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Your journey through Colombia begins in its colourful capital, Bogotá - a delightfully vibrant city whose youthful energy connects seamlessly with the traditions of its colonial past. Relax after your journey, then meet your Travel Director and fellow travellers for a Welcome Reception this evening.
Don't resist the urge to sink your teeth into a juicy slice of fruit when you visit the Paloquemao Market this morning with a 'Local Specialist' Chef. Enthusiastic vendors will vie for your attention as you admire their stalls laden with locally grown produce, which you'll have an opportunity to taste before leaving the noise behind for the elegance of the city's historic Old City. Embark on a guided walking tour of La Candelaria, with its elegant colonial façades dating back to the 16th century. You'll discover the pivotal role of gold in attracting the Spanish conquistadors to the area when you visit the Museum of Gold, then head to a local restaurant for a rustic meal incorporating some of the ingredients that were purchased during this morning's market visit. This afternoon, your choice of included sightseeing with a 'Local Specialist' could see you take a guided visit to an emerald workshop off the tourist track to see how Colombia's most precious stones are cut and polished into beautiful creations. Or you may choose to visit the Botero Museum, housing one of Latin America's most important art collections. Your third alternative is a guided visit to Montserrate, ascending over 10,000 feet above sea level via funicular to see the sprawling city below. You'll have the rest of the afternoon at leisure to explore on your own before joining your travel companions for a 'Dive into Culture' for a Regional Dinner at a favourite haunt of the Bogotá locals.
Join your 'Local Specialist' this morning for a spiritual encounter in the tunnels of a former underground salt mine. Nearly 200 meters underground, in the small town of Zipaquirá, Colombia, there is a special experience waiting for you: a stunning cathedral unlike any other you have ever seen, as it is built inside the depths of a salt mine. The spectacular cathedral is illuminated by hundreds of multicolored lights; the walls and pillars of salt shimmer and sparkle as the lights illuminate this underground church. The rest of the day is free.
The rich aroma of Arabica beckons as we board our flight from Bogotá to Colombia's famed Coffee Triangle, designated Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia by UNESCO. Enjoy a scenic jeep drive into the lush countryside to a coffee plantation, joining the owner's family for lunch. Colombia has shared its tawny treasure with the world since the early 19th century and you'll have an opportunity to savour its complex flavours first-hand when you join Juan Pablo Echeverry at his hacienda and historic farm for a memorable Colombian "coffee baptism" experience against the backdrop of the area's vast coffee fields. Later, enjoy a relaxing evening on your own with dinner at your hotel. Casa San Carlos Lodge, your 'Stay with Story,' has been primarily built with bamboo, providing views across well kept gardens and open farmland, in the heart of the coffee region.
Head back into the countryside this morning, bound for the lush Cocora Valley, home to the world's tallest palm trees. During a Jeepao Show, you'll encounter the curious local tradition dedicated to the Coffee Triangle's beloved Willys Jeeps or mulitas mécanicas (mechanical mules). 'Dive into Culture' meeting inhabitants of these small and rural coffee communities. Witness how Colombia's own 'cowboys' overload their vehicles with anything that isn't bolted down. Leave these teetering towers behind for a delicious lunch of smoked trout at a local trout farm. Colombia's love affair with coffee continues later during a visit to Café Jesus, where you'll learn how to create delicate images in the generous foam of a latté. Work off your caffeine buzz during an optional walk beneath the canopy of lofty wax palms before returning to your hotel for dinner and the traditional Colombian game of tejos.
This morning sees us fly to the modern metropolis of Medellin. You'll find sanctuary amidst the soaring skyscrapers when you enjoy lunch at the city's Botanical Gardens, then join your 'Local Specialist' for a visit to the Antioquia Museum, featuring permanent collections of pre-Colombian, colonial and contemporary art. 'Connect with Locals' and meet the lecturer of the museum. Gain insights into Medellin's reputation and history as the so-called crime capital of the world and its evolution as an up-and-coming urban hub during an exclusive talk. This evening enjoy dinner with your travel companions at a favourite local restaurant.
This morning, meet your 'Local Specialist' and drive to Santa Elena, a mountainside town renowned for its floral exports. 'Dive into Culture' at a local finca and meet the Silletero (flower farmer), who will share how flowers have been grown in the area for centuries. Enjoy a guided walk and picnic lunch at Arvi Park, an ecological nature preserve and Pre-Hispanic archeological sit. Take Medellin's famous aerial lift system and then escalators up to Comuna 13 and see how this reinvented neighbourhood has been transformed. It survived a heartbreaking time of violence and strife when it was ground zero for war between Pablo Escobar's drug cartel and government forces. You'll meet a local resident whose story will move you as he recounts the atrocities he experienced when Comuna 13 was dubbed as the world's murder capital.
The sun-kissed beaches of Santa Marta await and after a short flight this morning, you'll be transferred to Mamancana Private Game Reserve. This scenic natural sanctuary provides a beautiful backdrop for a private lunch of local favourites. Later, check in to your hotel on one of the most beautiful bays in The Americas. This evening, cross the street for a cocktail reception at the marina.
Visit Tayrona National Park, a magical slice of Colombia's Caribbean coast. You will be led by 'Local Specialists' through lush rainforest to a private beachfront estate, right inside the national park, where you'll be welcomed by the Davila family, the most prominent and influential family in Santa Marta. Enjoy an al fresco 'Be My Guest' lunch and learn about this local family, their ancestors, their active involvement in the development of Santa Marta, and their status as South America's largest producers of organic food and leaders in sustainable farming. You will also meet Dr. Santiago Giraldo of the ProSierra Nevada Foundation, flown in directly from Bogota by Trafalgar for the occasion. Dr. Giraldo, recipient of a TreadRight Foundation grant, will describe how this grant will enable him to manage his careful and sustainable development plan for the elusive indigenous tribes. He will be joined by local indigenes for you to engage with and learn from. After lunch, there is some time at leisure before returning to Santa Marta for a spectacular Regional Dinner served at Don Davila's private Marina Club.
Begin your journey to Cartagena with a scenic drive along the coast to Baranquilla, the "City of Open Arms". Here you'll enjoy lunch and join a 'Local Specialist' who will share insights into the UNESCO-listed Carnival de Barranquilla. 'Dive into Culture' and meet the reigning Carnival Queen of one of the biggest carnivals in the world, seeing the city come to a standstill for four days with many street dances and parades that deliver on the carnival slogan "those who live it, are those who enjoy it". Arrive at your hotel in Cartagena, superbly situated in the heart of Cartagena's Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This evening you'll have the choice of three top restaurants, for a your choice dining experience, all within walking distance from your hotel.
Sizzling Cartagena takes centre stage today as you embark on a guided walking tour of the Old City nestled within the fortress walls built in the 16th century by the Spanish to protect one of their most important Caribbean ports. Visit the Palace of the Inquisition and San Pedro Claver Convent, the final resting place of Saint Peter Claver who devoted his life to evangelising the black slaves of New Granada. Share the locals' love for fine seafood at a popular restaurant. Afterward, stroll back to your hotel while learning about Gabriel Garcia Marquez, literature giant and Nobel Prize winner while your guide points out the places mentioned in his books. You'll have the rest of the day on your own. Get lost in its labyrinthine streets and admire the bright bougainvillea colours that tumble over its ornate wrought-iron balconies and pastel-coloured colonial façades.
Explore Cartagena and surrounds on your terms this morning. Your choice of included sightseeing could see you embark on a tour of Cartagena, including guided visits to the fortress of Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, La Popa Monastery and 'The Vaults', the final fortifications built by the Spanish in the city. Or, consider taking a tour to the fishing village of La Boquilla for first-hand insights into the locals' seafaring traditions. Let the sultry afro-Colombian rhythms set the pace as you settle in for a fun folkloric show, then canoe through the mangroves to watch the local fishermen ply their artisanal fishing trade. Returning to Cartagena, your final evening will be the most memorable yet as you board a local Chiva (party) bus to your restaurant, toasting to an epic journey with new friends.
Bid a fond adios to newfound friends as you are transferred to Cartagena Airport.
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