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
Colombia's heritage extends from the shores of the Caribbean to the rainforests of the Amazon. This unique 11-day itinerary hinges on an event which takes place in Medellín every August: the Batalla de Flores, or "Festival of the Flowers," is one of the biggest spectacles in the entire country. So set aside some time at the end of summer and prepare for an excursion that you won't soon forget.
In this itinerary, you'll embark on a high-altitude 4-day trek into Los Nevados National Park. You'll visit a working coffee farm and enjoy the unique scenery of the Páramo Eco-system here. While many travelers only see the Cocora Valley and Salento on a quick day trip, you'll get to know Colombia's Zona Cafetera from an in-depth perspective over the course of your 6 days in the region.
This itinerary starts and ends in two of Colombia's most exciting cities, Bogotá and Medellín. In between, you'll visit a working coffee farm and set off on a four-day trek through the Central Andes in Los Nevados National Park. After your trek, relax in the thermal pools outside of Manizales, with the still-active Nevado del Ruiz volcano as a backdrop. Then it's off to Medellín, a dynamic place to finish your trip.
With this itinerary, you'll see the best of Colombia in 12 days. Begin on the Caribbean coast with a visit to Tayrona National Park, where you'll snorkel and hike to your heart's content. From there, hop a flight to the Coffee Region for mountain biking, birdwatching in sub-Andean forests, and a tour of a working coffee farm. End your journey in colonial Popayán and Tierradentro, an archeological site famous for its underground burial chambers.
This itinerary starts and ends in two of Colombia's most exciting cities, the capital of Bogotá and the "city of the eternal spring," Medellín. In between, you'll embark on a high-altitude trek into Los Nevados National Park. In Bogotá, you'll get to know the food scene of the city before heading to the Coffee Region. You'll visit a working coffee farm and set off on a four-day trek through the central Andes. After your trek, you'll relax in the thermal pools outside of Manizales, with the still-active Nevado del Ruiz volcano as a backdrop. Then it's off to Medellín, where you'll get to know this dynamic city as you ride its Metrocable network of gondolas.
This all-encompassing itinerary combines Colombia's popular attractions with some roads less traveled. You'll begin your journey in the "city of the eternal spring," Medellín, and visit El Peñon de Guatape, a landmark granite rock jutting hundreds of feet out of the ground. If you're a caffeine lover, get ready to visit Colombia's mountainous Coffee Region. You'll embark from this area and hike, mountain bike, and birdwatch through the adjacent sub-Andean forests. Next it's off to the indigenous archeological site of Tierradentro, with its ancient underground burial chambers. Learn about the civilization who built them, then end your stay in the southern colonial town of Popayán.
Recent trip reviews for Juan
Colombia’s top 5 bird-watching destinations, Colombia - Sep 4 - Sep 8, 2019
We enjoyed the trip and our guide Anderson was very good and pleasant. Many thanks for arranging.
2-week colombia wildlife photo trip- july 2019, Colombia - Jun 13 - Jun 28, 2019
Fabio and John were both great and easy to travel with.
Birding tour of coastal colombia - 6 days, Colombia - Feb 18 - Feb 24, 2019
The trip was well-planned but had a couple of glitches. We did not receive the packet of materials including daily schedule until 2 days before the trip. It probably should have been sent earlier. Also we were scheduled to leave the hotel in Santa Marta several hours before out flight. Since it was a domestic flight and the airport is only 25 minutes from the hotel, that was too early. Fortunately our birding guide was able to call the office and have it changed so we arrived only 90... read more
Great itineraries for two weeks in colombia, Colombia - Aug 18 - Sep 1, 2018
Hi Juan, Sorry I have not been able to write a review before but I came back to a great pile of work with a deadline and I don’t like to miss deadlines and then I have been in hospital for an operation on my leg. Anyway now I have some time to devote to some feedback for you. The tour was great we only have few pointers to help with improvement :
1) I think it would help all travellers to have their internal flights, times, flight numbers and booking references would be really useful. We... read more
Colombia’s top 5 bird-watching destinations, Colombia - Aug 19 - Aug 23, 2018
We had a busy visit to Colombia and just time for a day's birding from Medellin. We were put in touch with Juan Ortiz who was great. He made some great suggestions but told us frankly what was going to work with our flights, and what no. In the end we went birding in two parks above Medellin with Ivan Lau. It was a great day, we saw 50 different species of bird and Ivan was incredibly knowledgeable and patient.
What especially impressed me is that Juan and Ivan offered us more... read more
Colombia birding tour excluding santa marta, Colombia - Jul 15 - Jul 30, 2018
The trip was fabulous. the guide (Alejandro Pinto) was superb. He has excellent knowledge of the local birds and was happy and helpful throughout despite being ill. The most memorable part was staying in Tatama. An excellent place. Good food and great hospitality.
Group departure - birdwatching in colombia's andean ranges & magdalena valley - 16 days, Colombia - Jul 14 - Jul 30, 2018
The Colombian Project’s Eastern, Central, and Western Andean Ranges and Valleys 16-day tour exceeded my expectations! We visited a variety of birding areas, so the tour was a great introduction and sampling of the birds and birding in Colombia. Our bird guide, Alejandro, was energetic, enthusiastic, and located many hard to find birds.
I enjoyed dining at a variety of establishments, many of which included local fare, and staying in a variety of accommodation types, all of which were... read more
Colombia birding tour excluding santa marta, Colombia - Jul 15 - Jul 30, 2018
Overall a great experience with very sociable and helpful guide, Aljandro really knows his birds.
I would have preferred to see more owls, nightjars and raptors but the forrest birds made for a superb trip.
Tx again KimKim
Planning your trip to colombia, Colombia - Jun 16 - Jun 20, 2018
I had a great time in Colombia. Angel was a remarkable guide who was able to cater to our group in an expert way. Each driver was skilled and they were fun to talk with. The Sierra Nevada in Santa Marta was beautiful and all of the hotels that Juan recommended were great.
Trip to colombia, Colombia - May 17 - May 24, 2018
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
Colombia andes, amazon & caribbean, Colombia - Aug 14 - Aug 25, 2017
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.