A Step Back in Time

Duration: 11 days

Highlights: Bogota, Villa de Leyva, Barichara, Cartagena

Walk around the most beautiful colonial towns of the Andes with cobblestoned streets and combine it with the vibrant and colorful Cartagena.

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Day 1 - Welcome to Bogota!

On arrival at El Dorado International Airport, you will be met by a representative and transferred to your hotel. Welcome to Bogota! Colombia’s capital city is a bustling metropolis and one of the highest capital cities in the world. Despite its tropical location, the altitude here at 2600 meters above sea level ensures a year-round spring-like climate where flowers are always in bloom. Bogota has a great variety of barrios or neighborhoods to explore from Candelaria, the historic district to the beautiful parks and café culture of the Zona Rosa and the spectacular views from the peak at Monserrate. Historic buildings exist side by side in modern skyscrapers and leafy parks interspersed by cycleways making for a surprisingly pleasant city to spend a few days, despite its size.

One of Bogota’s biggest attractions is its museums, especially the Gold Museum which houses one of the most impressive collections of Pre-Columbian art in the world with thousands of pieces of gold, precious stones, ceramics, and textiles. Also discover the Emerald Museum and the Fernando Botero Museum, a Colombian figurative artist of international renown. Stroll along the cobbled streets of Bogota’s historic Candelaria district only a short walk from the Gold Museum. In the evenings, the best place to be is the Zona Rosa which houses some lovely small hotels and has a vibrant pavement café culture. For a truly spectacular and romantic setting, head to the beautiful church on the peak of Monserrate Hill and dine in one of the beautiful historic buildings there overlooking the city.

Overnight: Four Seasons Casa Medina

Meal Plan:

Day 2 - Take a Trip to Monserrate

Make a morning visit to the largest food market in Bogota. Paloquemao market offers a vast array of Colombian fruits and ingredients. The popular food stalls serve local delicacies, and the flower market provides an amazing array of smells and colors to enliven the senses.
Continue with a tour with a visit to La Candelaria, the oldest part of the city with many colonial buildings still present. Nearby is the main square of Bogotá, the Plaza de Bolivar, surrounded by the cathedral and many government buildings.

Continue to the Botero Museum, housed in a restored colonial mansion. The collection includes many works by the Colombian artist Fernando Botero, together with pieces by other artists such as Picasso, Renoir, and Monet. Continue to the celebrated Gold Museum. With over 34,000 pieces, this is the world’s largest collection of pre-Hispanic gold artifacts.

Take a trip to Monserrate and have lunch at Casa San Isidro, an antique restaurant with delicious French cuisine. Located in the hills to the east of the city, this 3,160-metre peak can be reached by funicular railway or cable car and affords views over the whole of Bogotá.
*The Gold Museum is closed on Monday and the Botero Museum is closed on Tuesday.

Overnight: Four Seasons Casa Medina

Meal Plan: B, L

Day 3 - Explore the Most Beautiful Salt Cathedral

In the morning, depart from Bogotá and head north, towards Zipaquira. Travel through the Bogota Savannah and as you travel by, glance at the many flower crops along the way. Flower production is an important industry for the hundreds of people that live in the region.    After a journey of approximately 1.15 hours reach the impressive Salt Cathedral, a true achievement of engineering. The name Zipaquira refers to Zipa, the leader of the Muisca tribe and the chief of these rich salt mines.

The excursion will begin by visiting the cathedral in a tunnel that passes the fourteen Stations of the Cross and continues to the dome. The dome is lit in such a way that it allows one to contemplate the universe and the relationship between man and nature. Later, reach the enormous cross carved into the saline rock and finally the three naves of the Cathedral that represent the birth, life and death of Christ. In the central nave is the main altar, above which is the cross that measures 16m in height and 10m in breadth, made by the Colombian artist Carlos Enrique Rodriguez. This is the largest cross made from salt in the world. Next, we visit the mine where there is an excellent auditorium that can seat up to two hundred people, host film screenings and events such as fashion shows. The trip ends at a mirror of water where it is possible to experience the amazing visual effects of water on carved saline rock.  After lunch at a local restaurant, transfer will continue to Villa de Leyva for 3 hours approximately. On arrival you will be transferred to your hotel.

The pretty colonial town of Villa de Leyva located a few hours from Bogotá is a charming place to escape the capital city bustle. With its cobbled streets, expansive main plaza and white-washed churches and houses, it offers a wonderful place to discover Colombia’s rural landscapes and more traditional ways of life. Not only that but you can discover a region rich in fossils and a unique underground cathedral.
It is best to head to Villa de Leyva at weekends when locals from Bogotá come to its small but bustling market to buy tropical fruits from the valleys below and local crafts. When the town is busy, the cafes come alive with traditional music also and the cool temperatures at altitude make it ideal for cosying up by an open fire as you listen to the band playing. The Plaza Mayor is one of the largest cobbled stone squares in all of South America and is the central focus of festivities such as the kite festival. Explore the Cathedral and surrounding small museums, galleries and boutiques. Around the region visit traditional crafts villages such as Raquira famed for its pottery and ceramics and discover the unique and immense underground Salt Cathedral at Zipaquira. Prehistoric fossils and ancient Muisca religious sites can also be found here.

Overnight: El Carmel Boutique Hotel

Meal Plan: B, L

Day 4 - Enjoy Zipaquira, a Town with Cobblestoned Streets

Located 170 km from Bogota, we will take a land transfer to Villa de Leyva: one of the most beautiful colonial towns of the Andes with cobblestoned streets, green mountains at the back of the Church, and the largest “Plaza Mayor” or Main Square in all of South America. It has been declared a National Monument. In this town, artisans sell their typical handmade products and restaurants have wonderful typical gastronomy. In the afternoon, after lunch (not included) we will visit some other religious monuments, as well as visit one of the wineries of the area, along with a guided visit and tasting.

Overnight: El Carmel Boutique Hotel

Meal Plan: B

Day 5 - Welcome to Barichara!

Located 30 minutes from Villa de Leyva in the municipality of Tinjaca. The seed of the tagua is attached to an electric lathe that makes it rotate at high speeds. Using blades and gouges (metal body tools usually used in carpentry), craftsmen mold the nut in motion shaping different objects with very varied figures and finishes. Turning a figure can take 2 to 10 minutes. The duration of the tour is 2 hours 30 minutes approximately.
In the afternoon, you will be transferred to Barichara for 5 hours approximately. On arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel.
Uncover the secrets of Colombian culture and visit one of Colombia’s most treasured and best-preserved heritage towns in Barichara, founded in 1751. Considered by many to be the most beautiful town in Colombia. Known for its cobbled streets, colonial architecture, and mesmerizing location. For every street there is a church, chapel, and cathedral waiting to be explored, many of them over 200 years old. In the center, the sandstone Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción features a mesmerizing gold-leaf altar, Other significant churches include the whitewashed Capilla de San Antonio, built in the 19th century, and the hilltop Capilla de Santa Barbara. On the town’s western outskirts, Cementerio Barichara is a cemetery with beautifully carved tombs that is worth a visit.

Overnight: Casa Yahri

Meal Plan: B

Day 6 - Enjoy a Ceramic Workshop

Barichara is one of Colombia’s prettiest towns, renowned as a fine example of colonial architecture and an oasis of tranquility. You can walk along the tranquil cobblestone streets admiring the adobe houses and visiting artisan workshops and handicraft stores. The most distinctive features include the cobblestone streets, the rammed earth houses, the baroque building style, mud tiles, and stone monuments made by well-known Barichara artists. You will wander the town and visit the colorful artisan workshops and handicraft shops dotted around this wonderfully colonial village. Barichara is well-known for having a higher concentration of artists than elsewhere in Colombia and has been associated with resident artisans and artists for centuries. You will be able to look around the different studios with their vast variety of wares, from detailed stone carvings to brightly woven seats, rugs, and wall hangings. Why not adopt the local fashion and buy yourself a soft linen shirt and trousers, and the comfortable sandles-like ‘alpargatas’ to better suit the local heat? Woven bags and baskets in vivid colors and other home accessories are also part of the Barichara art scene. Local ores and metals keep Barichara’s jewelers and metal workers busy, who craft intricate pieces out of copper, silver, and gemstones. Finally, keep your eyes peeled for the influence of Guane tradition: indigenous Guane often made beautiful pieces of art out of the simplest of materials, such as dried earth or clay.

Ceramic Workshop:
The art of ceramics is one of the oldest traditions in Barichara, one that refuses to disappear. Transforming clay on a lathe into a pot may not be an easy task, but it will be a rewarding experience! From the hands of local artisans, who have learned such beautiful traditions directly from their grandparents and parents, you will learn to shape the clay to make different crafts: pots, plates, teapots, or modern figures; the ideas are endless! Far from being a boring class, the workshop is an entertaining, fun, and friendly space to share stories, and smiles and take home a nice souvenir made by yourself.

Overnight: Casa Yahri

Meal Plan: B

Day 7 - Welcome to Cartagena!

Morning at leisure.

At midday you will be transferred to take your private flight to Cartagena, arriving at Rafael Núñez International Airport.
On arrival at Rafael Nuñez International Airport, you will be met by a representative and transferred to your hotel.

Exuberant, colorful, tropical, and beautiful - all describe beautifully Colombia’s crowning destination. This vibrant port city overlooks the azure blue waters of the Caribbean from fortress walls once used to protect its inhabitants from marauding pirates and buccaneers. Now the walled city is a maze of cobbled streets with colorful colonial houses on all sides, many of which have been converted into stunning intimate boutique hotels set around shady courtyards. Its heady mix of sunshine, tropical surroundings, and dazzling painted colonial architecture as well as a vibrant music and dance culture make this Colombia’s most precious jewel.

Stroll the town by day and explore the museums, galleries, and emerald factories. For some dramatic panoramas of the city and the coast, head to La Popa church and the Fortress of San Felipe.

At night you can head to one of many live music venues or perhaps sip a sundowner at a bar overlooking the ocean. Take a boat trip out to the archipelago of islands known as the Rosario Islands for superb snorkeling and diving. You can even stay in charming rustic hotels on one of the islands for a day or two for complete seclusion and tranquility.

Overnight: Casa San Agustin

Meal Plan: B

Day 8 - Fortress in Cartagena

The first visit will be to the Castillo de San Felipe. A masterpiece of Spanish colonial military engineering, the fort was built and reinforced during the 16th and 17th centuries to defend the city from pirate attacks. Walk around the fortress to learn about its construction and explore the underground galleries, tunnels, and passageways.  

Continue to Cartagena’s colonial walled city for a walking tour of the picturesque streets and plazas. Visit the imposing church of San Pedro Claver with its fine collection of stained-glass windows. In front of the church is a square with open-air cafes. Next, visit the Bolivar Park, shaded by large trees and featuring four fountains and a statue of Simon Bolivar. Stop at the Inquisition Palace, which has a magnificent baroque entrance hall and torture chambers where presumed heretics were tried and executed, and visit the 16th-century cathedral.  The excursion lasts for approximately 4 hours. 

García Marquez Literary’s menu:
Explore the flavors of magical realism in the city that inspired the novel of literature. Relive the magic of some of his most celebrated texts like “Love in the Time of Cholera”, “Chronicle of a Death Foretold” and award-winning “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, while strolling through colorful and dreamy streets filled with charm, tasting some of the bites and sips that Gabo served his characters. Chat with the true guardians of our culinary treasure and take home the secrets of their recipes. Tour from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm approximately. 

Overnight: Casa San Agustín

Meal Plan: B

Day 9 - Rosario Islands Tour

Departing by private boat from the city you will travel through the Bay of Cartagena and past the twin forts of the San Jose and San Fernando forts out into the Caribbean Sea. The Rosario Islands are an archipelago of small coral islands 35km from Cartagena. Surrounded by clear waters and some of the best coral reefs in Colombia, the area is now a National Park. You will have the opportunity to relax on the white sandy beaches and swim or snorkel before returning to Cartagena in the afternoon.
The activity includes snacks and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages on board.

Overnight: Casa San Agustin

Meal Plan: B

Day 10 - Graffiti Tour and Chocolate Tasting in Cartagena

Street Art & Graffiti Tour: 

Our Street Art & Graffiti tour gives you a deeper insight into Cartagena, with a special focus on the alternative and cultural quarter and the coolest barrio: Getsemaní. The stories are told by present graffiti paintings which include images of tropical scenes, palenqueras, and local flora and fauna. In Getsemaní the individuality and spirit of the neighborhood remain intact. You can come as a tourist but you surely leave as a local, understanding what makes the barrio so special with the people engaging themselves a lot to ensure that it preserves its particular charm. This neighborhood has shaken off its bad reputation and started to make use of street art as a way of incorporating the voices of residents and artists into the fabric and the narrative of the city streets. Graffiti transformed this neighborhood a lot in the last few years, especially after the first Graffiti Festival in Getsemaní that took place in December 2013. 

Our fully qualified guide has a complete knowledge of the impressive history of Getsemaní. We will start our tour at the clock tower and continue to the street of La Sierpe (where we can encounter the first graffiti). After that, we head on to Trinidad Plaza, which has an important historical, cultural, and national value for Cartagena. We will also walk on the top of the city wall. The tour ends at Puerto Duro with a cultural explanation of the bus stop and the motorbike taxis in front of the statue of India Catalina. 

Exotic Fruits and chocolate tasting: 

Each participant will have the opportunity to taste a variety of seasonal exotic fruits with natural and organic production, most of them local from the Caribbean coast, the offer varies according to the season; for this sweet moment we include a very special pairing of Fine Chocolate of Colombian Aroma in different percentages and regions of Colombia.

Overnight: Casa San Agustin

Meal Plan: B

Day 11 - Departure

This morning you will be at your hotel and transferred to Rafael Nuñez International Airport.


Meal Plan: B

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