Meet up with your Contiki Team this morning before jumping in to explore vibrant and diverse Bogotá. This bustling metropolis is Colombia’s capital hosting a cool mix of old, new, trendy and traditional, stately and charming. It’s home to a dazzling array of museums, churches, colonial mansions and stately buildings that are a balance between its historical past & movement in to the future. First up this morning we take a biking tour of the old town, La Candelaria, along with a visit to Boterto and the gold museum. La Candelaria is Botega’s heart and soul, from its humble beginnings this is the oldest part of the city and the Plaza Bolivar or Main Square is the highlight of this part of town. Surrounding the square are several important Colonial and Republican style buildings including the Palace of Justice and Colombian Congress, embracing the square with history and tales of the old. The Plaza is also home to the Mayor’s office and the Primary Cathedral of Bogota. Later on you’ll wander the backstreets of La Candelaria on your bike exploring this historical hub while your guide explains the intricacies of Colombia’s culture and daily life.
It’s time to explore Bogota your way with a free day today. You’re spoilt for choice with a number of sites to discover including the Donación Botero, the Hill top view point of Monserrate, the Police museum and military museums, the city’s art galleries including the national gallery and modern art museum- there’s so much going on! Or simply wander around the traditional colonial Candelaria district or the exclusive north of the city that’s packed with boutiques, restaurants, avenues & parks, will give you an insight in to life in the capital and the country as a whole.
Bogota to Armenia
It’s time to leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind us as we fly to the coffee region, considered to be the heart and soul of Colombia and cultural epicenter of the country. With every turn of our journey you’ll be taken through a spectacular panorama of some stunning scenery including the rolling hillsides of lush coffee plantations to plunging valleys and bold elevations. You’ll get a glimpse into Campasino or rural life as it has done for centuries harvesting coffee, plantains & many other fruits in this fertile land. As coffee is the heartbeat of this region and culture, we’ll discover the plant that keeps the world energized up close and personal. We’ll tour one of the regions coffee plantations seeing the whole process from seedling to coffee cup and every part in between. We learn about the trials and tribulations that face the region’s coffee growers and how their whole way of life is affected by this tiny bean. From the planting to the picking to the toasting and the tasting of your life, as a coffee drinker you will never be the same once you’ve tasted the elixir of life from Colombia.
Today you can spend the day completely at leisure and relaxation. Chill out by the hotel’s pool or if you’re in the mood for a bit of exploration, why not get a feel for country life? You can discover life in the coffee region on a tour and explore the colorful tiny colonial town Salento and the spectacular Cocora Valley with its huge and famous wax palms. If you really want to get your heart pumping then adrenalin junkies can try the Ziplines too! Food is always an important part of a country’s life and culture. And what better way to learn about the local cuisine than by giving it a try yourself?! Tonight we delve into the culinary heart of Colombia with a delicious hands-on and interactive cooking class which will make your mouth water and taste buds sing.
Armenia to Medellin
Today we fly across to Medellin – Colombia’s second largest city. Medellin is regarded as one of the most important of Colombia’s cities in business, politics and fashion and of course nightlife! It is now one of South America’s most exciting cities! Your Contiki Team will get you in the know on this city’s colourful history.
Medellin is certainly a city with a colourful history. It’s had a remarkable rebirth and transformation over the past couple of years and is now one of South America’s more vibrant and progressive cities. This morning we’ll tour the central part of town bringing the city to life & discover why Medellin is so important to Colombia in terms of both commerce & culture. The city tour will take you to the important sites of Medellin including Parque Berrio – the famous Botero Sculpture Park where many giant sculptures of Colombia’s most famous and Medellin born sculptor Fernando Botero are exhibited. This afternoon you’ll ride on the city’s famous metro and cable car system giving you sweeping views of the city and a bit of an insight into the city’s geography and social make up. Tonight it’s time to get involved and dive into the city’s vibrant night life. Your Tour Manager will give you the insider knowledge on the hottest night spots and where to have fun like a local!
Medellin to Santa Marta
This morning we leave the city behind us and fly to Santa Marta, the oldest town in Colombia over a beautiful bay. This stunning city boasts an incredible geographic location, neighbouring the Sierra Navada, Tayrona National Park and the popular fishing village of Taganga. Being on the Caribbean coast, it’s the perfect place to relax & soak up the sun on the wide beaches. Tonight why not take in the nightlife with a cold Aquilla beer & indulge your senses in delicious Caribbean fish at one of the many restaurants as you take in the charm of this coastal city.
Tyrona National Park
Driving north-east from the city of Santa Marta, we pass the foothills of the famous Sierra Navada de Santa Marta – the highest coastal mountain range in the world. Now it’s time to get your walking shoes out and hit the scenic coastal paths that lead you to one of many untouched and breathtaking beaches. Make sure you pack your beach bag as you can choose to relax under hanging palms watching the waves roll up the shore or continue walking to one of the many swimming beaches further along. Make sure you keep an eye out on your walk for some of the Kogi Tribes people who still live in the park, plus the incredible flora and fauna you’ll pass.
Santa Marta to Cartagena
Cartagena was formerly the Caribbean gateway port used by the Spanish. It has rich history, diverse culture and energy that absorbs every visitor allowing them a glimpse into the past and a chance to relax in superb surroundings. This passionate and vibrant city has some of the best preserved Spanish colonial architecture in all of South America mixed in with African rhythms and indigenous influences. Carved from a colourful history of sultry Caribbean heat, with fusions of African, indigenous and European culture, Cartagena is Colombia’s living, breathing and pulsating museum. Colour splashes every corner, balconies overflow with blossom, and energy seeps beneath the ancient wooden doors of hotels, restaurants and Casa Privadas. Your tour will take you through the old town and under the Puerta Del Reloj (Clock Tower entrance) discovering the Plaza de los Coches and Plaza San Pedro. You’ll learn everything from the myths and legends to the history and stories of Cartagena of ancient time’s right up to present.
It’s time to explore the streets of Cartagena on your free day! The streets are alive with life and people- watching is an endless activity. This can be done strolling the cobbled streets or from the comfort of a local restaurant with cool fruit juice in hand. You can also soak up some sun on the beaches of Boca Grande and see how the locals enjoy their city beach. Tonight we’ll wrap up the trip with a traditional horse and cart ride along the cobbled streets of Cartagena’s old town. We’ll wind along through the lanes strewn with colonial buildings rising around you and flowers spilling over the balconies. Afterwards you will enjoy a tropical cocktail at the famous Café del Mar with spectacular views over the Caribbean Sea.