A 13 DAY Custom Tour designed exclusively for Focus Travel Club
FINAL ITINERARY! DATE CHANGES!
Discover Colombia, a corner of South America that has once again become a must-see destination. Few countries boast such striking physical variety; a land where rugged topography combined with a location near the Equator to create an extraordinary diversity. No wonder the ‘magic realism’ style of Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez emerged from here. There is a dreamlike quality to Colombia - with the sun forever overhead, the fecund earth beneath your feet, heart-stopping vistas in every direction and the warmth of the locals putting you at ease – you may find it difficult to leave.
13 Day Deluxe Custom Tour
$3999.00 per person double occupancy
February 16th – February 28th 2018
Great Included Features
• Round trip airfare from Denver • No-rush sightseeing with expert guides
• Air conditioned, high quality motor coach transportation
• All interior flights • Great meals, Breakfast each day on tour and 5 lunches and 4 dinners are included
• 4 nights in Bogota’ – 2 at beginning and 2 at tour’s end.
• 3 nights in Villa de Leyva at the enchanting Posada de San Antonio or similar
2 nights in Medellin • 3 nights I Cartagena at five star Bantu 4 Hotel or similar
• Special Joe Green inclusions/treats
Day 01 – Tuesday, February 16 -- Denver – Bogota’
Our Colombian adventure begins! We depart Denver for our connecting flight to Bogota’, Colombia. Upon arrival, we will be met by our bilingual tour director who will be with us during our entire adventure and transferred to our centrally located hotel for a two day stay. After check-in, enjoy a lightsupper on our own before a good night’s sleep. Overnight at the Cite’ or similar
Day 02 – Wednesday, February 17 -- Bogota’ B, Welcome Dinner
After breakfast at our hotel we will meet our guide and coach and depart for a full day tour of vibrant and diverse Bogota’, the country’s capital. Home to a dazzling array of museums, churches, colonial mansions and stately buildings, Bogota’ keeps a fine balance between its historic past and its movement into the future. The city is located at an elevation of 8, 660 feet above sea level, on a mountain plateau high in the cordillera oriental of the Andes. Bogota’ was founded in in 1538 by the Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada. The new city became the vice-regal capital of New Granada in 1711. It was captured by Simon Bolivar in 1819 and was the capital of the independent nation of Gran Colombia which later dissolved into three separate countries: Ecuador, Venezuela, and Nueva Granada, later named the United States of Colombia and in 1886 the Republic of Colombia. Bogota’ is now Colombia’s largest financial, political and cultural center. Our tour begins at La Candelaria, the old historic center named after Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria. The district retains much of its colonial atmosphere with cobblestone streets and centuries-old houses. Among the oldest educational establishments in the area is The Colegio Nacional de San Bartolome’ founded by the Jesuits and operating continuously since 1604. We will visit Plaza Bolivar before arriving at the Botero Museum – situated in a renovated colonial house. The museum opend in 2000 after Fernando Botero, Colombia’s’ most famous artist, donated 208 works, 123 of his own and 85 by international artists. After enjoying lunch on our own at the Café Museo Oro, we will visit the famed Gold Museum which houses the world’s largest collection of pre-Hispanic gold work. The museum’s masterpiece is the “Muisca raft” which is highlighted in its own room. The finely wrought golden sculpture portrays a tribal chieftain accompanied by priests and six oarsmen sailing on a raft. It is dated to between 1200-1500 and was discovered in 1856 by peasants in a cave south of Bogota’. Finally, before returning to our hotel, we will drive to the top of Monserrate hill To enjoy incredible views of the city. Tonight, we will walk to a nearby restaurant for our welcome dinner.
Overnight at the Cite’ or similar
Day 03, Thursday, February 18 -- Bogota’ - Zipaquira - Villa de Leyva. B, L.
Following breakfast, we board our coach and travel north of Bogota’ through countryside renowned for the beauty of its landscapes, the richness of its earth and the Salt Cathedral, a hidden jewel beneath the earth’s surface. Zipaquira’s Salt Cathedral is considered one of the most outstanding architectural and artistic achievement of Colombian architecture. Around the central square of Zipaquira beautiful building retain their colonial style and are considered national monuments. After enjoying our lunch and our visit to the Salt Cathedral We continue the short distance to Villa de Leyva and check in to the charming Posada de San Antonio where we will delight in a 3-night stay. Dinner is on our own tonight. See end of Day 05 for restaurant suggestions other than dinner at the Posada.
Overnight at the Posada de San Antonio or similar
Day 04 – Friday, February 19 -- Villa de Leyva B and D.
One of the most beautiful colonial villages in Colombia, Villa de Leyva seems frozen in time. Declared a national monument in 1954, the photogenic village has been preserved in its entirety with cobbled streets and whitewashed buildings.
Today we will enjoy a full day tour of Villa de Leyva including visits to several surrounding villages including Raquira, a pottery-making village since preColombian times and still considered a center of ceramic production. Just 4.3 miles past Raquira is the town of La Candelaria and the Monasterio de La Candelaria, founded in 1597 by Augustine monks, where you can visit the chapel and its 16th century painting of La Virgen de la Candelaria, a small museum, the library and the courtyard. We end our tour at Sutmarachan, where people come from hundreds of miles away for a taste of their pork sausages.
After this magnificent day, we return to our hospitable posada for dinner and overnight.
Day 05 – Saturday, February 20 -- Villa de Leyva. B
Saturday is market day in Villa de Leyva and we will want to be sure to get an early start to explore. According to travelers who have experienced it, we will find “an ocean of vegetables, fruits, and meats as well as pottery, ponchos, shoes, kitchen supplies and myriad other items. Off to the side is the ‘restaurant’ area. Wood fires burn with kettles filled with breakfast food hanging over them. Cups of the incredible real cocoa hot chocolate are a must and made me weep tears of joy. We left with hands full of fruit and vegetables, bellies full of hot chocolate, and my traveler spirit smiling fit to blind the sun.”
After breakfast and our market exploration we will join our guide for a half-day continuation of our investigation of surrounding points of interest. The afternoon is ours to spend as we wish – at the posada or in the village or both.
Both lunch and dinner are on our own, today, to sample one of several recommended restaurants in Villa de Leyva. The Mercado Municipal is an outdoor restaurant around the gardens of a 1740 colonial house. The Savia specializes in vegetarian fare and offers fresh seafood and country dishes. Then there is Pasteleria Francesa with coffee, delicious hot chocolate, croissants and pastries. Although these three are highly recommended, there are several more close by.
Overnight at the Posada de San Antonio or similar.
Day 06 – Sunday, February 21 -- Villa de Leyva – Medillin. B, D
This morning we say goodbye to Villa de Leyva, board our coach and, with our tour escort, take the 3-hour drive back to Bogota’ and the international Airport El Dorado for our flight to
to Bogota for our fight to Medellin.
We arrive at our Hotel – The Park Hotel 10 or similar in Medellin in late afternoon for a 2-night stay. Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant.
Overnight at the Park Hotel 10 or similar
Day 7 – Monday, February 22 – Medellin. B, L.
Medellin, the third most popular city in Colombia (after Bogota’ and Cartagena), feels like a city twice its size. Situated in a narrow valley, the city’s skyline reaches up against a backdrop of jagged peaks in every direction. Its wonderful climate gives the city the nickname of “City of Eternal Spring”. During the past 20 years
Medellin has transformed into a leader in developing a more inclusive, sustainable and creative place to live. With a renowned leadership in finance, baking, services, politics, art, culture, communications, fashion and entertainments industries, the city is a true development axis. Medellin has now become one of the most exciting cities in south America. The advances made in its security situation has been such that Medellin is now regarded as one of, if not the, safest cities in south America.
Following a leisurely breakfast at our hotel, we depart with our guide and coach on a full day tour of Medellin. Our tour will take in many of the principal sites and locations of this fascinating city. These will include: the Parque Berrio, the famous Botero sculpture park where many giant sculptures of Colombia’s most famous artists as well as those of Fernando Botero are exhibited. A ride on the city’s famous metro system will not only provide great views of the city but will also be a chance to understand the geography and social make up of Colombia’s second city. We pass through the barrio of Santo Domingo which once suffer from appalling levels of violence but which now has been transformed through transport, education and art projects. Line L extends from Santo Domingo station to Parque Arvi, inaugurated on 2009. The ride from Santo Domingo to Parque Arvi takes 20 minutes over hillsides and forests and the views are spectacular.
After a walk in the park, our coach picks us up and takes us to a local restaurant for lunch. This afternoon we visit the Parque Berrio where we will view some of the spectacular sculptures and visit the Museum of Antioquia before returning to our hotel in mid-afernoon.
The remainder of the day is free for further exploration.
Overnight at the Park Hotel 10 or similar
Day 8 -- Tuesday, February 23. Medellin – Cartagena. B
Today we transfer from Medellin to Cartagena, a name that conjures defensive walls, color, music, riches and pirates. First we must transfer to Medellin’s airport for our flight to Bogota’ where we transfer to the flight to Cartagena. Two airports and two flights – but vastly preferable to the long, long ride overland.
Founded in 1533 by Pedro de Heredia, Cartagena was formerly the Caribbean gateway port used by the Spanish. Here they would store the riches plundered from the interior before transporting them to Spain. It is not surprising, therefore, that the city was a draw for buccaneers and pirates—notably Sir Francis Drake in 1586 who agreed not to level the city in return for 10 million pesos. After the attack by Drake plans were made to fortify the city and work on defensive walls began. These walls stand today and mark the boundary between the old and new parts of the city. They took 200 years to complete. Cartagena’s rich history, diverse culture and energy absorb every visitor, allowing a glimpse into the past and a chance to relax in superb surroundings. This passionate and vibrant city with some of the best-preserved colonial architecture in South America exudes character, mixing African rhythm and indigenous influences with Spanish colonial splendor.
On arrival, we will be met and transferred to our hotel – The charming, five-star Bantu 4 Boutique Hotel or similar– our home for three nights. Located in the historic center of Cartagena, the hotel with its 18th century colonial architecture offers unique services, a colonial courtyard, terrace, swimming pool, spa, bar, and restaurant. After check-in we will take a meandering walk through some of Cartegena’s cobbled stone streets and courtyards before enjoying a sunset drink and dinner on our own.
Recommended restaurants close to our hotel: Moshi **; Restaurante 1595; Green House; La Sandwicheria; il ristorante di tito; Firos Pizza.
Day 9 – Wednesday, February 24. Cartagena. B, L.
Following breakfast at our hotel we depart with our coach and guide on a full-day panoramic tour of Cartagena. Our tour will take us through the old town under the Puerta Del Reloj, a symbol of Cartagena, into the Plaza de los Coches. We continue to the Plaza San Pedro Claver for a brief visit to its stunning church and on to the Plaza Bolivar with its shady areas where a fresh lemon juice can be enjoyed while watching the world go by. Later we continue to Castillo San Felipe. This impressive fort is the largest Spanish fortification in the Americas and dominates the town. Next, we visit the Convent of La Popa, a 150-meter-high hill, the highest point in the city, beyond Castillo de San Felipe. Its name literally means the convent of the Stern, after the hill’s apparent similarity to a ship’s stern. Founded by the Augustine fathers in 607, its official name is actually Convento de Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria. A beautiful image of La Virgen de la Candelaria, the patroness of the city, is in the convent’s chapel and there is a charming, flower-filled patio. Our tour ends with a visit to the Inquisition Palace.
Upon our return to our hotel in the mid to late afternoon, take a refreshing swim in the pool and enjoy a sunset drink before dinner on our own.
Overnight at the Bantu 4 boutique Hotel or similar.
Day 10 – Thursday, February 25. Cartagena. Rosario Islands Day Trip. B, L.
Today, Joe Green of Tumlare has included for our group as a special treat, an escape to the picturesque paradise of the Rosario Islands, declared a protected national park in 1977. The protected waters teem with troves of tropical fish. The island archipelago is beautiful with iridescent waters and silken sands. At the private island where the tour anchors, plunge into the crystal-clear Caribbean waters or recline in the shade of a palm tree. Swim in some of the clearest and cleanest water in the world. Snorkeling is amazing as you see so many different fish. The snorkel guide points out many fish and things of interest. On the island there is a bar to purchase drinks, a pool beside the beautiful beach, and palapas to beep cool, hammocks and lounge chairs. We will enjoy a freshly prepared lunch and stop at an aquarium to observe the aquatic wonders (at our own expense). We can watch the playful performances of dolphins and observe the fascinating flora and fauna of the exhibitions before returning to the boat for the sail back to Cartagena watching the sun sink into the shimmering sea.
Those who choose not to take the Rosario Island tour may choose to spend this day at leisure in Cartagena with lunch on your own. Stroll through the maze of cobbled alleys where enormous balconies are shrouded in bougainvillea and spend your day exploring, shopping, and relaxing in one of Cartagena’s many open-air cafes. Lunch and dinner will be on your own.
Overnight at the Bantu 4 Boutique Hotel or similar.
Day 11 – Friday, February 26. Cartegena – Bogota’. B, Farewell dinner.
This morning we say goodbye to Cartagena and transfer to the airport for our flight to Bogota’. On arrival we will be met and transferred to the Atton 4 Hotel where we stayed during the first days of our tour.
Tonight we will enjoy our farewell dinner as Day 15 – the penultimate day of our tour – will be spent at the Hacienda Normandia.
Overnight at the At Cite’ Hotel or similar
Day 12 – Saturday, February 27. Bogota. Guatavita with Tejo games. B, L.
Tejo is the designated Colombian national pastime; a sport invented by the Chibcha Indians. Imagine an action-packed game of quoits – the difference being that metal discs are thrown at the target and those targets, embedded in sand, are small explosive charges of gunpowder wrapped in paper known as mechas.
Today we will be treated to a full-day excursion to the Hacienda Normandia north of Bogota’ where we will enjoy the uniquely Colombian experience of watching a Tejo game. During our day at the Hacienda, in addition to the Tejo game, we can choose to wander the extensive grounds and gardens, interact with the hacienda’s horses, sheep and other farm animals, or take a short hike. Our tour also includes entrance to Guatavita Lake should we choose. The Hacienda’s restaurant – renowned for its regional cuisine, will serve us a lovely lunch. What a memorable way to spend our last day in Colombia!
Overnight at the Cite’ Hotel or similar
Day 13 – Sunday, February 28. Bogota – Denver. B
This morning we transfer to the airport and board our flight home to Denver. As our plane lifts off we can watch Bogota’ disappear leaving us with many memories of a truly spectacular discovery of a truly spectacular country.