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ESSENTIAL COLOMBIA

A perfect 12-day itinerary
in South America's friendliest country

Bogota, the Coffee Region, Medellin and Cartagena

DAY 1

Arrival into Bogota

Welcome to Colombia!

Arrival into Bogotá today from the U.S. Bogotá can be easily reached via nonstop flights from major U.S. gateways such as New York, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, and Los Angeles.

For city lovers, a visit to this booming capital of 8 million inhabitants – and situated at 8,700 feet above sea level – is an absolute must. Both the political and financial capital of Colombia, Bogota offers you a thriving dining and cocktail scene, rich colonial history, a vibrant arts scene, great shopping, some charming park-filled neighborhoods, and the country’s top boutique hotels.

Your private driver and English-speaking Almaz Journeys guide will greet you as you exit Customs at Bogota's El Dorado International airport, for your private transfer to your luxury hotel. During the transfer, your guide will be happy to share with you some insights about Bogotá, its importance as the capital and its tremendous transformation in recent years.

Check-in at your perfectly located, boutique luxury hotel in the heart of the city.

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.

Services: Arrival Transfer with Guide
Hotel: Four Seasons Casa Medina, Four Seasons Bogota, or Sofitel
Meals: None

DAY 2

Bogota

EXPLORING BOGOTA

After a delicious breakfast at your hotel, meet your English-speaking guide and driver in the lobby to begin your exploration of the Colombian capital.

Today’s exploration will give you a sense of the city’s history, as well as its place in Colombian society and in the context of the events of the last century. A highlight of this overview will be a stop at the city’s main market, Paloquemao, to get a taste of daily life of Bogotanos, as the city’s residents are called. You will be able to try the best street food and tropical fruits, if you like.

Then, walk the streets of La Candelaria, the historic center of Bogotá. Here, you’ll walk in the steps of history, from the colonial period to independence to the turbulence of the second half of the 20th century. Also in La Candelaria you’ll find some of the city’s most important museums. Among these, we think you should not miss the Botero Museum, which is dedicated to the work of the greatest Colombian contemporary artist known for his signature style of painting oversized people and objects.

Another must-see is the Gold Museum, which houses up to 34,000 pieces of gold from 13 pre-Hispanic civilizations. (For those who are particularly interested in the collections, we can arrange for a specialist in-house guide to give you a behind-the-scenes visit with exclusive access.)

After some free time for lunch in the center (not included), meet your guide and driver again to visit the Montserrate sanctuary, the symbol of the Colombian capital. With a peak more than 10,000 feet above sea level, this is absolutely the best place for panoramic views of Bogotá and the surrounding region!

You'll head back to your hotel and have the remainder of the evening at leisure to explore Bogota's dining and cocktail hotspots.

Services: Car, Driver and Guide (Full Day)
Hotel: Four Seasons Casa Medina, Four Seasons Bogota, or Sofitel
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 3

BOGOTA

FURTHER EXPLORATION
OF BOGOTA

For roughly 7 hours each Sunday (and most holidays), the city closes more than 60 miles of streets (called the Ciclovia) for use only by pedestrians and bicyclists. You and your guide will hop on bikes to experience Bogotá like a local! The tour typically ends in the historic Usaquén neighborhood, where we will gladly make a brunch reservation for you. (Cost of lunch not included.) Time permitting and if interested, you can walk around Usaquén and its Sunday open-air craft and flea market.

Afternoon and evening at leisure.

There's much to see and do in Bogota, and here are few other options to consider in personalizing your journey (additional cost may apply):

  • An extended half-day exploration of Bogota's street art scene
  • Dive into Bogota's contemporary art scene, with a curator-led visit to the most important galleries as well as artist studios.
  • Spend the day with a journalist to learn all about the peace process and meet people around Bogota whose communities have benefited greatly from it.
  • Meet up with a chef to learn about the wealth of local ingredients available, and while getting to know your specific tastes design an unforgettable dinner tasting menu especially for you to enjoy tonight at his Bogota restaurant!
  • Explore the best contemporary Colombian fashions by visiting top boutiques with local designer.

Services: Private Half Day Tour
Hotel: Four Seasons Casa Medina, Four Seasons Bogota, or Sofitel
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 4

ON TO QUINDIO PROVINCE, IN THE COFFEE REGION

JOURNEY TO QUINDIO PROVINCE
IN THE LUSH COFFEE REGION

After breakfast, check-out and transfer to the airport for your 45-minute flight (not included) to Armenia El Eden airport.

The coffee region is the heart and soul of Colombia, and a must for lovers of coffee and nature. The region officially spans three departments or provinces, but for us the best is in Quindío (Armenia is the capital). Here you’ll find a lush landscape of rolling hills and mountains covered by coffee plantations, farms, and charming villages with colorful houses. Equally impressive are the hardworking, fun-loving, open and friendly people who tend the agricultural richness that fills the valley (coffee is far from the only crop grown here).

The coffee region is the heart and soul of Colombia, and a must for lovers of coffee and nature. The region officially spans three departments or provinces, but for us the best is in Quindio (Armenia is the capital). Here you’ll find a lush landscape of rolling hills and mountains covered by coffee plantations, farms, and charming villages with colorful houses. Equally impressive are the hardworking, fun-loving, open and friendly people who tend the agricultural richness that fills the valley (coffee is far from the only crop grown here).

Your private driver will welcome you just outside baggage claim (it’s a very small airport!) for your private transfer to Hacienda Bambusa - a short 30-minute drive away. The friendly staff will welcome you and show you to your room to settle in before dinner.

This evening, enjoy a tasting menu under the stars. (Water, coffee, tea, house wine and beer included with dinner. Additional wines and spirits available at an additional cost paid directly to the hotel.)

Services: Private Transfers
Hotel: Hacienda Bambusa
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

DAY 5

ARMENIA, COFFEE REGION

EXPLORING THE COFFEE REGION
THE PEOPLE OF PIJAO

Enjoy a day in the Coffee Region with Hacienda Bambusa as your base. Your stay includes VIP private touring with our best guides and vehicles, and your choice of activities each day plus a complimentary, guided (leisurely) walk or bike ride around the Bambusa Farm (duration 2.5 hours).

Your Almaz Journeys travel planner will send you the full menu of activity options once your trip is confirmed with deposit. (Hot air balloon is not included; please inquire for extra cost.)

One of our favorite options here is to spend the day with a sociologist expert in Colombia's "coffee culture" who will be your private guide (and driver) for the day. Although raised in Bogotá, your guide has devoted his life to this region, and today he will take you into the daily life of people living in the rural coffee village of Pijao. There are a number of options, though, and your Almaz Journeys travel planner will send you a full menu once your trip is confirmed.

Services: Full Day Private Tour(s)
Hotel: Hacienda Bambusa
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6

ARMENIA, COFFEE REGION

LOVELY MOUNTAIN TOWNS
& LUSH LANDSCAPES

Another day in the Coffee Region with Hacienda Bambusa as your base. Your stay includes VIP private touring with our best guides and vehicles, and your choice of activities each day plus a complimentary, guided (leisurely) walk or bike ride around the Bambusa farm (duration 2.5 hours).

Your Almaz Journeys travel planner will send you the full menu of activity options once your trip is confirmed with deposit. (Hot air balloon is not included; please inquire for extra cost.)

A classic option is to enjoy a hike in the breathtaking Corcora Valley, home to the tallest wax palm trees on the planet, followed by visits to the villages of Salento & Filandia.

Here are some other ideas:

  • Take a sunrise hot air ballon ride with our experienced crew (additional cost applies)
  • Spend a few hours horseback riding along the Quindío river
  • Enjoy a longer hike in the Corcora Valley
  • Float down the La Vieja river through lush scenery on a bamboo raft, a favorite leisure activity of locals and great way to escape the modern world for a few hours
  • Go paragliding or zip lining
  • Check out the region’s Botanical Garden and its butterfly house in Armenia

This evening, cap off your stay with another tasting menu dinner at Hacienda Bambusa.

Services: Full Day Private Tour(s)
Hotel: Hacienda Bambusa
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7

MORNING AT BAMBUSA, THEN ON TO MEDELLIN

MORNING AT BAMBUSA
THEN OFF TO MEDELLIN!

Enjoy a final leisurely breakfast before check-out and transfer to the airport for your flight (not included) to Medellin. Nonstop flights to Medellin’s domestic airport are offered from Armenia on EastFly daily, although flight times vary according to day of the week.

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."

Arrival into Medellin where your driver and guide will welcome you outside baggage claim for your private transfer to your hotel.

Check-in and evening at leisure.

Services: Private transfers
Hotel: Click Clack or Marriott Medellin
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 8

EXPLORING MEDELLIN

EXPLORING MEDELLIN
A CITY REBORN

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 snapshot of 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.

Services: Full Day Private Tour
Hotel: Click Clack or Marriott Medellin
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 9

ON TO CARTAGENA

MORNING IN MEDELLIN
THEN OFF TO CARTAGENA!

After breakfast and checkout, depart with your guide for some final exploration en route to the airport. The small village of Santa Elena is 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!

Then, enjoy some lunch (not included) before continuing to the airport for your nonstop flight (not included) to Cartagena.

 

Every visit is tailored to your interests, and there are other terrific cultural and nature options that, with more time, we can include for you. Here's a few ideas to consider:

  • Half-day hike to the La Miel waterfall just outside Medellin
  • Explore the city's Jewish heritage in neighboring Bello
  • Full-day visit to the Peñol boulder and the neighboring village of Guatapé
  • Full-day or overnight trip to a stunning coffee farm - a great addition for those without time to visit the heart of the Coffee Region

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.

Services: Half Day Tour in Medellin; Private airport transfers
Hotel: Casa San Agustin, Sofitel Santa Clara or Charleston Santa Teresa
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 10

CARTAGENA

EXPLORING 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 for 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.)

Services: Half-Day Guide + private rum tasting
Hotel: Casa San Agustin, Sofitel Santa Clara or Charleston Santa Teresa
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 11

CARTAGENA

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 or visit the home museum and studio of a famous local sculptor
  • 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 one spot for snorkeling, one for lunch at a lovely Caribbean house, and then at a beach. On board, a chef will prepare drinks and snacks for you as well! (Please inquire with your Almaz Journeys representative for details and cost.)

Services: None included today.
Hotel: Casa San Agustin, Sofitel Santa Clara or Charleston Santa Teresa
Meals: Breakfast

DAY 12

DEPART CARTAGENA

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.)

Services: Transfer with assistance
Meals: Breakfast

OR DON'T GO HOME JUST YET

Extend your stay for 2 or 3 nights at the luxurious new Hotel Las Islas, in a relaxing and pristine coastal setting just 45 minutes by boat from Cartagena!

 

 

PRIVATE JOURNEY PRICING 2020

PER PERSON

DELUXE ACCOMMODATIONS

 

2 Guests Traveling Together
From USD $5,600 per person, double occupancy

4 Guests Traveling Together
From USD $4,600 per person, double occupancy

PREMIUM ACCOMMODATIONS

 

2 Guests Traveling Together
From USD $6,700 per person, double occupancy

4 Guests Traveling Together
From USD $5,200 per person, double occupancy

Starting sample pricing assumes weekend stay in Bogota. Actual prices will vary based on your dates of travel and exact program. Please contact Almaz Journeys to develop a customized itinerary and quote.

INCLUDED IN YOUR JOURNEY

Accommodations
  • Deluxe Option
    • Luxury room at Sofitel Bogota for three (3) nights
    • Standard room at Hacienda Bambusa for three (3) nights
    • Deluxe room at Marriott or L:Junior Suite at Click Clack Hotel in Medellin for two (2) nights
    • Premium Balcony room at Charleston Santa Teresa in Cartagena for three (3) nights
    • Upgraded rooms available at all hotels, an additional cost.
  • Premium Option
    • Deluxe room at Four Seasons Casa Medina in Bogota for three (3) nights
    • Junior Suite at Hacienda Bambusa for three (3) nights
    • Deluxe Club room at Marriott or XL Suite at Click Clack in Medellin for two (2) nights
    • Deluxe room at Casa San Agustin in Cartagena for three (3) nights
    • Upgraded rooms available at all hotels, an additional cost.
Meals
  • Breakfast daily and service charge in all hotels
  • Lunch days 5-6
  • Dinner days 4-6
Transportation and Services
  • Private, local English-speaking guides for all sightseeing and airport transfers as described
  • Private transportation for sightseeing and airport transfers as described, with bottled water
  • Entrances for all sights and experiences specifically included in your itinerary
  • 24-hour local emergency contact
  • Full-service advance tailoring of your itinerary and assistance with restaurant reservations

NOT INCLUDED IN YOUR JOURNEY

  • Air travel
  • Lunches or dinners unless specifically included
  • Gratuities
  • Medical or travel insurance
  • Any other items or services not specifically included in the itinerary

Excited to learn more?

Get in touch with us with us today to start planning!

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