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CULTURE & NATURE ITINERARY

Bucket List Travel Adventures can customize any adventure
you would like to undertake.


Click on a day below to expand the itinerary.

Day 1

Depart Canada/USA. Fly to Bogota.

Upon arrival transfer to your first night’s accommodation in the Candelaria district of Bogota. Dinner at the hotel or local restaurant. Overnight stay in Hotel de La Opera or similar.

Dinner Included

Day 2

BOGOTA MORNING CITY TOUR:

Today you’ll enjoy a tour of this amazing city. Your first stop will be the mountain sanctuary of Cerro Monserrate where the journey to the top via cable car will be rewarded with panoramic views of Bogota. A visit to the Basilica of Our Fallen Lord Monserrate will be included before heading back down via the cliff railway. The famous Botero museum and gallery will be your next stop, home of the Colombian master’s most famous collection before moving onto Bogota’s renowned Gold Museum. The museum holds over 35,000 pieces of tumbaga gold selections of which are organised into 5 different themed collections. The tour continues to the Plaza de Bolivar, Bogota’s main square, named after Simón the revolutionary hero and ‘Libertador’ of Colombia.

To finish the tour you’ll be treated to an authentic cup of Colombian coffee in a nearby café. The rest of the day you’re free to explore at leisure and also have the option to visit Bogota’s ‘Zona Rosa’, picking from a wide variety of restaurants for dinner. Overnight Hotel de La Opera or similar.

Breakfast and Lunch included

Day 3

DRIVE TO SALT CATHEDRAL, ZIPAQUIRA THEN ONTO VILLA DE LEYVA:

Today you’ll pack your bag ready to be taken to the famous Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira. Located an hour north of Bogota, this unique cathedral is mined from the immense rock salt deposits that lie underneath these mountains. As you marvel at this feat of engineering you’ll visit the various chapels and main cathedral itself, seemingly held up by gargantuan salt pillars on all sides. After a guided tour you’ll stop for lunch in the quiet town of Zipaquira before heading northwards to Boyaca and its Spanish colonial jewel, Villa de Leyva.

Villa de Leyva was declared a ‘destino patrimonio’ or ‘heritage destination’ - for good reason – as this preserved colonial town looks much like it did as when it was built over 450 years ago. Here you’ll relax and be able to stroll along the cobblestoned plazas and streets taking in the dry, high-altitude air of the Eastern Cordillera mountains. You’ll be given time to admire the scenery and tranquillity of this place and the various buildings that hold so much history within their walls. Your guide will advise on a wide variety of restaurants tonight as you soak up the slow and peaceful Boyancense lifestyle. Overnight La Posada de San Antonio or similar.

Breakfast and Lunch included

Day 4

TOUR OF VILLA DE LEYVA, TRANSFER BACK TO BOGOTA:

Today your guide will take you through the various sights and places of interest in Villa de Leyva which are abundant and each offering a unique element of this lovely town. Places you’ll visit include the Villa de Leyva Cathedral, the Antonio Nariño Museum, the Antonio Ricaurte Museum, the Convent of San Francisco, the Convento del Carmen, the Cloister of St. Augustine, the Royal Factory of Aguardiente, Congress House and there's also the Luis Alberto Acuña Museum and the Museo del Carmen. The Fossil Museum houses the bones of a Kronosaur, found in 1977 and is not to be missed. The surrounding mountains are an archeologists delight, containing bones and fossils dating back to the Mesozioc and Cretaceous period. Ain Karim’s vineyard can also be visited for those ‘red stuff’ enthusiasts.

After finishing the tour you’ll have the chance to relax in a local restaurant whilst you have lunch and get your last photos and memories of Villa de Leyva, before we take our private transport back to Bogota and your hotel for the evening. Again you guide will recommend local restaurants or even a visit to barrio La Macarena where some of our favourite restaurants are located.Overnight Hotel de La Opera or similar.

Breakfast and Lunch included

Day 5

FLIGHT TO MANIZALES COFFEE TOUR; TRANSFER ONTO FLORA AND FAUNA SANCTUARY OTUN-QUIMBAYA:

After breakfast you’ll head to the airport for your flight to Manizales. You’ll fly over the inter-Andean Magdalena river valley, an arid savannah-like landscape with the brown Magdalena snaking its way northward to the Caribbean coast. On a clear day you’ll be able to see Los Nevados National Park with its snow-capped peaks, nestling tantalisingly at the top of the Andes below you. Ahead of you lies Colombia’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site – The Colombian Coffee Cultural Landscape. You’ll drive through some of the best coffee farms in the country. Rolling hills, valleys and distant mountains of the Central Cordillera will envelope you on all sides where carpets of coffee, plantain tree and guadua (bamboo) crops dominate the landscape.

Your first stop is Hacienda Venecia. At over 200 hectares the farm is one of the largest coffee haciendas in the region and offers one of the most authentic opportunities to sample this culture up close. The house itself is a well- preserved example of Antioquian architecture. You’ll be treated to a typical dish for lunch - Bandeja Paisa, a mixture of all things meat including local chorizo, beef, and ‘Chicharron’ (deep fried pork belly).

After finishing your delicious lunch you’ll be ready to move onto your first real contact with Colombia’s wild side. Colombia is the second most biodiverse country on Earth, behind Brazil which is 7 times bigger. This location for this natural interaction will be Otun-Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, which, although being only 486 hectares in size, has national park status. Formed back in 1996 the park’s main focus was to initially conserve 5 micro-basins that are all tributaries of the Otun River that roars nearby, on its way to join the River Cauca after its long descent from Los Nevados National Park high above. The park’s main success story, however, is the recovery of the endemic Cauca Guan (Penelope perspicax) population, an endemic specie of mountain turkey that was on the brink of extinction when the park was formed. Numbers have grown from around 80 to 200 individuals and are seen frequently as they hop through the high branches looking for fruits and young leaves to feast on. An evening walk through this second-growth sub-Andean cloud forest awaits after your well-deserved dinner. Sleep well, for those who are into a bit of bird watching have a treat in store as soon as the sun comes up. Overnight Flora and Fauna Sanctuary Otun-Quimbaya.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Day 6

MORNING FLORA AND FAUNA SANCTUARY OTUN-QUIMBAYA; AFTERNOON TRANSFER TO SALENTO, QUINDIO:

It’s worth mentioning that Otun-Quimbaya (named after the river that defines its northern border and the pre-Columbian indigenous people that inhabited the area) is one of Colombia’s top birding hotspots. Located in the buffer zone for Los Nevados National Park it forms part of one of South America’s best protected river basins. The famous and much sought-after Golden-headed Quetzal (Pharomachrus auriceps), Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruvianus), Multicoloured Tanager (Chlorochrysa nitidissima endemic), Crested Ant-Tanager (Habia cristata endemic) and locally common Red-ruffed Fruit-Crow (Pyroderus scutatus), are just some of the birds that can be seen here along with the various groups of Red-Howler Monkeys (Alouatta Seniculus) that are a joy to observe as they swing through the branches in playful fashion, always making curious, direct eye contact with you. You’ll have the chance to add to your life-list here for a full morning as we make our way through two or more trails, through the vines, waterways and thick Andean jungle before we head back to the lodge for a delicious lunch.

After lunch we’ll say goodbye to our local guide and head off to our next stop, Salento. Founded in 1842, Salento is one of the oldest towns in the Coffee Region and is located on the ancestral path that traversed the Central Cordillera. The town is an excellent example of Antioquian architecture and coffee region life, with brightly coloured buildings, Spanish balconies and local farmers who stroll around in their ‘Aguandeñan’ hats (predecessor to the Panama hat), wellington boots, machetes, moustaches and customary poncho folded over their shoulders to wipe the sweat from their brows.

Here you’ll be treated to an easy walk in and around the town and the surrounding hills to take in the picturesque backdrop of the Colombian Coffee Region and Central Cordillera landscape, ending in the local village of Boquia. When we return to Salento in the evening you’ll have a fine selection of traditional restaurants to choose from. The rainbow trout is a local delicacy. Overnight hotel Salento Real or similar.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Day 7

DRIVE TO THE COCORA VALLEY. WALK TO ACAIME RESERVE, TRANSFER ONTO COFFEE REGION HOTEL:

After a good night’s sleep you’ll head off to Salento’s main square where your private ‘Willys’ Jeep will be waiting for you. These open-backed Jeeps are typical of the Coffee Region, known for their unbeatable horsepower when conquering steep mountain roads when piled high with sacks of coffee and ‘platano’ (plantain). The drive will take you eastward along the Quindío River to the starting point of your trek in the ‘buffer zone’ of Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados. Either side of the road you’ll see lush green pastures dotted with cows, farmhouses and large boulders, evidence of the lava flow 5,200 years ago that formed this beautiful valley.

You will start the trail along a well-trodden horse-path that runs parallel to the Quindío River, past beautiful green pastures and fragments of forest either side of you. The scenery here is gargantuan in its scale. The national tree – the Colombian Wax palm (Ceroxylon quindiuense) sways in the breeze at over 60 meters high, making it the tallest palm tree in the world and a worthy holder of the title as Colombia’s national tree. After a short while you’ll reach the entrance to the ‘Bosque de Niebla’ or ‘cloud forest’, surrounded on all sides by water, flora and fauna, as the roar of the Quindío River becomes much louder and is now visible. You’ll cross the river 5 times before reaching the Acaime Reserve, a popular stop off to see the various species of local hummingbird, including the Collared Inca (Coeligena torquata) and Long-tailed After a nice hot Agua-Panela (sugar cane drink) and slice of homemade cheese in Acaime, you’ll be ready to descend along the same path back down to the valley floor. Lunch will be taken in Salento before you move on to your Coffee Region hotel, in an area that is lower and subsequently warmer than where you’ve been until You have the evening to yourself where you can relax and have dinner at the hotel or venture to a local restaurant nearby. Overnight Hacienda Combia or similar.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Day 8

QUINDIO BOTANICAL GARDEN VISIT AND AFTERNOON AT LEISURE ON COFFEE REGION HOTEL GROUNDS:

Today will involve a morning visit to the Quindio Botanical Gardens (a short distance from your hotel), the best botanical gardens in the region and an excellent example of Andean forest. Whereas before you have seen it and not known the species observed (maybe wondering as to ‘what was that?’), here you will get the full rundown of the 850 or so native species found within the gardens. Trees such as the ‘Yarumo’ or Cecropia which is typical of the Colombian Andes in both its ‘black’ and ‘white’ form will be explained along with other typical mountain species such as the Black Oak or ‘Roble

Colombia’s gorgeous selection of Heliconias, that light up any forest trail are very well represented here along with a large collection of Colombian palms, many of them endemic. Twisting trails through the vegetation and a walk along the high suspension bridge to a wildlife viewing area are some of the experiences that you’ll have, along with a visit to the excellent butterfly garden and display of local insects and invertebrates before heading to the gift shop as we depart. Lunch will be either at the hotel or a local restaurant. The rest of the afternoon and evening will be spent in your hotel where you can take full advantage of the pool in this warm climate, taking the chance to reflect on your favourite experiences here in the Colombian Coffee Region.Overnight Hacienda Combia or similar.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Day 9

FLY TO SANTA MARTA DRIVE TO BEACH HOTEL:

After a relaxing night’s sleep you’ll take a short drive up to Armenia airport ‘El Eden’. Here you will catch a connecting flight northwards to Santa Marta and Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Santa Marta, founded in 1525, is Colombia’s oldest city and lends its name to the highest coastal range in the world – the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which is also home to Colombia’s highest peaks – Pico Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus Peak) and Pico Simon Bolivar. This national park was recently named as the most important concentration of threatened wildlife on Earth. Your journey through the different climates of Colombia continues as you step off the plane and are greeted by the hot and humid air of the Colombian Caribbean. Your private transport will be waiting to take you directly to your hotel that sports its own private beach, where you will spend the rest of the day. The drive to the hotel will take you past the jungles of Tayrona National Park to your left and the immense mountains of the Sierra to your right. Caribbean sunsets, white sandy beaches and spa facilities are just some of the delights waiting in store for you at this delightful concept hotel. The afternoon is at your leisure and lunch and dinner will be provided for you. Overnight hotel Playa Koralia or similar.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Day 10

DAY WALK IN TAYRONA NATIONAL PARK:

Today you’ll visit the coastal jungle of Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona, a coastal paradise that includes 23 beaches that are widely regarded as some of the best in the world. You’ll embark on an easy trek through dry and humid forest ecosystems until you get to an important archaeological site called Chairama or Pueblito (little town). This was a Tairona settlement where over 3,000 Tairona Indians lived between 450 and 1600 AD. All that is left are the 254 circular terraces that provided the foundations of the Tairona living quarters and buildings.

After a couple of hours you will reach the Cabo de San Juan, a paradisiacal beach with a spot to relax in a hammock and enjoy some well-deserved refreshments. After passing Arrecifes beach it is an hour-long walk back to the main entrance to the park, through more jungle before driving back to the hotel to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening.Overnight hotel Playa Koralia.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Day 11

SANTA MARTA CITY TOUR:

Today will be relatively early start so that you can make your way to Santa Marta and begin your tour. Santa Marta is Colombia’s oldest city, founded by the Spanish Conquistador Rodrigo de Bastidas in 1525. During your tour you’ll visit the famous farm of San Pedro Alejandrino where the great ‘Libertador’, Simon Bolivar died, with examples of period furniture and the room where he lay before his death. After touring the Libertador memorial and walking through the beautiful gardens you’ll go further into the city, visiting the Tayrona Archaeological Museum that houses gold works and artefacts salvaged from the pre-Columbian people that inhabited the coastal area in which Santa Marta now sits. Observe the architectural details of Santa Marta’s Cathedral and take the photo opportunity of the Taganga lookout that gives a panoramic view of the small fishing village and backpacker hotspot, surrounded by the arid foothills and mountains that lead on up to the sacred Sierra itself. You’ll have lunch during the tour, being able to sample some typical Caribbean seafood before returning to your hotel so you can enjoy the white sands and stunning sunsets of Palomino.Hotel Playa Koralia or similar.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included

Day 12

DRIVE TO CARTAGENA:

This morning you shall be driven to the beautiful and historical city of Cartagena de Indias. The drive will take you through the city of Barranquilla, past vast lagoons and a RAMSAR wetland full of animals to reach the city whose history and cultural fabric are truly outstanding. Your hotel is situated in the centre of the walled city – a perfect spot to begin your afternoon tour of the UNESCO site that is Cartagena de Indias. The old city which has the most extensive fortifications of the Spanish conquest in the Americas was given UNESCO World Heritage Site status back in 1984 for its original architecture and cultural symbols, beautifully preserved and recently restored and typical of Spanish colonial times. To experience the city is like travelling back through 400 years. You can almost imagine the horse-drawn carriages making their way through the tight streets and plazas, with Spanish gentry taking leave on their balconies to cool down in the hot Caribbean air.

The tour begins in Isla de Manga or Barrio Manga where the Spanish ‘casonas’ can be viewed - immense and ornate mansions - many of them declared national monuments. The tour continues to the Popa Monastery that has panoramic views of the city both old and new. You will also visit Saint Philip’s castle (Castillo de San Felipe) which is regarded as the greatest military fortress that the Spanish have ever built. From here you’ll be taken back to the walled city, along the stone streets and plazas, soaking up the atmosphere which is undoubtedly Caribbean in its style.The rest of the afternoon and evening will be at your leisure, restaurants and bars will be recommended. Overnight hotel Don Pedro de Heredia.

Breakfast included

Day 13

MORNING IN CARTAGENA AT LEISURE. AFTERNOON TRANSFER TO CARTAGENA AIRPORT:

You’ll have the morning to relax and explore Cartagena a little more or visit the nearby beach for one final dip before returning to the hotel for your transfer to Cartagena’s airport ready for your flight home.

Breakfast included

Day 14

ARRIVE CANADA/USA