Perfect for newbies, this Colombia highlights tour combines sophisticated cities and exotic landscapes. Start with a walking tour through Bogotá's key monuments and museums, and then spend two nights in the Amazon rainforest while looking for pink dolphins and monkeys. Next is Medellín—a transformed city with an impressive arts scene—followed by quality time along the Caribbean coast. Speedboat to a tropical island for a relaxing beach day to end the adventure.


  • Travel by boat along the Amazon River to get to your hotel while looking for wildlife
  • Take an educational tour of Comuna 13 in Medellín while photographing street art 
  • Spend two days in nature on the Caribbean Sea (one hiking and one relaxing)
  • Let a local guide show you Cartagena's colonial attractions on a biking tour

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bogotá, Walking Tour Bogotá
Day 2 Guatavita, Zipaquirá & Salt Mines Day Trip Bogotá
Day 3 Fly to Leticia, Transfer to Puerto Nariño, Explore the Amazon Puerto Nariño
Day 4 Explore the Amazon Puerto Nariño
Day 5 Transfer to Medellín, Explore on Your Own Medellín
Day 6 Peñól Boulder & Guatapé Boat Trip Medellín
Day 7 Medellín Transformation Tour, Transfer to Tayrona National Park Tayrona National Park
Day 8 Hike Tayrona National Park Tayrona National Park
Day 9 Transfer to Cartagena, City Bike Tour Cartagena
Day 10 Rosario Islands Day Trip, Cartagena Dance Class Cartagena
Day 11 Depart Cartagena  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bogotá, Walking Tour

Get a taste of the capital's historical and modern architecture—and dramatic mountains—on today's tour

Welcome to Bogotá! Upon arrival, a private driver will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. Take some time to rest and then begin exploring Colombia's capital city on foot.

You can also take a half-day walking tour and learn about Bogotá's history and culture with an English-speaking guide. Start in the main square, Plaza de Bolívar, at the city's colonial-era center, and learn about Bogotá's largest cathedral and other significant monuments. Then, visit the Gold Museum, with an impressive collection of pre-Columbian gold pieces, and the Museo de Botero, one of Latin America's most important art exhibits, with over 200 works donated by Colombian painter Fernando Botero.

Day 2: Guatavita, Zipaquirá & Salt Mines Day Trip

The tour starts with a visit to the Laguna de Guatavita

Today you'll take a full-day tour outside Bogotá with a local guide. First, embark on a short guided hike to the sacred lagoon of Laguna de Guatavita, a crater-shaped body of water. You'll learn about the area's rich history, including the ancient rituals of the Muisca people, who threw gold and precious stones into the lagoon as offerings to the gods.

After dining on lunch in the small village of Sesquile, you'll transfer to Zipaquirá. This town, declared a Colombian heritage site, is known for its famous underground Salt Cathedral—a Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of an underground salt mine. Entry to this popular site includes a guided tour along with some free time to explore on your own.

While in the area, you'll also head to the Nemocón Salt Mine, half an hour from Zipaquirá. Here, 24 feet (80 m) underground, is a collection of immaculately preserved tunnels where eight million tons of salt were extracted between 1816 and 1968. The chambers off the main routes show the history of salt mining amid spectacular atmospheric light effects 28 mirrors. Return to Bogotá in the late afternoon and enjoy free time to explore the city's notable dining scene.

Day 3: Fly to Leticia, Transfer to Puerto Nariño, Explore the Amazon

Puerto Nariño's village center is your home base for the next few days
It's time to head into Colombia's Amazon region! At the appointed time, a driver will pick you up at your hotel in Bogotá and take you to the airport, where you'll board a domestic flight to Leticia near the border of Brazil and Peru. Upon arrival, you'll attend an informative reception with your local guide and learn about your activities and safety precautions while in the jungle. Then, board a boat that will navigate the Amazon River for under two hours to the village of Puerto Nariño, where you'll check into your hotel.

The adventure doesn't stop here: You'll take another boat on the Loretoyacu River toward the lakes of Tarapoto as you look for pink and gray dolphins, exotic birds, primates, insects, and medicinal plants. At sunset, boat back to your hotel in Puerto Nariño for dinner and a good night's rest.

Day 4: Explore the Amazon

Keep an eye out for monkey sightings in Colombia's Amazon region

Today you'll wake up in Puerto Nariño for a full-day adventure in the Amazon! After breakfast at your hotel, depart by boat to the community of San Martin de Amacayacu—a river trip of approximately one hour. San Martin is a village of the Tikuna ethnic group, and you'll experience its distinct culture with a tour of a maloca (large communal dwelling), as well as a nursery and pharmacy.

Next, continue your day-trip journey to Mocagua, where you'll share a traditional lunch and conversation with an Indigenous family. You'll then pay a visit to the Maikuchiga Foundation, a rescue center for monkeys focused on conserving the jungle and its primates. At the end of the afternoon, return to Puerto Nariño for a relaxing dinner at your hotel.

Day 5: Transfer to Medellín, Explore on Your Own

Check out the public art and sculptures in Medellín's El Poblado district

It's time to say goodbye to the Amazon and return to the urban jungle! After breakfast at your hotel in Puerto Nariño, you'll take a boat back to the city of Leticia. Once you arrive at the port, you'll be picked up and transferred to the airport for a flight to Medellín. A private driver will bring you to your hotel.

You'll have the rest of the day to explore Medellín at your own pace. There's plenty to see and do in this modern, mountainous city with friendly locals and vibrant culture. Most of the action is centered around Parque Lleras in the heart of the trendy El Poblado district, where the best dining, nightlife, and hotel options are within easy reach. You can ride on the city's gondola (metro cable) to see the views or walk around the various parks, plazas, and museums.

Plan your trip to Colombia
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Another option is to venture to Pueblito Paisa, a replica of a traditional Antioquian town. Either way, enjoy the weather—due to a high elevation near the equator, the city has year-round spring temperatures.

Day 6: Peñól Boulder & Guatapé Boat Trip

Enjoy spectacular views from the top of Peñol Boulder
Savor the views from the top of Peñól Boulder

This morning a local guide will take you on a scenic full-day adventure. First, you'll drive through the Eastern Highlands of Antioquia to get to Peñól Boulder, about 90 minutes outside Medellín. This is a 650-foot (200 m) monolith that can be reached by climbing 740 steps. Those able and willing can climb to the top and see views of the surrounding mountains and lakes.

Then head about 30 minutes from Peñól Boulder to the village of Guatapé, with a photogenic church and brightly painted colonial architecture. You'll have lunch along the waterfront of Guatapé reservoir, followed by a boat ride before returning to the city.

Day 7: Medellín Transformation Tour, Transfer to Tayrona National Park

Experience Comuna 13 and learn about the area's transformation

Before departing Medellín later today, you'll take a memorable guided tour of the city's Comuna 13, a neighborhood plagued with violence from drug trafficking organizations and paramilitary groups in the 80s and 90s. Since then, locals have made a major transformation, and the sprawling mountainside neighborhood is now a hub of graffiti art and street murals. You'll even ascend the giant escalator that scales the mountain in six sections, linking once-isolated residents to the city below.

Later in the day, a driver will take you to Medellín airport to catch your flight to Santa Marta. Then, transfer to an area just outside the entrance of Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona ("Tayrona National Park"), where you'll spend the night. Depending on your arrival time, you can relax at your hotel or wander down to a nearby beach to watch the sunset. 

Day 8: Hike Tayrona National Park

Spend the day in nature as you hike along the Caribbean coast at Tayrona National Pak

Today you'll have the entire day to enjoy the natural surroundings of Tayrona National Park, a spectacularly beautiful stretch of rolling mountains that covers the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta as they meet the Caribbean coast. You can easily spend several hours hiking along trails crossing the stones in the forest while catching views of the turquoise sea.

One idea for how to spend the day is to walk for about an hour to Arrecifes beach and then head to a natural pool to take a dip in calm water. Continue walking for another 20 minutes to Cabo San Juan del Guía, where you can snorkel, admire the landscape, or relax on the beach. In the afternoon, head back to Arrecifes and return to your hotel in time for the sunset.

Day 9: Transfer to Cartagena, City Bike Tour

Get an introduction to Cartagena's charming streets via bicycle

This morning a driver will meet you at your Tayrona National Park hotel for a car transfer to Cartagena. This colorful fortress city on the Caribbean Sea is rich in culture, colonial architecture, romance, and even pirate history. Upon arrival, you'll set off from Cartegena's historical center on a private cycling tour. Your first stop is the neighborhood of Getsemaní to see the home of Florentino Ariza. This is 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, where you can see Villa Roman. This Moorish-inspired house was built in 1929 and took cues from Spain's Alhambra palace. You'll also visit Manga's Cemetery, the oldest in Cartagena, and continue to the seafront to finish your tour.

Day 10: 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

Don't forget your bathing suit today because you're headed to the Rosario Islands, an archipelago on the Caribbean coast. First, you'll make your way to Bodeguita Pier to board a speedboat to Isabela, your base for the day. This is the perfect location to enjoy a spectacular private beach where you'll be served welcome cocktails and a traditional lunch, followed by free time to relax. You'll return to Cartagena by 4 pm in time for a night out on the town.

This is an excellent chance to get into the Colombian groove with a one-hour dance class in Cartagena. Music and dance are important elements of Colombian culture, especially the beats of traditional vallenato (multi-instrument folk music originating from this region). Your dance teacher will show you key steps, including salsa and merengue, that you can try on your own this evening at a bar or club.

Day 11: Depart Cartagena

Until next time, Cartagena!

It's time to say goodbye to Colombia! Take one final walk around Cartagena's colorful neighborhoods, stop at a café, or do some last-minute souvenir shopping. A private driver will transfer you to the airport at the appointed time, where you'll catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

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Map of Highlights of Colombia - 11 Days
Map of Highlights of Colombia - 11 Days