Our tour in focus blogs take an in-depth look at what makes our signature trips special, and answers the most common questions our clients have. This time we take a look at our two week Viva Colombia tour. Colombia is a real highlight of Latin America, and is a destination that is rapidly becoming more popular, with something to appeal to every traveller. Here’s everything you need to know…
What is the top highlight?
There are so many cultural and natural highlights on this tour that it’s impossible to name them all, but some of the top highlights are playing Tejo (a traditional Colombian sport) with the locals in Armenia, horseback riding like a real Colombian cowboy on a rural cattle farm, and exploring the charming colonial city of Cartagena.
What route does it take?
Bogota – Villa de Leyva – Armenia – Manizales Region – Santa Fe de Antioquia – Medellin – Santa Marta – Tayrona National Park – Cartagena
What does it do differently from other tours in Colombia?
This tour really does go off the beaten track to get to the heart of rural destinations that other trips don’t visit. For example, while the few travellers that visit Santa Fe de Antioquia normally leave by late afternoon, we spend the night to truly experience real rural Colombian life after the tourists have gone. There is also an emphasis on trying local food in small family restaurants and getting to know the local cuisine.
Who is the tour suited to?
The tour is not too challenging and covers the main highlights of Colombia, making it suitable for most travellers with an interest in history and culture. The itinerary provides a great introduction to this fascinating country.
What’s the accommodation like?
The accommodation we stay in is a mix of traditional haciendas and comfortable and characterful boutique hotels, with two nights spent in thatched wooden cabins (comfortable and with private bathrooms) on the edge of Tayrona National Park.
Is there much walking involved? How fit should I be?
There isn’t a great deal of walking involved, but you should be able to walk a few kilometres at a time during the city tours and when exploring rural areas. There is no need to be super fit to cope with this tour, but do be aware that Colombia can be very hot and humid.
Is there much interaction with the locals?
Yes, from playing Tejo with the locals in Armenia to experiencing a real working cattle farm in the Menizales Region and taking a social development tour in Medellin, where you’ll visit barrios which were once dangerous and out of bounds but are now vibrant and flourishing urban redevelopment zones, the interaction with the locals on this tour will give you a real insight into Colombian culture.
What’s the food like?
As well as the obvious, the top quality coffee and chocolate which are produced in the country, Colombia has a diverse cuisine which varies by region. Some of the most popular dishes are arroz con pollo, a delicious rice and chicken dish, a selection of hearty soups, and arepas, corn cakes served with different fillings. Fresh seafood is also popular, particularly in coastal areas. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to try local dishes, from dining in family-run restaurants to trying local fruits and snacks on the Palo Quemado market tour in Bogota.
Any hygiene issues?
No, just the usual advice when travelling to wash your hands and carry hand sanitiser in case needed.
Do I need a visa?
UK and EU passport holders can get a visa on arrival, non-UK/EU passport holders should check the individual requirements for their country.
Are there many long drives?
No, the longest drive should take around five to six hours.
Are there any shopping opportunities?
There are numerous opportunities to pick up some souvenirs along the way, particularly in Cartagena. You could also purchase a local cowboy hat in Santa Fe, leather work in Medellin and boutique artisan products in Bogota. As well as, of course, plenty of coffee and chocolate!
Is there anything in particular I should pack?
A torch, sun cream, a Spanish phrase book, a sense of adventure and a willingness to explore!
What do those that have done this trip think?
The Viva Colombia tour is an excellent introduction to the country in two weeks. Colombia is a lush country and you get some spectacular journeys across the Andes. There are many highlights on the trip but to name just a few; the Gold and Bottero Museums in Bogota; the astonishing Salt Cathedral; the glorious countryside in Armenia and the stay at the working farm outside Manizales; the visit to Comuna 13 in Medellin to see the graffiti and hear about the recent history of the city are worth the trip alone. Finally, if you enjoy riding, the horses in Colombia are beautiful and a treat to ride! Cartegna is a colourful and glorious city to end the trip. Caroline Proud
If you're interested in this tour, you can read more here.