DAY 1, Friday - Depart for Colombia
Depart for Colombia, a country of great diversity, culture, and natural beauty. Arrive in Medellín, a striking hillside metropolis, named the "City of Eternal Spring" because of its year-round mild temperatures. The rest of the day is at leisure to explore the city independently.
DAY 2, Saturday - Medellín City Tour
This morning, take a tour of the city. First, arrive at Botero Plaza accented by the artist's huge metal sculptures and home to the Museo de Antioquia with its outstanding collection of Botero's paintings as well as other famous international artists. Continue to Barefoot Park, a delightful zen-inspired public area that encompasses a small bamboo forest and sandy areas. Return to your hotel in the afternoon. The rest of the day is free to explore this lovely city on your own or, join the optional tour to the Santa Elena area, near Medellin. Santa Elena is one of the most typical "Antioqueño" towns, where the “Silleteros” tradition, linked to the flower production of the area, was born. Tonight, enjoy a Welcome Dinner with your fellow travelers and an orientation meeting with your Tour Manager on the delightful journey of Colombia that awaits you. (B,D)
Optional: Half Day Santa Elena (PM).
DAY 3, Sunday - Full Day in Medellín
Spend a full day at leisure in Medellín to further explore this intriguing city or, join the full day optional Guatapé & Piedra del Peñol. Depart from Medellin this morning, on a scenic drive through the Eastern Highlands of Antioquia. Arrive at one of the area's top attractions, the Peñol Rock (La Piedra del Peñol), a 656-foot high monolith. You'll have the opportunity to climb more than 700 stairs to reach the top of this spectacular landmark and admire panoramic views of Guatapé Lake and the surrounding mountains. Continue with a visit to the town of Guatapé. After lunch on your own, enjoy a boat ride on Lake Guatapé, one of the country's largest lakes. Return to the hotel in Medellin. (B)
Optional: Full Day Guatapé & Piedra del Peñol.
DAY 4, Monday - Flight to Cartagena
Depart Medellín on a flight to Cartagena, a magical city nestled on the Caribbean Sea with magnificent architecture and massive fortifications. It is considered one of the country's cultural treasures with its remarkably intact historic walled city. Embark on a city tour this afternoon. See expansive views of the city, sea and the port zone as you make your way to the San Felipe castle-fortress built on San Lazaro Hill, the largest in South America, to defend the city from pirate attacks. At the walled city, walk through the multicolored houses and buildings of the Old City of Cartagena. Visit San Pedro Claver Sanctuary and Church built in the mid-17th century. Proceed to the city's colonial district beginning at Bolivar Park shaded by large trees and a statue of the great Liberator in the middle. The visit continues to Santo Domingo church, the Cathedral and ends at the Terraces. Pass by the house of the famous Nobel Prize Laureate novelist, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Then, on to ‘the Vaults', archways built within the walled city that were used to store armaments and later as a prison. Today, this entire area is a thriving artisans' center with beautiful local handicrafts. (B)
DAY 5, Tuesday - Full Day in Cartagena
Today is at leisure to discover this charming city on your own, or participate in the optional Emerald Jewelry Workshop. Learn the art of jewelry making from trained craftsmen at FEJOCAR, a private non-profit jewelry school. Using .925 sterling silver and raw emeralds you will create jewelry. Upon completion of the class, you will receive a diploma and one piece of jewelry that you designed. In the afternoon perhaps, participate in the optional half day Bird-watching at the Colombian National Aviary. Visit the second biggest aviary in Latin America, and sixth in the world, that houses more than 1,750 birds, representing 135 species. During the tour, enjoy a refreshing drink or ice cream before returning to Cartagena. (B)
Optional: Emerald Jewelry Workshop (AM)
Optional: Half Day Bird-watching at the Colombian National Aviary (PM)
DAY 6, Wednesday - Flight to Bogota
A morning flight takes you to the cosmopolitan city of Bogota. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure or, join the optional tour to the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira. Head out of Bogota to the nearby town of Zipaquira. Upon arrival, visit the amazing Salt Cathedral, “The First Wonder of Colombia”, built within the chambers of a salt mine, located more than 500 feet beneath the surface. Wander the dimly lit tunnels, along with the church’s three main sections, including the Stations of the Cross, its three naves, and its dome. After your visit stop by the Café, located in one of the underground tunnels to have a delicious Colombian coffee before returning to Bogota. (B)
Optional: Half Day Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira (PM).
DAY 7, Thursday - Bogota City Tour
This morning, embark on a city tour of Bogota, an engaging and vibrant capital. Visit the colonial section of La Candelaria, the city's cultural epicenter. Stop at Plaza de Bolivar, the main square surrounded by the Cathedral, Palace of Congress, the Cardinal's Palace and the colonial church of El Sagrario. Afterward, on to the astonishing Gold Museum with its impressive collection of pre-Hispanic native gold crafts. Then, time permitting, stop to play an energetic local game of Tejo*, the national sport of Colombia. Originally, gameplay consisted of hurling golden discs into a hole, at a distance of about 65 feet. However, the Conquistadors did make their own subtle improvement to the game - they added explosives. Today, the game is played with metal disks in fields across the country. Learn how to play and try your hand at throwing the disk. This afternoon, spend time at leisure or, take the optional Funicular Train Ride** that transports you up to Monserrate Mountain. At more than 10,000 feet above sea level, see outstanding views of downtown Bogota and visit the 17th-century church and its El Señor Caído Shrine. Tonight, a Farewell Dinner with your fellow travelers at a local restaurant marks the end of a truly wonderful adventure in Colombia. (B,D)
*Colombian laws prohibit all people under 18 from entering places where tejo is played
**Funicular train ride may be substituted with a cable car ride without notice
Optional: Monserrate Funicular Train Ride (PM)
DAY 8, Friday - Depart Colombia
Your vacation ends today after breakfast. (B)
Due to the high elevation, travel in the Colombian highlands may cause some passengers to experience the temporary effects of altitude sickness. If you have any concerns about traveling to higher than your accustomed elevation, please consult your healthcare provider.