This 12-day adventure will take you through the best of Colombia. You'll travel from Bogotá to the Amazon, the rolling hills of the Zona Cafetera (coffee region), the beaches of Tayrona National Park, and the colonial fortress city of Cartagena. The most exciting part of your trip? A visit to the little-known region of Guaviare, with its mixture of jungle, indigenous communities, red rivers, and ancient rock art that dates back 20,000 years.

Highlights

  • Tour the colonial neighborhoods of Colombia's capital, Bogotá
  • View ancient rock art at the archeological site of Serrania de La Lindosa
  • Stay on a working coffee farm in Colombia's coffee region
  • Visit the ancient ruins of Pueblito, in Parque Tayrona
  • Stroll the cobblestone streets of Cartagena, the ancient fortress city

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bogotá Bogotá
Day 2 Explore Bogotá and Fly to Guaviare Guaviare
Day 3 Experience the Serrania de La Lindosa Range Guaviare
Day 4 Visit Cerro Azul Guaviare
Day 5 Colombia's Coffee Region Salento
Day 6 Full Loop Hike in the Cocora Valley Salento
Day 7 Flight to Santa Marta - Transfer to Tayrona Park Santa Marta
Day 8 Visit Tayrona National Park and the Pueblito Ruins Santa Marta
Day 9 Free Day Near Tayrona National Park Santa Marta
Day 10 Tayrona National Park -Transfer to Cartagena Cartagena
Day 11 Explore Cartagena Cartagena
Day 12 Depart Cartagena  

Detailed overview

Day 1: Arrive in Bogotá

Bogotá
Bogotá

Welcome to Bogotá! A driver will meet you at the airport for transportation to the 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. 

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: Explore Bogotá and Fly to Guaviare

Fresh produce at Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao
Fresh produce at Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao

This morning you'll tour the city of Bogotá. First stop, Mercado Paloquemao. It's the capital's largest food market, and it supplies the ingredients for many of the city's best restaurants. Stroll around, sample the array of fruits—many of them are unique to Colombia and the Andes—and, of course, try some of the local dishes served up in the market's restaurant stalls. 

From there, it's time to head to La Candelaria. This historic neighborhood is where you'll find the Plaza de Bolivar, home to the country's first cathedral and important government buildings. Then walk a couple blocks and visit the famous Gold Museum, home to thousands of Pre-Columbian artifacts and goldwork items. Afterwards, there might just be time to ascend Monserrate mountain, located adjacent to the city center. The top of this 3,152-meter (10,341-foot) cerro (peak) affords the best views of Bogotá anywhere. 

In the afternoon, you'll transfer to the airport for your flight to San José del Guaviare, a town in the southern-central region of the country. Your guide will meet you upon arrival, then it's time to check in to your hotel before enjoying an evening in town.

Day 3: Experience the Serrania de La Lindosa Range

Tranquilanda, Colombia
Tranquilanda, Colombia

This morning, you'll head out in a 4x4 into the Serrania de La Lindosa range just outside San José del Guaviare.

One of the sites you'll visit us Tranquilanda. It's an amazing place, with a river of red colored by the aquatic plant that thrives in the water. You'll also see the City of Rock where hundreds of millions of years of erosion have formed what looks like a small citadel of rock. Then it's time to check out the Tuneles Naturales del Guaviare—a series of rock formations, some of which look like they're defying gravity.

In the afternoon, you'll visit the local indigenous reservation of Panure to meet and share food with the Eastern Tukano people.

Day 4: Visit Cerro Azul

Rock art of the kind found at Serrania de La Lindosa
Rock art of the kind found at Serrania de La Lindosa

Today you'll head out for a drive through jungles and farmland on your way to the protected archeological area of Serrania de La Lindosa. This area, located just before Cerro Azul village, is famous for having an abundance of rock art. The images emblazoned on stone recount the exploits of ancient civilizations. 

From here, it's time to hike the nearby tepui (table-top mountain). You'll spot even more ancient rock murals along the way. Lunch will be on the mountain, and then it's time to head back to your hotel for some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

Day 5: Colombia's Coffee Region

The colorful homes of Salento
The colorful homes of Salento

This morning you'll check-in for your flight to Bogotá, and from there connect to the bustling city of Pereira in Colombia's Coffee Region. From the airport, a driver will transfer you to the colorful town of Salento and to a working coffee farm.

Here you'll learn the process of coffee making—from the planting and harvesting to the washing, drying, and packaging the final product. You'll also glean insight into the unique history and culture surrounding Colombian coffee, one of the country's most dominant industries. Finally, you'll observe the roasting and preparation process before heading back to Salento where you'll have a bit of free time to discover this lovely mountain town.

Day 6: Full Loop Hike in the Cocora Valley

Wax palms of the Cocora Valley
Wax palms of the Cocora Valley

This morning, you'll make the thirty-minute drive from Salento to the Cocora Valley, which was named after the daughter of a pre-Hispanic indigenous chieftain. Now it's time to put on your hiking boots. This 15.6-kilometer (9.6-mile) trek takes between five and six hours, with 580 meters (1,902 feet) of ascent. The loop includes both the Acaime nature reserve and La Montaña farm.

As you trek, you'll see the world’s tallest palm tree (and Colombia’s national tree), the endemic Colombian wax palm. On leaving Cocora, you'll head to Salento for the afternoon and explore it at your leisure. Be sure to check out all the beautiful Antioquian-style architecture complemented by Guadua bamboo, bright colors, and Spanish-style balconies. You might also try your luck in a local game of tejo. It's Colombia's national sport, and it's played not unlike horseshoes.

Day 7: Flight to Santa Marta - Transfer to Tayrona Park

Colombia's Caribbean coast
Colombia's Caribbean coast

After breakfast, a car will pick you up and transfer you to the airport for your flight to the city of Santa Marta, on Colombia's Caribbean coast. Upon arrival, you'll drive to just outside the entrance of Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona (Tayrona Park), where you'll stay overnight. 

You'll have rest of the afternoon to relax and enjoy your hotel, located on a peaceful spot overlooking the Caribbean Sea at the foot of the mountains. Wander down to the nearby beach, which has a beautiful sunset view.

Day 8: Visit Tayrona National Park and the Pueblito Ruins

Cabo de San Juan, Tayrona National Park
Cabo de San Juan, Tayrona National Park

Head out at 6:30 am to beat the Caribbean sun and hike for the day through the jungles of Tayrona National Park. The highlight of the day will be reaching Pueblito Chairama, a site of archeological ruins and an indigenous community. On reaching the ruins, you'll get to wander around and observe the ancient structures of the Tayrona people who once inhabited the park. 

Then it's time to continue down to Tayrona's white-sand beaches for a well-deserved dip in the sea and lunch at Cabo de San Juan, the postcard image of Parque Nacional Tayrona. Here, a long, windswept beach is cleaved by a small peninsula capped with a lookout point offering panoramic views of the Caribbean. The trek then continues to the park entrance where a car will be waiting to transfer you back to the hotel.

Day 9: Free Day Near Tayrona National Park

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After breakfast, enjoy a free day to experience the surroundings outside Tayrona Park. This is your chance to explore the region's singular topography on your own, which includes the world's highest coastal mountain range.

You can take your pick between a range of organized activities such as snorkeling, sailing, river tubing, hiking, or wildlife spotting. You can also take a day-trip to Minca, a beautiful Colombian village in the mountains, and visit a coffee farm. 

Day 10: Tayrona National Park - Transfer to Cartagena

Parque Tayrona
Parque Tayrona

After breakfast at your hotel near Tayrona Park, take a last stroll on the beach. Today, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to Cartagena. If you arrive early enough, explore a bit of old-town Cartagena by strolling its cobbled streets.

Day 11: Explore Cartagena

Colorful street corner
Colorful street corner

After breakfast, take your pick of numerous ways to experience Cartagena, either on your own or with a private tour (optional add-on). Maybe a surfing excursion on the coast, or a day lazing near the Caribbean waters of Playa Blanca, 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 guide, you will delve deep into Cartagena's Spanish-colonial history. You'll visit the city's extensive fortifications and famous fortresses like the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. Also stroll the city's cobbled plazas, like the Plaza de San Pedro Claver, with its Andalusian-style 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 12: 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 didn't do the guided tour the previous day, explore the bulk of the city.

Enjoy 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. 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.