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Highlights of Colombia

Colombia - Trip code BCH Discovery
Days 9
Price from Call us
Flights not included

Why book this trip?

This once-notorious country now has a reputation for having some of the friendliest locals in South America, a status that is well deserved. Our highlights trip gives first-time visitors a taste of Colombia's diversity, from the towering Andes to the warm seas of the Caribbean.

  • Bogota - Take a cable car trip up Mount Monserrate and discover the city's impressive urban art scene with a passionate local street artist
  • Salento - Hike amid the beautiful wax palms of the Cocora Valley and try a typical lunch in colourful Salento town
  • Cartagena - Take a laidback cycling trip around the cobbled streets of this picture-perfect colonial gem
  • Included meals

    Breakfast: 8

    Lunch: 1

  • Trip staff

    Explore Tour Leader


    Local Guide(s)

  • Transport




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    8 nights comfortable hotel

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    Trip pace:


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    Group Size:

    10 - 16


Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.

Day 1 - Join trip in Bogota

Arrive in Bogota, the capital of Colombia set at an altitude of over 2,600m. The city sprawls out from the high ranges of the Cordillera Mountains, blanketing the Andean peaks with an eclectic mix of historic buildings and modern, urban architecture. Its name comes from the Muisca indigenous people who inhabited the region before the arrival of the Spaniards in 1538, and the remnants of not only the Muisca empire but of Colombia's many other indigenous cultures can be found in the city's impressive Gold Museum.

For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Bogota at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Bogota's El Dorado International Airport (airport code: BOG), approximately a 45 minute drive from our hotel. Should you miss the meeting, your leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.

If your flight arrives earlier in the day, La Candelaria is a good place to orientate yourself in the city, where a wealth of museums, bars and restaurants are dotted in between colonial convents and churches.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: None

Day 2 - Bogota graffiti tour; visit the Gold Museum

The prolific urban art scene found in Bogota has exploded in recent years, and this morning we set off to explore some of the gems of artwork available on the streets. This graffiti tour was originally set up in 2011 to help expose Colombian artists to a wider international audience, and the passionate local street artist accompanying us really brings this to life.

In the afternoon we will be walking through the colourful colonial streets of La Candelaria and the city's lively central area. We'll cross the vast Plaza de Bolivar, encountering some excellent examples of colonial architecture, such as the Catedral Primada de Colombia. The visit continues with the Museo Botero, a colonial house filled with works of art by the Colombian artist and sculptor Fernando Botero, famous for his abstract portrayal of people with large, exaggerated proportions. Finally, we will visit the Gold Museum, which is regarded as housing the finest collection of gold from Pre-Hispanic times.

To round off a busy day of exploration, we take a birds eye view of the city as we ascend the pilgrimage site of Mount Monserrate by cable car.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 3 - Day at leisure in Bogota

Today we are totally free in Bogota to relax and take in the sights of this eclectic city. If your free day coincides with a Sunday (which is the case on the majority of our trips), take a trip to the street market at Usaquen, an upscale neighbourhood in the north of the city with a weekly market selling masses of high quality products and handicrafts. Alternatively, the daily farmers market at Paloquemao is a lavish display of tropical fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, meat and other fresh produce. For trying local specialities like arepa (corn cakes) and salpicon (Colombian fruit cocktail) this market is quite unbeatable.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 4 - Discover Zipaquira's cavernous Salt Cathedral; fly to the Coffee Country

We'll drive north out of the city this morning towards the small town of Zipaquira, a town that may normally go unnoticed if not for its extraordinary Salt Cathedral. This immense structure, carved out of solid salt, can accommodate over 8000 people and was part of the salt mines - a house of worship created as an easy way for miners to practice their religion while not disrupting their work. Curving and twisting tunnels descend into the Roman Catholic Church, passing 14 small chapels representing the Stations of the Cross, illustrating the events of Jesus' last journey. The immense cross in the central nave, lit from head to toe, has to be seen to be believed.

After our visit we'll go directly to the airport, where we catch our flight to Armenia, the capital of the Quindío department and an important coffee growing centre, our location for the next three nights.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 5 - Full day exploring the wax palms of the Cocora Valley; traditional lunch in colonial Salento

After breakfast we take a drive to Salento, where we climb aboard an immaculately restored vintage Willys jeep and drive into the Cocora Valley. We're in the foothills of the Andes here, hiking amongst a multitude of towering wax palms that pepper the mountainsides like pins in a cushion. These countryside walks are on undulating terrain with well-trodden paths and the pace gives us plenty of time to enjoy the mountain views. On our return to Salento, we'll have a typical lunch in this charming town, its colourful architecture so characteristic of this coffee growing region. Trout is particular to the area, usually served with plantain and rice, but you may also find yucca and arepas too.

Our final stop of the day is at the Acaime Nature Reserve, just 5km from Cocora. This paradise for hummingbird watching takes us through leafy rainforest and wooded trails, a contrast to the open mountain scenery of this morning. The walks are leisurely, concentrating more on exploring the cloud forest landscape than strenuous hiking.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast & Lunch

Day 6 - Explore a coffee plantation and taste the local brew

This is one of the most attractive parts of the country, and our hotel happens to be situated in the midst of its own coffee farm. Today we'll spend the morning visiting the farm - we will learn about the whole process, from the planting of the beans all the way through the picking and roasting process, finishing off with trying the fresh coffee. The physical work undertaken by the pickers in hauling their loads across the mountainside is quite amazing.

If, for any reason, the hotel for this evening changes, we will visit one of the other many coffee farms in this area.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 7 - Fly to Cartagena on the Caribbean coast; bicycle tour of the walled city and seafront

This morning we'll fly to Cartagena, hailed as one of the most fascinating colonial cities in Latin America. Located on the Caribbean coast, Cartagena de Indias was one of the first cities to be founded by the Spanish in South America, and today is famed both for its history and beauty.

Our hotel is in the heart of the old-town, surrounded by the city walls. We'll be taking an alternative tour this afternoon, exploring the historical centre as well as the seafront and laidback neighbourhoods by bicycle. The city is fairly flat and very easy to discover by bike. More than just cycling past historic buildings, you'll be enveloped by history as the guide tells us stories dating back hundreds of years. Cycling past the sea walls is a welcome breath of fresh air in the heat. We encourage even the most beginner of cyclist to take part in this tour - safety is paramount and the pace will be slow, with ample time to take photos and listen to our knowledgeable guide as we explore the city.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 8 - Free day; optional trip to the Rosario Islands

Today we have more time to explore this city. Alternatively, you can choose to take an optional boat trip to the Rosario Islands, an archipelago just an hour away from the city that benefits from some great snorkelling, white-sand beaches and Caribbean views. For people who would prefer something different, why not visit the national aviary or take a canoe ride through the mangroves of the fishing village at La Boquilla.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 9 - Trip ends in Cartagena

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Cartagena.

There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Cartagena at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Cartagena's Rafael Nunez International Airport (airport code: CTG), approximately a 20 minute drive from our hotel.

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Trip information

Climate and country information



The dry season in Colombia roughly runs from December to March/April and also a slightly 'dryer' period from July to September. These are among the best times to travel, although visits outside of these months are very manageable. The Caribbean coast is very hot and humid all year round (always around or above 30°C), although the offshore breeze between December and March makes this a more popular time to visit. Due to the high altitude locations of places like Bogota, Manizales and Armenia temperatures here can be quite cool during 'winter' months (Nov to Mar/ Apr) and the nights are cool to cold at anytime of the year. The coffee harvest seasons are March to May and September to November; it is during these periods that it is possible to see the red coffee beans and watch the whole process of coffee production.

Time difference to GMT



2 Pin Flat


Roman Catholic.



Budgeting and packing

Optional activities

The following excursions and/or activities are usually available and may be arranged locally. Estimated costs are provided below for guidance only, are on a per person basis unless shown otherwise, and may depend on the number of participants. Prices quoted are correct as of the date these tour notes were originally issued but may change at any time due to currency fluctuations. Please note: These activities are booked and paid for direct with the supplier and do not form part of your Explore holiday contract.

All optional prices are based on 4 people. The price may vary if there are more or fewer people on the excursion.

Full day boat trip to Rosario Island: US$96
Half day trip to the National Aviary: US$90
Salsa classes: US$37 (Plus cost of translator between group US$50)
Half day canoe trip to fishing village La Boquilla: US$70 (min 3 pers)
All tours include a local guide aside from the salsa class.


For this trip you will need to pack for all weathers, as you travel through several different climatic zones. In the Andes (Bogota and Salento), warm clothing is useful, particularly in the evenings when the temperature can drop sharply at night. Lightweight clothing is necessary for the Caribbean coast with long sleeve shirts and trousers ideal to provide protection from the sun and insect bites. A waterproof is essential as it can rain at any time of year.


Comfortable hiking boots/trekking shoes, shoes and/or sandals.



Luggage: On tour

One main piece of baggage and daypack. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so
don't overload yourself.


A torch, water bottle, good quality sunglasses, sun hat, insect repellent and high factor sunscreen are all essential.


Explore leader
Tipping isn't compulsory, and we work hard to ensure that our leaders all receive a fair wage. However, you might want to recognise a leader that's done a great job or really added to your trip by giving them a tip. We're often asked about the recommended amount. It's a tricky one, and down to personal preference, but we'd recommend between £15 to £20 per person per week as a guideline
Local crew
Although entirely voluntary, tipping is a recognized part of life in this region of the world. Some local staff will look to members of the group for personal recognition of particular services provided. In order to make things easier for you, your leader may organise a group's tips kitty for included activities and meals and if this is the case, they will account for it throughout the tour.

Accordingly, you should allow US$ 40, approx. 134'000 Pesos for group tipping

For all non-included services and meals on your trip please tip independently at your discretion.
In restaurants and hotels a 'voluntary' 10% tax for service is included on bills. On top of this, it is common to leave no more than a further 5% for good service

International Departure Taxes
None for UK citizens, Canadian citizens have an entry tax of 68US$.


Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.

Lunch price
Dinner price
Beer price
Water price
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
Colombian Peso (COP).
Recommended Currency For Exchange
You can choose to either change your money in advance or on arrival at the airport. Here you will find both ATMs and Bureau de Change. The exchange rate with the COP is approximately COP 4'200 to the British Pound. We recommend you take some emergency cash in USD as the GBP exchange isn’t very good. Notes should be in good condition otherwise they may not be accepted. Please check on line for up to date information
Where To Exchange
Your tour leader can also advise you on arrival.
ATM Availability
ATMs can be found in the major towns and cities for cash withdrawals in COP. Always have some cash back up as they are not always reliable
Credit Card Acceptance
Credit card are widely accepted in many shops and restaurants but some may be subject to a service charge
Travellers Cheques
We do not recommend Travellers Cheques
Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information

Bus, Boat, Flight

Accommodation notes

Bogota, Cartagena and Armenia are three diverse regions of the country, and we stay in perfectly located properties that allow us to make the most of our time here. In Bogota we're located near the La Candelaria area, near the Gold Museum and the other attractions of this district. In Cartagena we stay within the walled city, and in Armenia our hotel is located in the countryside, away from any towns or cities, to best appreciate the rolling landscape of the Andean foothills.

Essential Information

Government Travel Safety Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice click here.

For more information from Explore about travel advice, click here

Under 18 immigration guidance

Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.

Price Guarantee

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa and Passport Information

Colombia: Visas are not required for UK, New Zealand, Australian, US and Canadian citizens.

Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate.

All visa information is subject to change. You should confirm all visa related issues with the relevant Embassy prior to departure.

USA: (including those in transit) Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and passport holders from several EU countries can enter the United States without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) - where you apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation), which applies if you enter the country by sea or by air. This must be done on line - no later than 72 hours prior to travel. Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely be refused boarding.

You must have an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner. UK passports which are biometric feature a small gold symbol (camera) at the bottom of the front cover.

If you have visited Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan since 2011 or are dual nationals of these countries, you cannot travel with an ESTA and instead you will need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. If you are unable to provide a valid visa before boarding flights to the US, or entering via another method, you may not be permitted to travel.

Please note for your ESTA application you will be required to supply Point of Contact information. Explore' s USA contact information will be listed on your final documentation which you will receive approximately 3-4 weeks before departure. If you are leaving for the USA before this, please call the Explore team to get this information.(Not necessary if in transit)

For further information please check out the US embassy website. Visa applications -

Canada: An electronic travel authorisation (ETA) is required by British citizens transiting via Canada. For more information see the official Canadian government website:
Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office.

If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.


Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information. 

You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.

Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.

The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.  

Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Polar, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.

If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.  

For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here


It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.

Flight Information

You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.


Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.

On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.



We recommend protection against malaria, Tetanus, Infectious Hepatitis, Typhoid and Polio. Please consult your travel clinic for the latest advice on Malaria, Dengue and Zika Virus. Please take preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites - these include mosquito repellent as well as long trousers and long sleeve shirts to cover up when necessary. Please note many countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean require a yellow fever vaccination certificates if travelling from infected areas. A detailed list of these countries can be found on the NaTHNaC website - Also on the NaTHNaC site there is a list of Countries (and specific areas within a country) which are at risk of infection and a vaccination is therefore recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.

Additional Information
2019 map
2019 map
Extend your trip in Tayrona National Park
Extend your trip in Tayrona National Park

Why book this trip

This trip is an excellent opportunity for someone who is short on time to visit five of Colombia's key highlights in just 9 days. Not just remaining in the cities, this holiday gets you off the main track into the countryside and to some of Colombia's hidden gems.

In Colombia, we work with a supplier who's belief in the importance of sustainable and responsible travel really aligns with Explore's. Every booking made with them includes a contribution to a reforestation project taking place in various different parts of Colombia. For Explore's customers, this equates to approximately one tree per person per day of the trip. This project is done in partnership with a Colombian company called C02Cero, who work together with businesses and communities to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to climate change in Colombia. All trees are native and are being planted strategically in particular eco systems of Andean forest or paramo, with the aim of regenerating the soil, creating new habitats for animal species and, of course, removing carbon from the atmosphere.

Dates, prices and booking

All trips are subject to availability and prices are subject to change


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Airport Transfers
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