This well-rounded tour perfectly combines cultural and historical exploration with adventure in eight days. Immerse yourself in the bustling and vibrant barrios of Bogotá, trek through the white and gray landscape of Los Hoyos in the Tatacoa Desert, and dive into the pre-Colombian past with sightings of ancient monuments in San Agustín. You'll also meander the charming stone streets in colonial Popayán before capping off your stay with a salsa lesson in colorful Cali.

Highlights

  • Traipse through the colorful La Candelaria neighborhood in Bogotá
  • Explore the red and ochre Cuzco desert in Tatacoa
  • Discover pre-Colombian stone statues in San Agustín Archaeological Park
  • Learn to dance salsa in Cali, the world capital of salsa

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bogotá Bogotá
Day 2 Paloquemao Market & the historic center Bogotá
Day 3 Fly to Neiva; Explore the Tatacoa Desert Neiva
Day 4 Visit San Agustín Archaeological Park San Agustín
Day 5 Discover the surroundings of San Agustín San Agustín
Day 6 Transfer to Popayán Popayán
Day 7 Visit Silvia; Drive to Cali Cali
Day 8 Depart Cali  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bogotá

La Candelaria, Historical Center of Bogota
Traipse through the colorful La Candelaria neighborhood

Welcome to Bogotá! Upon your arrival, you'll meet your guide and transfer the 45 minutes to your hotel in the historic center. When you're ready, head out to explore the beating cultural, economic, and political heart of Colombia. Home to 8 million people and sitting at 8,660 feet high in the Andes, this vibrant capital is known for its festivals and nightlife. 

Day 2: Paloquemao Market & the historic center

Discover the exotic wares at Paloquemao

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll have the whole day to explore the capital's major attractions. Start with a visit to its largest food market, Paloquemao, where you'll have time to stroll the labyrinth of stalls, stopping as you please to make a purchase or two. Next, work your way to the La Candelaria neighborhood in the historic quarter to check out the charming landmarks and monuments, including churches, renowned museums, and cafés.

Choose a restaurant for lunch before spending a few hours in the afternoon to visit the famous Museum of Gold to see the world's most extensive collection of pre-Columbian gold objects. A great next stop is the Botero Museum, where you can admire masterful works of art from Colombia's most celebrated artists in exhibits alongside Picasso and Braque. Cap off the day with dinner and drinks in the capital's historic quarter or the northern area of the city before retiring for the evening.

Day 3: Fly to Neiva - Explore the Tatacoa Desert

Tatacoa Desert, Colombia
Explore the canyons and rock formations in the Tatacoa Desert

This morning you'll head to the airport for your quick flight south to Neiva. Check into your hotel before meeting your guide and transferring to the Desierto de la Tatacoa (Tatacoa Desert), the second biggest desert in Colombia. Nicknamed the "Sadness Valley" by the Spanish conquerors in 1538, it is now known for its excellent hiking and stunning natural setting. Explore the red and ochre desert of Cuzco and the whites and grays of Los Hoyos. After a day of hiking, return to your hotel in Neiva.

Day 4: Visit San Agustín Archaeological Park

View of one of the 300 sculptures found in the San Agustín Park

Get an early start to your day and venture south to your accommodation in San Agustín (4 hours). After a replenishing lunch, together with your guide, drive to San Agustín Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Start at the archaeological museum, El Bosque, before walking in the park to discover gigantic pre-Colombian statues (some as tall as 23 feet) and sacred tombs amid forest and tropical flowers. 

Day 5: Discover the surroundings of San Agustín

Colombia - Sculpture near Agustin Park - La Chaquira possibly
Tour the Chaquira grounds before catching a sunset

After breakfast at your hotel, meet your guide to head out to explore the region around San Agustín. Visit the archaeological site of Alto Las Piedras to discover the centuries-old enigmatic statues, some reaching 10 feet in height. Break for lunch before stopping to check out the Magdalena River and its canyons. Next, visit La Pelota, an archaeological site in the countryside and check out the indigenous tombs with ornamental statues. From there, you will continue to La Chaquira, another archaeological site, to take in the sunset over the Magdalena River. 

Return to your hotel in San Agustín.

Day 6: Transfer to Popayán

Panoramic of Popayán
Stroll through the charming white-washed streets of Popayán

Transfer this morning to the "White City" of Popayán and check into your hotel. Considered the religious capital of Colombia with the most significant number of churches per inhabitant, Popayán is one of the country's best preserved colonial cities and offers up charm around every white-washed corner. Acquaint yourself with the city and take the opportunity to wander the stones streets of Popayán's historic center. Visit the Baroque churches, including San FranciscoErmita, and the Basilica Cathedral, and stroll through the Caldas Park.

If you like museums, consider a visit to the Guillermo Valencia Museum, the Natural History Museum, or the Museum of Religious Art before finding a restaurant for dinner and returning to your hotel afterward.

Day 7: Visit Silvia - Drive to Cali

Salsa dancers, Cali
Join a salsa class at Cristo Rey in Cali

Leave Popayán bright and early and drive north to Cali. Break up the trip with a stop to visit the village of Silvia, a pleasant little town where numerous indigenous communities, like the Guambianos, meet on market day (Tuesday) to exhibit and sell traditional crafts. Wander the market stalls shopping for authentic gifts and souvenirs before carrying on to Cali—Colombia's salsa capital.

A great way to experience Cali is to join a half-day tour of the city that culminates in salsa lessons. Begin with a visit to the historic core, checking out the Boulevard del Río afterward, and then head to Cristo Rey for striking views over the city. End your tour with an engaging salsa class at Cristo Rey.

Note: if you are in Cali on the weekend, practice your newly acquired moves and check out one of the city's best salsa clubs, Topa Tolondra.

Day 8: Depart Cali

Pink building in Cali, Colombia
Admire the colorful buildings in Cali

Depending on your onward flight, spend your last hours enjoying Cali before transferring to the airport and making your way home.

Map

Map of West-Central Colombia: Bogotá, San Agustín, Popayán & Cali - 8 Days
Map of West-Central Colombia: Bogotá, San Agustín, Popayán & Cali - 8 Days