Updated on 01/25/2024
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Colombia Trip Summary
Day 1: Bogotá
Day 2: Bogotá – Pitalito – San Agustín
Day 3: San Agustín
Day 4: San Agustín
Day 5: San Agustín – Tierradentro – Popayán
Day 6: Popayán
Day 7: Popayán – Silvia – Popayan
Day 8: Popayán – Cali
Day 9: Cali
Day 10: Cali – Bogotá
Day 11: Bogotá – Pereira – Manizales – Hacienda Venecia
Day 12: Hacienda Venecia
Day 13: Hacienda Venecia – Nevado del Ruiz – Hacienda Venecia
Day 14: Hacienda Venecia
Day 15: Hacienda Venecia – Villamaría
Day 16: Villamaría
Day 17: Villamaría – Nevado del Ruiz
Day 18. Nevado del Ruiz – Departure
Bogotá is Colombia’s capital and has over 10 million inhabitants. It is Colombia’s political, economic, cultural, and tourist center, accounting for most of the national GDP. It is the third-highest capital city in South America as it sits on over 2.600 meters (8.600 feet) above sea level. With average temperatures of 7°C – 20°C (45°F – 60°F), the climate varies between cold to temperate. Bogotá has an area of 1.775 km2 (685 Square miles), which is more than twice the size of Singapore. It was founded in 1.538 by the Spaniards but was already inhabited by the Pre-Muiscas. Most of the tourist attractions are in the historic center “La Candelaria”. The city’s wide cultural offer represented in museums, theaters and libraries has granted it the name of “the South American Athens”. Some important places to visit in Bogotá are Monserrate Monastery, Gold and Botero Museums, “Paloquemao” and “La Perseverancia” food markets.
The municipality of Guatavita – Cundinamarca 53 km northeast of Bogota is recognized for giving rise to the most representative legend of Colombia, one of the most important in the world and Cultural Heritage of the Nation “The story of the Legend of El Dorado”. It is the religious, cultural and ancestral capital of the Muisca people. In Guatavita there is “Guatavita the Origin of the Legend” an area of 13.8 ha, consisting of a historic center with high heritage value and a cultural and tourist development polygon on the banks of the Tominé reservoir.
Zipaquirá is a historic and enchanting town located in the Cundinamarca Department of Colombia, approximately 49 kilometers (30 miles) north of Bogotá, the capital city. This charming town is famous for its awe-inspiring underground salt cathedral and well-preserved colonial architecture.
The Salt Cathedral is the primary attraction of Zipaquirá and a marvel of engineering and faith. Carved inside the tunnels of a salt mine, the cathedral is an underground sanctuary with impressive salt sculptures, religious artwork, and an ethereal atmosphere. It is a significant pilgrimage site and a masterpiece of Colombian architecture.
Zipaquirá’s historical center features well-preserved colonial buildings, cobblestone streets, and charming squares. Visitors can stroll through the town’s quaint streets and admire its colonial architecture, including the main square, Plaza de los Comuneros.
In addition to its colonial heritage, Zipaquirá has pre-Columbian archaeological sites, such as the ancient Muisca settlement of El Abra, which offers insights into the region’s indigenous history.
San Agustín is a town on the south of the department of Huila, in southwestern Colombia. It sits on 1.730 meters (5.675 feet) above sea level, in the foothills of the Colombian Massif – a group of mountains where the main rivers in Colombia, including the Magdalena river, are born. With an average pleasant temperature of 18°C (64°F), San Agustín is ideal for nature tourism and the exploration of the region’s rich history, culture and archaeology. Its fertile lands and geographical conditions allow the production of world-class coffee and other agricultural products. But probably the best-known attraction of the town is the San Agustín Archaeological Park, a complex of archaeological sites belonging to the Pre-Columbian San Agustín culture declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. This place is considered the world’s largest necropolis and the largest collection of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America.
Tierradentro is an archaeological and cultural gem located in the Cauca Department of Colombia. It is renowned for its impressive underground tombs and ancient burial sites, which offer insights into the pre-Columbian past of the region.
Tierradentro is famous for its extensive underground burial chambers and tombs, known as hypogea, which were built by the indigenous people of the region between the 6th and 9th centuries AD. These tombs are decorated with intricate and unique geometric designs, and they serve as important archaeological evidence of the area’s ancient civilizations.
In recognition of its cultural significance, Tierradentro was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The designation highlights the importance of preserving and protecting these archaeological treasures for future generations.
The indigenous inhabitants of Tierradentro practiced complex burial rituals and ceremonies, which involved burying their dead in the hypogea. Each tomb is believed to have been a sacred site, holding religious and ceremonial significance for the ancient cultures.
The hypogea in Tierradentro showcase remarkable architectural skill and engineering. The burial chambers are carved into the volcanic rock, and the intricate decorations on the walls and ceilings indicate the sophisticated artistic abilities of the pre-Columbian inhabitants.
Popayán, often referred to as the “White City,” is a historic and picturesque colonial town located in the southwestern part of Colombia. It is the capital of the Cauca Department and holds great cultural and architectural significance.
Popayán is renowned for its well-preserved colonial architecture, characterized by whitewashed buildings, beautiful churches, and cobblestone streets. The city’s historic center has been declared a National Monument of Colombia, reflecting its architectural and cultural value.
The city has a rich cultural heritage, with a blend of indigenous, Spanish colonial, and Afro-Colombian influences. Popayán is known for its religious festivals, Semana Santa (Holy Week) being the most famous, during which the streets come alive with colorful processions and traditional celebrations.
Popayán is celebrated for its traditional cuisine, which includes dishes such as empanadas de pipián (corn turnovers with peanut sauce), tamales, and arepas de maíz (corn pancakes). The city’s culinary offerings reflect the diverse cultural influences of the region.
Popayán is situated in a region with several active volcanoes, including Puracé and Huila. The surrounding landscape features breathtaking scenery, with mountains, valleys, and fertile farmlands.
Silvia is a charming and culturally rich town located in the Cauca Department of Colombia. Situated in the southwestern part of the country, Silvia is known for its indigenous heritage, traditional festivals, and picturesque landscapes.
Silvia is predominantly inhabited by the Guambiano indigenous community, one of the largest indigenous groups in Colombia. The town provides visitors with an opportunity to learn about their customs, traditions, and way of life.
One of the most significant cultural attractions in Silvia is the Guambianos’ traditional festivals, which celebrate their ancient rituals and customs. The colorful festivals showcase traditional music, dances, and colorful attire.
The town’s market is a vibrant and bustling place where locals and visitors come together to buy and sell goods, including fresh produce, handicrafts, and textiles. It’s an excellent spot to experience the local culture and interact with the Guambiano people.
The town is known for its vibrant handicrafts and artisanal products made by the Guambiano people. Visitors have the opportunity to purchase authentic handwoven textiles and other traditional crafts.
Silvia offers a unique opportunity for cultural immersion and learning about the indigenous communities’ way of life, values, and worldview.
Cali, often referred to as the “Salsa Capital of the World,” is a lively and dynamic city located in the southwestern part of Colombia. As the capital of the Valle del Cauca Department, Cali is known for its rich cultural scene, vibrant nightlife, and warm hospitality.
Cali is famous for its deep-rooted salsa music and dance culture. The city’s vibrant nightlife comes alive with salsa clubs, where locals and visitors dance the night away to the infectious rhythms of this lively genre. The annual “Feria de Cali” (Cali Fair) is a major salsa festival that attracts dancers and musicians from all over the world.
Cali boasts a rich cultural heritage, with a blend of indigenous, African, and Spanish influences. This fusion is evident in the city’s architecture, cuisine, and traditions.
Cali’s gastronomy reflects its diverse cultural influences. Visitors can enjoy traditional Colombian dishes, as well as local specialties like “sancocho” (hearty stew), “chontaduro” (peach palm fruit), and “empanadas vallunas” (regional empanadas).
Colombia Coffee Triangle
The Colombia Coffee Triangle, also known as the Coffee Region or Zona Cafetera, is a picturesque and culturally rich area located in the central part of Colombia. It is composed of three departments: Caldas, Quindío, and Risaralda, and encompasses numerous charming towns and lush landscapes.
The Coffee Triangle is renowned for its world-class coffee production and is one of the top coffee-growing regions globally. Coffee cultivation is deeply ingrained in the region’s culture and history, and the area’s fertile volcanic soils and ideal climate create the perfect conditions for growing high-quality coffee beans.
The Coffee Triangle boasts breathtaking landscapes with rolling hills, emerald green valleys, and picturesque mountain ranges. The area is adorned with vibrant coffee plantations, colorful flower farms, and cloud forests, providing stunning views at every turn.
The region is dotted with charming colonial towns and villages, each with its unique character and architectural charm. Towns like Salento, Filandia, and Manizales feature well-preserved colonial-style buildings, cobblestone streets, and colorful facades, adding to the region’s allure.
Caldas is a department located in the central-western region of Colombia, named after Francisco José de Caldas, a prominent Colombian scientist and philosopher. With its diverse landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and historical significance, Caldas offers visitors a blend of natural beauty and cultural experiences.
Manizales, the capital city of Caldas, is known for its location amidst the Andes Mountains and its stunning views of the surrounding valleys. The city has a vibrant urban center, featuring a mix of colonial and modern architecture.
Caldas is part of Colombia’s renowned Coffee Triangle, and the department is home to several coffee plantations. Visitors can explore the coffee farms, learn about the coffee-making process, and taste high-quality Colombian coffee.
A portion of Los Nevados National Natural Park lies within Caldas. This protected area is characterized by snow-capped peaks, glaciers, and diverse ecosystems, attracting nature enthusiasts and hikers.
Caldas boasts several natural thermal hot springs, providing opportunities for relaxation and rejuvenation. The hot springs are known for their therapeutic properties.
Throughout the year, Caldas hosts various cultural festivals, celebrating traditions, music, and dance. The “Feria de Manizales” is one of the most famous events, featuring bullfighting, concerts, and parades.
The department is home to picturesque towns, such as Salamina and Filadelfia, showcasing colonial architecture and traditional charm.
Aguadas is a colorful town in Caldas, recognized for its well-preserved colonial buildings and artisan crafts.
Nevado del Ruiz
Nevado del Ruiz is a majestic stratovolcano located in the Andes Mountains of Colombia. Standing at an elevation of approximately 5,321 meters (17,457 feet), it is one of the highest and most active volcanoes in the country. The volcano is part of the Los Nevados National Natural Park and is surrounded by stunning landscapes and diverse ecosystems.
Nevado del Ruiz has a history of significant volcanic activity, with eruptions dating back to prehistoric times. The most devastating eruption occurred in 1985 when an eruption triggered a massive mudflow (lahar) that resulted in the tragic Armero tragedy, claiming thousands of lives.
The volcano’s summit is capped with glaciers and snow, creating a stunning and dramatic landscape. However, due to climate change and volcanic activity, the glaciers have been receding in recent years.
The slopes of Nevado del Ruiz are characterized by diverse ecosystems, including paramo, Andean forest, and high-altitude grasslands. These ecosystems are home to a variety of plant and animal species, some of which are endemic to the Andes.
The volcano attracts hikers and mountaineers seeking challenging adventures. Ascending Nevado del Ruiz requires proper preparation, and climbers often start from the nearby town of Manizales.
Given its active nature, Nevado del Ruiz is closely monitored by scientific institutions to better understand volcanic processes and mitigate potential risks to nearby communities.
Nevado del Ruiz is part of the Los Nevados National Natural Park, a protected area renowned for its diverse landscapes, high-altitude lakes, and unique flora and fauna.
The volcano has cultural importance for indigenous communities living in the surrounding region. It is considered a sacred site by some local indigenous groups.
In light of its volcanic activity and the potential hazards it poses, safety measures and contingency plans are in place to protect nearby populations from potential eruptions.
Day 1: Bogota
Arrival to Bogota
You will be picked up at the airport in Bogota and driven to your hotel.
The bilingual guide will be waiting for you at the exit of the airport.
Here you will find the best hotel recommendations in Bogota.
Day 2: Bogota – San Agustin
After a long day of traveling, you will arrive in San Agustin. San Agustin is not only a small Colombian town but also the Colombia hub for archeological sites.
Day 3: San Agustin
Full Day San Agustin Archaeological Park
The “San Agustin Archaeological Zone” is the largest complex of megalithic monuments in pre-Columbian America, consisting of a group of archaeological sites scattered over a large region in the upper Magdalena River valley in southwestern Colombia. It was recognized by UNESCO in 1995 as a World Heritage Site. The region has been intensively studied by archaeologists interested in better understanding the monumentality of these tombs and the importance of this kind of commemorative elements for the development of politically complex societies. In 1931, the archaeological park was created to investigate and protect it. Since then, San Agustín is one of the best investigated archaeological regions in northern South America and probably the most representative archaeological site of the Colombian archaeological heritage.
Day 4: San Agustin
Full Day Tour San Agustin Area
Your guide and driver will pick you up at the hotel to start with an incredible tour around the town of San Agustin. The tour will last 8 hours and begin at the Strait of Magdalena, the narrowest point that crosses the main river of Colombia on its way to the ocean. It is surrounded by a beautiful natural landscape of Andean forest. Just a few kilometers from there is the small town of Obando, where we will see some tombs similar to those in the Tierradentro Archaeological Park in Cauca. The local small museum also exhibits items even older than those found in San Agustin. The most famous item is perhaps the goldsmith piece “Winged Fish”. The trip continues to the parks Alto de los Idolos, the second site with the highest density of tombs, and then to Alto de las Piedras where the enigmatic “Double I” can be appreciated. Before returning to San Agustin, we will pass by the Salto del Mortiño, an impressive waterfall.
Day 5: San Agustin – Tierradentro – Popayan
With breakfast on the way, you will arrive at Tierradentro in approximately 5.5 hours. The Tierradentro Archaeological Park is one of the most incredible places to learn about pre-Hispanic cultures. Because of its importance, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995. This place is an archaeological reserve where it is possible to find remains of the funeral rites of some pre-Hispanic cultures. There are subway tombs or hypogea, which are a kind of funerary temples, built between the 4th and 9th centuries A.D.
After the tour, you will be transferred to Popayán
Day 6: Popayan
Half Day City Tour Popayan
During this tour you will learn about the Architectural Heritage of Popayán, visiting the Caldas Park, the Pantheon of the “Próceres”, and the “Humilladero” bridge, which was built in the XIX century as the former entrance of Popayán. Before the bridge was built, the terrain to the city center was extremely difficult to go up, so people used to climb tilted, almost in their knees. This is the reason behind the name “El humilladero” (meaning something like the humiliation place). Popayán is also famous for its religious traditions, especially during Holy Week when hundreds of parishioners come to the city. One of the most representative religious monuments in Popayán is La Ermita church. This little and antique chapel was constructed in 1546 and offers lovely views over the red-tiled roofs of the city. Among other monuments and churches, you can also visit the Museum of Religious Art.
Day 7: Popayan – Silvia – Popayan
Full Day Tour Silvia
Silvia town is located an hour from Popayán and is the center of the Guambianos indigenous communities who conserve their language, traditions, and manners. The Tuesday markets are the best setting to witness the colorful outfits and the traditions of the Guambianos. Locals and indigenous communities arrive in Silvia from surrounding villages to exchange goods. In this guided tour you will learn about the Guambianos (called “Misak” indigenous people) culture and you can interact with them. You will visit the Botanical Garden “Las Delicias”, a foundation that works for environmental conservation and teach others about the indigenous ancestral connection to the earth.
Day 8: Popayan – Cali
You will travel from Popayan to Cali.
Day 9: Cali
Full Day Cali City Tour
Discover the amazing Cristo Rey which is located at 1440 meters above sea level where you will have an excellent view of the city. Descending down the mountain you will learn the famous story of the city’s founder, as well as visit the cat park on the banks of the Cali River: “El Gato del Rio” and its cats, to walk and marvel at an open-air art exhibit, completely covered by a roof of tree branches and surrounded by birds.
Next, you will learn why Cali is the salsa capital of the world, with a style all its own: the salsa caleña, your feet will dance to the salsa beat through the old part of the city, to enjoy the afternoon breeze while you connect with the roots of the city.
Day 10: Cali
Cali Salsa Tour
You will begin your experience in the Salsa Capital of the World, at Plaza Jairo Varela (the salsa square). Now, find yourself dancing under the biggest trumpets on the planet and even playing an instrument yourself.
Next, you will continue your way playing a giant piano with your feet, where you will learn how the “caleños/as” meet for the first time in their youth on a dance floor at home. You will learn how these salsa dancers become a couple as you toast with a traditional juice that will refresh your palate. Now, stroll along the riverbank, where you can admire the street art of the “Cantante de los Cantantes”.
To finish, connect with the roots of a salsa family: the first salsa orchestra of the city. There, you will listen to their family history while admiring their unique collection of instruments that you can play, as well as have fun dancing.
Day 11: Cali – Caldas
You will be picked up at your hotel and drive to Caldas in the Coffee Triangle.
Here you will find the best hotel recommendations in Salento.
Day 12: Caldas
Half Day Coffee Tour
This coffee farm near Manizales has vast coffee fields and picturesque native trees and water springs. Here, you will be immersed in the landscape and culture of Colombian coffee, appreciating the process from the seed to the harvest by a walking tour through the plantations. You will learn about the origin, history, the different coffee varieties and qualities, as well as you will identify the aromas and features of coffee. You will have the chance to taste and see the beans with different grades of roasting to experience the different aromas, as the roasting brings out the aroma and flavor that are locked inside the coffee beans.
Day 13: Caldas
Full Day Hiking Nevado Ruiz
You will be picked up by a driver to Los Nevados National Park, approximately two hours from the hotel, upon arrival you will be accompanied during the tour by a local guide, who will take you to 4 stops where he will explain the ecosystems that you will encounter. To help you adapt to the altitude and climate you will be given a hot cup of coca tea to help you avoid altitude sickness, finally after visiting the mystical area around Los Nevados National Park and enjoying a delicious lunch, you will arrive at Tierra Viva hot springs to take a bath in hot water, where you can also find 10 species of hummingbirds that visit the feeders installed in the main garden.
Day 14: Caldas
Half Day Artisan Cocoa and Chocolate Workshop
On this tour you will get to see and taste first hand what the fresh cocoa fruit and bean harvested at Hacienda Venecia looks like. The local people will share with you their knowledge of chocolate while you learn about the process of the dried bean and fermentation to be transformed into chocolate. In the workshop, you will roast and grind coffee beans and go through the entire chocolate making process until you create your own sample that you can taste and take with you. This tour lasts 1.5 hours.
Day 15: Caldas
You will be picked up at your hotel and drive to the hotel Nido del Condor.
Day 16: Caldas
Condor’s Nest Tour
After breakfast, you will be picked up by your hotel guide and taken to your tour. You will hike for about 40 minutes to reach a local peasant house where you can drink coffee cooked on firewood, be told stories of the place and what it is like to live among the mountains and birds. Afterwards, you will have the opportunity to be close to the perches where the condors nest, where if you are lucky you will be able to see the first flights of the day of these great birds. This tour has a duration of 2.5 hours with a moderate level of hiking.
Day 17: Caldas – Nevado del Ruiz
You travel from Condor’s Nest to Nevado del Ruiz.
Day 18: Nevado del Ruiz
Today is the last day of your trip. Depending on the hour of your flight, a car will pick you up at your hotel and bring you to the airport.