Colombia in a Nutshell
- 7 nights in deluxe accommodations in and near Medellin as well as Cartagena.
- Private airport transfers.
- English-speaking private guides & drivers for touring.
- Advance itinerary customization and restaurant reservations, as well as 24/7 in-country support.
Arrival into Medellin
Arrival into Medellin today to begin your visit to Colombia.
Perhaps more than anywhere else in Colombia today, Medellin is an example of just how far the country has come in the last 20 years - indeed, it has been recognized as one of the most innovative cities in the world. It is precisely this incredible transformation that makes Medellin a must for any visitor to Colombia looking to really appreciate and learn about the progress. Both the Festival of Flowers and the Christmas-time Festival of Lights are unique times to visit Medellin, but with its beautifully mild climate (average 72 F) there really is not a bad time to visit what's known as the "City of Eternal Spring."
Your private driver and English-speaking Almaz Journeys guide will greet you as you exit baggage claim, for your private transfer to your hotel. We have several great deluxe options for you, depending on your travel style. During the transfer, your guide will be happy to share with you some insights about Medellin to help you get your bearings.
You’ll have the remainder of the evening at leisure to settle in. If your flight arrives early enough, we'll book a table for you to dine in one of our favorite restaurants near your hotel.
After breakfast, meet your guide to begin your transformation tour of Medellin with a visit to Comuna 13, formerly the city’s most dangerous neighborhood. Your guide will tell you about how innovative projects such as the escalator system and the use of street art helped revitalize and provide a better future for this neighborhood. You’ll of course have a visit to Casa Kolacho, an artist collective responsible for the overwhelming majority of the art in Comuna 13 and thus a key driver of the area’s transformation.
During this morning's exploration, you'll also ride the city's remarkable Metro system, including the cable car lines that have helped the quality of life of residents of the neighborhoods on the hills surrounding Medellin. Aside from being a great window into local life, it's a fabulous way to get bird's eye views of the city and Aburra Valley!
After a break for lunch (not included), you'll explore Medellin's downtown, including your choice of stops at the Antioquia Museum, which has an exhibition of work by the famous Colombian artist (and Medellin native) Fernando Botero, and the Casa de la Memoria, a somber but fascinating museum that is a must for those seeking to fully understand the city’s recent past. The Medellin Museum of Modern Art is also worth a visit for art lovers.
Evening at leisure in Medellin.
Further Exploration of Medellin
After breakfast, depart with your guide to the small village of Santa Elena, located less than an hour outside of Medellin in the mountains of Antioquia (over 6500 feet ASL). It is home to a great variety of traditional flower farmers. The flower arrangements of the annual Flower Festival (“Feria de Flores”), called silletas, have an impressive history, and are today a cultural symbol of Medellin. You’ll visit an organic flower farm, where you meet a traditional silletero and learn how the flower arrangements are made. While in Santa Elena, you’ll of course get to snap a few shots of the breathtaking views over the valley of Medellin!
Return to Medellin and enjoy the afternoon at leisure to peruse the Colombian fashion boutiques and other shops of El Poblado and Provenza districts near your hotel.
Every visit is tailored to your interests, and there are other options we can offer for today (additional costs may apply) including:
- Morning half-day hike on the southern outskirts of Medellin just outside Envigado, following a small river to the impressive La Miel waterfall (65 ft.), or explore the biking and hiking trails of the massive Arvi Park.
- Full-day visit to the tiny village of Guatapé and a climb to the top of El Peñol granite monolith overlooking a massive manmade lake.
- Jewish visitors can meet with the local community and visit a synagogue
- A more extended transformation tour, including the revitalized Moravia neighborhood and a stop in a local UVA park to learn about public-private partnerships to improve poor areas' quality of life.
Evening at leisure in Medellin.
Overnight Visit to Antioquia Coffee Lodge
After breakfast and checking out of the hotel, your guide and driver will take you for a taste of Colombia's coffee culture.
During the 2-hour drive from Medellin, you'll see the scenery quickly change from city to lush mountains as you drive to a boutique coffee farm and rustic lodge perched in the central Andean mountains.
On arrival, you'll transfer to a jeep to ascend the mountain road to your mountain hideaway for check-in and a homemade, locally-sourced lunch on the terrace overlooking the surrounding mountains. After lunch, your host will take you for a visit on foot and by jeep of the farm, where they plant, farm and harvest only by hand, as well as learn how their location, processing and roasting all influence the coffee's flavor profile.
Enjoy some time to relax on the grounds and settle in, before a peaceful dinner on the property tonight.
On to Cartagena
After breakfast, enjoy the morning at the coffee farm. If you'd like, we can arrange for a horseback ride or hike around the property's 360 acres, or even a visit to the nearby 19th century village of Fredonia, one of the birthplaces of coffee in Colombia.
Then, check out and transfer to Medellin airport for your flight onward to Cartagena (not included.)
Arrival into Cartagena, where your driver and guide will welcome you outside baggage claim for your private transfer to your hotel. Check-in and evening at leisure. If you arrive in time, a sunset cocktail at Café del Mar or one of the city's rooftop bars is a great way to kick off your stay.
Exploration of Cartagena
The colorful streets are made for exploration on foot, so after breakfast you’ll meet your guide for a walking tour of the walled city center. Your guide will tell you about Cartagena’s past and present as you visit landmarks such as the Clock Tower and the monument to Don Pedro de Heredia, the city’s founder (1533) as well as other less visited parts of the historic center.
Your guide will take you into any of the sights of interest that you wish, such as the Palace of the Inquisition (one of the most beautiful buildings in the city today, masking its grisly past as home of the Inquisition) or San Pedro Claver Convent & Church, dedicated to the Spanish-born monk known as “Slave of the Slaves” for his life spent ministering to African slaves brought to the Spanish colonies.
During your walk, we can arrange for an architect to join you and accompany you through the narrow and colorful alleys, to explain all the special characteristics of the monuments, churches, convents and private houses that reflect all the influences – Moorish, colonial, military, Arabic, Spanish and North American – that have made Cartagena what it is today.
Afternoon at leisure to explore, enjoy your hotel pool, or we can organize additional exploration after lunch based on your interests - explore local art, visit boutiques of Colombian designers, take a salsa lesson, or see a different side of Cartagena with a visit to the women of the La Boquilla fishing village to learn about (and support) their entrepreneurial efforts to create income independent of their husbands.
Before dinner, one of our favorite local bartenders will invite you to a tasting of several top-quality Caribbean rums. Rum is by far the most consumed alcohol in Latin America, and during the tasting you’ll also learn about the history of the spirit as well as the different styles and their origins. This is the perfect way to start a great evening in Cartagena! (Dinner not included.)
More Exploring Cartagena or Nearby Islands
Enjoy a day at leisure to explore Cartagena on your own.
Or we can arrange additional exploration such as one of the favorite options below (additional cost):
- Explore the city’s art scene with a bilingual expert, focusing either on contemporary art museums and galleries
- For shopaholics, a fashion specialist will get you special access to the top designers’ shops in Cartagena, featuring both Colombian and international designers
- Eat your way through Cartagena with tasting menus of typical dishes at four different restaurants. Or, hit the traditional Bazurto market and then get to work in a Caribbean cooking class (Lunch included with this option)
- Explore Cartagena with an expert on the life of Gabriel García Marquez
- Head out of the city to learn about the unique paso horses, and go for a ride along the beach
Private Boat Island Hopping (optional – not included)
Or, you may want to spend the entire day enjoying the Caribbean to its fullest.
The Rosario Islands are a coral reef comprising 27 islands, located about one hour by boat from Cartagena. Its natural landscapes, crystal clear water and coral reefs, home to diverse flora and fauna, are of course the main attraction.
Sail on a private motorboat or yacht, enjoy a joy ride and watch the Caribbean’s water as it changes color right in front of your eyes. You will stop at spots to snorkel and swim, as well as for lunch at one of our favorite rustic beach hotels. On board, your guide will have a choice of drinks and snacks for you as well! (Please inquire with your Almaz Journeys representative for details and cost.)
Until Next Time!
Leisurely morning before checkout and your private transfer with English-speaking assistance to the airport for your journey onward. (Air not included.)
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