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The Best of Colombia Experience – 9 days

Price per Person
1787
Service Level
Comfortable 3 to 4 star Hotels and camping
Travel Style
Luxury Adventures
Activity Level
Level 3 IMG 9322
Group Size
Under request
Minimum Age
12
Start / Finish
Cartagena, Colombia - Colombia, Cartagena
Season
Year around
Activities
Wildlife Trekking Hiking Cultural

Experience seductive Colombia with it’s beauty and vibrancy. Taste the serene highlands of Colombia's famed coffee region and discover the sweeter, softer side of this much misunderstood country. Learn how to roast the perfect blend during a tour of a working coffee plantation, hike in the clouds in Cocora valley, be beguiled by the laid back pace of charming Salento. Spend some time getting acquainted with the sophisticated ambiance and raucous nightlife of Medellin. Then trade the country's lush interior for its coastal spoils and wind the adventure up with a spell in oh-so-romantic Cartagena – a romantic end to this exceptional Colombian adventure.

 



  • BOGOTA WALKING TOUR
  • THE GOLD MUSEUM
  • HIKING THE COCORA VALLEY
  • HANDS ON COFFEE EXPERIENCE
  • PLAY TEJO (LOCAL GAME)
  • JUMP IN A JEEP AND ENJOY THE LOCAL TRANSPORTATION TO EXPLORE COCORA VALLEY
  • LOCAL LIKE WALKING TOUR TO COMUNA 13 (the most dangerous in Colombia in the 80ths/9ths)
  • MEET THE ROOTS OF GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ IN CARTAGENA
  • EXPERIENCE DINNER INSIDE A WOMEN'S JAIL
  • SALSA LESSONS

DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN BOGOTA

DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN BOGOTA
Welcome to Colombia and Bogotá! Officially named Bogotá D.C. (District Capital), and formally known as Santa Fe de Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia is home to more than seven million inhabitants. The city is located at an elevation of about 2,650 m (8,660 ft) on a plateau in the Andes mountains.

Modern Bogotá offers residents and visitors a wide variety of activities and amenities, combined with the picturesque beauty of its cultural and architectural past. Enjoy colonial churches and pre-colombian art in contrast with the futuristic high-rise buildings of a busy metropolis.

There are no planned activities on your arrival day, so check into our hotel and enjoy the city on your own. Your trip expert leader will hold a general briefing in the evening, normally between 7pm and 8pm (a note will be posted in the arrival hotel with details).

Accommodation Hotel Regina or similar.
Meals : In-flight

DAY 2: BOGOTA CITY EXPLORE

DAY 2: BOGOTA CITY EXPLORE

 

After breakfast, we meet our local guide and start the journey through the city with a visit to the grand food market of Paloquemao to get a taste of the traditional food of Colombia. Discover a world of fresh harvested products, exotic fruits, organic local produce and much more. Marvel at the best street graffiti art in the city and discover the wonders of “El Dorado” at the gold museum. Later we will make our way to Bolivar Square   for more local flavor at a typical restaurant. Afterwards, stop at one of the cafes and enjoy a cup of delicious coffee.

Accommodation: Hotel Regina or similar.
Meals : Breakfast

DAY 3: COFFEE EXPIRIENCE AND SALENTO

DAY 3: COFFEE EXPIRIENCE AND SALENTO
Thanks to its tropical climate and fertile volcanic soil, Colombia is one of the worlds largest producers of coffee. You’ll get to know this addictive little bean a whole lot better on a guided tour of the coffee plantation and processing center. Take a 1 hour flight to Armenia and a short ride to the beautiful Coffee farm Recuca. Dig into the history of the plant, learning the inside story of the industry that has long buoyed the country's economy. See how the beans are grown, harvested, processed, dried, roasted and ground. Then, sample firsthand to see what all the fuss is about. Try different varieties of coffee and get a lesson on preparing different types of coffees, finishing it all off with a steaming cup of freshly brewed joe. Afterwards, relax amid the estancia's beautiful surrounds of sloping green hills and valleys.

In the afternoon, we journey to Salento Village to become amazed by the beauty of this colorful town.

Accommodation:Salento Real or similar.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 4: COCORA VALLEY HIKE

DAY 4: COCORA VALLEY HIKE
DAY 4: COCORA VALLEY HIKE
  

Jump on a jeep to travel Cocora Valley, home of the towering wax palm (Colombia's national tree). Spend this morning trekking about the region's incredible scenery; perhaps hiking a few hours up to Acaime Reserve where colourful hummingbirds feed. The hike to Acaime (approx. 5 hours) is quite strenuous, with some steep and slippery sections, so you'll need good walking shoes, as well as plenty of water and snacks. A generous local lunch will be provided. If you would rather take it easy, you can explore the valley as you please, then we will take a jeep back to town.

Enjoy the afternoon at leisure to explore Salento and stroll through its quaint streets and admire the colors of 'paisa' architecture at its best.

In the afternoon we will get together to play Tejo, a unique local game only played in Colombia.

Accommodation: Salento Real or similar.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 5: MEDELLIN COMUNA 13 WALKING TOUR

DAY 5: MEDELLIN COMUNA 13 WALKING TOUR
 
Head out early in the morning after breakfast to travel along the Colombian countryside for 6 hours to Medellin. After arriving, go in the afternoon to meet a local guide to discover another side of the city by traveling along the city’s innovative transportation system to Comuna 13, a community transformed. Once controlled by the cartels, this community is a shining example of Colombia's progress in overcoming its notorious past. Meet a local guide and begin the journey upward with a ride on the city’s unique public cable cars. Head farther up the hillside to the outdoor electric escalators that serve Comuna 13. This extensive escalator system has renewed the impoverished district, which clings to a steep hillside, by providing relief to residents whose daily commutes have become safer and faster. Arrive at the top to explore this welcoming and safe urban neighborhood and enjoy panoramic views of the city.

Accommodation: Hotel Florencia Plaza.
Meals : Breakfast

DAY 6: MEDELLIN MULTY OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES  

DAY 6: MEDELLIN MULTY OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES  
Be free to tailor make your day with any of the multiple optional activities that most suits your interests:
  • City Tour
  • Pablo Escobar Tour
  • Penol de Guatape
  • Gautape cross-country bike ride
Medellin retains an interesting recent history. Having spent the 1980s and 90s with an international reputation as one of the world's most dangerous cities (due to Pablo Escobar's infamous drug cartel), Medellin has turned itself around to become one of the most exciting cities in South America. It has some of the country's finest museums, parks and architecture; (as well as a much safer and comfortable atmosphere now) it's easy to see why its popularity is increasing.

Accommodation: Hotel Florencia Plaza.           
Meals : Breakfast

 DAY 7: CARTAGENA GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ TRAIL

 DAY 7: CARTAGENA GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ TRAIL
Take a short 1 hour flight to historic Cartagena, one of South America's most historic cities with beautiful churches, monasteries, plazas and mansions. The town was founded in 1533 by the Spaniard Don Pedro de Heredi and served as a major center of early Spanish settlement in the Americas. Its gold and silver exports made it a popular target for pirates, and its walled fort (now on UNESCO's World Heritage list) was built to protect both shipping and the slave trade. In the afternoon enjoy a walking tour through the old part of town, visiting key sites throughout the historical center of the city that were inspiration for Colombia's most famous author, journalist and Nobel Prize winner; Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Accommodation: Hotel Pedro de Heredia or similar.
Meals : Breakfast

DAY 8: CARATGENA CITY EXPLORE

DAY 8: CARATGENA CITY EXPLORE


Have another day at leisure to discover this romantic city on your own, or try out optional activities such as: Totumo mud volcano, Rosario Islands national park or the Party Bus at night activity.

We recommend you explore the old city by yourselves, particularly the inner walled town, perhaps visit San Felipe de Barajas Castle, the largest of the fortresses, or head out of town for a mud bath at Volcan de Lodo El Totumo. The nearby group of tiny coral islands and stunning expanses of Playa Blanca (White Beach) reveal the hidden beauty of Colombia's Caribbean coast. Maybe choose to end this adventure people-watching in the heart of Getsemaní, Plaza de la Trinidad, where kids play soccer and singers strum their guitars.

In the evening, enjoy your farewell dinner at Interno, a restaurant inside of a women’s jail, it is a successful project that is supporting many families from the prisoners.

Accommodation:
 Hotel Salento Real or similar.                                         

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 9: DEPARTURE

DAY 9: DEPARTURE
International departures, end of services. Take with you memories and photos and leave a piece of your heart, as you will want to return to Ecuador soon to experience more of this enchanted land. We wish you a “buen viaje”!
Meals : Breakfast
  • Transportation: 2 Domestic flights One-way from Bogota to Armenia & Medellin to Cartagena, private van/bus, jeep, metro cable car, walking.
  • Accommodation (based on double occupancy): Comfortable 3 to 4 star Hotels (8 nts)
  • Meals: 8 Breakfasts, 2 lunches & 1 dinner
  • Allow USD 220-280 for meals not included.
  • Staff & Trip Leader: Certified AJ expert English-speaking adventure leader and local guides

 



NOT INCLUDED

  • Single supplement $490
  • Entrance fees not listed
  • International air (also applied to trans-border flights)
  • International airport transfers
  • Applicable tourist visas
  • Incidentals
  • Mandatory Travel Insurance
  • Airport taxes
  • Tips or gratuities
  • Beverages
  • Meals not mentioned above
  • Optional tours or optional admissions not listed above

 

  • Passport,
  • Travel insurance,
  • Airline tickets,
  • Credit or debit card (see personal spending money),
  • Fleece top,
  • 4 shirts/t-shirts,
  • 2 pair of short,
  • 2 pairs of long trousers,
  • 1 pair hiking pants/track pants,
  • Sport sandals,
  • Toiletries (biodegradable),
  • Watch or alarm clock,
  • Quick dry clothing,
  • Rain coat,
  • Rain pants,
  • Waterproof binoculars, just if you have it
  • Bug spray,
  • Sun cream,
  • Flashlight,
  • Sun Hat,
  • Waterproof camera if possible,
  • Swimming suit,
  • Waterproof back pack, if possible not mandatory
  • Water bottle,
  • Tennis shoes,
  • Hiking shoes,
  • Money belt,
  • Sunglasses,
  • First-aid kit(should contain lip salve, Aspirin, Band Aids, anti-histamine, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, re-hydration powder, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
  • SMILE
IMPORTANT TRAVEL TIPS
Colombia is a wonderful, colorful and friendly country to visit. It is, however, a very different culture. So to ensure that you are fully prepared for the trip and enjoy your stay here we provide the following travel tips:

GENERAL (TRAVEL IN A DEVELOPING COUNTRY):
Colombia is a developing country and many regions still live in poverty. Although the tourism infrastructure is reasonably good considering that this is very new industry. Though it is growing and improving each year, it can still be difficult at times to travel.
You will often be needing a little patience as things tend to run on “latino time” – buses often depart late, people often arrive late to meetings, and things generally happen more slowly and with less urgency than in other countries.
The best way to deal with these differences is to look on the bright side and take each challenge as part of your travel experience. Relax and enjoy these sides to Latin culture.

ETIQUETTE & BEHAVIOR
Colombia is one of South America´s most hospitable nations. Even in the overburdened metropolis of Bogota, people are happy to give directions, chat, and ask a question. You´ll often hear “De donde vienes?” (“Where are you from?”). Colombians can be extremely knowledgeable and proud of the history of their country.
In the cities women who know each other often greet each other with a single kiss on the cheek, while men shake hands.

SHOPPING & BARGAINING
Colombia has many colorful markets – both for handicrafts and local products. Before buying you should always bargain in price as this is the custom and the locals often try to charge extra to the tourists. There is no general guideline as to how much you should pay for any individual item – you should decide how much you are willing to pay, start your offers lower than that amount and compromise little by little trying to get the seller’s price down to your ideal price. Bargaining can be fun, and a great chance to improve your Spanish while interacting with the locals!
When in regular shops/malls you should pay the quoted price as it is considered rude to bargain.

CAMERAS & PHOTOGRAPHY
Colombia, with its majestic landscapes and varied city scapes, is the dream of every photographer. However, you should respect the locals and follow these simple rules when photographing them:
Always ask permission before taking someone´s picture. People in remote villages often don’t like being photographed.

TIPPING
It is recommended to Tip our Drivers and Guides as this is not included in the price of the trip, for drivers we recommend $3 USD per person per day and for the guides $10 USD per person per day.
Tipping is also standard practice in most cafes and restaurants – 10% is normal.

ALTITUDE SICKNESS
Soroche (altitude sickness) affects some visitors in the Colombian Andes. Headache, dizziness, and shortness of breath are common.
To avoid such effects it is recommended to take it easy on your first day, drink plenty of water or coca tea, and eat chocolate. Always inform your guide or hotel staff if you feel any symptoms and they will help you out.

FOOD & DRINK
Another health risk in Colombia is traveler´s diarrhea caused by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. It is therefore very important to watch what you eat - do not eat anything from street vendors, avoid ice unless you are sure it is made from purified water, avoid uncooked or under-cooked food and unpasteurized milk, drink bottled and boiled water, even when brushing your teeth. In the case of illness always inform your guide or hotel staff who will help you deal with it and ensure that you drink enough water to maintain hydration.

HYGIENE
Hygiene standards are generally lower than those you are used to in North America or Europe. One very important difference is that the sewage system cannot cope with toilet paper being flushed into the toilet. There is usually a basket next to the toilet which should be used to deposit used toilet paper, and although unpleasant, this method is more pleasant than the toilet overflow that will occur if paper is flushed!

SAFETY AND SECURITY
Safety and security is an important issue as pick-pocketing and robbery of tourists can and does occur. It is important not to be paranoid when traveling as most Colombians you meet will be very honest and friendly people, but there are some basic precautions that you should take: Unless necessary never carry anything valuable with you (i.e. expensive watches / jewelry) or large amounts of money. Guard your cell phone and keep zippers zipped and pockets closed when out and about.

EXTRA IMPORTANT DETAILS
ITINERARY DISCLAIMER
It is our intention to adhere to the itinerary described; however, due to our travel style, on occasions, it may be necessary or desirable to make small changes. Weather conditions and unpredictable local circumstances may lead us to make alterations to the route and/or travel times. Hotels and flight schedules might change according to availability. Any mention of specific wildlife in the itinerary or trip details is not a guarantee that it will be seen during the trip.

SEASON
All year

DIFFICULTY LEVEL
Easy to Moderate - We consider this expedition as a soft adventure, so children and adults can do it with no problem and for people that want to take a break or just avoid any of this adventures can always hang out with the driver doing something else. For people that may want to do a bit more challenging, our guides will be happy to coordinate something to help them.
NOTE - For specific details of activities please view the Full Itinerary.

ACCOMMODATION
All prices are based on double-occupancy. If you are traveling solo, you will be matched with another participant of your same sex. If you prefer to have a single room, please contact AJ prior to your departure to arrange your accommodation at an extra cost, it is very important to notice that the hotels listed on the Itinerary description may change according to availability so we do not guarantee you stay there, but we will make sure you will stay in a similar one of the same category.

MEALS
Traveling with ADVENTURE Journeys you will have the possibility to experience and taste local food and snacks. Your guide will help you identify typical food and suggest the best places to enjoy it. Some meals are not included in order to give you some flexibility about where, what and with whom to eat. You have the option to share these meals with the group, however there is no obligation to do this. If you have any allergies or food restrictions, please inform AJ prior to your departure.
Vegetarians, Vegans and Gluten Free people are very welcome in our trip, our guides are always ready to coordinate with chefs and restaurants fantastic meals for them, as Ecuador is very well known for its great diversity of gastronomy.

YOUR TRIP LEADERS AND GUIDES
All AJ guides and trip leaders are highly experienced, licensed from the Tourism University to operate in Ecuador and certified as Wilderness Adventure First Aid respondents. They all have approved several extra training courses for kayaking, rafting, biking and horse riding, besides this they all are Ecuadorian and have a fantastic personality. We always carry a complete first aid kit in our trips.
In some locations and for some activities, local guides join the trip leaders to provide an added service and make sure we practice sustainable tourism involving local indigenous people in our operation.
In the Galapagos Islands, minimum 4 participants for the AJ trip leader service are required.

SUSTAINABLE ECO AND CULTURAL TOURISM
Clients receive interpretation and education about the ecology and conservation of the Andes, Amazon rain forest and Galapagos Islands, and learn about the factors that threaten it. We aim to promote long-term conservation of both local people cultural identity and the environment. We transport out and recycle all non-organic garbage and we prefer to work with local suppliers. Your visit will encourage the local communities to support responsible eco-tourism as a sustainable alternative for their living.

HEALTH INFORMATION
Please inform AJ of any existing medical conditions (i.e. pregnancy, diabetes, etc). Yellow fever, Hepatitis B vaccination and Malaria Medication are recommended when traveling to the tropics. Please ask your doctor for advice. 

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