Stride climate

Trip Type : Small Group Tour
Contrasts of Colombia tour

Contrasts of Colombia

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Has very high quality customer experiences and demonstrated commitment to responsible travel practices. read more
4.6 . Excellent
93%
Travel Style: For those looking to maximize their sight seeing time. You thrive on a packed day’s schedule from 8 am to 6pm, with some (but limited) free time. Most activities and meals included. Full on
Physical Level: Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
13 days
From: $ 3,170 $ 244 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights

  • Cartagena - Explore Latin America's colonial gem on the Caribbean Coast
  • Coffee Region - Lush green landscapes with coffee plantations
  • Silvia Market - Travel back in time to this local market run entirely by the indigenous Guambiano people
  • Bogota - Visit its superb pre-Colombian gold museum and the historic streets of La Candelaria
  • Medellin - Discover innovative design and development in this diverse modern city

Short Description

Colombia is the country where 'magical realism' comes to life. Rich in culture, with an enormous biodiversity and a notoriously friendly and welcoming population, a journey through this eclectic country is packed with standout moments. Not only do we visit the Caribbean coast and the lush, green coffee region, but we contrast the modern city of Medellin with the more traditional Andean culture found in Bogota.

Bogota - Visit its superb pre-Colombian Gold Museum and the historic streets of La Candelaria

Salento - The cobbled streets of this quaint town are found in the beautiful Andean foothills, where hummingbirds fly between giant wax palms

Medellin - Discover how this diverse modern city has transformed its reputation through innovative design and development

2020 departures - We are running an altered trip from 2020, please read on for the detailed itinerary

Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
Trip Type Small Group Tour
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value - 3 star
Flights & Transport N/A
Start City Bogota
End City Cartagena

Destinations

Colombia

Cities & Attractions

Bogota Caribbean Cartagena Medellin

Activities

Hiking Trekking

Age Requirement

14

N/A
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Itinerary

Day 1 Join tour in Bogota

Bogota is set at an altitude of over 2600m with the high ranges of the Cordillera Mountains lying to the east. The city's name comes from the Muisca indigenous people who inhabited the region before the arrival of the Spaniards in 1538, and the remnants of not only the Muisca empire but of Colombia's many other indigenous cultures can be found in the city's impressive Gold Museum. Bogota boasts grand colonial churches alongside futuristic architecture and a lively cultural scene. Arriving today we check-in to our hotel.

Meals Provided : None

Day 2 In Bogota; city tour. Visit to Paloquemao local market

This morning we spend time exploring the city, first delving into local life by a visit to the flea market at Usaquen. Walking down the charming cobbled streets, this market is set in a traditional residential area of the city and is a beautiful place to wander and witness Bogota's artistic side. We also visit the farmers' market at Paloquemao, with its overwhelming array of smells and colours. Colombia is the world's second biggest producer and exporter of flowers, and as well as being an important source of local produce, the market's selection of flowers is enormous and enchanting. In the afternoon, we head to the colourful colonial streets of La Candelaria for a tour of the city. Walking under the balconied houses from where local residents often observe the comings and goings below, we'll cross the vast Plaza de Bolivar encountering some excellent examples of colonial architecture, such as the Catedral Primada de Colombia and San Bartolome College. The visit continues with the Museo Botero, a colonial house filled with works of art by the Colombian artist and sculptor Fernando Botero, famous for his abstract portrayal of people with large, exaggerated proportions. Finally, we will visit the Gold Museum, which is regarded as housing the finest collection of gold from Pre-Hispanic times.

Meals Provided : Breakfast & Lunch

Day 3 Cable car up Monserrate; flight to Popayan

This morning we head out of Bogota and take the cable car up Mount Monserrate for magnificent views of the city. On top of the mountain there is a church, whose statue of Senor Caido, the 'Fallen Christ', has become a pilgrimage location for the locals. If weather conditions allow you should be rewarded with fine views across the city and the countryside beyond. In the afternoon we fly to Popayan, often referred to as the 'White City', due to the prevalence of white-walled homes, buildings and churches in the historic centre. Founded in 1537 by Spanish Conquistador Sebastian de Belalcazar, it played an important role during the colonial period as it was the mid-point of gold in the journey between Lima, Quito and Cartagena on its way to Spain. As result of its colonial importance, Popayan's historic centre is one of the most beautiful and well-preserved in Colombia. There are stunning churches such as the San Francisco, Santo Domingo, San Jose and La Ermita. In 2009 Popayan's Easter celebrations were declared by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. On arrival, our Leader will provide an orientation tour on foot.

Meals Provided : Breakfast

Day 4 Visit Silvia local market and countryside haciendas

This morning we drive to the weekly Silvia indigenous market, run mainly by the indigenous Guambiano people. This is an opportunity to witness the interactions between the local communities that have largely maintained their traditional way of life. We will see open backed vans and lorries bringing locals from the high mountains down to the town to trade at the market - this is a sight in itself as they are using every inch of space, hanging off the back of the bus, pouring out of the doors or riding on the roof with their wares. The market is not geared towards tourism, and local produce, farming supplies and hand-spun textiles dominate the stalls. We leave with the impression of having been transported back in time. After returning to Popayan we have a free afternoon, where we may visit some of the town's art and history museums or alternatively take a trip to visit two of the old 18th century haciendas in the countryside surrounding the city. These historic buildings housed some of the country's most important figures, being built and inhabited by the Mosquera family, one of the most traditional and revered families in Colombia and a producer of two respected ex-presidents. The remarkable architecture of the haciendas is unchanged since colonial times.

Meals Provided : Breakfast

Day 5 Drive from Popayan to Armenia via sugar cane mill

Setting off early from Popayan we head towards Armenia, the capital of the Quindio department and an important coffee growing centre, where we will spend the next three nights. During our 7 hour drive, we will visit an old sugar cane mill in Palmira, near Cali. This well- preserved 18th century mill has been converted into a museum and presents a fascinating look at how sugar production contributed to the development of the region. After our visit we continue to the countryside around Armenia, where we overnight in an old hacienda with views out to the Quindio Valley.

Meals Provided : Breakfast & Dinner

Day 6 Full day exploring surrounding mountains and valleys

After breakfast, we spend time exploring the beautiful rainforest and creeks of the valley with the opportunity to see the multitudes of towering wax palms peppering the mountainsides, along with other flora and fauna. We will also visit the town of Salento, with its colourful colonial architecture that is so characteristic of this coffee growing region, enjoying a typical lunch in the charming town centre. Trout is particular to the area, usually served with plantain and rice, but you may also find yucca and arepas, a type of cornbread eaten by locals throughout the country.

Meals Provided : Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 7 Visit coffee farm and taste the local brew

This is one of the most attractive parts of the country, and our hotel happens to be situated in the midst of it's own coffee farm. Today we'll spend the morning visiting the farm - we will learn about the whole process from the planting of the beans all the way through the picking and roasting process, finishing off with trying the fresh coffee. The coffee in this region tends to be planted in rows extending up the mountainside, and we will be amazed by the physical work undertaken by the pickers in hauling their loads up through the coffee plants. After our visit to the coffee farm we take time to explore Pijao, a local town set atop the mountainside with astounding panoramas around the Andes. This town is integral to the history of coffee in the region, with many plantation owners or coffee vendors having come here to settle and build their homes. Now it is the perfect place to soak up the relaxed atmosphere and taste the product of the region.

Meals Provided : Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 8 Fly to Medellin; explore on foot and by cable car

This morning we fly to Medellin, and depending on flight time we will arrive in the early afternoon. Medellin has had a colourful history, yet since the death of its most infamous resident, Pablo Escobar, in 1993, the city has gone through comprehensive urban and cultural development. After many years in which the city was considered to be the most dangerous in the world, it now has a reputation for innovation and creativity and is representative of the country's social transformation, with growing industry and projects of social integration. Part of this innovation lies in the building of a cable car system allowing the residents of the poorer neighbourhoods on the steep mountainsides surrounding Medellin to easily commute into the city to work and trade. This has undoubtedly had a huge social impact on the city, and our stay in Medellin is an opportunity to learn more about Colombia's recent, and fascinating, history. This afternoon we'll discover Medellin's past and present during our city tour.

Meals Provided : Breakfast & Lunch

Day 9 Full day trip to colourful Guatape town

Today we drive out of the city to the picturesque lakeside town of Guatape, where the houses are painted in glorious pastel shades, and where we will visit the enormous rock of El Penol. This monolith is Guatape's most visited site, and the 650 step climb to the top is well worth it for the astounding views over the town, the lake and the mountains before us. After taking a breather on the top, we descend to the town of Guatape, known as 'Pueblo de Zocalos' for the intricate paintings of animals, musical instruments, flowers and birds found on the lower half of almost every building in the centre. The 'dulce' (sweet) shops and stands are well worth a visit to sample some of the local specialities, with flavours from orange and aguardiente to caramel and yucca. After discovering the cobblestoned streets and lakeside cafes, we return to Medellin.

Meals Provided : Breakfast

Day 10 Free morning in Medellin, fly to Cartagena and the Caribbean

This morning, we have some free time to explore the city. We have the opportunity to learn about graffiti's artistic, cultural and political context in Medellin and interact with some of the local artists in a street art tour, or visit an organic flower farm in the town of Santa Elena, just outside the city. Alternatively we can remain in the city, perhaps discovering the eccentric Barefoot Park, a zen-inspired public park where children and adults alike are encouraged to wander and play barefoot. Either in the late morning or early afternoon depending on the flight timings we'll fly to Cartagena, hailed as one of the most fascinating colonial cities in Latin America. Located on the Caribbean coast, Cartagena de Indias was one of the first cities to be founded by the Spanish in South America and today is famed both for its history and beauty. Our hotel is in the heart of the old-town, surrounded by the city walls and the perfect spot from which to wander to one of the city's many fine restaurants and bars. Music and nightlife is at the heart of Cartagena, and our local guide can point us towards one of the many popular salsa bars, where bands are often found playing their lively music to locals showing off their moves on the dancefloor.

Meals Provided : Breakfast

Day 11 In Cartagena; walking tour; optional trip to Colombia National Aviary

Considered by many as one of the world's most beautiful cities, Cartagena was founded in 1533 by Spanish conquerors as a main port to transport people and their goods into South America, and export gold, silver and all sorts of plants, animals, minerals and handicrafts from all over the continent across the Caribbean and on to Europe. The city quickly became a major trading port, particularly for precious metals, a business which necessitated the construction of defences and massive fortified walls around the old city, now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Gold and silver from the mines in New Granada and Peru were loaded in Cartagena on galleons bound for Spain via Havana.Today we will take a half day tour with our guide around the old town visiting, among other things, the San Felipe Fort, Convent de la Popa and the Convent de San Pedro Claver. There are plenty of things to do this afternoon, including a canoe trip to the fisherman's village La Boquilla, or a visit to Colombia's National Aviary. Here we have a chance to explore the different ecosystems of Colombia, and discover the varied birdlife in each one, such as the harpy eagle, the Caribbean toucan, the pink flamingo and many other species.

Meals Provided : Breakfast

Day 12 Free day; optional trip to the Rosario Islands

Today, we have more time to explore this city. Alternatively, we can take an optional boat trip to the Rosario Islands. This archipelago has some great snorkelling, nice beaches and beautiful Caribbean views. This evening there is the chance to take a relaxing horse drawn carriage ride round the beautiful and historical colonial district of Cartagena.

Meals Provided : Breakfast

Day 13 Trip ends in Cartagena

Our trip ends today in Cartagena. The flight back to the UK (via Bogota) generally leaves in the evening, and as such there will be a final opportunity to soak up the atmosphere in Cartagena's cobbled streets before departing.

Meals Provided : Breakfast

Availability

Checking price
Price From $ 3,170
Price Per Day: $ 244 per day
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Checking price
Start DateFinish DateBase PriceDeparture GuaranteedAvailability 
Oct-26-2019Nov-07-2019$ 3,260Yes6 Spaces Left Reserve
Nov-09-2019Nov-21-2019$ 3,170Yes3 Spaces Left Reserve
Dec-21-2019Jan-02-2020$ 3,370Yes3 Spaces Left Reserve
Jan-25-2020Feb-06-2020$ 3,240Yes10 Spaces Left Reserve
Feb-08-2020Feb-20-2020$ 3,240Yes12 Spaces Left Reserve
Feb-22-2020Mar-05-2020$ 3,240Yes3 Spaces Left Reserve
Aug-02-2020Aug-14-2020$ 3,640No16 Spaces Left Reserve
Oct-10-2020Oct-22-2020$ 3,170No16 Spaces Left Reserve
Oct-24-2020Nov-05-2020$ 3,170No16 Spaces Left Reserve
Nov-07-2020Nov-19-2020$ 3,240Yes11 Spaces Left Reserve
Nov-21-2020Dec-03-2020$ 3,240No14 Spaces Left Reserve
Dec-19-2020Dec-31-2020$ 3,510No16 Spaces Left Reserve
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Stride Featured in

Stride Feature In

30 Explore! Travel Reviews & Ratings

93%
4.6 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 24
Great 3
Average 1
Disappointing 1
Terrible 1
Value
4.6
Guide
4.6
Activities
4.6
Lodging
4.5
Transportation
4.6
Meals
4.5

Contrasts of Colombia

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Company Reviews

Trip of a lifetime seeing the Arctic in a week

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I travelled as a solo traveller and was relieved to find that about half the boat was also solo travellers. It was a great adventure - on a ferry board for a week with the most amazing panoramic views around us every day. We were regularly out on smaller boats to see the bird cliffs up close, or to go onto land to walk around. We saw lots of amazing wildlife including walrus, blue whales, beluga whales, endless species of birds, and of course Polar Bears! The week went by too quickly. It was a great mix of wildlife and landscapes. Each day there was a different guide giving a presentation of everything from the biology of a polar bear, to the fauna found in the arctic circle. You could join in for as little or as much as you wanted. Definitely recommended.
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Super good tour guide, but the itinerary was rushed

5.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
Junk on Halong Bay, Homestay in Mekong Delta. Hoi An Our tour guide, Long, was excellent and did a super job of mixing history and political context with what we were seeing. He went out of his way to add to the tour, actually taking us to favorite restaurant on his night off. The children loved him and we enjoyed his professionalism and his personal narrative of Vietnam. I felt that the itinerary was very rushed for a family tour. I understand the non family tour is longer and actually that would have been better for the family too. In particular a very busy day in Hue followed a mostly sleepless night on the train. We could have done with more time in Hue, or different activities. Hue was a bad day as the kite making was dull, crowded, and hot, then we didn't get to fly kites as we had not made them. In the end we had little time at the Citadel as we had to transfer into a small bus to navigate the streets.
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Excellent

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
Mohammed was excellent!

Enjoy the trip

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
The highlight of this trip was seeing Machu Picchu, which I loved it.

Great Tour Leader will come back in 2017

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
A great tour leader - friendly, personable, approachable, knowledgeable of the local area, sights and people. We plan to come back and cycle with Andrew again in 2017.
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Pleasant surprise experience

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation4.0
Meals5.0
It is hard to say because each outing was a pleasant surprise. The best experience was a workshop on feltmaking in Kazbegi town Georgia) where, as a group, we made the felt from scratch and created our own design. A great opportunity to discover a local craft. It is also an excellent example how this diverse group got along like a house on fire. In Armenia my fqvourite outing was the walk along the Garni river gorge with a local guide. The scenery was breathtaking.
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Details

Guides

Explore Tour Leader, Driver(s), Local Guide(s)

Age Notes

Min. Age: 14

Trip ID#:

explore_new-BCO

Meals Included:

  • Breakfast : 12
  • Dinner : 3
  • Lunch : 4
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