Medellín, Bogotá and the Zona Cafetera
On this fun and fast-paced 7-day tour, you'll experience two of Latin America’s most exciting cities, stay overnight on a working coffee farm, and hike the Andean foothills. The trip starts in Medellín, the scenic metropolis fast on the rise after a turbulent past. You’ll then head into the heart of Colombia's coffee triangle, where you’ll explore the charming town of Salento and tour a working finca (coffee farm) — an industry that has embraced tourism with open arms. You’ll also hike the jaw-dropping green mountains in Valle de Cocora before finishing the trip in Colombia’s sophisticated urban capital.
Day 1: Arrive in Medellín
Welcome to Medellín! You will be picked up at the Medellín airport and then transferred to a hotel nearby. Depending on the time of your flight, you can explore on your own, or join a local tour to learn more about this thriving, modern city.
Despite its dangerous past, Medellín today is quite charming with its beautiful mountain setting, friendly locals, and vibrant culture. Most of the city's tourism is centered around Parque Lleras in the heart of the trendy El Poblado district, where the best dining, nightlife, and hotel options are within easy reach. You can take a ride on the city's gondola (metrocable) to see the views, or walk around the various parks, plazas, and museums. Either way, enjoy the weather -- due to a high elevation near the equator, the city has year-round spring temperatures.
Day 2: Medellín City Tour
This incredible guided tour starts with breakfast and takes you through one of Colombia's most successful urban projects. Named the World's Most Innovative City in 2013, the city has undergone a massive transformation through a number of social and infrastructure victories aimed to include, empower and revitalize some of Medellín's worst areas.
You'll take a ride on the metrocable, the city's iconic gondola car system (great views!) towards remote neighborhoods on the valley side. You'll also visit entire areas that have been redeveloped allowing the 'Paisas' (people from Medellín and Antioquia -- the department of which Medellín is the capital) to enjoy their city once more.
After descending once more on the metrocable, you'll have a typical Paisa lunch at one of the city's well-known restaurants. The rest of the afternoon and evening is yours to enjoy at leisure.
Day 3: Salento: Overnight at a Coffee Finca
Today, you'll fly to Armenia and head to the beautiful colonial town of Salento, surrounded by lush green Andean scenery. Despite a rise in tourism (mostly backpackers) over the past decade, this magical place retains an old-world charm with colorful Paisa architecture, musicians on street corners, and an incredible range of handicrafts. Near the town center, you’ll find yourself in view of the distinctive Quindío wax palms, which are among the highest trees in the world reaching a height of up to 70 meters.
Furthering this experience, you will stay overnight at a local coffee farm (finca in Spanish) and learn every step of the coffee production process, not to mention frequent tastings!
Day 4: Hiking in Valle de Cocora
Near the charming colonial town of Salento, this remarkably lush (and thankfully, protected) cloud forest gives the phrase "verdant green" new meaning. Add in the soaring, skinny wax palms -- Colombia's national tree -- which cheerfully dot the mountainous landscape, and the Valle de Cocora makes for an outstanding hiking opportunity that you won't want to miss.
When you arrive, there are two possible routes, so it depends on how much time you have and how much hiking you want to do. For those that want more exercise and adventure, there's a 5-6 hour loop which takes you through the forest, over wooden suspension bridges and along steep hiking tracks. It's from this vantage point you will find the best views. For those with less time, you can experience the Valle de Corcora by heading straight for the trees for a 1-2 hour hike. Either way, you'll capture some amazing photos.
Day 5: Walking Tour of Salento
Today is an in-depth walking tour of the quaint colonial streets of Salento. Founded in 1850, the town is a shining example of the typical guadua-bamboo influenced architecture with brightly coloured facades, and is even more beautiful in the presence of the surrounding Andean views. Coffee and trout fishing are big industries here. If you haven't done so yet, take the opportunity to go hiking in the nearby Cocora Valley.
Day 6: Return to Bogotá (optional city tour)
It's time for your return trip to Bogotá! Depending on your arrival, you may be able to fit in a walking tour of the city.
This guided tour starts with a ride on the scenic cable car to the mountainous peaks of Montserrat to see one of the best panoramic views of the city. On your return trip, visit the food market of La Concordia where you can practice your Spanish while tasting fruits, vegetables, and spices used in local cuisine. Stroll through Bogota’s lively streets to experience walled graffiti art, coffee cafes, bookstores, art galleries, and historic plazas and statues while learning about the fascinating political history of Colombia’s capital.
Day 7: Depart Bogotá
It's time to say farewell to Colombia! Enjoy your last moments in Bogotá with a leisurely breakfast, city stroll, and/or souvenir shopping. A representative will meet you at your hotel and drive you to the airport for your return flight home.