Come join us on our newest trip in Colombia – 9-Day Treasures of Colombia. This is a truly wonderful trip for travelers who have joined us previously for Machu Picchu by train, loved it, and want to explore more untouched corners of beautiful Latin America, especially for its archeological treasures, vibrant South American cities, and beautiful colonial towns. Colombia’s bad reputation was valid 20 years ago, but things have changed – a lot: starting from around 2006, the nation has made amazing progress and peace now reigns in all of the areas AWR trips visit. Travel with us and find out the truth for yourself — the only harm done is you’ll be kicking yourself for not coming sooner!
You will start in Bogota, with its bustling, creative energy, then travel to San Agustín Archeological Park, a UNESCO world heritage archeological site, considered one of the top two such sites in Colombia. UNESCO says the San Agustín Archeological Park boasts “the largest group of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America (and) stands in a wild, spectacular landscape. Gods and mythical animals are skillfully represented in styles ranging from abstract to realist. These works of art display the creativity and imagination of a northern Andean culture that flourished from the 1st to the 8th century.” San Augustin should be on anyone’s radar who dreams of Easter Island, Machu Picchu, and the like.
We continue on to the beautiful, colonial, living spiritual pilgrimage town of Popayan; the scenic, authentic heart of coffee country in Armenia; and end this amazing tour in Cartagena, the crown jewel of colonial cities in Latin America.
You can start this trip any day of the year. It makes an ideal Saturday to Sunday trip. The dry seasons in the interior, traditionally, run from December through March, then again in July and August. While it rains other times of the year, people still travel and have an amazing time. In the rainy seasons, expect short but powerful rains in Cartagena but largely skies are clear. The country is equatorial, so temperatures remain static throughout the year for the most part, with the main fluctuations caused by altitude. Only in the thick, jungle rain forests of the Colombian Amazon does rain really become profound. Our advice: the times to truly avoid travel in Colombia are Christmas-New Years and Easter Week. This is because native Colombians love to travel in their country and tourist numbers peak at famous sites, parks, hotels, cities, etc. and it is better to avoid that level of crowding.
You can easily add days to the trip, for example, in Armenia, with its hot springs, parks, and more to explore, or Cartagena, for those who are interested in scuba, photography, and the like. Here is a summary itinerary for those of you interested in visiting the highlights of Colombia in nine short days!
Day 1: Arrive in Bogota
This is the start of your exciting journey through a country that has so much diversity and beautiful places it will take your breath away. On arrival, you will receive a warm welcome at the airport and your private driver will take you to your centrally located hotel in Bogota, the capital city of Colombia. Bienvenido a Colombia! Welcome to Colombia!
Day 2: Bogota city tour, then travel to San Agustín Archeological Park
Today you will visit the historic downtown of Bogotá, “La Candelaria,” with its magnificent churches, the government palace, and the “Plaza Bolivar.” Furthermore, you will visit the museum of Botero (closed on Tuesdays) where you can marvel at the many great artworks of the famous Colombian artist – for example, the “Mona Lisa” in exaggerated shape. Then, you will head up the Monserrate hill. The cable car will take you up to the top of Monserrate, where you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the bustling metropolis of Bogotá. Here you will visit the church which is located on top of the mountain and enjoy an amazing view of the huge capital city.
Bogotá is an inspiring city that has something new to offer every day. In 2010, Bogotá was selected as a Must See Destination by the renowned newspaper, The New York Times. Dive into a city that offers a variety of art & culture, recreation, sports, and science. Following the tour, we will transfer you to the airport, where you will catch a flight to Pitalito (flight not included), where we will meet you and transfer you to the San Agustín Archeological Park proper.
Day 3: Visit archaeological sights in San Agustín Archeological Park & surroundings
Get to know this fascinating area and be inspired by the pre-Colombian culture which can be found in San Agustín Archeological Park. Today you will go on a tour by jeep to discover all the archaeological sites in the surroundings of San Agustín and the narrowest part of the river Magdalena. The archaeological park San Agustín consists of two parts: Alto de los Ídolos and the hills Chaquira La, La Pelota and Puruta. Alto de los Ídolos is the archaeological part that belongs to the Isnos region, and is characterized by artificially erected grave mounds, which are connected with each other by raised paths. The hills Chaquira La, La Pelota and Purutal are part of the Huila department, which is characterized by different symbols which are carved into stone. Outstanding are the figures at the edge of the Magdalena River.
Day 4: Travel from San Agustín Archeological Park to Popayan / afternoon walking tour
We will explore the cultural treasures of Popayan, also known as the White City. Since colonial times, Popayan has been the religious center on the road from Cartagena to Quito, Ecuador. On this tour, you will visit several important churches, the Parque Caldas, the Puente del Humilladero, and other representative sights in Popayan, which is also known as the city of faith. Popayan was also home to many poets, presidents, and writers from Colombia.
Day 5: Hike in Puracé Volcano National Park
Just half an hour away from Popayan, we will find the beautiful Puracé National Park. You will enjoy hiking through amazing landscapes and observe condors. You will be astonished by volcanoes, many lakes, unusual flora and fauna and a friendly Indian population. The volcanic character of Puracé is reflected in numerous sulphur hot springs, like the Termales de San Juan and the waterfall Cascada del Bedon. Explore one of Colombia’s most beautiful national parks!
Day 6: Full day leisure drive to the coffee heartland
Following breakfast, we will start a scenic and interesting 6-7 hour drive from your San Agustín hotel to Colombia’s lush coffee heartland. Settle into your hotel and enjoy the quiet lush green and romantic atmosphere of the coffee landscape.
Day 7: Free day in coffee country
You can choose to take it easy and stroll the area and take it all in. You may want to choose, however, from among a number of interesting optional tours available, at extra cost. Among the available tours are: a coffee experience tour, a day tour to attractive Salento and the Cocora Valley, a visit to the orchid farm, or a botanical gardens visit. You may also want to visit the hot springs or the nature parks in the region for birders and hikers.
Day 8: Transfer to airport, depart for Cartagena
Today, we will transfer you to the airport, where you will catch your flight to beautiful Cartagena. Here, grab your bag, enter the easy taxi queue, and head to your central hotel, maybe a 20-minute taxi ride away. You will check in and have the evening to enjoy Cartagena which really comes alive at night as musicians, dancers, and more fill the public squares.
Day 9: Depart Cartagena
Many international flights depart in the evening, so try to take one of those so you can enjoy a day here, strolling the colonial streets. Let us know, however, if you would like to add a night here and extend your stay in Cartagena.