The Heart of Colombia

Food, Adventure, Cultural Discovery

Trip Details


Day 1: Bogota, Colombia

Fly into Bogota, Colombia. Your guide will be waiting for you at the airport to take you to your hotel. 

Day 2: Paloquemao food market, graffiti district, la Candelaria Old Quarter

The day begins with a visit to the food market of Paloquemao, surrounded by the aromas of fresh food and colorful flower displays. From there, your guide leads you to the famous graffiti district, where renowned graffiti artists from all over the world have come to splash their ideas on the walls of Bogota. Shifting visual gears, you head to the heart of old Bogotá, La Candelaria, to see restored 300-year-old homes and public buildings. The route includes lively Calle 11, a pedestrian street packed with local restaurants. Another gleaming highlight of the day is a visit to the Gold Museum, which houses some 33,400 gold artifacts from Colombia’s pre-Hispanic cultures. You’ll learn how gold was used in political and social occasions, and as expressions of cosmological vision. This is your introduction to the vast amount of gold possessed by pre-Hispanic cultures, and the Spanish lust for it, beginning with the 1502 expedition led by Vasco Nunez de Balboa. 

Day 3: Raquira pottery workshop, Villa de Leyva

First thing this morning, you and your guide set off on the pretty, four-hour drive to lovely Villa de Leyva, famous for its 16th-century colonial buildings, plazas, and streets. Sit back and enjoy the lush, pastoral scenes along the way. Just before you get to Villa de Leyva, you’ll arrive at the colorful village of Raquira, pottery capital of Colombia. There you meet master potter Luis Rodriguez, in his studio hidden away on the outskirts of town. Señor Rodriguez will show you around his workshop and help you create your own piece! This gives you even more appreciation for the terracotta house you’ll see later today, considered to be the largest piece of pottery in the world. The afternoon is dedicated to exploring Villa de Leyva and its cobblestoned streets and learning about the country’s history of independence. Enjoy dinner tonight at famous Mercado Municipal restaurant. 

Day 4: Barichara

Another lovely drive today takes you through lush countryside past cattle farms and small family homes. You pass steep canyon walls and emerge from the cloud forest to arrive in the Santander department, adventure capital of Colombia. Your time here is based in the colonial town of Barichara, known for its beautifully preserved 18th-century homes and public buildings. After lunch you’ll ride dual-suspension mountain bikes with your guide through the gorgeous farmland around Barichara, on a scenic unpaved road through the Colombian Andes. There is a challenging uphill ride that you can decide to tackle if you want to feel like the famous climbing Colombian cyclists.

Day 5: Barichara and Guane

This morning you hike with your guide on an 18th-century cobblestone colonial road to the quaint and lovely village of Guane. This route is called the “Camino Suamuxi,” from the Chibcha language of the Muisca peoples who lived here during pre-Hispanic times. Your 3-hour hike on this excellent, historic road is a birdwatcher’s delight. The road starts in bosque seco(dry forest), where you might see parakeets, tanagers, smooth-billed anis, vermilion flycatchers, red-capped cardinals, and mot mots. It’s downhill all the way to Guane. After the hike you return to Barichara to visit a social project led by women, where natural plant fibers are used to create amazing textures for notebooks and souvenirs. During the afternoon lunch you have the privilege of meeting Santiago Rivero, a local civil engineer who works to rescue, preserve, and promote traditional architectural techniques.

Day 6: Whitewater rafting, cable car across Chicamocha Canyon, fusion dinner

Leave Barichara this morning for the town of San Gil and your river put-in. Today’s rafting adventure navigates some fun Class III rapids, with spots to jump out of the boat into the water. Mid-float you’ll stop for a picnic of hearty snacks, including hormigas culonas(fat bottomed ants), a famous local delicacy you won’t want to miss. After an opportunity to change clothes, you’re off to Chicamocha Canyon for a 40-minute cable car ride across a stunning gorge. A car is waiting on the other side to take you on to Bucaramanga. Dinner tonight is at the outstanding Maiz Pelao restaurant, where chef Carlos Contreras mixes the most traditional recipes of local ingredients to create unforgettable fusion meals. 

Day 7: Fly to Cartagena, “Seven Paradises” street food tour

Catch a flight this morning through Bogota to Cartagena, where your local guide is waiting to take you to your hotel in the heart of the Cartagena´s old quarter. The city of Cartagena de Indias blends centuries of history, culture, and flavors within its walls. The influx of thousands of slaves from West Africa and migrations during the late 19thcentury make this a very diverse region. Your guide walks you through “Seven Paradises,” a street food zone unnoticed by tourists and worshipped by locals. Tempt yourself at every stop with original recipes that inspire the new Colombian cuisine, and enjoy an unhurried experience tête-à-tête with Caribbean Cartagena cuisine. 

Day 8: San Felipe, mangroves, la Boquilla, and Barrio Getsemaní

Start the day with a visit to the fortress of San Felipe, a masterpiece of military strategy against pirates and corsairs. Slipping away from the heavily visited fortress you head to the fishing village of La Boquilla, with its beaches and mangroves. There you meet a local community leader who will take you in canoes along beautiful channels to do some birdwatching and meet local fishermen. After a slug of fresh coconut water, you’re ready for your next stop, Barrio Getsemaní. Located just outside the legendary walls of Cartagena's historic Old City, the once-seedy district is now the coolest, most stimulating and genuine up-and-coming neighborhood in Cartagena. Immerse with your guide in the Spanish colonial architecture, dance halls, graffiti, boutique hotels, food merchants, public courts, and poets of this place. 

Day 9: Departures from Cartagena

Transfer to the Cartagena airport for departures home—or if you’re not ready to head home, press on to MedellÍn and colorful Guatapé! 

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