, then visit Zipaquirá to see its Catedral de Sal (Salt Cathedral), a Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of an underground salt mine.

Go underground 24 feet (80 m) to see another salt mine at Nemocón, half an hour from Zipaquirá. Learn about the preserved tunnels where eight million tons of salt were extracted between 1816 and 1968. After a full day of exploration, return to Bogotá in the late afternoon and spend your free evening enjoying the city's nightlife with many restaurants and bars to choose from.

Day 4: Fly to Pereira, Visit Santa Rosa Hot Springs & Transfer to Salento

Ease those tired muscles in Santa Rosa's hot springs

This morning, a driver will pick you up at your hotel for a ride to the airport to catch a one-hour flight west to Pereira. Upon arrival, a driver will be waiting to take you on the one-hour drive into the mountains to reach Santa Rosa Hot Springs. Here you'll take a break to refresh after the flight, soaking in the soothing thermal waters against a backdrop of the Andean cloud forest. 

Then it's time to get back on the road and transfer two hours south to Salento, your base for the next three nights. Nestled in the heart of Colombia's Zona Cafetera (or the "Coffee Triangle"), this UNESCO-listed town is known for its colorful architecture and as the jumping-off point for explorations of the nearby Valle de Cocora and its surrounding coffee farms. Get settled in, then take a stroll down the lively Calle Real to browse the town's charming shops, cafés, and galleries.

Day 5: Valle del Cocora Hike & Coffee Farm Visit

The wax palms of the Valle de Cocora
Keep your eyes in the sky to see the wax palms of the Valle de Cocora

The Valle del Cocora (Cocora Valley) lies about 20 minutes west of Salento, and its rolling hills and lush valleys are blanketed in electric-green flora and dotted with 328-foot (100 m) wax palms, Colombia's national tree. This morning you'll walk among these giants, climbing a mountain trail into the cloud forests on a guided hike.

Afterward, continue to a local coffee farm to learn about Colombian coffee culture, get a peek into the entire bean-to-cup process, and of course, taste some of the valley's world-class brews. Your driver will take you back to Salento afterward, where you'll have the rest of the afternoon free to relax and explore at your own pace.

Day 6: La Vieja River Rafting

Raft at Rio La Vieja
Travel like the ancient Quimbaya people with a bamboo river rafting trip

In Colombia's Central Andes, rivers carry water from glaciers and mountains through cloud forests. Today you'll travel along the Río La Vieja as the region's ancient Quimbaya people did, navigating on guadua, or bamboo rafts. As you float peacefully down the river, learn about the rich surrounding ecosystems, and discover the diverse flora and fauna that frequent the banks.

Stop and cool off with a dip in a refreshing waterfall, then stop for a picnic lunch on the riverbank in the shade of bamboo groves. Continue downstream past stunning scenery until it's time to disembark and meet your driver for the transfer back to Salento.

Day 7: Fly to Medellín, Medellín Transformation Tour

Graffiti art in Medellín's Comuna 13
Discover graffiti art in Medellín's Comuna 13

Get ready for the big city as your driver takes you to the airport to catch a 45-minute flight north to Medellín. The second-largest Colombian city has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, shaping its character as a vibrant and progressive metropolis. Known as the "City of Eternal Spring," it boasts a pleasant climate and breathtaking mountainous landscapes. Upon arrival, your guide will meet you at the airport for a private transfer to your hotel.

This afternoon's guided tour will reveal how Medellín is a city that blends modernity and tradition. Gain a glimpse at the complex history, get to know the dynamic present, and feel inspired for the city's promising future. Your guide will show you how some of its neighborhoods have shifted from dangerous areas to artistic hubs. You'll visit the Plaza Botero and Comuna 13 to see how the sprawling mountainside neighborhood links the neighborhood to the city below with a giant escalator. View significant murals and street art pieces as you learn about the history of the city.

Day 8: El Peñón de Guatapé & Guatapé Boat Trip

Enjoy spectacular views from the top of Peñol Boulder
Enjoy spectacular views from the top of El Peñón de Guatapé

It's an early wake-up today as you meet your local guide in the hotel lobby for a full-day adventure. Start your journey with a transfer to El Peñón de Guatapé (the Rock of Guatapé), about 90 minutes east of Medellín. The 650-foot (200 m) monolith can be reached by climbing 740 steps, with a reward of mountain and lake views. After exploring the boulder, continue to the village of Guatapé, and keep your camera ready as you stroll through its streets lined with colorfully-painted homes. Eat lunch on the waterfront at the Guatapé Reservoir, then enjoy a relaxing boat ride before returning to the city later in the afternoon.

Plan your trip to Colombia
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 9: Street Food & Market Experience, Dinner & Tango

Locals serving up homemade arepas at El Mercado Campesino
Locals serving up homemade arepas at El Mercado Campesino

Medellín is Colombia's cultural melting pot and a foodie's paradise, and you'll find a remarkable variety of cuisines represented in its gastronomy. Make sure to arrive at today's culinary walking tour with an empty stomach, as you'll spend the rest of the day sampling some of the most beloved street food in the region. Try empanadas, buñuelos, or arepa filled with homemade cottage cheese, taste typical Colombian desserts, and stroll through a small local market and enjoy mouthwatering exotic fruits and fresh juices. 

Get some rest back at your hotel in the afternoon, then head back out for an evening of tango, popularized in  Medellín by the great singer and composer Carlos Gardel. You'll learn more about the city's musical heritage and this iconic dance with the help of a guide, ending with a dinner and live tango show experience.

Day 10: Fly to Santa Marta, City Tour & Transfer to Tayrona National Park

Santa Marta's Cathedral
Admire the stunning white of Santa Marta's Cathedral

Be prepared for coastal views as you meet your driver for a transfer to the airport, where you'll catch a one-hour flight north to Santa Marta. Upon arrival, your guide will be waiting to take you into the city for a walking tour. Founded in 1525, this is the oldest city in Colombia, and its cathedral (the foundations of which date to 1531) is one of the oldest on the continent. You'll visit other significant landmarks, including Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, the hacienda where Simón Bolívar, the great "El Libertador" and Venezuelan president, spent his last days.

Other stops include Santa Marta's historic center and the coastal viewpoint in the adjacent fishing village of Taganga. After your tour, hop back in the car for a 1.5-hour transfer to Tayrona National Park. Upon arrival, you'll check in to your hotel, where you'll stay for three nights.

Day 11: Hike in Tayrona National Park

The shores of Tayrona
Spend the day enjoying the unspoiled shores of Tayrona

Embark on an all-day adventure to explore the natural beauty of Tayrona National Park, a lush wonderland where the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta meets the Caribbean coast. After being picked up from your hotel, trek along natural trails that wind through the forest and offer stunning sea views. The hike takes you to Arrecifes Beach, where you can take a dip in the still waters of a natural pool. Continue walking for 20 minutes until you reach Cabo San Juan del Guía, where you can snorkel, marvel at the landscape, or simply bask in the sun on the beach.

With a bit of luck, you may spot various animals, including howler and capuchin monkeys, sloths, iguanas, deer, armadillos, and different species of birds, such as toucans, parrots, and eagles. Some reptiles, such as snakes and lizards, and some species of amphibians, including frogs and toads, can also be found in the park. As the afternoon approaches, head back to Arrecifes and then to the Cañaveral sector for your return to your hotel.

Day 12: Day Trip to the Taironaka Natural Reserve

Explore the lush paradise of Taironaka and the ancient terraces of its "Lost City"

Today's day trip takes you to the Taironaka Nature Reserve, an unspoiled paradise located on the banks of the Río Don Diego and in the foothills of the imposing Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Once home to an extinct Indigenous settlement, you can still follow the trails and terraces of the ancient Tayrona civilization, and you'll spot plentiful and diverse flora and fauna within its lush forests. Start your visit at the Tayrona Museum to learn about the history and way of life of the ancient Tayrona people and see a typical house of the Koguis, their modern-day descendants.

Follow a cobblestone path of pre-Hispanic terraces to reach a scenic viewpoint, then enter the forest and continue to the banks of the Don Diego, where you'll hop in a kayak and paddle to reach the point where the river and ocean meet. Here you'll have time to relax amid the beautiful scenery and go swimming before meeting your driver for the trip back to your hotel.

Day 13: Transfer to Cartagena, Cartagena Bike Tour

Balconies, Cartagena de Indias
Look up at the balconies in Cartagena de Indias

Bid farewell to the lush forest as your driver takes you on the scenic 4.5-hour coastal drive to Cartagena. Upon arrival, check in to your hotel and get some rest before setting out to explore this sun-soaked Caribbean city with a bike tour, a pleasant way to navigate its charming historic center and various neighborhoods.

Start in the Getsemaní district on Holy Trinity Square, with lively restaurants, street musicians, and colorful murals. Visit the home of Florentino Ariza, the main character in the novel "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Colombian Nobel Prize winner Gabriel García Márquez. Then, cycle across the Roman Bridge toward the Manga neighborhood. Here, visit Villa Roman, a Moorish-inspired house built in 1929. Walk through Manga's Cemetery, the oldest in Cartagena, and continue to the waterfront for a relaxing end to the tour.

Day 14: Boquilla Mangrove Tour, Totumo Volcano Excursion

Canoe Tour at La Boquilla
Keep your eyes peeled for all sorts of creatures in La Boquilla

Today you'll visit Boquilla, a small fishing village about 30 minutes north of Cartagena. The area is popular with nature lovers due to the mangrove forests along its shores. You'll see them up close on a guided canoe tour around the coast and interior lagoon. It's an excellent opportunity to spot exotic birds like green parrots, egrets, and the scarlet ibis. After the canoe tour, you'll enjoy a refreshing drink from a cold coconut as you tour the village. Boquilla has Afro-Caribbean roots, which you'll learn about as you chat with locals about the fishing trade and other aspects of daily life.

Later, you'll be picked up in a private vehicle for a trip to Totumo, a cone-shaped volcano located on the shores of the El Totumo freshwater lagoon. Natural hot springs mix with the volcanic ash here to create a series of thermal mud pools, said to have therapeutic properties. Climb up the staircase to the volcano's edge and jump into the thick mud, soaking as long as you like before rinsing off in the cooling lagoon. You can also opt for a massage for the ultimate relaxation experience before returning to Cartagena. 

Day 15: Rosario Islands Day Trip, Cartagena Dance Class

Kick back on a tropical beach near Cartagena for the day
Kick back on a tropical beach near Cartagena for the day

The paradise-like Rosario Islands are located about 62 miles (100 km) north of Cartagena, and this morning you'll board a speedboat from Bodeguita Pier to start the day's adventure. After the boat ride, settle into a private beach to enjoy welcome cocktails and lunch, such as fresh seafood with coconut rice. Spend a few hours on the island and then return to Cartagena for an evening out.

Celebrate your final evening by getting into the Colombian groove with a one-hour dance class. Music and dance are essential elements of Colombian culture, especially the beats of traditional vallenato (multi-instrument local folk music). Your dance teacher will show you key steps, including salsa, merengue, and vallenato, that you can try on your own later in the evening at a bar or club.

Day 16: Depart Cartagena

Cartagena, Colombia
See you again, Colombia!
Enjoy your last day in Colombia. After breakfast, relax at a sidewalk café, or explore a new neighborhood. Walk through a maze of colorful houses and ancient squares, some from the 16th century, or explore the colonial district of Saint Philip's Castle. Visit 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. In the afternoon, a driver will pick you up at the hotel and take you to the airport. Safe travels!

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Map of Colombian Andes to the Caribbean Coast: Bogotá, Salento, Medellín, Tayrona & Cartagena - 16 Days
Map of Colombian Andes to the Caribbean Coast: Bogotá, Salento, Medellín, Tayrona & Cartagena - 16 Days