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The Leader in Small Groups on the Road Less Traveled
Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

2018 Colombia's Colonial Jewels & the Coffee Triangle

Colombia: Bogotá, Medellín, Pereira, Cartagena

87% Traveler Excellence Rating Read reviews

12 Days from only $3195 including international airfare

Activity Level:

1 2 3 4 5


Courtesy BBC.com Travel
My City: Bogota

Catch a glimpse of contemporary Bogota, where centuries-old tradition meets modern flair.

©2015 The New York Times
36 Hours in Medellín

Allow Medellin surprise you with a reborn city brimming with restaurants, art, and design.

Produced by Kaila Taylor
Sigo Adelante

Follow an Ecuadorian woman’s journey to provide a better life for her children and herself by working and going to school.

Courtesy BBC.com Travel
Where to Really Find a Panama Hat

Now a relic of the past, authentic Panama hats were once a booming market for artisans of Ecuador.

Courtesy BBC.com Travel
A Quest for Luck in Mystical La Paz

Meet a Bolivian shaman and uncover the ancient spirituality that endures in La Paz.

including international airfare
12 DAYS FROM $2595 Small Group Adventure Only
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Find the Adventure That’s Right for You

Our Activity Level rating system ranks adventures on a scale of 1 to 5 to help you determine if a trip is right for you. See the descriptions below for more information about the physical requirements associated with each rating.

Activity Level 1:

1 2 3 4 5


Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 2:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 3:

1 2 3 4 5


Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.

Activity Level 4:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 80 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 4 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.

Activity Level 5:

1 2 3 4 5


Travelers should be able to climb 100 or more stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 8 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 10,000 feet or more.

Itinerary Overview

Small Groups: Never more than 10-16 travelers—guaranteed!

Discover hidden riches when you travel to Colombia, the land that inspired the myth of El Dorado—and whose borders are now open to travelers after decades of being closed. While Spanish explorers searched in vain for a legendary “Lost City of Gold," when you journey here with O.A.T., you'll witness a country in the midst of a cultural renaissance ... and find that the real treasures of Colombia are all around you. Our comprehensive adventure takes us from the colonial gems of La Candelaria and Cartagena to bustling modern Medellín and the Coffee Triangle region around Pereira, Manizales, and Armenia. Along the way, we'll meet the friendly and resilient Colombian people, experiencing a vibrant blend of cultures with a rich history.

Make It Your Adventure

Personalize your trip to meet your individual needs, from preferred flights and air routing, to “breaking away” to spend more time in a destination.

  • Did you know that you have control over the way you want to fly with us? O.A.T’s team of Adventure Specialists makes every effort to provide you with non-stop flights and acceptable connection times to and from your destination. You also have several other ways you can personalize your air itinerary, which include:

    • Choose your departure city and airline: We list the most popular gateway cities on our website, but not all of them. If you don’t see yours listed, or there’s one that better suits your needs, let us know. You can also tell us if you have an airline preference and we will try to accommodation your request.
    • Depart from one city and return from another: Just because your flight leaves from one city doesn’t mean you have to return there. Maybe you flew out of Boston and wish to visit friends in Los Angeles after your trip is over. Tell us where you want to go and we’ll do our best to get you there.
    • Upgrade your seat: We’ll gladly arrange a flight upgrade to business or premium economy class if it’s available. 
    • Fly the way you want to: When you fly economy class, we’ll do our best to see that you get your choice of seating preference or even add a special meal request if you have dietary restrictions or needs.
  • You can extend your time abroad and "break away" anywhere you'd like to do more exploring on your own. Stay for a day, a week, or even a month in a favorite locale. Or consider arriving a few days early on Bogota for a fresh start before your adventure. Our Adventure Specialists can provide you with information on the accommodations we will use at the beginning of your trip so that you can make your own arrangements. That way, you'll know that you will be exactly where you need to be to meet your group.

  • Many of our travelers choose to take another trip directly after their first one ends. Think about it: If you’re already overseas, why not see more of the region and avoid the expense and length of another international flight? Many of our travelers have taken two or three consecutive trips before returning home. One of the most common adventures combined with Colombia's Colonial Jewels & the Coffee Triangle is Southern Peru & Bolivia: Inca Landscapes & Lake Titicaca. And now you’ll save an additional $250 per person when you reserve two trips right after one another.

  • Many O.A.T. travelers simply don’t want their trips to end. With an array of pre- and post-trip extensions to choose from, you have the chance to experience more of the places you’ve traveled so far to see, including Bolivia: La Paz & Lake Titicaca and Ecuador: The Andes & the Devil's Nose Train. Plus, you lower your average per-day costs because you’re taking advantage of your already included international airfare.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

  • 5 nights from only $1395

    From the shores of Lake Titicaca to the blend of modern and ancient cultures in La Paz, countless discoveries await you in Bolivia. Journey here before you travel to Colombia and explore Andean landscapes, visit indigenous villages, and discover ancient ruins that pre-date the Inca Empire.

    View Extension Itinerary
Bogota Cartagena Expand All
  • Depart the U.S. today, arriving in Bogotá in the evening. An O.A.T. representative will meet you at the airport and assist with the transfer to our hotel, where you'll  join travelers who took the pre-trip extension to Bolivia: La Paz & Lake Titicaca. Dinner is on your own.

  • This morning, we begin our travels through Colombia in Bogotá. Originally a settlement known as Bacatá by the indigenous people who inhabited this area on the high plains of the Andes, the site became a full-fledged Spanish colonial outpost by 1550. Bogotá remained under the control of the Viceroyalty of Peru until 1717, when it became the capital of the Viceroyalty of New Granada, a vast stretch of land encompassing the modern countries of Colombia, Panama, Ecuador and Venezuela. Since then, the city has served continuously as a political and social center; today this bustling capital city has a population of more than eight million people.

    After breakfast and a Welcome Briefing, we set on a walking tour of downtown Bogotá. With its Baroque and Spanish Colonial architecture, La Candelaria exudes a timeless elegance, made contemporary by the presence of university students and artists. One highlight of our visit is Bolívar Square, which is named after Simón Bolívar—who led Colombia to independence in 1819—and lined with significant buildings, including the Palace of Justice, the National Capitol, and an ornate 18th-century cathedral.

    After lunch at a local restaurant, we'll head for Bogotá's Gold Museum, which is home to the world's biggest collection of pre-Hispanic gold artifacts. These pieces—more than 6,000 are on display out of the museum's 55,000-piece collection—are not only beautiful in their own right, but also give us an introduction to the indigenous cultures of Colombia. This evening, enjoy an included Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

  • After breakfast today, you can join our optional tour to a local Market and Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá in the mountains north of Bogotá, a fascinating religious site. First, we'll visit a local market in Bogotá. Then we continue to the cathedral, which is built into the tunnels of a salt mine, stretching more than 600 feet underground, with statues and ornaments carved out of the mine's rock walls. The complex features an entryway lined with 14 small chapels that depict the Stations of the Cross, and is considered a highlight of Colombian architecture. More than just a monument, this site is an active Roman Catholic church, drawing up to 3,000 visitors to its Sunday services. Following our tour of the cathedral, we'll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant that features dishes cooked using salt from the Zipaquirá mine, as well as ajiaco, a traditional Colombian soup of chicken, potatoes, and corn. Afterwards, we return to our hotel.

    Or remain in Bogotá to explore the city on your own at your leisure.  Dinner is on your own this evening.

  • Our travel in Colombia continues with a flight from Bogotá to Medellin this morning. As we explore the city, we'll see how it is undergoing an economic and cultural rebirth. When we arrive, we'll ascend the Antioquia Mountains—via the Metrocable (an aerial tram) for panoramic views. Here, we'll visit a comuna (a small traditional community) and have the opportunity to interact with its residents before lunch at a local restaurant. 

    Afterwards, we check in to our hotel. Later this afternoon, we'll gain a richer understanding of Colombia's recent history during a lively discussion with a local expert on some controversial topics. We'll learn about the Colombian government's lengthy conflict with guerrillas and the role that drug cartels played in the country in the late 20th century. Dinner is on your own this evening.

  • This morning, we head for Guatape, a colorful village in the countryside outside of Medellín known for its zócalos, beautifully crafted tiles that decorate houses and the town's church. We'll stop at El Peñón, a monolithic rock that rises more than 650 feet above its surroundings and overlooks a nearby dam. This area is peaceful now, but was the scene of conflict between government and paramilitary forces in the late 20th century—a history we'll learn about as we explore the site. Then, we'll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, followed by a tour of the town where we'll interact with local people and explore the village by moto taxi. After some free time in Guatape, we'll return to our hotel in Medellín; dinner is on your own this evening.

  • After breakfast, we set out for Comuna 13. Once considered on of the most dangerous comunas in the city, Comuna 13 is now a model example of Medellín's transformation. We'll get to see firsthand the thriving street art scene and innovative urban design that is quickly reshaping this neighborhood.

    Next, we visit the Antioquia Museum at the Plaza de Botero in Medellín. The plaza has an open-air collection of 23 sculptures by Medellín-born artist Fernando Botero, whose exaggerated figures have been shown in the world's greatest museums and galleries. Part of the museum also displays Botero's artworks. Then we transfer to the airport and fly to Pereira. Lunch is included today, either in Medellín or Pereira depending on the flight schedule.

    Pereira is one of three towns that comprise Colombia's “coffee triangle.” Along with Manizales and Armenia, Pereira is a key player in the Colombian coffee-making tradition that is known world-wide. The top-quality Arabica beans grown in this region are harvested, washed on local plantations, dried, and exported all over the world. After we arrive, we check into our hotel and enjoy some time at leisure. Tonight we’ll enjoy dinner at the hotel. 

  • This morning, we’ll visit Santa Ana, a coffee farm in the town of Quimbaya in the countryside near Armenia, and experience A Day in the Life of this community in Colombia’s Coffee Triangle. We begin at the El Laurel School (when in session), which receives support from Grand Circle Foundation through the World Classroom program.  The school’s principal or one of its teachers will show us the facilities and answer questions about education in Colombia. We’ll also meet teachers and interact with students. From the school, we continue with a visit to Hacienda Santa Ana, a family-owned coffee plantation. Here we’ll get a hands-on introduction to coffee growing by planting, harvesting, drying, or sorting beans depending on the season. We’ll conclude our visit with a Home-Hosted lunch at the Main House of the plantation with its owners.

    Before we return to our own hacienda, we’ll discover a native Colombian horse breed—the Creole cattle horse. We’ll learn about this majestic breed and then return to the hotel where you have the rest of the afternoon at leisure. We’ll enjoy dinner at our hacienda this evening.

    Please note: If Day 7 of this itinerary falls on a Saturday or Sunday, travelers will instead hike through a cloud forest in Cocora, and visit a working hacienda on Day 8.

  • The final turn in our triangle is the region around Armenia, once a way station on the march of Simón Bolivar. We visit Salento, a 19th-century village perched on a plateau over the Quindío River, where we'll learn about the process of roasting coffee. We'll witness local baristas making “latte art,” decorative patterns in the foam on espresso drinks. Going beyond the common leaf or heart patterns frequently seen in U.S. cafés, the “latte artists” here often “draw” animals, faces, and more with coffee and foam.

    Then we discover that coffee is not the only treasured resource here when we travel to Corcora National Park. We'll travel through the valley in yipaos, colorfully decorated Jeeps which are used in local parades and celebrations. After a guided hike near the cloud forest, we'll have lunch in a local restaurant. 

    We'll return to Salento with free time to explore the town further. Walking the Calle Real, Salento's main street, gives a glimpse into times past, as many buildings still reflect the bahareque cane-and-mud construction style. Here, you can browse the local handcrafts shops. We return to our hacienda in time to relax a bit before gathering for dinner.

    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:

    This morning, we'll fly from Pereira via Bogotá to Cartagena on Colombia's Caribbean coast. Officially known as Cartagena de Indias—so named because Spanish explorers believed the port would become part of a spice trade route to India—Cartegena is one of South America's loveliest cities. Presiding over sandy beaches and azure ocean views, Cartagena still exudes both a colonial elegance and a tropical Caribbean flavor. From its inception, Cartagena's riches made it a tempting target for pirates, as well as British and French forces, and Spain spent lavishly on its fortifications, a large portion of which have survived the centuries.

    We'll check in to our hotel when we arrive in the afternoon and you'll have some time to settle in before we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant this evening.

    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:

    We begin our day in Cartagena's oldest section, the Ciudad Amurallada, or Walled City, which is encircled by twelve-foot stone walls and considered to be one of the best-preserved walled cities in the world. Then, we'll stroll through the narrow, flower-lined streets of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

    Then we experience a local mode of transportation with a ride on a chiva, a vibrantly painted bus, while listening to a live musical performance. We’ll take our chiva to La Boquilla, a small fishing village north of Cartagena. After exploring the village, we’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, followed by an afternoon at leisure. Later this afternoon, discover Cumbia, a Latin America dance style, during a dance lesson. Dinner is on your own this evening.

    • Meals included:
    • Accommodations:

    This morning, we'll head to one of Cartagena's most conspicuous and commanding structures, the 17th-century San Felipe Castle. From its inception, Cartagena's riches were desired by coastal pirates and defended by Spaniards, who eventually built the fortress to protect their prized city. Explore the labyrinthine tunnels that run underground, or enjoy panoramic views of the city from atop the castle walls. We then take a walking tour of the Getsemani neighborhood, the oldest part of the city, followed by a visit to the Naval Museum where we’ll delve into the local history.

    Lunch is on your own, and your afternoon is free for making your own discoveries. Perhaps you'll visit the massive cathedral on Plaza Bolívar, completed in 1602 after being partially destroyed in 1575 by Sir Francis Drake. Or examine the treasure trove of gold and ceramics found at the Museo de Oro y Arquelogía. Tonight, a traditional carriage ride through the historic neighborhoods of Cartagena will bring us to a local restaurant where we enjoy a Farewell Dinner. There, we'll dine on local specialties and toast the discoveries we've made in Colombia.

    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flight home. Or, begin your optional post-trip extension to Ecuador: The Andes & the Devil's Nose Train.

    Ecuador: The Andes & the Devil's Nose Train

    7 nights from only $1895

    Experience the Andean side of Ecuador, a region of snowcapped volcanoes, traditional cultures, and a dramatic rail route. From local markets in the countryside to Spanish colonial Cuenca, you'll meet the people who call this scenic region home. Join us to discover more of South America's cultural and natural diversity.

    View Extension Itinerary

Click below to read our Travel Planning Guide on Colombia's Colonial Jewels & the Coffee Triangle

Read Travel Planning Guide

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