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Best of Colombia: From Bogotá to the Caribbean coast

Hike through the rainforest of Tayrona National Park, uncover the history of Medellín and embrace rum and salsa in Cartagena

Feefo
914 reviews
ATOL

Best of Colombia: From Bogotá to the Caribbean coast

13 Days | From £3449

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  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Accommodation

About your trip

From the Caribbean to the Andes, Colombia is beautiful, diverse and rich in contrasts.

On this 13-day trip, you’ll ascend the Piedra del Peñol, kayak the Guatapé Reservoir, trek through the mangroves of Tayrona National Park and master the steps of salsa in Cartagena.

You’ll soon see that despite a turbulent past, the Colombia of today is one of progress and innovation, whilst retaining its timeless charm.

What's Included

  • Accommodation in twin rooms
  • Equipment
  • Guide
  • Local transport
  • Most meals included
  • Max 14 travellers per group
  • ATOL protected
  • Private airport transfers

Remember, flights aren't included and prices are based on sharing a twin room. If you'd like to upgrade to a single room, you can add this during the booking process or by contacting our Customer Experience team.

Itinerary

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Your Itinerary

  • Day 01 HOLA BOGOTÁ

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    Welcome to Bogotá, Colombia’s vibrant capital. Set amid the Andes, this high-altitude sprawl unfolds in a series of plazas, elegant streets and colonial buildings. Arrive at the airport by 2pm, where you’ll be met by a private transfer and taken to your hotel. Meet your fellow travellers and guide, then you’ll head out together to Bogotá’s legendary steakhouse, Andrés DC. With its iconic menu and party atmosphere, this circus-like restaurant will see you start your Colombian adventure in style.

  • Day 02 Urban sights & traditional games

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    Head down to the Paloquemao Market this morning, where you’ll wander through stalls offering regional fruits and flowers. From here, you’ll catch a transfer to La Candelaria, a characterful neighbourhood of painted houses and rustic streets. Spend a couple of hours exploring the streets on a relaxing walking tour, before heading to a traditional restaurant for lunch. Then, this afternoon, you’ll come face-to-face with the Colombia’s rich heritage at the Gold Museum, which houses countless thousands of pieces of gold, stones and textiles, many of which date from the county’s pre-Colombian past. However, there’s more to the local culture than its artistic heritage; you’ll learn a traditional game called Tejo, in which the aim of the game is to create a mini-explosion by throwing a metal disc into a gunpowder-lined target.

  • Day 03 Piedra del Peñol to Medellín

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    This morning will see you catch a one-hour flight over to the mountainous city of Medellín. Once the beating heart of Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel, this is a regenerated creative hub which has transformed beyond recognition since the 1980s. First up, you’ll head out of town to Guatapé, where the colossal Piedra del Peñol looms over the landscape, with its famous zig-zag staircase snaking up the rock. With a mere 740 steps to the top, you’ll find the panoramic views from the top worth every step. Back on ground level, spend the rest of the afternoon kayaking across the basin, then return to your hotel in Medellín just as its lively nightlife starts to get going.

  • Day 04 Criminal histories & urban renovation

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    Today is all about getting under the skin of Medellín; your chance to learn how it has transformed from one of the most dangerous cities on earth to one of the most forward-looking. In that vein, you’ll visit one of its latest innovations: the giant escalators of Comuna 13. This sprawling mountainside district was once considered the most dangerous area of Medellín, and by virtue, the world. Through improved access between the neighbourhood and wider city, Comuna 13 has been given a new lease of life – just one of the ways in which Medellín is battling the legacy of the past through urban innovation. Head up to the cable car to see the city unfold beneath you, then you’ll return to the hotel for dinner.

  • Day 05 Visit a Colombian coffee farm

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    You’ve covered Medellín’s historic drug trade – now it’s onto another of Colombia’s famous exports: coffee. Start your day with an interactive tour around a traditional coffee farm (and by interactive, we mean plenty of coffee-tasting, of course), where you’ll meet the family in charge and learn how to germinate and harvest organic coffee beans. Enjoy a homemade lunch prepared for you by your hosts, before spending the rest of the afternoon uncovering the inner workings of a Colombian coffee farm.

  • Day 06 SUN, SEA & SAND IN MAGDALENA

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    Today will see you leave Medellín and catch a 75-minute flight to the Caribbean coast. Your new destination? The department of Magdalena, where the Caribbean Sea laps up on the mountainous shore. The rest of the day is yours to explore at leisure, whether that includes relaxing at the hotel, or seeking out a quiet corner of beach to soak up the Caribbean sun.

  • Day 07 TUBE DOWN PALOMINO RIVER

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    Leave the city behind you today, as you drive down the coastline to the Palomino River. Here you’ll find a terrain of lush rainforest, abundant biodiversity and ribbons of unspoilt coastline – a picture-perfect location for tubing. New to tubing? Just imagine yourself floating downstream in an inflatable ring, letting the currents carry you through a spectacular jungle landscape. Tonight, enjoy dinner at a beach-front restaurant, savouring a Caribbean sunset over fresh seafood.

  • Day 08 TREK THROUGH TAYRONA NATIONAL PARK

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    Today you’re off to Tayrona National Park, which you’ll explore on a long hike. With its white beaches, dense rainforest and lush coral reefs, this was once the sacred home of the pre-Hispanic Tayrona tribe, and the community’s descendents still live in the area. Weave through a terrain of egg-shaped boulders and mangrove swamps, keeping an eye out for vibrant wildlife spanning the likes of red howler monkeys and bats. Having explored caves and coves along the way, enjoy a picnic lunch spread over a secluded beach, with the crystalline waters beckoning for a post-lunch swim. In the evening, savour a sunset dinner with your fellow travellers, before settling down for another night’s sleep beside the rolling waves.

  • Day 09 ROOFTOP COCKTAILS IN CARTAGENA

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    Your adventure takes you onwards to the bright lights of Cartagena. After a six-hour drive (with a pause for lunch en route), check into your hotel before heading out to explore the city, just as evening falls. This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts a blend of ancient history and a modern, cosmopolitan atmosphere. Take an evening stroll through the vibrant streets, before making your way to one of Cartagena’s most stylish rooftop bars for views of a beautiful coastal sunset.

  • Day 10 RUM & SALSA IN CARTAGENA

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    Today you’ll explore Cartagena’s historical streets on a walking tour. Known to its residents as ‘La Heroica’, the city exudes a tangible sense of history. As the first free town in the Americas, founded by slaves who escaped their Spanish captors, Cartagena’s layers of history are a marvel to uncover. Your guide will take you on a local’s route through the city, passing bars and restaurants en route with plenty of opportunity to sample regional specialities. Learn about Cartagena’s pirate-filled past, before moving onto an exclusive rum-tasting (as is the pirate way) – then the rest of the night is yours to salsa-dance away.

  • Day 11 Boat between the Rosario Islands

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    Today, the Rosario Islands await you, which you’ll explore on a languid boat ride. An archipelago of 27 islets, with some uninhabited and others private, you’ll find this Caribbean paradise just off the coast of Cartagena. Snorkel through the corals, discovering an ecosystem that have thrived through environmental damage and is beginning to flourish again – and you may just spot a sea turtle or reef shark. Enjoy lunch on one of the islands, before an afternoon of kayaking, swimming or relaxing on the beach.

  • Day 12 Marquezian streets & pirate stories

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    Spend the morning cycling through the walled streets of Cartagena de Indias, the city’s 16th-century heart and the very place that inspired novelist Gabriel García Márquez. You’ll explore the Getsemaní neighbourhood (which appears in Love in the Time of Cholera), before crossing the Roman Bridge into the breezy neighbourhood of Manga. Then, this afternoon, you’ll have the chance to explore the city at your own pace. Our suggestion? Stroll along the formidable murallas (city walls) that have protected the Old City from centuries of storms, pirates and invading Europeans, before uncovering Cartagena’s street food scene. With local delicacies such as cassava and papas rellenas at your disposal, your inner foodie is in for a real treat.

  • Day 13 ADIÓS, COLOMBIA

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    Enjoy a final breakfast at the hotel, then it’s time to make your own way to the airport. Interested in South America? Take a look at our Brazilian adventure, for nine days of tropical beaches and vibrant city life.

Our Favourite Hotels

Browse a selection of our favourite hotels, for a flavour of where you may stay on this trip.

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Allure Chocolat Hotel, Cartagena

Stylish hotel a stone’s throw from the coast

Minimalist decor with vibrant notes creates an elegant atmosphere, and its location means you can experience all of Cartagena’s best sights quite easily.

Why we stay here

Besides the comfortable spacious rooms, you’ll have an outdoor pool at your disposal, with a rooftop terrace and bar to relax in at the end of the day.

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Hotel B3 Virrey, Bogotá

City hotel near El Virrey park

Well-maintained en suite rooms in a modern hotel in the heart of Bogotá. Everything you need is here, from a restaurant and bar to a 24-hour fitness centre.

Why we stay here

The location the biggest draw here. You’ll be within walking distance of some of Bogota’s best bars and restaurants.

What Flashpackers say

Important Notes

  • Fly into Bogotá Airport (BOG) and fly out of Cartagena Airport (CTG).

  • Please try to arrive in Bogotá by 2pm on day 1, and depart at leisure on day 13.

  • Throughout the year, Tayrona National Park may be closed to help it recover and maintain its wild beauty. If your adventure occurs during this period, please get in touch to find out where else we can take you.

  • Please note that hot water shortages and power outages can be fairly common in Latin America (even in upgraded hotels and private homes). We appreciate your patience and understanding that these occurrences are outside of our control. During the rainy season the locations visited may change due to some routes being covered by water.

  • Please be aware that the itinerary, activities and hotels are subject to change. These changes can happen with little notice due to availability, poor weather, seasonal changes, or other circumstances beyond our control – but we’ll always do our best to ensure it has little impact on your experience. From time to time, we may also make changes to your itinerary to try out new ideas and keep things fresh and exciting

  • We take safety very seriously on Flash Pack adventures – learn more here.

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