758 messages
active 6 hours ago

Juan Ortiz

I'm the Co-Founder at The Colombian Project where we design and deliver unique and stunning experiences here in Colombia, whether that be an opportunity to make some new friends with the locals in the Amazon, to a full-service trekking expedition, to a national archaeological expert giving a private seminar, we always take our time with the small details, whilst at the same time, and even more importantly, give back where possible. We always try to establish strong relationships built on respect, trust and reciprocal benefits with the communities that we interact with.

We do a lot of tailor made travel and our clients are insightful and normally very discerning travellers. We really relish being given specific and unique requests by these clients, and I think the way we deal with these requests makes us stand out from the rest. It's great fun employing our niche-specific expertise to give people an amazing and profound journey here in Colombia, no matter what their interests are.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"I started off as a trekker (and still trek all the time), which quickly split into avid birdwatching and wildlife watching. Photography has also become a strong passion. However, after meeting with so many diverse cultures in Colombia, I've become highly interested in providing true cultural experiences and interchange. I also love history so a bit of an all-rounder!"

How did you get involved in travel?

"I've always loved to travel and spent time travelling in Europe and also all around South America. I'm from London and of Colombian descent. When I first came to Colombia in 1999 and had the first glimpse of this wonderful country I knew that I had to come back. I spent a number of months travelling around South America before returning to Colombia in 2008 and it was here, whilst trekking through Colombia's paramos, where I saw a beautiful and unknown world, did I realise that this (and experiences like this) needed to be showcased in Colombia. From that first seed of thought I delved into the travel industry and after 5 years set up The Colombian Project with the great help of our other co-founder Brian Murphy. We haven't looked back since!"

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"Like anyone who's travelled a bit I have quite a few! One that sticks out is when I went to Guaviare in Colombia a few years ago on an investigation trip. The place was unlike anything I had ever seen before with rock formations that are older than the Andes, tracts of jungle and vast savannas, it blew my mind. What really hit me was a trek that we did through this array of ecosystems, sights and sounds to a little-known place where we found ancient rock art, with paintings that have now been declared to be among some of the oldest archaeological finds in Latin America. Real Indiana Jones stuff. "

Featured trips & expertise

Yellow-eared Parrot, Colombia
Birdwatching in Colombia's Andean Ranges & Magdalena Valley - 16 Days

Colombia is an incredible country for birdwatchers. It boasts a list of 77 endemics (birds found in no other country) and is home to well over 1930 bird species — around 20 percent of the world's total bird count. This 16-day adventure is designed to showcase the best birding sites in the country. You'll experience Colombian culture, excellent food, and vibrant cities as you travel between incredible birding habitats. 

Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, Cerro Montezuma, Choco bioregion
Colombia Epic Birdwatching Tour: Western Andes & Santa Marta - 14 Days

This 14-day itinerary is perfect for serious bird watchers who dream of visiting some of the best bird watching sites in the Colombia. The journey includes excursions in the Choco-Western Andes transition, where nearly all the birds are endemic or near-endemic and the mystical and biologically unique Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta – an evolutionary island of biodiversity where you have the chance to view over 20 endemic birds. In addition to excellent birding sites, you'll experience life in rural Colombia and travel across stunning landscapes from the sea to the soaring Andes mountains.

Sky and trees reflected in the Amazon River
Colombia Andes, Amazon & Caribbean - 14-Day Itinerary

This tour takes you off the beaten path and truly epitomizes the diversity that runs through Colombia and its people. Colombia's mountains, jungles, Caribbean beaches, Spanish colonial architecture, rural and indigenous cultures combine to offer a quite unforgettable tour in one of the world's great (and yet uncharted) destinations.

Bogota graffiti murals
Colombia Perceptions Cultural Tour - 10 Days

This tour takes you through three of Colombia's most diverse and interesting cities — Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena. You'll begin in Bogota, with its high-Andean look but altogether bohemian feel. You'll visit world-class museums, learn about a rich and eventful history, and experience a complex urban scene with stunning graffiti murals, topped off with a varied culinary offering and some great nightlife.

Aerial View of Cartagena
Diverse Colombia: Los Nevados Trek, Bogota, Coffee and Cartagena - 10 Days

Experience the best of Colombian culture and enjoy a multi-day trek to a hidden site tucked away in an immense mountain chain. Bogota’s cosmopolitan atmosphere — coupled with Cartagena’s regal and historical Caribbean charm — will serve as a fitting prelude and conclusion to your adventure. In between, our multi-day trek across the rugged, volcanic landscapes of the Colombian Andes will take your breath away in more ways than one, with unrivalled natural diversity and little-visited local cultures marking your way.

Planning Your Trip to Colombia

Colombia's travel scene is booming as travelers discover this nation's endless appeal, from the physical beauty of the Amazon and Andes to its vibrant culture and sophisticated cities. Here’s the low-down on planning your visit, including visa issues, getting around, and where to stay.

Recent trip reviews for Juan


Trip to colombia, Colombia - May 17 - May 24, 2018

Traveler: Dèjour O. - Local specialist: Juan Ortiz

Dear KimKim,

Please update the rating scale. Only having five stars from poor to great does not allow me to rate how I genuinely want to. And my words do not provide justice to my overall experience in planning and booking my trip with the services I received from my local specialist.

In the past few years, I faced many tragedies. The first one was dealing with my oldest brother's suicide. Then I encountered looking after my grandfather for six years and witnessing him die with his... read more

Dear KimKim,

Please update the rating scale. Only having five stars from poor to great does not allow me to rate how I genuinely want to. And my words do not provide justice to my overall experience in planning and booking my trip with the services I received from my local specialist.

In the past few years, I faced many tragedies. The first one was dealing with my oldest brother's suicide. Then I encountered looking after my grandfather for six years and witnessing him die with his battle with cancer. After that, I lost the relationship with my mother and two youngest brothers. And finally, I endured a breakup with my ex-partner.

Traveling has become therapy for me. Each time that I have gone outside of the United States, I flew with others who knew how to communicate fluently in Spanish. And going to Columbia by myself and barely knowing and able to speak Spanish, I knew was going to be a challenge.

On May 11, 2018, I contacted KimKim to plan a trip to Medellín, Columbia. My travel dates were May 17, 2018, to May 24, 2018. No one responded to me, and I urgently reached out to KimKim again, on May 14, 2018. Finally, later on, that same day, Juan Ortiz, my local specialist responded.

Juan organized this last minute trip and assisted me 24/7. He was honest, polite, and upfront with me. ATTENTION KimKim, Juan deserves a trip on the house for going over and beyond serving and making me a fulfilled and happy customer.

My four-day adventure started on Friday when I went on the Pablo Escobar tour. I was mind blown by Carlos, who is one of the two remaining officers that served during the years that Pablo was alive. Saturday, I met my main and magnificent tour guide, Marcelo. That day I went on an Innovation tour of Medellín. Medellín has so many environmental and collected community organizing that I want to create in my hometown, Bethlehem, also known as the Lehigh Valley, in Pennsylvania. Sunday, I went to the Rio Claro Reserve. The Rio Claro Reserve brought me up and also down. It brought me up because it is an environment where I can see myself losing myself and escape from the madness of the world. Rio Claro brought me down because there is a need for new zoning laws to be reinforced. It will be devasting for Rio Claro to be taken over by the industrial invasion. I did not finish my tour small. I completed my journey with a big bang, on Monday and going to Guatapé. Guatapé was breathtaking, and no one has lived until they visit this beautiful "peace on earth." The last two days I was left to explore and have some me time.

KimKim, if there is a way to update your rating scale with all of the stars in the universe it will be a tremendous help. Then the range would be more accurate. Visiting Medellín, Columbia, alone was nerve wrecking. Notably, having uninformed people plant negative seeds into my head about going alone and the dangers that I might encounter. Everyone that I met including the Conquest 33 Hotel representatives treated me like family. Thus far, this has been the most memorable trip I have experienced. On June 1, 2020, please be my travel agency to plan my trip to South Africa.

Greatly appreciative and humbled,


Juan Ortiz, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thank you for your deeply felt letter I am at the same time humbled (and I speak for both myself and our team) to have been part of a journey that has given you joy during a period of heartache. I am glad and proud that your experience in this country, one that itself is going through a period of change and reconciliation, has provided part of the therapy that you were looking for. It was our absolute pleasure and anything you need here or whatever just let us know. Take care of yourself and keep discovering. J

Colombia andes, amazon & caribbean, Colombia - Aug 14 - Aug 25, 2017

Traveler: maria t. - Local specialist: Juan Ortiz

The quality of the tours was amazing. Everywhere we went, we had dedicated drivers. The only thing I would change is the hotel in Cartagena. It felt a little run down and dirty. Otherwise, everything else was perfect! My favorite stay was in La Jorara.

Juan & his team made themselves available 24 hours a day, even when we had a flight delay.

Juan Ortiz, local specialist, responded to this review:

Hi Maria,

Thanks so much for taking the time to write this! We're so happy that it all worked out as you wanted and we've taken on board your comments on the hotel in Cartagena - we'll be feeding that back to them to see what can be done. I'll also let La Jorara know the good news! In the meantime it makes us very happy to know that your Colombia adventure was everything you wanted , it was a pleasure being able to put this together for you and Michael, please send him my regards.

Until the next time!

All the best