The Land of Coffee
After an overnight flight, check into the chic GHL Hotel Bioxury in the capital city of Bogotá. Your first evening is spent at leisure, allowing travelers to catch their breath and recharge their batteries ahead of their trip of a lifetime.
Villa de Leyva
Day 3 is taken up by a full-day tour that takes us through the Bogotá savannah, a picturesque sight thanks to the many flower-growing farms en route. Flowers are an important source of income for the locals, so expect to see many different varieties during your stay. It’s then time to marvel at the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral, an architectural miracle built beneath a mountain made of rock salt, hence its name. Its three temples represent Christ’s birth, life, and death, while the central nave features a huge, stunning cross made by Colombian artist Carlos Enrique Rodriguez.
Later, visit an auditorium constructed inside a mine that is used for a myriad of events before taking in the so-called mirrors of water, a brine-filled area that produces extraordinary visual effects on the rocks surrounding it.
We then move on to Villa de Levya, a historic town featuring colonial-style architecture and the location of Hotel Casa Terra, our home for the next two nights. Trips to the Dominican Convento del Santo Ecce Homo, founded in 1620, and The Fossil Museum, are also included.
Day 4 is spent at leisure, allowing you to explore the town further.
The Coffee Region
Day 5 takes us from Villa de Leyva to one of Colombia’s major coffee-growing areas, Armenia. Stay at the Hacienda Bambusa, a boutique hotel that nevertheless offers an insight into the local rustic lifestyle thanks to the surrounding orange and pineapple plantations.
On Day 6, take a full day, cross-country private tour that takes in such delights as Parque Nacional de Los Nevados, home to wonderful examples of the wax palm, Colombia’s national tree, which can grow up to 60m in height and provides shelter for local bird species, including hummingbirds and the endangered palm parrot. In Valle de Cocora, take an optional hiking or horseback tour of the local cloud forest. After lunch, it’s time to move on to the town of Salento and the traditional village Filandia, both of which are popular with visitors hoping to purchase local handicrafts as souvenirs.
The morning of day 7 is spent on an included tour of the San Alberto Coffee Plantation, a typical estate. The sight of the green coffee plants spread out below you on the sides of steep hills is breath-taking. Learn the work of coffee pickers and discover how Colombia beans gain their characteristic flavor. From there, take in the volcanic terrain along the Central Andes Mountain Range, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers the perfect climatic conditions for growing coffee. The afternoon can be spent either at leisure or by taking an optional hot air balloon flight or a birdwatching tour at Rio Blanco Reservation.
Day 8 begins in Armenia but ends in the city of Medellín. En route, you stop off at Finca Romelia, just outside La Cabana, which is home to orchid-growers extraordinaire Jose and Maria, who have cultivated more than 6,000 examples, as well as more than 800 other plant species. Be sure to look out for some of the many birds that live on the grounds too. There’s a chance to learn more about the couple’s preservation projects, as well as their sideline in growing avocado and citrus fruits - and you’ll get to taste them too before checking into Patio del Mundo.
Day 9 features a half-day tour of Medellín. Once one of the world’s most dangerous cities thanks to local drug lord Pablo Escobar, it has undergone a huge transformation in recent years. You’ll learn more about how local social programs have turned their fortunes around.
Day 10 is free for independent exploration, or take an optional excursion to Santa Elena, where the Londoño family discuss their dedication to cultivating flowers.
On Day 11, transfer to Cartagena, a major port on the north-east coast, for a stay at the Tcherassi Hotel & Spa. There’s an opportunity to explore the city in more detail on Day 12 courtesy of a half-day private tour that includes entrance to the imposing 16th century Castle of San Felipe, San Pedro Church, and the Iglesia de la Popa.
Day 13 can either be spent at leisure or on an optional full-day cruise to the Rosario Islands, an archipelago and national park. Its coral reefs are home to a wide variety of marine fauna. Get up close to them while snorkeling, or simply sit back and enjoy the view on a local beach.
On Day 14 it’s time to begin the long journey home, complete in the knowledge that you’ve taken a trip of a lifetime, made memories that will live forever and explored a corner of the world that few have entered.