In the northwest corner of South America, Colombia is one of the most bio-diverse countries on the planet. It has verdant forests atop the high mountain peaks. It is surrounded by oceans, with wild rivers running through its territory. It has abundant wildlife in its rainforests. It is a land that yields up the most delicious fruits and stunning plants. Spanish settlers in the middle ages searched for cities of gold, but the treasure they sought was actually the land itself. Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez wrote about the country’s dreamlike quality, from mountains to beaches, from the bountiful earth beneath your feet to the sun forever shining overhead.
After decades of conflict, Colombia is now safe to visit and has now burnished a reputation as a world-class destination–a traveler’s hotspot. It has modern cities with skyscrapers and gay nightclubs, along with colonial old towns still in pristine condition after nearly 500 years. Archaeological ruins peek from beneath green hillsides, while coffee plantations rise sharply up mountain slopes. The high mountains serve as stunning backdrop to heart-stopping vistas in every direction, and gorgeous beaches are some of the best to be found in all the Caribbean. Join Toto Tours on this exciting introduction to dazzling Colombia!
Arrange your international flight to leave your home city today, arriving in Bogota, Colombia sometime in the late evening. (When booking flights, use the airport code BOG for your Bogota arrival, and CTG for your departure from Cartagena.) Since there are no planned activities for this travel day, you may schedule your flight to arrive at any convenient time today. You will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel. Overnight in Bogota. (Meals Aloft)
After breakfast commence a full day tour of this fascinating city, the country’s capital and largest city, with 8 million people. Begin with an early morning visit to the Paloquemao’s Market, the perfect mix of the old and new Bogotá. Continue to the well preserved historical colonial quarter of La Candelaria, visiting the Cathedral, Congress Palace, Cardinal’s Palace, colonial churches of El Sagrario and San Agustin, Independence House, Palace of Justice and City Hall. Visit Museo de Botero, housed in a renovated colonial mansion and showcasing the artist’s sculptures with their trademark “proportionally exaggerated” physiques. In addition to his own work, Botero’s personal art collection by Picasso, Renoir, Dalí, Degas, Chagall, Matisse, Monet and Giacometti are also exhibited.
Continuing to the east, on top of the forested mountains, the white church, Cerro de Monserrate, offers spectacular views of the city. After lunch here, we visit the Museo del Oro, the most important gold museum in the world displaying one of the largest collections of pre-Colombian gold. Our Welcome Dinner tonight will be at one of the most popular restaurants in Bogotá, Andrés Carne de Rés. Every detail of its walls, every corner, shows stories and legends exemplifying the magic of this incredible country. Overnight in Bogota. (All Meals included)
Your day begins with a panoramic view of the city and the vast plateau of the northern area of Bogotá. In the small town of Zipaquirá we take an underground tour to discover the famous Salt Cathedral, an impressive architectural marvel carved inside an active salt mine within a deposit formed 250 million years ago. Afterwards explore the town of Zipaquirá which was founded in 1600 and still preserves its colonial heritage. Stop at the main square, where we find whitewashed houses decorated with olive-green trim, as well as the most important municipal buildings.
Continue to Usaquén, an ancient village that was founded in the 16th century that has since been swallowed up by the expanding city of Bogotá. Located in the northeast, this old colonial district has retained its essence and style throughout the years with narrow cobbled streets, the beautiful architecture of old houses with multicolored facades and lush gardens. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant during your tour. Upon returning to our hotel, the afternoon and evening are free. Overnight in Bogota. (Breakfast / Lunch)
Transfer to the airport this morning for your flight to Pereira, the capital city of the region of Risaralda. Located in western Colombia in the foothills of the Andes, this area is referred to as the Coffee Triangle, Colombia’s principal coffee-growing area. Its spectacular natural beauty makes it one of the most beautiful destinations to visit combining lush green valleys, exotic wildlife and balmy climate. Your tour today begins with a visit to Hacienda San Alberto, a working coffee plantation, to learn about the process of coffee production. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before transferring to our hotel, where upon arrival you will enjoy a tasting of exotic fruits. For the next two nights we stay in the heart of the coffee cultural landscape. Overnight in Pereira. (Breakfast / Lunch / Exotic Fruit Tasting)
After breakfast we embark on a full day visit to beautiful Cocora Valley, home to the wax palm, Colombia’s national tree and the tallest variety of palm tree in the world (measuring up to 190 feet tall). Next we visit the misty forest to learn about the importance of protecting and conserving this beautiful ecosystem, taking a 45-minute hike deeper into the cloud forest and helping to plant a few wax palms. Our next stop is the colonial town of Salento, founded in 1842. After lunch here, visit the Plaza de Bolivar, known for its classic colorful balconies, and walk along the town’s main street with shops and cafes. Return to our hotel in the late afternoon and enjoy your evening at leisure. Overnight in Pereira. (Breakfast / Lunch)
This morning embark on our scenic drive to Medellín. We make several stops along the way for photo opportunities and lunch in a picturesque location. The drive will take us through the coffee region, passing the Cauca River and the village of Santa Barbara, continuing to a pastoral landscape and lower elevation as you get closer to Medellín. We arrive at our hotel in the late afternoon. Our local guide will talk about the city’s inspiring transformation from one of the most dangerous to one of the safest cities in South America. We enjoy dinner together at our hotel. Overnight in Medellin. (All Meals)
After breakfast depart on our tour of Medellín. We go to El Poblado to visit three places which are linked to the history of the drug lord, Pablo Escobar – the Monaco Building, la Virgen de los Sicarios and his tomb in the Central Cemetery. In the city’s downtown, visit the “Parque de las Esculturas”, featuring 23 outdoor sculptures by Fernando Botero. See Pies Descalzos Park, and the Museum of Antioquia. Next we ride aboard the Metro Cable, the first cable car system to work as a means of public transport. It carries us to the Santo Domingo Savio neighborhood where we visit the Spain Library, one of the five library-parks in town.
Continue with a scenic tour of the Arvi Park, which has 16,000 acres of saltwater ecosystems, pre-Hispanic roads and a local market where we enjoy lunch at a typical local restaurant. Travel through the Cerro Nutibara, Medellín’s natural viewpoint, to visit Pueblito Paisa, a replica of an ancient Paisa town constructed in 1978. We end our day in Parque Lleras, one of Medellín’s trendy zones located in the area of El Poblado, the. Our guide can give suggestions according to your preferences on where to enjoy dinner on your own. Overnight in Medellin. (Breakfast / Lunch)
Transfer to the airport for your short flight to Cartagena. With its breathtaking colonial architecture, horse-drawn carriages and narrow, cobbled streets, the city of Cartagena de Indias, founded in 1533, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This afternoon we embark on a two-hour walking tour through the inner walled section of the city. A highlight of our tour is tasting local flavors at restaurants along the way. During seven stops at authentic dining establishments, you’ll get to escape the crowds and taste the best of what the city has to offer. Our guide entertains us with stories and insights into Cartagena’s culture and history. Tonight we learn how to take home the taste of Colombia after our trip is over with a cooking demonstration at the Mar Restaurant where we also enjoy dinner. Overnight in Cartagena. (All Meals)
Begin your morning with a visit to the 17th century “Convento de la Popa”, the city’s highest point, for the best view of this beautiful city. Our next stop is the “Castillo de San Felipe” with a vast tunnel system that has amazing natural acoustics. Afterwards, embark on a walk through “Las Bóvedas”, the 23 vaults built into the city walls for military provisions and prison cells. After a stop at the baroque convent “Iglesia y Convento San Pedro de Claver”, take a walking tour focused on Nobel Prize-winning Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, visiting the locations he wrote about in his many works. Return to our hotel in the late afternoon for a free evening. Overnight in Cartagena. (Breakfast / Lunch)
Your tour begins with a visit to “La Boquilla”, an old fishing village and former slave colony located twenty minutes north of the city. Board a traditional wooden canoe to glide around the tunnels of the mangrove swamps where you will be able to admire the flora and fauna that inhabits this unique ecosystem. Later, enjoy a walking tour through the Getsemaní district, an outer walled neighborhood with Spanish colonial architecture. Many of the oldest buildings have been restored as boutique hotels, restaurants, cafes and shops. In the afternoon we return to our hotel for some free time before evening. Tonight Toto Tours hosts a Farewell Dinner to celebrate the conclusion of our adventures in Colombia. Overnight in Cartagena. (Breakfast)
Sadly, it is now time to say “adios” to beautiful Colombia. The tour officially ends after breakfast this morning. You will be transferred to the airport for your return flight home. If you wish to extend your stay in Cartagena, please let us know on your reservation form so that we can keep your room available for another night. (Breakfast / Meals Aloft)