Colombia is more of a country for the traveler than the tourist. It is one of the few countries in Latin America that has not yet been overrun with tourists. In Colombia you still have the feeling there are things to discover, something your neighbors or friends haven't done. For most travelers, Colombia is a land of myths, of emeralds and the mysterious El Dorado. And it's the land that bears the name of Columbus- who never got as far as Colombia. Colombia's geography is among the most varied in South America, as are its flora and fauna. It is a country of amazing natural and cultural diversity and contrast- it's as if Colombia were several countries rolled up into one. Colombia is one of the world's most exotic, sensual, wild, complex and fascinating countries. Come travel to Colombia. Your reward will be the discovery of a fascinating country, which most travelers rave about!
Day 01- ARRIVE BOGOTA, COLOMBIA
Today when you arrive in Bogotá, you will be met and driven to your hotel.
Nestled high in the Andes Mountains at 8,646 feet, Bogotá is a city of contrasts. It is a city of sleek skyscrapers standing next to colonial churches. It is a city of a mixture of Spanish, English and Indian influences. It is a city of wild traffic and calm oasis's reflecting a bygone day. Over the past 50 years, Bogotá has grown 20-fold to its present population of about six million. It is a bustling, metropolis that is the quintessence of all things Colombian.
With its central location, Los Heroes Hotel is within easy reach of most tourist attractions and business addresses in Bogotá. The Los Heroes Hotel boasts a convenient location with modern amenities in every guestroom and superb service. Each guestroom is fully equipped with hair dryer, television, satellite/cable TV. This Bogotá accommodation features on-site facilities such as bar/pub, laundry service/dry cleaning, meeting facilities , restaurant, room service. For a more enjoyable stay, guests can take advantage of a variety of recreational facilities, including Jacuzzi. The hotel provides a warm and welcoming service of international standard.
Hotel Los Heroes or similar
Day 02 - BOGOTA
After breakfast at hotel this morning, enjoy a private city tour with your English-speaking guide. This is a three-hour excursion that visits the colonial area of "La Candelaria", the historical center of the city. Continue on and visit Bolivar Square, the heart of Bogotá. In the middle of the square is a bronze statue of Simon Bolivar (cast in 1846), the first monument erected in the city. Visit the cathedral, the Chapel of El Sagrario, the Cardinal's Palace, and the Capitolio or Congress Building. T hen continue on to the Gold Museum that boasts a collection of more than 25,000 pieces of pre-Colombian artifacts; arguably the most important gold museum in the world. Do not miss the famous Balsa Muisca and ponder the people that created that mysterious golden world long before Columbus crossed the Atlantic. Then, go on and ascent by cable car to the sanctuary of Monserrate. Monserrate is a mountain that dominates the city of Bogotá. It rises to 10,341 feet where there is a church built in the 17th century with a shrine devoted to "El Señor Caído" (Fallen Lord).
We'll take a break for lunch at the Casa Vieja before continuing on to visit the Gold Museum. Housed in a moden building facing Plaza de Santander, the Gold Museum houses more than 34,000 gold pieces from all the major pre-Hispanic cultures ub Colombia. It is arguably the most imprtant gold museum in the world. Most of the gold objects are displayed in a large strongroom on the top floor- a breathtaking sight. Don't miss the famous Balsa Muisca and ponder the genius of people who created that mysterious golden world long before Columbus crossed the Atlantic.
Next, we will visit the Usaquen section of the city. It is characterized by a large number of restaurants and bars, and still retains the colonial architecture of its time. Usaquén is an area of cuisine where you will find a wide variety of restaurants. Just as it is a residential and commercial area, it has the best selling antiques and crafts traditional to the city of Bogotá. Some of the main attractions in Usaquén include Hacienda Santa Barbara and Unicentro, which are popular shopping malls in Bogotá. Some fleamarkets are the "in" places of the city and main attractions in Bogotá.
You'll return to your hotel in the late afternoon in time for dinner.
Hotel Los Heroes or similar
Day 03 - BOGOTA - ZIPAQUIRA - VILLA DE LEYVA
After an early breakfast at hotel, depart Bogotá heading towards Zipaquira, about an hours drive north of the city.
Zipaquira is noted for its salt mines, which date back to the Muisca period and are located in the mountains just west of town. In the heart of the mountain lies the Catedral De Sal a Zipaquira, an underground salt cathedral carved out including the stages of Christ death. This cathedral honors the path Christ traveled on his way final crucifixion. This truly wondrous construction was developed with precise ingenuity and unconditional spirituality. Enjoy the artistic impression and the awesome wonder that is one of Colombia's prized man-made possessions. In a country as beautiful as it, Colombia honors its heritage and faith with this divinely inspiring and brilliant tribute to sacrifice and worship.
Stop for lunch at a typical local restaurant before continuing on to Villa de Leyva, a small colonial town almost untouched by modern times, where you can still dive into the past. The town was proclaimed a national monument in the mid 1950's in order to maintain its beauty.
Hotel Molino de la Mesopotamia or similar
Day 04 - VILLA DE LEYVA - BOGOTA - CARTAGENA
After breakfast at the hotel your guide will meet you for a city tour. First, visit the Museo Paleontologico, which has a rare collection of locally found fossils dating from the period when the area was a seabed (100-150 million years ago. Its main exhibit is a fossil of a Kronosaurus, a water reptile predator of which there are only two fossils in the world- the other is in Australia.
Then continue on to La Candelaria. This tiny village set among arid hills, is noted for the Monasterio de La Candelaria. The monastery was founded in 1597 by Augustine monks and completed in 1600. Have a look about the chapel and note the 16th century painting of the Virgen de La Candelaria over the altar. Also see the small museum, library and courtyard, flanked by the cloister with 17th century canvasses hanging on its walls.
Some of these were allegedly painted by Gregorio Vasquez de Arce y Ceballos and the Figueroa Brothers.
After a stop for you to have lunch, return to Bogotá to catch a flight to Cartagena not included in the land cost.
Check into your hotel with the balance of the day at your leisure.
Located on the north side of Cartagena de Indias, in front of the Caribbean Ocean and only ten minutes trip from the Old City and vie minutes trip from the Rafael Núñez International Airport is Hotel Las Americas Global Resort.
Find a world full of pleasant sensations at Las Américas in the middle of astounding nature, quiet beaches and near the colonial section of the city. Experience all of the Cartagena's magic and tropical enchantment reflected off the details of the excellent 5-star service.
Hotel Las Americas or similar
Day 05 - CARTAGENA
Take the morning to enjoy the beach or the many amenities of the resort.
Later in the afternoon, meet your guide for a tour of the city. Cartagena is legendary for both its history and beauty. It is Colombia's most fascinating city and unique in South America; it is a living museum of Spanish colonial architecture and is listed on UNESCO's list of world heritage sites.
Visit the modern residential neighborhood of Bocagrande and then on to the walled Old City that still maintains all the charm of the colonial days with its narrow streets flanked by charming balconies and heavy doors. Enter via the Clock Gate, which is the main entrance to the old town and visit the Church of San Pedro
Claver, the oldest church in Cartagena, was built with brick and rocks from the ocean as a way to express the magnificence of religious art. Inside there are fine stained glass windows and the altar is made of Italian marble. The remains of San Pedro Claver are kept in a glass coffin in the altar. Your next stop is the Castle of San Felipe, the greatest and strongest fortress ever built by the Spaniards in their colonies.
The original fort was constructed between 1639 and 1657 on top of San Lazaro Hill. The fortress is regarded as the masterpiece of Spanish military engineering in the Americas. Finally, visit the Convent de la Popa, which is perched on top of a hill that dominates the entire urban area. A beautiful image of La Virgen de la Candelaria, the patroness of the city, is in the convent's chapel.
Hotel Las Americas or similar
Day 06 - CARTAGENA- ISLAS DEL ROSARIO
Today, take off for a full day adventure to the Rosario Islands.
After breakfast, your guide will meet you and take you the jetty to begin your trip to the islands. The archipelago consists of 27 small coral islands including some tiny islets just big enough for a single house. The islands are surrounded by coral reefs, where the color of the sea ranges from turquoise to purple. Relax and enjoy the sea air, beautiful coral reefs and the abundant marine life including sharks and dolphins.
Have lunch at Isla Majagua before returning to the hotel late afternoon. Tonight enjoy dinner at a typical restaurant, including transfers.
Hotel Las Americas or similar
Day 07 - DEPART CARTAGENA
Enjoy your last day in the city as you see fit. Later in the afternoon, you will be transferred to the airport for departing flight. Price not included in the land cost.
Depart any day! Contact an iExplore Adventure Consultant for details.
$2,299 per person double occupancy
$1,789 per person double occupancy, based on four persons traveling together.
$595 Single Room Supplement.
Prices for your dates of travel may vary- please contact iExplore for an exact quote. Quoted prices are based on current rates of exchange, tariffs and taxes as of December, 2010. iExplore reserves the right to increase tour prices to cover increased costs, tariffs and taxes received after prices are published, and to reflect fluctuations in foreign exchange rates. iExplore is under no obligation to give breakdown costs involved in any package.
· Airport meet and assistance
· Accommodations in Standard double rooms in the hotels mentioned, or similar, with daily breakfast.
· Meals as indicated
· Tours as described with English-speaking guide
· All entrance fees
· Applicable taxes and service fees
· International flights
· Domestic flights: Bogotá-Cartagena-Bogotá (currently USD $310) Subject to change
· Domestic flight airport taxes (currently USD $8 per person/per flight)
· Airport taxes (currently USD $37/person)
· Personal expenses or items not mentioned in inclusions
· Travel insurance
All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.
Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.