This nine-day adventure features the flat plains of Colombia's Llanos Orientales, the alpine tundra of the páramo, and colonial villages in the Andean highlands. Starting and ending your stay in the capital city of Bogotá, you'll alternate your time between venturing off the beaten path to traditional "fincas" of the Colombian savannah in search of native wildlife and wandering the charming streets of picturesque Spanish-era towns. You'll meet locals in Yopal, safari in Encanto de Guanapalo, hike the Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes, and visit a 17th-century convent in Villa de Leyva.

Highlights

  • Traipse through the colorful La Candelaria neighborhood in Bogotá
  • Seek out the endangered spectacled bear in the Chingaza National Natural Park
  • Ride horseback in Los Llanos Orientales among real Colombian cowboys
  • Trek through the unique landscape of the Páramo de Ocetá
  • Wander the cobbled streets of colonial villages like Monguí and Villa de Leyva

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bogotá Bogotá
Day 2 Hike in Chingaza National Natural Park Bogotá
Day 3 Fly to Yopal; Explore Los Llanos Orientales San Luis de Palenque
Day 4 Day trip to Hato Los Deseos San Luis de Palenque
Day 5 Day trip to the Encanto de Guanapalo Nature Reserve San Luis de Palenque
Day 6 Fly to Monguí Monguí
Day 7 Hike the Páramo de Ocetá Monguí
Day 8 Drive to Villa de Leyva; Half-day walking tour Villa de Leyva
Day 9 Depart Bogotá   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bogotá

Bogotá, Colombia
Explore the vibrant neighborhood of La Candelaria

Welcome to Bogotá! Meet your driver at the airport and transfer to your hotel. After settling in, set out to explore Colombia's largest city. Check out the food scene as you wander the cobblestone streets of the historic La Candelaria neighborhood, where there are plenty of trendy restaurants to choose from and colonial-era landmarks to discover. You'll also find excellent museums, shopping, and street food.

Day 2: Hike in Chingaza National Natural Park

Photo Credit: Mathieu Perrot-Borhinger
Explore the Andean Cordillera, counting the frailejones along your way

Set out early this morning to La Calera in the Chingaza National Natural Park, the starting point of today's gentle hike. Here you will explore the alpine tundra landscape, or páramo, seeking out the endemic (and highly endangered) spectacled bear, as well as the other native species like deer and condors. Enjoy a traditional lunch in the park and return to Bogotá in the early evening.

Hiking duration: 4 hours

Day 3: Fly to Yopal - Explore Los Llanos Orientales

Photo Credit: Nathalie Clavel
Spot the native capybaras rodent on your nature walk of Los Llanos Orientales

This morning you will transfer to the Bogotá airport for the 50-minute flight to Yopal in the Colombian savannah (also known as Los Llanos Orientales). Meet your driver and continue northeast to Hato Berlín (2 hours) where you will spend the day exploring the grounds of a typical ranch of the region. Enjoy an ecological walk to observe the local wildlife as you work your way along a stream, through the savannah, passing by palm tree woods (1-3 hours). If you're lucky, you may spot groups of howler monkeys, endemic bird species, caimans sunbathing by the river, and the world's largest rodent, the capybaras.

Return to the ranch to have lunch before setting out for a second nature walk that ends with a sunset canoe excursion of the Garcero Nature Reserve (2-4 hours). From here, you will transfer to a nearby finca (farm or ranch) in San Luis de Palenque for a well-deserved meal and rest (20 minutes).

Day 4: Day trip to Hato LosDeseos

Photo Credit: Nathalie Clavel
Watch the setting sun over the Colombian plains

Start the day right with a home-cooked meal fresh from the farm before setting out on the mostly paved road to visit Hato Los Deseos (1.5 hours). Discover local traditions, including llanero cattle herding as well as participate in the day-to-day llanero (plainsman or cowboy) related activities. Break for lunch and a rest, and then in the afternoon, you will have the option to go on a nature walk, horseback ride, or ride a tractor to observe the Garcero and take in a beautiful savannah sunset (1-3 hours). You'll return to your accommodation in San Luis de Palenque in the evening.

Day 5: Day trip to the Encanto de Guanapalo Nature Reserve

Photo Credit: Nathalie Clavel
Depending on the time of year, you may be able to spot a swimming anaconda

After a home-made breakfast at the finca, you'll head out to the Encanto de Guanapalo Nature Reserve (1 hour) where you'll transfer into a 4x4 vehicle for an off-roading experience of the reserve. On the safari you'll be able to see capybaras, small deer, turtles, endemic birds and with a little bit of luck, you may even see an anaconda, a puma, an armadillo or an anteater. If the conditions are right, you will even be able to step out of the vehicle to gain a closer look at the lagoons for better wildlife observation.

Break up the safari with lunch on the reserve followed by a siesta in a shaded hammock. Afterward, continue the safari excursion, this time in a tractor, and go deeper into the reserve. From here, you'll carry on to the Garcero for an evening of birdwatching as the sun goes down before returning to the ranch for the night.

Day 6: Fly to Monguí

Mule being packed by his rider - Mongui, Boyaca, Colombia
Take in the local scenes of Monguí

Rise early today for a little morning birdwatching followed by a hearty breakfast. Take the rest of the morning at your own pace, enjoying your last lunch on the ranch before you transfer to Yopal (2 hours) for a little gift and souvenir shopping. When it's time, make your way to the airport for your flight to the small colonial village of Monguí in the Boyaca region (4.5 hours).

Day 7: Hike the Páramo de Ocetá

Laguna Negra in the Páramo de Ocetá, Colombia
Trek through the Páramo de Ocetá and to the Laguna Negra

After a restful sleep, take the morning to hike to the Ocetá Páramo in the Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes. En route, you will visit several rock formations, petroglyphs, and Tortolitas ("Sweethearts" in English that are oval-shaped depressions in the rock made by the original inhabitants of the area, the Muisca). You'll stop to check out La Caja del Rey ("The King's Box"), the Ciudad de Piedra ("The City of Stone") where you'll see La Mesa de los Sacrificios—a possible human sacrificial site—the Penagos Waterfall, and the Black Lake or Laguna Negra.

Along the way, you'll stop for a picnic lunch and return to Monguí in the late afternoon.

Hiking duration: 8 hours (with a local guide)

Day 8: Drive to Villa de Leyva - Half-day walking tour

Villa de Leyva, Plaza Mayor, Colombia
Relax on the steps of Plaza Mayor in Villa de Leyva

This morning you'll head west to the Andean village of Villa de Leyva (3 hours). Upon arrival, you'll settle into your accommodation before venturing out to meet your guide for a half-day walking tour of the town. You'll start at the very large and central Plaza Mayor and carry on to roam the stone streets, stopping to explore coffee, wool weaving, and handicraft shops, as well as the Mesopotamia Mill (a remnant of the Spanish era), and lastly the Convent of the Discalced Carmelites, a community of Carmelite nuns that took up permanent residence in 1645.

Day 9: Depart Bogotá 

Colombia - Villa de Leyva - Traditional home
A colorful view of a typical home in Villa de Leyva

It's time to say adiós to Colombia. After breakfast, enjoy your last moments of Villa de Leyva's idyllic setting before making your way back to the airport in Bogotá (1 hour) for your onward journey.

Map

Map of Páramo, Plains & Colonial Villages in Colombia - 9 Days
Map of Páramo, Plains & Colonial Villages in Colombia - 9 Days