Cafe Colombia, 9 Days
Valid for select departures 1 August 2019 - 31 December 2020
9 day Intrepid small group tour departing Bogota.
6 nights accommodation in Hotels.
2 nights accommodation at a Coffee Estancia.
8 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches & 2 Dinners.
Plane, Local bus & Private vehicle
Salento - Tejo game.
Subway and metrocable to get to Plaza Minorista Market and San Javier Medellin and back.
Medellin - Flower Farm tour.
Day 1 Bogota. Bienvenidos Welcome to Colombia. With a wealth of cosy cafes, interesting museums and old churches, cosmopolitan Bogota is full of surprises. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 1pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where your group meeting will take place. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Afterwards, your leader will take you on an orientation walk around the nearby area. After that, you're free to go exploring. There will be a second welcome meeting at 6pm for those arriving later, this will be fo everyone. After, why not go out for a group dinner
Day 2 Salento. Enjoy a free morning in Bogota. Around lunch time take a short flight (1 hour) to Armenia and transfer (approximately 40 minutes) to the beautiful village of Salento. Take the time to stroll through its quaint streets and admire the colours of 'paisa' architecture at its best. For some local food, trout is the way to go. There are lots of ways to enjoy it, but it's most often served with a rich, garlicky cheese sauce. Colombia's national sport, tejo, is a popular pastime in Salento. Think bocce with gunpowder If you're game, you'll have the option to visit the local tejo hall and give it a go.
Day 3 Coffee Estancia. Travel by jeep out to the magnificent Cocora Valley, home of the towering wax palm (Colombia's national tree). Spend the morning walking among the region's incredible scenery, perhaps hiking up to Acaime Reserve where colourful hummingbirds feed. The hike to Acaime (approximately 5 hours) is quite strenuous, with some steep and slippery sections, so you'll need good walking shoes, as well as plenty of water and snacks. A generous boxed lunch will be provided. If you'd rather take it easy, you can explore the valley as you please, then take a jeep back to town. Later, travel deep into Colombia's coffee region for a two-night stay in a traditional coffee estancia, where you'll have a unique opportunity to learn first hand about this wonderful bean.
Day 4 Coffee Estancia. Thanks to its tropical altitude and fertile volcanic soil, Colombia is one of the world's largest coffee producers. You'll get to know this addictive little bean a whole lot better on a guided tour of the coffee plantation and processing centre. Dig into the history of the plant, learning the inside story of the industry that's long buoyed the country's economy. See how the beans are grown and harvested, processed, dried, roasted and ground, and then sample firsthand what all the fuss is about. Try different types of coffee grains and get a lesson on preparing different types of coffees, finishing it all off with a steaming cup of freshly brewed joe. Afterwards, relax amid the estancia's beautiful surrounds of sloping green hills and valleys.
Day 5 Medellin. This morning we will leave the Coffee Estancia to get a one hour transfer to the small town of Chinchina, where we will then board a comfortable public bus for the approximately 6-7 hour journey to Medellin. Your leader will take you on an orientation walk of this beautiful city. Along the way, learn a little more about the town's interesting recent history. Having spent the 1980s and 90s with an international reputation as one of the world's most dangerous cities (thanks to Pablo Escobar's infamous drug cartel), Medellin has turned itself around to become one of the most exciting cities in South America. And with some of the country's finest museums, parks and architecture (as well as a much safer and comfortable atmosphere now) it's easy to see why its popularity is increasing. NOTE: As of July 2018 there are major roadworks on the road to Medellin, this can cause lengthy delays and make for a slow travel day so take plenty of water & snacks for the journey. This road is also very winding so if you are prone to motion sickness it is recommended you prepare for this by speaking to your doctor before travel about travel sickness medication.
Day 6 Medellin. Make an early start and join your leader on a morning visit to Plaza Minorista Market. The market is divided into distinct areas: flowers; fruit, vegetables, and herbs; and meat and fish. Take the opportunity to buy some exotic local fruits like feijoa, araza, guanabana, maracuya and lulo - many of which are seldom found outside of Colombia. After lunch, enjoy breathtaking views of Medellin and its surrounds during a cable car ride up to San Javier. Sail up the mountain over brick houses, watching as the corrugated metal roofs give way to vistas of green valleys and forested peaks. Thanks to the elevation, things are usually a little cooler up here. Back in Medellin, you might want to search out one of the city's lively salsa bars (many count Medellin's nightlife as the best in Colombia).
Day 7 Medellin. This morning starts at approximately 8am with a pick-up. We head about 17km out of of Medellin to a flower farm in Santa Elena which is located slightly higher than Medellin at 2500mts above sea level. Here we will meet a local "silletero" (chair maker) and his family. The silletero makes the flower "silletas" (flower display) that competes every year in the Medellin "Fiesta de las flores". A local guide will take us through the history and the evolution of the "silleta" culture. We'll see where the flowers grow and witness how a small silleta is made. This afternoon you'll have some free time to explore Medellin. Perhaps visit the Museo de Antioquia to see some of Botero's famous works or get more modern at the beautiful Museo de Arte Moderno.
Day 8 Cartagena. Fly to Cartagena (approximately 1 hour). Cartagena is one of South America's most historic cities. The leader will take you on a short orientation walk around the hotel. Afterwards, we recommend you explore the old city by yourselves, particularly the inner walled town, is the main attraction - it's packed with beautiful churches, monasteries, plazas and mansions. This town, founded in 1533 by Spaniard Don Pedro de Heredia, was a major centre of early Spanish settlement in the Americas. Its gold and silver exports made it a popular target for pirates, and its walled fort (now on UNESCO's World Heritage list) was built to protect both shipping and the slave trade. Perhaps visit San Felipe de Barajas Castle, the largest of the fortresses, or head out of town for a mud bath at Volcan de Lodo El Totumo. The nearby group of tiny coral islands and stunning expanses of Playa Blanca (White Beach) reveal the hidden beauty of Colombia's Caribbean coast. Maybe end this adventure people-watching in the heart of Getsemani, Plaza de la Trinidad, where kids play football and singers strum their guitars. RESTAURANTE INTERNO: If you're feeling like an authentic Colombian meal and supporting a great cause in your free time, why not do both by dining at one of Cartagena's hippest restaurants, Restaurante Interno Housed in a women's prison, the restaurant opened in December 2016 with the aim of giving inmates nearing the end of their sentences a second chance and job-ready skills to have a better chance of reintergrating into society on their release. It has since become one of the hottest spots in town (graced by local celebrities and even the Colombian President), prices start at USD$30, so while not a budget option, it is a unique experience and the money is going to a good cause.
Day 9 Cartagena. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
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