Colombia Uncovered: Bogotá to Cali 2020
|Tour Dates||03 Apr 2020 - 19 Apr 2020 (17 days)|
|Tour Price (Per Person)||Price to be announced|
|Spaces Available||Spaces available|
- Full services of an Out of Bounds Tours leader with local guides and drivers.
- All meals from arrival until departure.
- Drinking water provided.
- All transport within the itinerary.
- All accommodations.
- All entrance fees, sightseeing, excursions and activities as per the itinerary.
|Tour Fact Sheet|
|Max Group Size||12 with 1 Out of Bounds leader|
Day 1: Bogotá
Arrive in Bogotá and be met and transferred to the hotel. Depending on your arrival time, the remainder of the day will be to relax, meet with your fellow travelers, or explore the city at your leisure. Overnight at the Lancaster House.
Day 2: Bogotá
Today we will set off on a full day throughout Bogotá where we will begin by visiting La Candelaria, known at the heart and soul of the city and the oldest part of Bogotá, and the Plaza Bolivar (Main Square). The Plaza is the focal point of this historic part of the city and surrounding the square are several important buildings including the Palace of Justice and Colombian Congress. The Plaza is also home to the Mayor’s office and the Primary Cathedral of Bogota that dominates an entire corner. Standing proud in the plazas center is a statue of Simon Bolivar (Founder of Colombian independence) the first public monument to be erected in the city.
Later we will walk from the center of the old town to the base of the hill that leads up to the hilltop vie point and the monastery of Monserrate. The summit can be reached by either funicular railway or cable car. From the highest point, the view across the city will enable you to see the different sectors of Bogota. From La Candelaria and its terracotta tiled roofs to the high rise business sector and then on across the sabana (flat plains) and off into the distance. The new convent is a pilgrimage site for many Colombians whom make their way past the fourteen Stations of the Cross until reaching the convent. There are a few artisan shops, with others selling snacks and refreshments. Overnight at the Lancaster House.
Day 3: Bogotá — Zipaquirá — Villa de Leyva
We will venture from Bogotá to the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá. Traveling north of the city, through countryside once occupied by the native Muisca Indians, Zipaquirá is one of the more popular destinations in Colombia and is known for the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, which is carved underground in a still functioning salt mine just west of the town. The subtle lighting pronounces the fourteen Stations of the Cross as you descend in to the mine, each station sculpted by a different artist. At the deepest point of the cathedral, 180 m below the earth’s surface, you encounter the nave and the north and south aisles dominated by the 16m high central cross. The illumination and execution of the work is a tribute to modern techniques and years of work from the miners and artists. Your guide will explain all about the cathedrals construction and how it and the mine still function in harmony. However you view this construction, you can’t fail to be impressed by its size and grandeur. Around the central square of the town of Zipaquirá the colonial buildings still hold their charm footed by brickwork paving and overlooked by the Cathedral Diocesana de San Antonio.
Later we will continue north on to the village of Villa de Leyva, an additional journey of about 3 hours passing through stunning savannah landscapes on the way. With its myriad of winding cobbled streets, lined on either side by orange roofed white washed houses, and surrounded by mountains, Villa de Leyva is a charming place. With scarcely a modern building in site and boasting one of the largest cobbled-stoned squares in South America this village where time stands still is a great place to see a snapshot of historical Colombia preserved in its entirety. Overnight at the La Posada de San Antonio.
Day 4: Villa de Leyva
We will begin our day exploring the cobbled streets of the old town of Villa de Leyca where we will visit the enormous plaza, undulating across its cobbled expanse of 14,000 sq. meters, and said to be the largest in Colombia maybe even in all South America. The plaza is home to the main church that dominates the square. From the Plaza you will visit some of the interesting buildings including the house of Antonio Nariño, where you will learn all about the stories of this very important figure in the history of Villa de Leyva and Colombia. We will then make your way to other interesting buildings in the center such as the Monasteries de las Carmelitas Descalzas, still occupied by a secretive sect of nuns and the Casa del primer congress. Your guide will be on hand to explain about the area and how rural Colombian life affects the local inhabitants. This fascinating walk through the quaint cobbled streets of the village gives you an insight in to what life in Colombia may have been like in days gone by.
After lunch we will make an excursion to the Pozos Azules; a mineral enriched lagoon with vibrant turquoise waters. Then from the lagoon we will drive through the desert-like terrain towards El Fossil (The fossil). This 120 million year old 12 meter Kronosaurus fossil is on show in a small paleontology museum with other artifacts that have been found in this fossil rich area. From the museum we will continue our journey towards the Astrological site of El Infiernito. This site was once central to the local Muisca Indians and was used by them to predict seasons and hold rituals. The site has 30 cylindrical stone monoliths sunk vertically into the ground. Overnight at the La Nube Posada.
Day 5: Barichara
Today we will depart Villa de Leyca through the mountainous region of Santander to the charming traditional village of Barichara, which is regarded as one of the best preserved colonial towns of the region and the prettiest village in Colombia. With its cobbled streets and whitewashed traditional buildings, the town evokes easily the feeling of a traditional Colombian “Pueblo” or a village from a bye gone age. Designated a national monument in 1975, much of the town has remained unchanged for over 300 years, and the village has a very peaceful atmosphere with lots of fine stonework, found in the four churches and on the street paving, and houses painted in white and green or blue paint. The bohemian feel to the town with its many resident artists is added to by a great selection of restaurants, artisan shops and boutiques. We will visit the Cathedral of the Immaculate, and climb to the Church of Santa Barbara, located at the top of a hill overlooking the town. The region is also famous for its culinary delights including the local specialty of fried ants “Hormiga Culonas” Overnight at the La Nube Posada.
Day 6: El Parque Gallineral — San Gil
This morning we will visit venture down to El Parque Gallineral, famous for the stunning and enormous ceiba trees which beautifully overflow with long silvery moss, where we will walk along its shaded paths and admire the peaceful and picturesque flowing streams around the park surrounded by friendly red squirrels. Later we will continue our short drive to San Gil, which is known as the adventure sports capital of Colombia and where there will be optional activities on offer such as rafting, rappelling, paragliding among the canyons, or mountain bike along the beautiful landscapes. Alternatively, for those choosing not to do adventure activities, we will have the remainder of the afternoon at leisure to stroll San Gil and enjoy its laid back atmosphere before meeting back up with your group for dinner. Overnight in San Gil.
Day 7: Chicamocha Canyon — Bucaramanga — Girón
Leaving San Gil behind, today we will make our way roughly 4-hours north to Bucaramanga, one of the largest city in Colombia, where along the way we will stop to admire the Chicamocha Canyon. Chicamocha is a steep sided canyon carved by the Chicamocha River and extends over 108,000 acres and 2000 meters in depth and was formed about 46 million years ago. On this territory many million years ago, there was a lake that hosted many marine animals whose remains have been found. In 2009, the canyon was nominated as one of the 7 natural wonders contest.
Arriving in Bucaramanga, we will take a panoramic tour of the city before heading to the nearby city of Girón, where we will visit its beautiful whitewashed colonial downtown. Overnight at Tryp.
Day 8: Bucaramanga — Medellín via Bogotá (Flight)
We begin the day with a short flight via Bogotá to Colombia’s mountain city, Medellin, which sits at 5000 ft above sea level, and the nicknamed “The City of Eternal Spring.” Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Medellín was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world for its size during the reign of Pablo Escobar and the Medellín Cartel. Since his and Cartels demise in the mid-1990’s, the city has been on an unprecedented rebound from its tarnished reputation and has now risen to become one of most exciting cities in South America. We will have a half-day to explore this interesting city, including visits to the Metropolitan Cathedral, which holds a record for one the most bricks used for any building in the world (1.1 million), the Parque de Bolívar, and a ride on the famed The Metrocable sky train that has revolutionized transportation in the city. Overnight at Park10.
Day 09: El Peñol — Guatapé
Today we will embark on a full day tour to El Peñol and Guatapé. After a drive of nearly 2-hours through the countryside of Antioquia, we will reach the giant monolith rock of El Peñol (Literally, “The stone”). Reminiscent of the Sugar Loaf mountain in Rio de Janeiro, this 200 meter high rock towers over a series of beautiful lakes with a mountain back drop. This gentle undulating like scenery makes a stunning comparison to the modern and cosmopolitan city of Medellin only a couple hours away. The top of the rock is reached by a series of 649 wooden steps that wind up to the top of the rock. Upon reaching the top we will be greeted with a 360 degree bird’s eye view of the surrounding country side. There is normally a guide on the top of the rock to explain a bit about the geography of the area and some of the unusual rock formations around the lakes below as well as point out the confiscated houses of infamous Medellin inhabitants such as Pablo Escobar.
Next we will journey on to the nearby town of Guatapé, which is in a picture-perfect lakeside location with a waterfront and beautiful brightly painted houses and store fronts. Guatapé has a number of pretty waterfront restaurants in which to enjoy delicious lunch cooked using locally sourced ingredients. After this interesting day, we will drive 2-3 hours back to Medellín. Overnight at Park10.
Day 10: Santa Fé de Antioquia — San Jerónimo
After breakfast, we will drive 2-hours north of Medellín to Santa Fe de Antioquia. Set in a lush low-lying hot and sultry valley on the banks of the Rio Cauca, Santa Fe de Antioquia is the oldest settlement in the region. Founded in 1541 it served as the capital of the department until 1826 when the state capital moved to Medellin. The town has kept much of its charm with its narrow streets and whitewashed colonial-style buildings. The central plaza is dominated by the principal church of the town, and there are several other churches and important colonial buildings to visit nearby, but the greatest pleasure is simply exploring the narrow streets infused with history of the region. As an additional side trip, we can take a “Moto” or covered motor bike taxi down to the Cauca River to see the famous suspension bridge, said to be the oldest in the Americas. Later in the afternoon we will head back to Medellín where we will stop off to visit the beautiful church and colonial and republican architecture of San Jerónimo en route. Overnight at Park10.
Day 11: Jardín
Venturing out of Medellín early this morning, we will make our way approximately four hours south to the beautiful small town of Jardín.
Jardín, which means ‘garden’ in Spanish and has remained largely unchanged for the last 140 years, is identified by its preserved whitewashed colonial architecture, sociable El Libertador Plaza lined with cafes that was declared a National Monument of Colombia in 1985, horses and carts trotting in the streets, lush green vegetation, and a countryside that is full of rivers, streams and small farms that grow coffee, banana and an assortment of exotic fruits such as yuca, uchuva and granadilla. The town’s main church is the imposing Neo-Gothic styled Basilica Menor de la Inmaculada Conception, which presides over the square and is a dominant presence with its dark brick facade that was built from hand-cut stones from the Tapartó River.
After a good while exploring Jardín on foot, we will venture by car to a trout farm called Estadero El Arka that is strategically located alongside a predominant river that flows through the region. Although only 15 minutes outside town, the drive will take us through some impressive hill side trails and a visually stunning mountain valley pass. At the farm, there is a restaurant that is built just above the fish tanks that provides some spectacular views and we will enjoy some fresh caught trout for dinner before returning to Jardín. Overnight at Jardín.
Day 12: Cave of Splendor
Today we will set off from Jardín to the little-known Cave of Splendor (La Cueva del Esplendor), which is a spectacular natural waterfall in which rushing water gushes furiously through a hole in the ceiling of the small cave creating a powerful cloud of mist on impact with the rocks below and a fascinating scene to witness as we can walk directly up to the waterfall ourselves.
Getting to the cave is as memorable and worthwhile of adventure an adventure unto itself and is sure to be one of the most enjoyable excursions of the trip. We will start with a 45 minute drive on dirt roads up the mountain slopes, passing banana and coffee plantations, until we reach horse stables and meet with our experienced local guides. Then we strap on some rubber boats and embark on an exciting three hour horseback ride across the beautiful emerald green terrain with breathtaking views of the Andean mountains. We will then tie up our horses and finish the rest of the journey with a half-hour hike through jungle foliage to the cave’s mouth. Once at the Cave of Spendor, we will relax at this peaceful and beautiful hidden gem and enjoy the cool mountain air before continuing our equally stunning trek back to the horse stables and head back to Jardín. We will have time to shower and rest before dinner and the remainder of the evening will be at leisure after this very full day. Overnight at Jardín.
Note: Those that would like to opt out of the Cave of Splendor will have the day at leisure in Jardín. Activities around the town can be arranged.
Day 13: Salento (Coffee Region)
We have a nice four hour drive to Salento today, one of the hubs of the coffee region. The coffee region for many people is the heart and soul of Colombia, its cultural epicenter. With every turn, a spectacular panorama changes your perspective, from the rolling hillsides of fertile coffee plantations to plunging valleys and bold elevations. Campesino or rural life continues as it has done for centuries harvesting coffee, plantains (a type of Banana) and many other fruits in this lush and fertile land. A visit to the Coffee region permits you to experience the tranquility of the region. It also offers the opportunity for adventure or for friendly encounters with locals going about their daily lives. Staying in one of the many fincas or haciendas provides an opportunity to get a feel for the areas ambiance and harmony and a great place to rest after a day exploring.
Three departments make up the “Triángulo Del Café” . They run in a North to South line following the Central Andean Cordillera. Caldas is the most northerly of the departments, then heading south to Risaralda and in turn Quindío. All three are flanked by the snow capped peaks of the Parque Natural los Nevados to the east. The climate is reflected by the extremes in altitude, from the harsh temperatures and savage beauty of the surrounding mountains at 5000 m.a.s.l, to the sultriness of the Rio Cauca. The Rio Cauca is the largest watercourse in the region and the second most important in Colombia. The river begins from its source in the department of Cauca to its emergence with the Rio Brazo and then onto its connection with the Rio Magdalena further north. As the name suggests the coffee region is the home to the famous Colombian coffee but there is far more on offer in this amazing part of the country.
We will have the afternoon and evening at leisure to enjoy our beautiful surroundings. Overnight at Salento Real.
Day 14: Cocora Valley via Filandia
We head to our first stop of Filandia. The main square has not changed in appearance or in character in decades. Filandia does not have an attraction to visit; Filandia is the attraction. A coffee break in one of the many small coffee shops will allow you to take in the quaintness of uninterrupted lines of brightly painted houses in this traditional Pueblo of the region. The guide will explain about the culture and people of the region and how small pueblos (villages) like this form the back bone of rural agricultural life.
From Filandia we will drive to the Valle Cocora (Cocora Valley). Part of the wider Parque Nacional Los Nevados, the valley is located on the eastern limits of Quindío along the central Andean range. The valley has a unique landscape like a lush version of a Swiss valley. It has been regarded by Colombia as a sanctuary for its national symbol; the Wax Palm. The palms cover the mountain range, which is now protected and declared monument to protect the tree itself and the endemic species that depend on it. The valley is spectacular and great for walking or horseback rides, either way this stunning mountain scenery will not fail to impress. Salento is a municipality in the north eastern part of the department of Quindío. It was the first settlement in Quindío of modern times dating back to 1850, and the first municipality founded in the department. This picturesque town boasts a number of fine houses of traditional architectural style. Rimmed by distant snow capped mountains Salento has a real rural traditional feel. Overnight at Salento Real.
Day 15: Coffee Country
The botanical gardens in Calarca, Quindío hosts a wide collection of trees, plants and insects that live in and flourish in the three departments of this region and beyond. The butterfly house within the gardens houses thousands of stunning florescent and colorful butterflies. Walking through the different modules of the house with its small waterfalls and abundant blossoms the butterflies around you fill the air with a spectrum of colors. Away from the butterfly house, heliconias, ferns and palms, of which there are 235 different species growing in Colombia, fill the gardens. The garden is home to 71 species of heliconias of which there are 120 that grow in Colombia. You can walk through the thick bamboo forest by means of a bridge, enabling you to see how high the Guadua species of bamboo grows.
After visiting the botanical gardens, the next stop will be lunch and a very interesting visit to a local coffee hacienda. These coffee haciendas take their coffee very seriously, and have built their entire existence around the germination, classification, and preparation of Colombian coffee. There is even a chance to learn from the expert barista (taster) who will teach you how to make the perfect espresso or cappuccino. You will also walk through the coffee plantations and nursery and there will be an explanation as to how the plant grows and is cultivated before the final bean reaches the coffee cup. Overnight at Salento Real.
Day 16: Cali
Caleños (people from Cali) consider their passion for music and their beautiful woman a source of great pride. Cali is Salsa, and every road way, building and pore throbs with the Latin beat. Second to Bogota in size, Cali’s architectural make-up is largely modern with a handful of interesting colonial landmarks hidden away among the high rise buildings. A special feature in the city is the green belt running along the river; Rio Cali, lined with exotic and ancient trees. We will enjoy a panoramic tour of Cali to get a feel for the diverse area. Overnight at Movich Casa del Alférez.
Day 17: Cali and departure
We will have a leisurely morning and enjoy breakfast together before being transferred to Cali airport for our onward connections.