DAY 1 | Bogotá

Arrival to El Dorado airport in Bogotá on an intercontinental flight. Reception and transfer to the hotel. Check-in. Overnight stay.

MEALS: – / – / –

DAY 2 | Bogotá – Half Day City Tour

After breakfast, half day visit to the historic centre known as La Candelaria. This antiquated barrio is of great architectural and cultural heritage and is made up of old “sta tely homes” or large Spanish colonial buildings with iron windows, thick and sturdy wooden doors, balconies and internal patios with beautiful yet hidden gardens. Visit the Plaza de Bolivar, where a statue of the great liberator Simon Bolivar is located. This Plaza, originally called the Plaza Mayor, was used for civil and military purposes, as a marketplace, a bullring and a gallows. The Cathedral, on the eastern side of the plaza, is constructed on the remains of the first church built in Bogotá in 1539 and houses an important collection of religious artefacts such as textiles and artwork that has been collected over four centuries. The Capilla del Sagrario is located just beside the Cathedral and is a gem of religious architecture and which houses valuable pieces of colonial religious art by Gregorio Vasquez de Arce y Ceballos. The Capitol, built between 1847 and 1926, shows its renaissance and neoclassical influences with its carved stonework and tall columns and, it is the first republican piece of civil architecture. The central area of the Capitol, known as the Salon Eliptico, is where congress meets and is the actual chamber for politicians and the Senate. In the internal plazas are busts of former presidents such as General Tomás Cipriano Mosquera, president on four occasions, and Rafael Núñez, the composer of the Colombian national anthem. Around the Plaza de Bolivar are the Palacio de Justicia, the Mayor of Bogotá’s offices called the Edificio Liévano, the oldest school in the county called San Bartolome and the Casa de los Comuneros to remember those who participated towards the end of the XVII Century in some of the first movements towards independence from Spain and the formation of the Republic. 

The visit continues with the Museo Botero, a colonial house filled with works of art done by and donated by Fernando Botero in addition to artwork from his own personal collection that includes pieces by Picasso, Renoir, Dalí Matisse, Monet and Giacometti. Next is the Museo del Oro which has a permanent exhibition of some 32,000 pieces of gold, 20,000 stones, ceramics and textiles all precious to the Quimbaya, Calima, Tayrona, Sinu, Muisca, Tolima, Tumaco and Magdalena cultures. The Museo del Oro is considered as one of the most important museums of its type internationally and it has been functioning since 1939. In 2007 it underwent a complete overhaul to make this an interactive museum that would awake senses to the objects on display and it belongs to the International Network of Museums (ICOM). 

Free afternoon for individual activities. Overnight stay. 

MEALS: B / – / –

Note: The Gold Museum is closed on Mondays and the Botero Museum is closed on Tuesday.

DAY 3 | Bogotá – Zipaquirá & Guatavita

Depart from Bogotá and head north passing the towns of Tocancipá and Gachancipá, travel for approximately 1.5 hours until reaching the legendary Guatavita Lake. The lake is located within the forest reserve of Cacique Guatavita and Cuchilla de Peñas Blancas. In this magical and mystical place, formerly inhabited by the Muisca people, it is possible to observe a great variety of flora and fauna endemic to the high-altitude Andean woodlands. See hummingbirds, hawks, blackbirds flitting between the trees. There is also a great variety of interesting trees with exotic names such as Mano de Oso, Uvos de Monte and Té de Bogotá. 

The legend of El Dorado came about from Muisca traditions. When the Muisca elected a new cacique or chief he would be accompanied to the lake bathed first in honey and then in gold dust before being launched out into the lake on a raft with offerings of gold and precious stones to later throw them into the depths of the water. This ceremony and act of transformation created the legend known as El Dorado. 

Visit the town of Guatavita and the lake of Tominé, striking with its white painted houses, beautiful square and tranquility. Sunday is market day and so there is much more activity in town. 

After lunch, depart towards Zipaquirá. After a journey of roughly 45 minutes reach the impressive Salt Cathedral, a true achievement of engineering. The name Zipaquirá refers to Zipa, the leader of the Muisca tribe and the chief of these rich salt mines. The excursion will begin by visiting the cathedral in a tunnel that passes the fourteen Stations of the Cross and continues on to the dome. The dome is lit in such a way that it allows one to contemplate the universe and the relationship between man and nature. Later, reach the enormous cross carved into the saline rock and finally the three naves of the Cathedral that represent the birth, life and death of Christ. In the central nave is the main altar, above which is the cross that measures 16m in height and 10m in breadth, made by the Colombian artist Carlos Enrique Rodriguez. This is the largest cross made from salt in the world. Next, we visit the mine where there is an excellent auditorium that can seat up to two hundred people, host film screenings and events such as fashion shows. The trip ends at a mirror of water where it is possible to experience the amazing visual effects of water on carved saline rock.  Return to Bogotá. Overnight stay.

MEALS: B / L / –

Note: Guatavita Lake is closed on Mondays except when Monday is a national holiday, in that case it is closed on Tuesday.

DAY 4 | Bogotá – Neiva – Tatacoa Desert – San Agustín

Transfer to the local airport for flight to Neiva. Arrival at Neiva airport and immediate transfer to the north to visit the town of Villavieja and the Museo Paleontológico. Then, visit the Tatacoa Desert crossing crevices eroded by wind and water.

The trip continues 217km to the south over a paved road to San Agustín. This scenic journey allows enjoying views of the extensive floodplains of the Magdalena River valley from 700masl all the way up to 1730masl and in balmy temperatures of 20ºC just as in San Agustín. After a journey of roughly 6 hours arrive at San Agustin, check into the hotel. Overnight stay.

MEALS: B / – / –

DAY 5 | San Agustín – Full Day San Agustín Archaelogical Park and Magdalena Strait

Morning visit to San Agustín Archeological Park, World Heritage Site declared by the UNESCO in 1995. See these enormous stone statues up close with your own eyes. The raised plateaus are manmade and have been created specifically for the stone monuments, making where you are treading, holy and sacred ground. You will walk on to the ceremonial Fuente de Lavapatas before heading up the hill to the Lavapatas terrace from which you can enjoy a remarkable view over the surrounding countryside. Also visit the small Museo Arqueológico. 

After lunch (not included), visit to the wonderful Colombian massif and the source of the Magadalena River, a spectacular rocky gorge that forces the river to pass through only 2.20 meters. Drive back to San Agustín and short visit to the town. Return to the hotel. Overnight stay

MEALS: B / – / –

DAY 6 | San Agustín – Full Day Isnos – San Agustín

After breakfast, set off for the rural town of Isnos to see further Archaeological Parks such as the Alto de los Ídolos and the Alto de Las Piedras where there are some well-preserved tombs that still show some of the original paintwork and some of the largest stone figures found so far. Moving between these sights gives you the breathtaking view of the Macizo Colombiano and the incredible waterfalls of Salto del Mortiño (180 Mts) and Salto de Bordones (320 Mts). Then, visit La Chaquira, a very special place is in the edge of a river canyon mixing a beautiful geographical site with an archeological site, where is a woman’s figure carved in a large rock. Drive back to San Agustín and short visit to the town. Return to the hotel. Overnight stay.

MEALS: B / – / –

DAY 7 | San Agustín – Popayán

After breakfast, leave on a 6 hours unpaved drive to Popayán, the capital of the department of Cauca. Enjoy the journey surrounded by the Andean scenery of mountains and high-altitude plains. Arrival at Popayán and check-in. Overnight stay.

MEALS: B / – / –

DAY 8 | Popayán – Half Day City Tour 

After breakfast, half day visit to the historic center of town founded in 1537, concentrating on Parque Caldas. Around the Parque Caldas are the main religious and government edifices, as well as the city’s original buildings such as the Torre del Reloj, considered one of the symbols of the city, built between 1673 and 1682 and set in 1737. Continue towards the Puente de Humilladero, built in 1873 to facilitate access from the city center to El Callejón (currently barrio Bolívar) up a steep rise, particularly for those pilgrims making the journey on their knees. Visit to the Iglesia de Santo Domingo, a baroque style church designed by the Spanish architect Antonio García and commissioned by the Arboleda family, the Iglesia de San Francisco, considered the most beautiful baroque church in town, and the Panteón de los Próceres. Visit the Museo de Arte Religioso, which houses an interesting collection of religious art, and the Casa Museo Mosquera, the Settecento style house that belonged to General Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera. Return to hotel. Overnight stay.

MEALS: B / – / –

Note: An optional excursion to the Silvia market can be offered (only on Tuesdays).

DAY 9 | Popayán – Cartagena

After breakfast, transfer to the local airport for flight to Cartagena (vía Bogotá). Upon arrival, transfer and hotel check-in. Overnight stay.

MEALS: B / – / –

DAY 10 | Cartagena – Half Day Walking Tour in Cartagena

Half day visit to the city’s colonial district, starting in Parque Bolívar, which is surrounded by large trees and four fountains with a statue of El Libertador in the center. Around the square, the Museo del Oro, which exhibits pre-Hispanic objects, and the Palace of the Inquisition, recognizable from its baroque entrance door. The meetings of the tribunal took place in the palace, and it housed the prison and torture chambers for the alleged opponents of the Catholic Church. The visit continues to the Santo Domingo church and the cathedral to end in the Ramparts and the Museo de Las Fortificaciones.

Free afternoon for individual activities. Overnight stay.

MEALS: B / – / –

DAY 11| Cartagena

Free day for individual activities. An excursion to the Archipiélago del Rosario is recommended. Overnight stay.

MEALS: B / – / –

DAY 12 | Cartagena – Bogotá

Breakfast and transfer to the airport for flight to Bogotá.

MEALS: B / – / –