Wild Colombia: Hiking, Hot Springs, & Whale Watching - 10 Days

This 10-day trip provides an intimate glimpse into the wild heart of Colombia. On this trip, you'll explore the bustling metropolis of Medellín, experience traditional farm life of Manizales, relax in the tropical beauty of the Pacific Coast, and go whale watching off the shores of the Tribugá Gulf. While this is an active trip, the schedule allows for plenty of down time to relax or explore on your own.

Highlights

  • Go whale watching off the coast of Guachalito
  • Swim in the warm waters of the Terco River
  • Hike through the verdant hills outside of Manizales
  • Explore the city of Medellín, one of Colombia's cultural hubs
  • See the colonial style architecture of Bogotá
  • Stay on a farm outside of Manizales

Overview

This itinerary is ideal for travelers who want to experience the metropolitan cities of Medellín and Bogotá but spend the majority of their time out in the countryside. Whale watching, hiking, and swimming are major highlights of this trip.

The excursions offer opportunities to be adventurous and active but also balance these with downtime and structured tours, so it's a great trip for travel companions with varying energy levels. You have the option to spend your structured time with an English-speaking guide, so you don't need to worry about the language in order to really get to know Colombia. 

Detailed itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bogotá

The colonial architecture of Bogotá is a beautiful contrast to Columbia's wild and rugged landscape. 

Fly into the Bogotá airport and catch a ride to the colonial center of Colombia. Soak in the scenery along this 40-minute drive. When you arrive, check into your hotel for the evening. Relax in your room or explore the neighborhood on your own as you start to get to know the capital city of Colombia.  

Day 2: Walk the colonial streets of Bogotá

Your English-speaking guide will lead you through Bogotá's colorful markets

 In the morning, prepare for a walking tour of the city center (optionally with an English-speaking guide). You will explore the colonial district of La Candelaria and Bogotá's historical center with its squares and markets. This walk will give you an up close and personal opportunity to get to know the local culture and to understand their way of life.

In the afternoon, visit the famous Gold Museum (closed on Mondays) and Botero Museum (closed on Tuesdays) where you will be able to admire the masterpieces of renowned Colombian artists. After your 8 hours of sightseeing, you'll return to your accommodations in the colonial center. 

Day 3: Ride a horse or hike into your rural accommodation 

The lush farmland outside of Manizales is rugged but beautiful

 In the morning, get a ride from your hotel back to the Bogotá airport for your hour-long flight to Manizales. Your driver will collect you at the Manizales airport and take you for a 2-hour drive into the scenic hills and farmland. Expect a bumpy ride as part of the road will be unpaved.

When the 4x4 vehicle can go no further, you can either hike the remaining 40 minutes to the farm or hop on a horse, which cuts the travel time down to 20 minutes. Once you arrive at the traditional farm where you will stay overnight, you are free to explore the surrounding countryside, hike, or just relax. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, and dinner on us this day. 

Day 4: Explore the verdant farmland outside of Manizales

The primary crop in this region is coffee

Explore the surrounding farmland and mountains on your own, or take guided hikes. Get to know the surrounding scenery at your own pace on this free day, and take plenty of time to relax as well.  

Day 5: Drive to Medellín

Enjoy the public art and lively culture in Medellín

 After breakfast at the farm, travel back the way you came either on foot or horseback to the meeting point with your driver. You'll load back up in the 4x4 and drive for about 5 hours to Medellín, the second-largest city in Colombia known for its pleasant climate and beautiful skyline. Enjoy the scenery and incredible landscape along the drive before you arrive at your hotel in Medellín's El Poblado area. The rest of the afternoon is yours to relax and explore.

Day 6: Journey to the Pacific Coast

It's hard not to fall in love with this tranquil and beautiful region 

In the morning, you'll take a 30-minute flight from the Medellín airport to Nuqui. From there, you'll take a 45-minute boat ride to the stunning beaches of Guachalito and settle into your room at an eco-friendly lodge inspired by the local landscape. After lunch on the beach of El Cantil, take a guided walk with an English-speaking guide along pristine beaches to the "Cascada del Amor." From there, you will return to your secluded hotel to relax and enjoy the surrounding nature. 

Day 7: Go whale watching in the Tribugá Gulf

See Humpback whales in the breeding grounds in the Tribugá Gulf 

Embark on an exciting morning boat tour in search of humpback whales. From the boat, you'll have an up close and personal experience seeing these impressive creatures in their natural habitat.

Thanks to the warm water and low currents of the Chocó region, whales are a regular sight in these waters and have chosen the Tribugá Gulf as their breeding ground. The best time to visit the area is between June and October, when the chances are good to catch a glimpse of a baby humpback whale. 

After your 3-hour boat ride, have lunch on El Cantil beach. In the afternoon, your guide will take you on a 3-hour walk to the village of Termales by way of the Terco River hot springs. Jump in and go for a swim in these relaxing waters on your way. In the evening, you'll return to the same comfortable and relaxing hotel. 

Day 8: Return to Medellín

The sun setting along the Pacific Coast

Soak up your last few moments on the Pacific Coast and return to Nuquí by boat and transfer to the airport for your short flight back to Medellín. When you arrive, you'll check into your hotel in the El Poblado area and then have the afternoon to explore the city on your own. 

Day 9: Explore Medellín

There's much to see in the cultural hub of Medellín

Today, you'll get an intimate look at this city's cultural and scenic wonders, including the Pueblito Paisa, the San Antonio park, la Plazuela de San Ignacio, La Playa avenue, the Metropolitan church, and the Botero place. You will also visit the Music House, Antioquia University, and the Botanical garden located in the north region of the Medellín and continue on to the Convention Center in Plaza Mayor. Other sights you can see from here are the Metropolitan Theater and Los Pies Descalzos park.

As you return to the Poblado, keep an eye out for Lights park. Your English speaking guide will explain the significance of these places throughout your 4-hour tour. 

Day 10: Prepare for your departure from the Medellín airport. 

View from the Rock of Guatape in Medellín

Enjoy your last morning in Colombia before transferring from the hotel to the Medellín airport by car. Your drive will take about 60-minutes. You'll fly to Bogotá to connect with your international flight.