Travel to Colombia with Latin Excursions

Wendy Perrin WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts for Colombia

Our founder, Eric Sheets, is on Wendy’s WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts for his expertise and connections in Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama. At Latin Excursions, we arrange everything from custom itineraries that highlight Colombia’s different local cultures to family reunions, exotic honeymoons, and even villa vacations.

When you travel to Colombia with us, we treat you to insider-access experiences you won’t find anywhere else. Eric’s Insider Guide to Colombia by Wendy Perrin will provide perspective on hidden gems and touristy areas where you will want to avoid. We hope this Colombia travel guide will help you plan your next trip this wonderful country! See reviews from travelers who booked us through Wendy Perrin previously: Latin Excursions Colombia Reviews

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Top 7 Colombia Travel Tips:

What You Need To Know About Colombia

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At Latin Excursions we always like to showcase the very best travel destinations in South America, its famous sites, iconic cities and many natural wonders, as well as some of the countless lesser-known spots and handful of hidden gems too.

On the face of it, Colombia hasn’t exactly been hidden from view for the past few centuries, with prominent pre-Columbian ancient cultures, 16th century Spanish Conquistadores and infamous 1970-90s cartels among its noteworthy residents. Yet the country has not necessarily been a go-to tourist spot over the years, Colombia’s current emergence as the up-and-coming place to visit in Latin America is something we certainly embrace.

Today, your private tour of Colombia with Latin Excursions will be one of picturesque plantations in the country’s western coffee region, the lively cosmopolitan spirit and party atmosphere of Medellin and one of the best-preserved colonial towns in the Americas, Cartagena, found further up the coast.

There are heavenly beaches here, idyllic islands hosting five-star resorts, fantastic scuba-diving, boat tours and the ever-enchanting Tayrona National Park with its wildlife, watersports, eco-lodges and hidden ancient ruins. When it comes to people, you’ll soon discover that Colombia’s turbulent past is truly confined to the history books, as locals will welcome you with open arms, proud to show off their beloved, long-overlooked country.

Explore Our Insider’s Tour of Colombia: Cartagena + Colonial Gem

Best Times To Visit Colombia

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There are two seasons in Colombia that divide the year, the hot and dry season generally runs from December to January and again between July and August. The wetter seasons are in April and May, October and November.

Colombia sees its biggest tourist numbers between December and March because–across the country as a whole–it tends to rain less during these months

In between these peaks the climate is spring-like, milder and less humid. The climate does then change as you move around the country, with the coffee region tending to be warmer thanks to its surrounding hills, and high-altitude Bogotá being cold at night. In truth, many see this as a year-round destination, simply one that has slightly changeable climate conditions between its varying landscapes and altitudes.

Visiting With Your Family

The country’s problems may have been immortalized in countless films and television series, though they really are a thing of the past, as 21st-century Colombia is today one of the ultimate South American travel destinations. It’s perfect for anyone seeking an authentic cultural experience–whether in the rural areas or vibrant cities–plus main attractions that are still relatively unaffected by huge groups of tourists.

There are far-flung paradise islands in Colombia such as San Andres, Isla de Providencia and Baru, boutique hotels and slick resorts that honeymooners will simply love and no shortage of outdoor adventure sports too.

That said, although Colombia is perfectly family-friendly, the country’s infrastructure is generally not as polished as their neighbors in Peru. Just ask our friend Clark Kotula and his son about their adventure to Hacienda Bambusa, Colombia’s finest adventure coffee-lodge!

How To Get There

From the USA, popular direct flight routes include departures from Atlanta, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, New York, Miami, and Orlando almost always into the capital Bogotá and often Medellín or Cartagena as well. When it comes to your personal private tour of Colombia with Latin Excursions, the country is easily explored by road though one or two domestic flights linking the coastal regions with Bogotá is always advisable; the southern Amazonian areas still not being entirely set up and ready for large tourist numbers.

The Best Way To Explore Colombia

Once here, further flights will be needed if traveling to many of Colombia’s remote island getaways, though no matter where your Colombian itinerary takes you there is a fantastic range of design hotels in the cities, authentic rural retreats in the countryside, boutique properties and eco-lodges to stay in along the way. To see all sides of Colombia a 10-day or two-week trip is advisable, as this will allow the opportunity to explore the country, its cities and more remote areas while also finding time for the beach.

Of course, any journey with Latin Excursions is tailor-made to suit your personal preferences, though unmissable highlights of Colombia include colonial Cartagena, the coffee region, Tayrona National Park and the islands, if possible. Comfortable clothing and sports shoes are suitable for walking tours and swimwear for time on the beach, though it can get cold in Bogotá so we always advise packing at least a couple of warm layers, plus hiking boots if looking to delve into Tayrona or any of the country’s more remote areas.

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The Geography of Colombia

The main tourist regions in Colombia begin in the capital Bogotá, a sprawling metropolis of busy streets, bohemian neighborhoods and no shortage of entertaining nightspots. The country’s history can be glimpsed in some of Bogotá’s best museums such as Museo del Oro, as well as the grand Plaza Bolívar with its colonial buildings and monuments. The Cathedral and Botanical Gardens of Bogotá are also well worth a visit if needing to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, though sanctuary can also be found by heading west to Colombia’s famed coffee region.

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Here the pace of life could not be more different, as the rolling hills of Caldas, Risaralda and Quindio Provinces are home to authentic villages, small farms and coffee plantations; some of the best in the world. The countryside here is beautiful and makes for some of Colombia’s most picturesque walking trails, while further north lies an altogether more upbeat experience in Medellin, once a haven for Pablo Escobar though today an intoxicating city of street art, commerce and restaurant culture.

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Then there’s Cartagena, an absolute must for anyone visiting South America for its preserved colonial architecture. These colorful cobbled streets have not changed in hundreds of years, with their atmospheric alleyways, flower laden balconies and horse-drawn carts showing lucky tourists the town’s main sites.

Off the coast of Cartagena, you also have the Rosario Islands, where boat tours and beach BBQs are the best addition to an afternoon of scuba diving and snorkeling here, while further around Colombia’s northern coast lies Tayrona National Park. Eco-lodges overlooking the bay, day-long treks to long-lost ancient ruins through the forest and deserted stretches of sand, rolling on for mile after glorious mile, characterize this iconic Colombian highlight.

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Scuba Diving In Colombia

Unbeknownst to most people, scuba diving in Cartagena and along Colombia’s Caribbean Coast is some of the best in all of South America. Believe it or not, the coral reefs along this coastline and its nearby islands are still healthy, yet, in danger of becoming dredged for new shipping channels.

When scuba diving with Latin Excursions, you are going with companies who are involved in helping the island communities become involved in coral reef restoration and studies. Depending on where you dive, some of our diving operators provide the option for travelers to donate gear, or pitch in a few extra dollars to allow a local volunteer or two to tag along for the day and practice his/hers diving skills. It’s truly a special experience to dive in Colombia and see the efforts they are putting forward to preserve its marine environment. The people care and make the experience one you will never forget.

Beyond coral reefs, be prepared to see hundreds of tropical fish, moray eels, starfish, underwater architecture (artificial reefs), and ancient shipwrecks. The video below provides an insider’s view on exploring a shipwreck about .5 miles off the shore of Baru Island:

Scuba Diving Cartagena, Colombia – Baru Islands from Latin Excursions on Vimeo.

Someone once said, “your journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” We encourage you to take the first step by reviewing our collection of itineraries, hotels, villas, and ships to choose from here at Latin Excursions. Then, give us a call for your free, no obligation, trip assessment and to learn why travel experts like Wendy Perrin, Travel+Leisure and others recommend our services for private Latin America travel.

Villa Beachscape

Villa Coffee Country preferred hotels when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Villa Beachscape

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This home has 4 rooms with 2 spacious rooms with private balcony and ensuite bathrooms. One of the rooms is designed for an entire family with 2 smaller bedrooms with a shared bathroom
An ample open kitchen with a free flowing living room will allow for a great space to enjoy great meals

The vila comes with a pool with easy access to a private beach , which is ideal for sunsets or simply taking a dip steps from the villa. Enjoy a barbeque next to the pool

**Included: in-house concierge + barman, 24-hours car, house cook (breakfast, lunch & dinner, groceries are not included), pool maintenance every day, direct TV in rooms.

**Please note: transfers to Barú will need to be made by a reservations specialist**

Ideal : for large family or groups of friends seeking a beach escape

Pricing:

Low season:$ USD 1,765.00

High season: $ USD 1,930.00
( March 25th to March 31st, November 19th to November 26th, December 25th to January 15th)

Ideal for large family or groups of friends seeking a beach escape

villa coffee country hotel is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Villa Beachscape

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highlights

  • 4 bedrooms, perfect for large groups
  • Ocean front pool and bbq
  • Outdoor swimming pool and terrace

rooms

  • 2 bedrooms, 2 with single beds
  • 1 bedroom with 2 small rooms

services

  • Daily cleaning lady
  • Breakfast
  • Welcome wine, cheese and fruit upon arrival
  • An English speaking concierge on call 24/7
  • At extra cost, the following are available: massages, private in house meals by a gourmet chef, activities in Cartagena City and private boat trips to the Rosario Islands

Villa Coffee Country

Villa Coffee Country preferred hotels when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Villa Coffee Country

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Nestled amongst the lush and verdant scenery of Colombia’s coffee producing region, a stay at Villa Coffee Country is an invitation to truly meet the heart and soul of Colombia. An enclave of peace and tranquility designed by the Colombian architect Simon Hosie, this 3 bedroom house is exemplary of local architecture, but with a contemporary and oriental flair. Open, elegant and a part of the surrounding nature, Villa Coffee Country feels like a zen sanctuary with the amenities of a private and exclusive experience.

A PLACE TO IMMERSE IN NATURE

Villa Coffee Country is truly integrated into its lush and verdant surroundings. Exposed roofs and open rooms with retractable walls and doorways allow you to experience the landscape intimately from a place of comfort and luxury. Bedrooms, all of which have private terraces and retractable doors made of tropical wood, open to gorgeous views. Nature and serenity fill the space and the living and dining areas are connected by an interior garden, lush with tropical ferns, plants and flowers. The house has a natural swimming pool fed by river water, an outdoor but covered yoga room and a labyrinth of walking trails for nature lovers.

UNIQUE SIGHTSEEING OPPORTUNITIES

This area is rich in flora and fauna and inhabited by hardworking, fun-loving and friendly people who tend to the agricultural richness that characterizes the valley. There are abundant opportunities to explore the surrounding villages of the Andes, an area preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage site. You may choose to hike in the Andes and/or Cocora valley where the tallest palm trees in the world dwell. Or, you might prefer to travel leisurely by horseback through banana plantations. You can even jump in a hot air balloon and explore the coffee region from above! If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, visit the farm and learn about coffee production and the deeply rooted tradition of the region.

Ideal forgroups of friends looking for a stylish farm in coffee country and central location to explore the soul of Colombia

villa coffee country hotel is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Villa Coffee Country

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highlights

  • Retractable doors and walls that open to the surrounding garden
  • Natural swimming pool fed by river water
  • Covered yoga room
  • Hiking trails
  • Activities such as hiking, horse riding, hot air balloon rides, coffee plantation tours

rooms

  • 3 bedrooms: each with en-suite bathroom and private terrace
  • Guest suite: 25 meters from the main house, queen bed, private bath, seating area and day-bed.

services

  • 1 housekeeper and 1 gardener
  • Bathroom amenities
  • Breakfast served daily
  • On call 24/7 English speaking assistance
  • Available at extra cost: Grocery delivery, extra cleaning lady, in-house chef, live local musicians at night, roundtrip airport transfer, activities in the region, horseback riding on the property

Villa Barichara

villa barichara preferred hotels when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Villa Barichara

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Located in the vibrant region of Santander, Villa Barichara is a private villa built using age old adobe techniques, but equipped with modern amenities. Each bedroom is generous in proportions and has an “en suite” bathroom. With 4 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms, this charming home accommodates a maximum of 13 people in comfort. Perched at the top of Barichara, just behind the cathedral, the villa offers breathtaking views and comfortable interiors, in addition to an extensive pool and BBQ area.

FUSION OF CHARM AND MODERNITY

Swaying hammocks, an extensive library and sky blue shutters create an ambience of village charm fused with luxury amenities such as DirecTV, wifi internet and a state of the art sound system. Villa Barichara provides the perfect balance to experience authentic Columbia within a sphere of sophistication and comfort.

ACTIVITIES FOR ADVENTURE TRAVELERS

A small and quiet colonial village in the middle of the Andes, Barichara is not your typical tourist destination. One of the most beautiful villages in South America, it is well conserved and maintained, yet still an off the beaten path to create experience ideal for adventure travelers seeking   nature. There is a well rounded array of activities on offer that can easily span generations, with adrenaline pumping activities like paragliding for the youth and a leisurely exploration of village handicrafts for grandparents. Other activities include a cable car across the Chicamocha canyon, horseback riding, a Barichara city tour, artist workshops in pottery, sculpting, painting and more, a hike through the “camino real”, whitewater rafting, waterfall rappelling, mountain biking and a tobacco farm visit.

Ideal forfamilies seeking a stylish farm house in ideal setting for active adventures

villa barichara hotel is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Villa Barichara

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highlights

  • En suite bathrooms in every bedroom
  • Breathtaking views from your doorstep
  • Luxury amenities: DirecTV, wifi, sound system
  • Varied adventure activities
  • Charming Location

rooms

  • 4 bedrooms
  • 6 bathrooms

services

  • Domestic service by 2 caretakers (extra hours for babysitting or attending to dinners after 8pm available)
  • Wifi
  • Jacuzzi
  • Swimming pool

Casa Tejadillo

casa tejadillopreferred villas when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Casa Tejadillo

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Casa Tejadillo is a spectacular 5 bedroom villa with a very large terrace, ideal to soak the tropical sun and have views of Cartagena.

2 large living areas make the home ideal for socializing. Large dining spaces with many sleeping arrangements available

The price includes cleaning as well as breakfast and lunch preparation from the in house cook. Groceries are not included. Strict Cancellation policy for December

Pricing

Low season:
$ USD 1,790.00
Mid season:
$ USD 2,075.00

( March 25th to March 31st , June 16th to August 16th, November 5th to November 12th):

High season:
$ USD 3,145.00

( December 15th to January 15th)

Ideal forfamilies and groups of friends who would like a spacious stylish Caribbean villa (one of the largest villas in Cartagena)

Casa Tejadillo is one of our preferred villas when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Casa Tejadillo

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highlights

  • 5 bedrooms, perfect for large family or friends
  • Artistically decorated
  • Rooftop jacuzzi
  • Outdoor swimming pool and terrace

rooms

  • 5 bedrooms
  • 6 bathrooms
  • 2 large living rooms/lounge areas

services

  • Daily cleaning lady
  • Breakfast
  • Welcome wine, cheese and fruit upon arrival
  • An English speaking concierge on call 24/7
  • At extra cost, the following are available: massages, private in house meals by a gourmet chef, activities in Cartagena City and private boat trips to the Rosario Islands

Casa de Indias

casa de indias hotelpreferred hotels when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Casa de Indias

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Casa de Indias is a gorgeously unique colonial home lavishly spread over four sweeping floors. Adobe like earthen walls give the home a warm and artistic feel and the many lush plants, dispersed thoughtfully both indoors and out, create a tropical oasis that is central yet nestled in seclusion. Located in Cartagena, this 10 bedroom home is perfect for extended families and groups of friends seeking solace from the hustle and bustle of the city during high season.

ROOFTOP JACUZZI

A rooftop terrace with a jacuzzi and chaise loungers overlooks the charismatic architecture of old town Cartagena. The view is dotted with palms and stretches the short distance to the horizon and expansive Atlantic ocean. Truly a bird’s perch above the center of activity, the rooftop is a refuge of inspiration and luxury.

AN ARTISTIC FLAIR

Gloria de Zea, the director of Bogota’s Museum of Modern Art and the first wife of Fernando Botero gave this luxury Cartagena rental an unparalleled artistic pedigree. One of the first Cartagena houses to be restored in the 1980s, Casa de Indias was given an interior makeover by Lina Botero, the couple’s daughter, in 2013. Top art collectors and even Saudi princes have been captivated by Lina’s keen eye for beauty and the house has become known as a prime contender in the resurgence of Cartagena. The luxurious, yet authentic and artistic feeling of the home makes is a desirable destination for celebrities and people from all walks of life seeking a sanctuary of relaxation and seclusion.

Ideal forfamilies and groups of friends who would like a spacious stylish Caribbean villa (one of the largest villas in Cartagena)

casa de indias hotel is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Casa de Indias

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highlights

  • 10 bedrooms, perfect for large groups
  • Artistically decorated
  • Rooftop jacuzzi
  • Outdoor swimming pool and terrace

rooms

  • 10 bedrooms, 2 with single beds
  • 17 beds
  • 2 living rooms/lounge areas

services

  • Daily cleaning lady
  • Breakfast
  • Welcome wine, cheese and fruit upon arrival
  • An English speaking concierge on call 24/7
  • At extra cost, the following are available: massages, private in house meals by a gourmet chef, activities in Cartagena City and private boat trips to the Rosario Islands

Corocora Camp

Corocora Camp one of our preferred hotels when traveling in Colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Corocora Camp

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Situated in the surrounding plains of Colombia’s lush Orinoco River basin, Corocora Camp in Llanos Orientales offers a rare glimpse into the country’s cowboy culture and traditions, plus so much more during your stay. This is as exclusive and remote as it gets, with just four deluxe tents available, no Wi-Fi or mod-cons and very little phone coverage, though there is a great restaurant and bar, serviced by a friendly team of staff and guides. Instead, you have access to authentic ranch culture and cattle herding, horseback riding, birdwatching and photo safaris, as well as Corocora Camp’s very own conservation projects. So, for something truly different while staying in Colombia, a wildlife experience to remember and sense of blissful isolation while here, booking your stay at Corocora Tented Camp is the answer.

Real-life ranch in Colombia

Corocora is the real deal when it comes to experiencing authentic cowboy life in Colombia, with the chance to spend time with local llaneros (cowboys of the Orientales Region), learn the tricks of cattle herding, lassoing and of course, the all-important ranch BBQ! The history and traditions of this rural Colombian culture extends not only to the exciting cowboy pursuits themselves, but also a love of the land and wildlife within it, as can be seen while riding out into the countryside on one of Corocora’s well-trained and much-loved horses.

Exclusive wildlife experience

The available sleeping tents at Corocora Camp, plus a social tent full of books, sofas and games, feel every bit the safari wildlife lodge, with their simple though comfortable décor, vintage-style travel chests and hammocks outside; ideal for enjoying each picturesque sunset. When it comes to the surrounding wildlife then, whether being enjoyed on a nature trail, birdwatching walk or horse ride, there’s plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself into the action. Vast marshlands and Orinoco River estuaries here hide everything from White-tailed Deer to Jaguars, Monkeys, Pumas, Anacondas and even Pink River Dolphins! With numerous bird species, owls and herons to spot too, the daily sunrise walks, afternoon wildlife tours and nocturnal discoveries of Corocora Tented Camp are simply a must for nature-lovers visiting Colombia.

Ideal for Couples seeking a remote wildlife experience in Colombia, authentic cowboy culture and plenty of excursions, as well as a truly exclusive and authentic, rustic accommodation.

Corocora Camp is one of our preferred hotels when traveling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Corocora Camp

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highlights

  • Authentic cowboy lifestyle
  • Abundant wildlife excursions and birdwatching walks
  • Exclusive tented accommodation
  • Sunset on your own private veranda, relaxing in a hammock

rooms

  • Sleeping Tent: The four exclusive sleeping tents at Corocora Camp are spacious and comfortable, pleasantly furnished with safari-inspired travel chests and comfortable deck chairs, king-size beds and hammocks outside. Each is also equipped with an en suite bathroom and shower, binoculars and lamps, completing the ‘outback’ feel of these appealing private spaces.

services

  • Restaurant + bar
  • Communal social tent with sofas, board games, yoga mats and Bose speakers
  • Outdoor relaxation areas with hammocks
  • Lawn games including badminton and croquet
  • Extensive list of excursions, wildlife safaris, birdwatching walks and photo tours
  • Al fresco patio/observation deck and firepits
  • Satellite radio communications available

Casa San Agustin Hotel

casa san agustin hotel is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Casa San Agustin Hotel

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Experience a luxuriously chic and relaxed atmosphere at Casa San Agustin in the historic Cartagena de Indias. This authentic boutique hotel offers guests the chance to relax into lavish sauna services, such as the Aurum spa experience, sip wine from the poolside bar, dine on a superbly designed menu at Alma Restaurant, all within 17th-century architecture. Explore the equally historic surrounding city on foot with an expert local guide through vibrant neighborhood art galleries, wineries, and restaurants.

HISTORICAL ELEGANCE AT EVERY TURN

From original frescoes in the library to centuries-old wood-beamed ceilings in the guest rooms, the city’s rich history is fully displayed. Slip into the azure blue waters of the outdoor pool, made from original aqueducts of the walled city. Taste the best Ceviche de Autor at Alma Restaurant, which offers a Caribbean fusion inspired menu.

SPA EXPERIENCE LIKE NO OTHER

Aurum is a Latin word, meaning “Gold” or “Shining Dawn.” Aurum Spa honors the qualities of gold represented by the sun’s radiance and purity by promoting the awakening of inner power and natural abundance inherent to each person. Try any of the Aurum Rituals, dedicated to revitalizing and reconnecting through body scrubs, wraps, massages, moisturizing, and the popular Moroccan exfoliation experience of Hamman.

Ideal forcouples and families with adult kids (not for families with small children); best boutique hotel in Cartagena

casa san agustin hotel is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Casa San Agustin Hotel

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highlights

  • Aurum Spa experiences
  • Guided tours of the city
  • Poolside bar
  • 17th-century architecture

rooms

  • Deluxe: King size bed; Ortigia Italian amenities; LCD TV; Wi-Fi; AC; ceiling fan and shower; Some with garden, hall or street view
  • Junior Suite: Spacious room with living area; King size bed; sofa bed; Ortigia Italian amenities; LCD TV; Wi-Fi; AC; ceiling fan and shower
  • Premium Suite: King size bed; Ortigia Italian amenities; LCD TV; Wi-Fi; AC; ceiling fan and shower; private patio with Jacuzzi; views of inner gardens; ideal for couples
  • Suite Prestige: Large duplex with two rooms, each with King size bed, private bathroom, living-dining room, balcony with view over street; Ortigia Italian amenities; sofa-bed; LCD TV; Wi-Fi; AC; ceiling fan and shower; Ideal for families or for sharing with friends
  • Suite Del Virrey: Large two-bedroom suite; outdoor Jacuzzi and beautiful terraces with outstanding view; King size bed; separate living room and dining areas; Ortigia Italian amenities; LCD TV; Wi-Fi; AC; ceiling fan and shower

services

  • Solarium
  • Pool with poolside bar
  • Library
  • Bicycle rental
  • Aurum Spa
  • Aman Restaurant and bar
  • WiFi

Ananda Boutique Hotel

ananda boutique hotel is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Ananda Boutique Hotel

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Experience 16th century elegance in the Caribbean at Anandá Boutique Hotel by Cosmos. Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, this colonial boutique hotel in the heart of Cartagena offers guests a taste of the Old Town while basking in personalised services and luxury comfort. Taste exquisite local cuisine inspired by colonial Columbia. Reconnect mind, body, and soul with an expert massage. Relax in the outdoor pool or top-floor Jacuzzi overlooking the city.

RELAXATION IS KEY

Ananda Hotel Boutique centers around well-being. Book a personalized massage in a relaxing and comfortable setting. From the hotel’s terrace guests gain a bird’s eye view of the impressive Old Town while settling into the Jacuzzi or plush adorned outdoor seating areas.

TRAVEL THE CITY

Enjoy the beautiful surroundings any way you wish. The hotel offers guests a free bike hire service to get out into nature and discover as much of the city of Cartagena as possible. The hotel’s 24-hour concierge offers guests knowledgeable personnel who can recommend popular sights, inspired ideas, and arrange necessary transportation.

Ideal forboth couples and families; proven 4-star boutique option with great service

ananda boutique hotel is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Ananda Boutique Hotel

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highlights

  • Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site
  • Panoramic views of Old Town
  • Elegant spa services
  • Outdoor pool and top-floor Jacuzzi

rooms

  • Junior Suites: Terrace; Sun deck; Lounge room; 46” LCD TV; Minibar; WiFi; Safe; AC. Balcony views of Calle del Cuartel in some
  • Deluxe twin: First floor accommodations with two queen beds; Bathroom with teak decking; 36” LCD TV; Minibar; WiFi; Safe; AC. Views of the patio or interior of the hotel
  • Deluxe king: King Size bed; Elegant furniture; High ceilings; Bathroom with teak decking; whirlpool available in some; 42” LCD TV; Minibar; WiFi; Safe; AC. Balcony views
  • Superior: Queen size beds; Bathroom with teak decking; 36” LCD TV; Minibar; WiFi; Safe; AC. Balcony views

services

  • Room and wake-up call service
  • Bike rental
  • Indoor and outdoor pool
  • Spa
  • Bar and restaurant
  • 24-hour reception
  • WiFi

Hacienda Bambusa Hotel

Hacienda bambusa hotel is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Hacienda Bambusa Hotel

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Located in Quindio, Colombia’s Coffee triangle, immersed in a labyrinth of plantain, orange, and pineapple plantations, sits Hacienda Bambusa. Built of bamboo and clay tiles, this chic, working hacienda is surrounded by the majestic Central Andes Range, rivers, and gardens. An oasis of tranquility and natural beauty, guests have the opportunity to experience everything from coffee tasting to ziplining to treks within the jungle to witness thousands of butterflies, exotic birds, and the vibrant colors of indigenous flowers that make this property so special.

THE FARM-TO-TABLE EXPERIENCE

The hacienda’s restaurant, run by Luz Adriana Martinez, a well-known chef in the Coffee Region, serves a wide variety of exclusive dishes prepared mainly with ingredients grown on Bambusa’s grounds. Guests can learn to cook traditional recipes in one of Chef Martinez’s fun classes, or feel what it’s like to milk the cows with the head farmer. For the coffee enthusiast, become a connoisseur with a coffee tasting tour.

A PLACE FOR THRILL SEEKERS AND SOLITUDE

Hacienda Bambusa offers a balanced mixture of peaceful and adventurous activities. Zipline over a banana plantation or “paramotor,” a motorized version of paragliding, off the top of a mountain. Float high above the trees in a hot air balloon or drift away from the world on a balsaje, a bamboo raft, atop the smooth flowing currents of the La Vieja River, topped off by a picnic lunch on a shaded beach.

The area is also home to over 160 exotic bird species. Explore miles of crisscrossing trails through the hacienda’s crops and extensive Guadua bamboo forest to spot birds in their natural habitat. See 3000 butterflies inside the hacienda’s botanical garden, one of the region’s most valued conservation projects.

Ideal forfamilies and couples alike who want to experience the soul of Columbia's lush and verdant coffee producing region from the perspective of a working plantation

Hacienda bambusa hotel is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Hacienda Bambusa Hotel

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highlights

  • Diverse adventures like ziplining and “paramotoring,” hot air balloon rides, horseback riding, and relaxing bamboo rafting, and guided hikes
  • Working hacienda with its own organic vegetable garden and livestock
  • Wide variety of birds and a butterfly farm filled with 3000 butterflies
  • Restaurant run by one of the region’s top chefs, serving traditional cuisine made with ingredients grown directly on the grounds

rooms

  • Junior Suites: King or twin bed; Private balcony or terrace; Hammock; Satellite TV; Minibar; Safe; WiFi; Air conditioning; Views of outdoor swimming pool
  • Superior Room King: : Two rooms with king bed; Private balcony or terrace; Hammock; Satellite TV; Minibar; Safe; WiFi; Air conditioning; Views of outdoor swimming pool
  • Superior Room Twin: King or twin beds; Private balcony or terrace; Hammock; Satellite TV; Minibar; Safe; WiFi; Air conditioning; View of mountains
  • Standard Room: Two rooms with king and twin beds; Private balcony or terrace; Hammock; Satellite TV; Minibar; Safe; WiFi; Air conditioning; View of garden
  • Family Room: Two rooms with king beds or king and twin bed; Private balcony or terrace; Hammock; Satellite TV; Minibar; Safe; WiFi; Air conditioning;View of garden

services

  • Restaurant
  • Outdoor excursions
  • Extensive botanic gardens
  • Butterfly farm
  • Outdoor pool
  • WiFi

Insider’s Tour of Colombia: Cartagena + Colonial Gem

Captivating colonial towns, exotic Caribbean islands and tantalizing cuisine; a luxury cultural tour of Colombia promises to be a feast for all the senses. There’s no end of cultural hotspots to discover across the country, but this sample itinerary focuses on two hubs in northern Colombia so you can really get under the skin of each region. First, spend five nights based in the famous Walled City on the Caribbean Coast, Cartagena, a stunning place that’s awash with brightly colored facades and cobbled streets, where flowers tumble from centuries-old balconies and romance lingers in the air. As well as discovering the city itself, head out on a day trip to the Rosario Islands in the Caribbean Sea and meet fishing communities at La Boquilla, before flying south to the Santander province and using Barichara, a picturesque colonial village, as your base. Here, gentle hikes, coffee tasting, a canyon tour and cookery class await, as well as plenty of downtime in this relaxed corner of culturally-rich Colombia.

Circle_Icon_Colombia Insider's Tour of Colombia: Cartagena + Colonial Gem

Visit our Colombia Page
to learn a bit about Colombia

Itinerary

Day1

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Day1

Arrival in Cartagena; Begin Cultural Colombia Tour

Touchdown in Cartagena where your cultural Colombian tour begins. A private transfer will be waiting to take you to the Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa for check-in, before you set off on a private walking tour of Cartagena’s Old Town in the afternoon.

Kaleidoscopic streets painted in a rainbow of colors await in Cartagena’s carefully preserved Walled City, where colonial buildings stand side-by-side down cobblestone streets, just a stone’s throw from the Caribbean Sea. Listen to your guide as they regale you with stories of pirates, conquistadors and battles over 500 tumultuous years, detailing a complex past that can be witnessed through the Old Town’s fortresses, Inquisition Palace and Gold Museum.

Overnight Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa

Meals None

Day2

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Day2

Visit the Bazurto Market

After breakfast this morning, savor the sights, sounds, aromas and flavors of Cartagena’s renowned Bazurto Market; an unmissable experience that few tourists even know about. This hidden gem of a place is buzzing with activity, as market stalls wind their way through a warren of alleys brimming with all manner of wares: from fruit and vegetables to fish and meat, even clothes and artwork. With a private guide by your side, navigate this brilliant bazaar and have your senses aroused by all the bustle of such a traditional, authentic market.

In the afternoon, enjoy time at leisure to either explore more of Cartagena or unwind in your boutique hotel. There’s a host of fine dining restaurants to try out, as well as street food vendors where you can sample local snacks while roaming the city’s beautiful streets.

Overnight Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa

Meals B

Day3

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Day3

Cartagena Island Tours

Having been introduced to beautiful Cartagena, day three of your Colombia culture tour offers something a little different, taking a break from urban delights and immersing you into the splendor of the Caribbean. Step aboard a private motorboat and speed off to the Rosario Archipelago, a cluster of picturesque islands strewn along turquoise Caribbean waters, where swimming, sunbathing and drinking in the exotic scenery is order of the day.

This full-day tour offers the chance to see a few of the Rosario Islands, with a picnic lunch whipped up by your private chef too. Sip cocktails, snack on tropical fruit and finger food–when you’re not snorkeling the coral reef or relaxing on pristine beaches, that is. Later in the afternoon, make the return journey to Cartagena and your city hotel, having relished a slice of the blissful Caribbean.

Overnight Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa

Meals B,L

Day4

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Day4

Visit a Fishing Community in La Boquilla

Day four of this fascinating Colombia trip brings more opportunity to see an alternative face of Cartagena, this time at La Boquilla which, although just a short drive from the city center, is a world away from the grand colonial architecture and urban sprawl of town. La Boquilla is an authentic fishing community found amidst the mangroves and swamps east of Cartagena, and you can witness the fishermen’s way of life here by gliding over the waters in a small canoe, even having a go at catching something for yourself! A guide will act as an interpreter between you and the locals, as they explain how to use the fishing line and nets to best capture awaiting shrimp and crawfish. Along the way, learn more about the fishermen’s culture and traditions, which have remained the same for many generations.

After 2-3 hours, hopefully having been lucky enough to make a catch, return to Cartagena and spend the afternoon at leisure.

Overnight Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa

Meals B

Day5

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Day5

Explore Cartagena

Today is yours to enjoy as you please, so why not make time to enjoy the hotel’s spa and rooftop pool? Take a dip while soaking up the sweeping panoramas of Cartagena’s rooftops, while staff bring you fruit and ice cream to help keep you cool under the hot Colombian sun. Stop for lunch at Charleston Santa Teresa’s restaurant, where an open-air terrace invites you to linger over a delectable meal, or take your pick from one of the many eateries found right on your doorstep.

Overnight Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa

Meals B

Day6

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Day6

Bucaramanga / Hacienda El Roble / Chicamocha Canyon / Barichara

This morning, a private vehicle transfers you to Cartagena Airport for a short flight to Bucaramanga in the province of Santander, one hour 20 minutes south of the Colombian coast. From Bucaramanga Airport another transfer and private guide will be waiting to collect you, beginning the next chapter of your cultural Colombian tour.

The first stop is made at Hacienda El Roble in Mesa de Los Santos, where you can see (and taste) first-hand why Colombian coffee is so revered around the world. This picturesque estate is home to a coffee plantation, sprawling for 300 hectares and much-loved by local birdlife, so be sure to take a relaxing stroll and drink it all in. Sit down for a typical local lunch, then bid farewell and hot-foot it to your next destination of the day: Chicamocha Canyon. The best way to view this staggering 2,000m-deep gorge is from the air, so float up in a cable car and lap up the sweeping panoramas as you glide over it; spectacular.

Overnight Casa Barichara

Meals B,L

Day7

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Day7

Tour of Barichara and Guane

Wake up in your delightful boutique hotel, Casa Barichara, and tuck into breakfast on their terrace while looking out over the beautiful surrounding valley. Fueled up, it’s then time to embark on a hike to the little village of Guane, by taking the 9km-long Camino Real (‘Royal Road’) from Barichara through pretty countryside. The route–which was carved out in the 19th century as part of a wider network connecting villages in Santander–affords views of the surrounding valley, as well as Spanish moss hanging from trees and cacti lining the path. You might pass the odd local farmer or two, before reaching Guane itself after a couple of hours, where time can be spent feasting on lunch and enjoying the somnolent atmosphere all around.

Then, return to Barichara in a tuk-tuk (a typical means of transport here) and explore the village further on a walking tour. Discover the cobblestone streets, wood-beamed houses and monuments dotted across town; Barichara is a beautiful gem of a place in Colombia, with art and a laidback ambience at the heart of everything.

Overnight Casa Barichara

Meals B,L

Day8

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Day8

Cooking Class in Barichara

This morning, treat your senses to a private cookery class at Casa Barichara, as there’s no better way to delve into local culture than with a taste of traditional cuisine. First, explore Barichara’s food market with a guide, observing the conversations and exchanges between traders and customers while also perusing the tempting produce on display. Then, return to the hotel kitchen and pull on an apron, ready to learn the chef’s secret recipes for traditional local dishes, before savoring each creation at the end; a just reward for your efforts!

After lunch, take the rest of the day at leisure to explore Barichara or unwind at your hotel. There’s a tempting pool to cool off in here, as well as hammocks on the terrace that are perfect for lazing with a book, and perhaps a cup of freshly brewed coffee in-hand.

Overnight Casa Barichara

Meals B,L

Day9

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Day9

Bucaramanga / Flight Home

Having relished your last few hours in this charming boutique hotel, at the appropriate time bid farewell to Barichara and head to the airport at Bucaramanga via private transfer, for your flight home.

Meals B

NOTE: The above itinerary reflects an intended program, however, it should be read purely as a guide. This is because weather conditions, wildlife encounters, and any unforeseen circumstances beyond the operator’s control on the day may affect the eventual itinerary, and route.

Colombia in Style

Primely positioned directly over the equator and home to snow-capped peaks and glistening beaches, Colombia is a diverse country teeming with passionate culture. This nine day itinerary immerses you in a spectrum of historical interest, recreational fun and refined artistry. Begin with the top attractions of the nation’s high altitude, colonial era capital of Bogata, including the elegantly memorizing Gold Museum and panoramic views of the famed Montserrate sanctuary. In the rolling green hills of the coffee growing region, explore a variety of outdoor activities and perfect Caribbean cooking. Complete your adventure in magic with a visit to Old Cartagena, a16th century walled city of pastel hued pueblos and cobblestone streets where wandering is like time travel.

Circle_Icon_Colombia Colombia in Style

Visit our Colombia Page
to learn a bit about Colombia

Itinerary

Day1

Bogota-guitar-musicians-latin-excursions-372x372 Colombia in Style

Day1

Arrive Bogota, Colombia

Welcome to Colombia!

Upon arrival in Bogata, your guide greets you and privately transfers you to your hotel, the luxury, Spanish colonial style Four Seasons Casa Medina. In one of the most luxurious hotels of Bogota, no two rooms are alike; some feature high beamed ceilings and hand-crafted doors, while others boast details such as aged leather and nail-head trim, reflecting the roots of tradition, yet maintaining a sense of lightness and a contemporary edge. The effect is comfortably residential with the sophisticated polish and all the modern conveniences one expects of a hotel of this calibre.

Overnight Four Seasons Casa Medina

Meals None

Day2

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Day2

Bogota City Tour

Today, enjoy a full-day private guided tour of Bogota. Your expert guide introduces you the city’s highlights and the social and cultural issues of Colombia. Learn more about the daily life of Bogotanos and sample the best street food and tropical fruits of a South American market. Visit the Montserrate sanctuary, symbol of the Colombian capital, located on the Andes Mountain at 3,152 meters above sea level and offering a unique view of the city. Next, visit the Gold Museum, which houses up to 34,000 pieces of gold from 13 pre-Hispanic civilizations. As you walk the streets of La Candelaria, a traditional neighborhood that has seen the country’s history, admire the works of the greatest Colombian contemporary artist at the Botero Museum.

Overnight Four Seasons Casa Medina

Meals B

Day3

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Day3

Bogota to Coffee Region

Privately transfer from your hotel to Bogota airport for your nonstop flight to Armenia in the Coffee Region.

Flight: Bogota to Armenia

Upon arrival, your guide will greet you at the airport and privately transfer you to Hacienda Bambusa (approx. 30 min away). After settling in, enjoy a 2.5-hour welcome hike on the property with a naturalist guide, passing through the cacao plantations and bamboo forest, and including some birdwatching.

Overnight Hacienda Bambusa

Meals B,D

Day4-5

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Day4-5

Exploring the Coffee Region

Spend two full days enjoying activities in the Coffee Region from Hacienda Bambusa with a private guide at your disposal during your entire stay. Enjoy hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking, visit local coffee plantations and villages, go bamboo rafting down the river with a picnic, visit the scenic Cocora Valley, and more! Or simply relax in the stunning natural setting and enjoy the Colombian countryside; mix activities with relaxation time as you wish.

Overnight Hacienda Bambusa

Meals B,L,D

Day6

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Day6

Armenia - Bogota - Cartagena

Take your private transfer to Armenia airport for your flight to the Caribbean coast today, via Bogota.

Flight: Armenia to Cartagena, via Bogota

Upon arrival, your guide greets you and privately transfers you to your boutique hotel (about a 15 minute drive) within the historic walled city.

In the afternoon, enjoy a private guided introductory walking tour (approx. 3 hrs) in Old Cartagena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Overnight Casa San Agustin

Meals B

Day7

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Day7

Bazurto Market / Caribbean Cooking Lesson / Leisure Time

AM: Bazurto Market + Caribbean cooking lesson (5 hrs), with lunch.

The Bazurto market is a traditional Caribbean open-air market, barely visited by tourists. Walk through a maze of alleys, where your tour guide will introduce you to different kinds of local fruits, herbs, vegetables, music, fish, seafood and meat. At the end of the tour, learn how to cook seafood, coconut rice and other specialties of Cartagena’s gastronomy. Our chef offers a presentation of ingredients before teaching you how to prepare some typical dishes.

PM: At leisure. Have some time at leisure in the afternoon to explore the city further on your own.

Overnight Casa San Agustin

Meals B,L

Days8

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Day8

La Boquilla / DAMARTES / Proboquilla

This morning, start your half day tour to explore the fisherman village of La Boquilla and visit the project DAMARTES (‘Women and Mothers of Art’) which began with an association composed of 7 women. These days they produce jewelry, containers, vases, belts and accessories and are the first women of La Boquilla who live with their own incomes. Be invited to a very special workshop and make your own souvenir out of coconut. It is also possible to craft bracelets, keychains, earrings or necklaces. The workshop takes place in a rustic restaurant right on the beach of La Boquilla. Afterwards, visit a local foundation called Proboquilla, founded to provide quality education to children of La Boquilla. A representative describes more about the foundation´s daily challenges and you may possibly interact with some of the children.

This afternoon is yours to further explore the city as you wish and at your leisure. Feel free to ask your Latin Excursions travel designer or hotel concierge for things to see, do, and eat!

Overnight Casa San Agustin

Meals B,L

Day9

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Day9

Cartagena

Take your private transfer to Cartagena airport for your international flight home.

Thank you for exploring Colombia with us!

Meals B

Overnight The Singular Santiago

Meals B

Latin Excursions Selected for Wendy Perrin’s WOW List 2018

“Wendy Perrin shares her travel secrets, and it’s as close as you can get to vacation perfection.”  —Town&Country

Latin Excursions is delighted to be selected on Wendy Perrin’s WOW List 2018, as one of her trusted travel experts for Latin America. Read on to find out more about the WOW List, Wendy Perrin and exactly why we have been handpicked as her go-to travel planner for the best travel experiences in Latin America.

Who is Wendy Perrin?

Wendy Perrin is an oracle in the world of luxury travel, having spent more than 25 years immersed in travel journalism. Wendy is highly respected in her field, working for Conde Nast Traveler, TripAdvisor (she is their first ever Travel Advocate for some 315 million monthly visitors) and more, winning awards along the way and making many TV appearances. Without a doubt, Wendy Perrin possesses unrivalled knowledge and secrets when it comes to getting the most out of your vacation, and her website is dedicated to sharing all of it with travelers who want to experience something out of the ordinary.

What is the WOW List?

The WOW List is Wendy Perrin’s black book of the very best travel contacts around the globe. Whether you’re looking for a safari in Africa or unforgettable South American adventure, Wendy has tried and tested it all for her readers and is unbeatably placed to recommend the best travel planners and experience makers in the industry. As she puts it herself, she has ‘thoroughly vetted’ them all and only endorses a travel expert if she would use them for her own vacation. There is no one more qualified than Wendy to curate the WOW List!

Latin Excursions on the 2018 WOW List

We are thrilled to feature on Wendy Perrin’s WOW List 2018, as her trusted travel planner for Colombia, Ecuador and Panama. While of course we at Latin Excursions specialize in destinations across South America–from the Galapagos to Patagonia, Cuba to Peru–Wendy’s experience of us is in these three particular countries; for now anyway! Wendy understands that Eric’s multicultural background (his father is American, his mother is Ecuadorian), his extensive travel experience from a young age, and his split bases in Miami and Ecuador, all play a huge part in his flair for customizing tours in Latin America. This is coupled with Eric’s passion for authentic travel experiences, looking beyond the cookie cutter destinations and digging deeper into local culture. It is a great privilege that our philosophy at Latin Excursions is recognized by such a prestigious and credible travel journalist like Wendy, as it really is our passion to create totally unique trips across Latin America.

Read Wendy Perrin’s verdict on Latin Excursions as her trusted travel expert:

Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama
Eric Sheets, Latin Excursions
“Eric has lived in six Latin American countries—he was exposed to the region from an early age by his globetrotting American father and Ecuadorian mother—and today he’s based in Miami and Ecuador, arranging everything from custom itineraries that highlight Colombia’s different local cultures to family reunions, exotic honeymoons, and even villa vacations, not only in Colombia but also in neighboring countries Panama and Ecuador. Travelers have their own private guide and vehicle—to allow maximum spontaneity and flexibility, not to mention rare access to places most travelers don’t see—and stay in top-drawer hotels that share Eric’s commitment to sustainability.”
Trips start at $800 per day for two travelers.

Click here to read Wendy Perrin’s WOW List 2018.

WENDY PERRIN – SAVING THE WORLD FROM MEDIOCRE TRIPS
Town&Country magazine calls Wendy “The Travel Whisperer” who will take you “as close as you can get to vacation perfection.” Condé Nast Traveler praises “The Wizardry of Wendy” and her “encyclopedic knowledge of all things travel.” After 25 years at the pinnacle of travel journalism, Wendy has amassed comprehensive knowledge of the world’s best travel solutions and fixers. She wants to share this knowledge and help people have the best trips possible.

Prior to founding WendyPerrin.com, she was the Director of Consumer News and Digital Community at Condé Nast Traveler, where she wrote her practical advice column, The Perrin Report, for 17 years and her award-winning blog, The Perrin Post, for eight years. She started out long ago as the magazine’s Ombudsman (consumer advocate), investigating reader complaints about travel companies and helping wronged travelers get compensation, and that led to her book Wendy Perrin’s Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know (Fodor’s).

Wendy is also TripAdvisor’s first-ever Travel Advocate, advising its more than 315 million monthly visitors—the world’s largest travel community. She has been a keynote speaker at conferences worldwide, on cruise ships, at Harvard University, and at the United Nations. Television appearances include The Today Show, Good Morning America, and many programs on CNN. She has won the Travel Journalist of the Year award, earned a Lowell Thomas award for investigative journalism, and been a finalist for a National Magazine Award—the magazine industry’s most prestigious editorial honor. She graduated cum laude from Harvard, where she majored in History and Literature.

Safety & What it Means in Today’s Colombia

Having had such a tumultuous history in the 80’s and the 90’s due to violence arising from drug and revolutionary political groups, it is no secret that Colombia earned itself a reputation as being one of the more dangerous places in the world. However, the country has since renovated itself on all fronts, almost miraculously fast, to where it is today considered one of the safest, most modern, and breathtaking destinations in South America.

My name is Connie, and I’m a junior travel consultant at Latin Excursions. Recently I had the opportunity to travel throughout Colombia for 2.5 months (not to say that I wasn’t tempted to stay until the very last day permitted on my 3-month tourist visa!). Here, I’ll address some concerns that might be running through your mind while considering your Colombia vacation.

What is the FARC and terrorism situation like today,
and should I be worried?

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People’s Army, known as FARC, is a guerrilla group that has been promoting agrarianism and socialist rule in Colombia. They have been active since the early 80’s stretching into the 21st century. However, with the death of the FARC commander Mono Jojoy in 2010, who was regarded as the organization’s leading instigator and symbol of terror, the safety situation in Colombia has turned around entirely. In fact, in mid-2012, FARC leaders, and Colombian government officials met and engaged in peace talks that have slowly but surely making headway into hopefully nothing but brightness in the country’s future.

Today, even those Colombians who lived through the decades of FARC proudly consider their country to be as safe as any other in South America. Where one girl’s father once dared not walk the short distance between the nearby town and his coffee finca plantation, today she strolls with her two young sons admiring the countryside mountainscapes. As well, the more rural parts of southern Colombia were once the stronghold zones for the guerrilla group. These days, destinations such as the colonial “white city” of Popayan and the archeological parks of San Agustin are among the most popular in the country by both nationals and international visitors alike. If you’re visiting principle destinations such as Bogota, Medellin, and the Caribbean coast including Cartagena, you do not need to worry more than any other large city anywhere. The national government has invested millions of dollars in tourism and security, providing travelers with nothing to fear on its police- and military-patrolled streets besides maybe a sunburn and indecisiveness over the countless things to see and do.

However, there are still some areas considered unready for tourism. The Amazon region, Choco state on the Pacific coast, the large eastern Llanos state with its plains ultimately stretching until the Amazon, and rural areas just above the Ecuadorian border should be approached with caution.

What about the cocaine drug cartels?

By Lee Wagner

When Colombia is mentioned, perhaps no two themes pop up faster than cocaine and Pablo Escobar. Indeed, both came to power in Colombia in the 80’s and ultimately left their unforgettable legacy for the country to clean up after. Pablo Escobar, to this day, one of the world’s most notorious drug chiefs in history, led the Medellin cartel to international success at the expense of countless deaths of those involved in the cocaine trade. Unfortunately, there were also countless innocent victims. Battling his rival, the Cali cartel based in Colombia’s southern, third largest city, Escobar, unfortunately, made the country synonymous with drugs and criminal gang lawlessness.

Escobar was ultimately shot and killed on December 2, 1993 at the age of 43, a death that almost instantly crippled the Colombian cocaine trade. In the two decades since, the government has made it a priority never to allow drugs or gangs to rule the country again. Medellin, Cali, and Bogota are now regarded as showcase cities for internationals, attracting unprecedented numbers of foreign investors, innovators, and of course travelers. In fact, Medellin has recently been known as the rising technology capital in South America, exemplified not least by its modern public metro system and numerous startup companies.

While gang violence can still be found, as in any large city around the world, it is mostly confined to the impoverished neighborhoods. As basic travel sense dictates, it is not recommended to visit these areas in any case.

Understanding the state of modern Colombia, I had not a single hitch in my almost three months in the breathtaking country. Instead of a tense atmosphere, I was met with some of the most genuinely welcoming and hospitable individuals I have ever met, both while in the city and in the countryside. I wish I could have put the Colombians’ honesty, sincerity, and amicability on a postcard to be shared. Not to mention, an exponentially growing number of Colombians speak English, and they are more than patient enough to listen and help if you speak even a word or two in Spanish. This country is not forgetting but instead, quickly moving on past its painful recent history; it would be a shame not to see it now during its rise back into the positive international spotlight!

Can’t wait to discover one of South America’s most enchanting countries for yourself? Review our Colombia travel page and then contact us to start planning!

Top Events to Attend in Cartagena, Colombia

On the northern coast of Colombia, it seems as if the sights and sounds of the Caribbean-Latino lifestyle never cease. Cartagena de Indias is the gem of the coast in this country known for its coffee and its passion, a port city which has long been the ideal hidden vacation spot for nationals but has only recently come into the spotlight for travelers from all over the world!

Due to its pleasant climate all year round, there is never a bad time to plan a trip to Cartagena. However, there are certainly some dates in which local events may add even more spice to your Colombia vacation. Here are Latin Excursions’ top recommendations for when to best visit Cartagena for an unforgettable time!

Christmas & the New Year

This is the high winter and holiday season when the beaches and hotels fill up and everyone is ready to ring in the New Year in paradise! Whether you are traveling with your family, friends, or significant other, the colonial port city has much to offer such as visits to historic fortresses and the city wall; nearby mud volcanoes; sparkling azure beaches; top restaurants, bars, and cafes; curious museums; and much more.

Hay Arts & Literature Festival, 4-day event in late January

This is an event that is held in major cities throughout the world whose main focus is to bring together intellectuals and storytellers with appreciative audiences in order to indulge in the world of literature and the arts. Top historians, film-makers, novelists, philosophers, environmentalists, poets, scientists, and more are only some of the demographics who will be attending. Take part in workshops, events, lectures, fairs, and much more during this 4-day cultural event.

Cartagena International Film Festival, 6-day event in February and March

This annual festival, known locally as FICCI, the Festival Internacional de Cine de Cartagena de los Indios, has been held for over 50 years with the first installation held in 1960. Is it the oldest film festival on the continent and is the prime showcase for filmmakers, actors, producers, and other industry professionals in South America. Different Hollywood guests of honor such as Harvey Keitel and Clive Owen attend the event each year. See more here.

Annual Barranquilla Carnival, 4-day event at the beginning of March

Carnival is one of the world’s most colorful and raucous spectacles! The event precludes the period of Lent according to the Catholic calendar. In the Caribbean, Trinidad & Tobago is the star destination; in Mexico one would opt to go to Veracruz; in South America, the ideal place to be for Carnival is in Barranquilla. Barranquilla is about 3 hours east of Cartagena along the Caribbean cost, a place known for the heat in the air, its music, its people, and its dance. There is no going wrong celebrating Carnival in Barranquilla!

Easter Week

Easter is a dear period in Colombia, a predominantly Catholic country. In Cartagena, Easter is honored with traditional processions held throughout the old city. This is also a time when many people opt to go to church all week.

Vallenato Music Festival, 5-day event in April

Vallenato is one of the most traditional styles Colombian music This type of music is folk Colombian and originated along the coast. The usual instruments include a small drum called a caja vallentata, ribbed stick called a guacharaca, and boisterous accordion. During the Vallenato Music Festival, top groups come together in contest and audiences can dance along. This 5-day event seems never to end!

Do you know of an event that should be on this list of best events in Cartagena? Let us know. Want to visit Cartagena for one of these events, or any other? Contact us, and one of our Travel Designers can create a custom itinerary designed for your exact needs and interests.

New Year’s Eve in South America

The New Year is celebrated with “gusto” across South America, but it’s hard to think of more lively and sensational celebrations than those in Cartagena, Colombia, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Punta del Este, Uruguay. If you plan to visit these cities at the end of December, be prepared for crowds, road closures, and holiday premiums; but you can also expect world-class festivities with local panache.

Cartagena is as much of a New Year’s Eve destination for Colombian families as it is for energetic international travelers. People come from all over the country to occupy Cartagena’s streets, and many set up for the night with plastic tables and chairs, and perhaps a bottle of local rum or Aguardiente, as well as savory food from curbside vendors. The weather is ripe for parties in the streets, and fireworks help to ring in the New Year. Decadent parties are thrown at many of the hotels, such as the Charleston Santa Teresa and the Sofitel Santa Clara, and nightclubs like Bendito host musical gatherings for young and glamorous crowds from mid-December until mid-January. The ultimate place to be on New Year’s Eve could very well be Cafe del Mar on the ramparts of the city, sponsored by Moet & Chandon, beckons guests with not only champagne but also an extensive DJ line-up and Parisian decor.

Rio de Janeiro offers a New Year’s party that rivals Carnival in scale and splendor. The fireworks display at Copacabana is the main event, and millions of locals and tourists combined gather on the beach to watch the midnight show and revel until the early hours of the morning. Many Brazilians light candles for the Afro-American goddess of the sea, Yemanja, and place them in the sand, as they make wishes for the coming year. High-class parties happen throughout the city, and the most notable are those at the Copacabana Palace Hotel, the Fasano Hotel, the Museum of Modern Art on Flamengo Beach, and the Jockey Club. And for those not willing to shell out up to $1,500 on a ticket that includes dinner, drinks, and entertainment, one of the most popular free parties is Lual Arpoador, where many young cariocas watch the fireworks and dance till the sun rises.

Punta del Este is a place to see and be seen, popular with the rich and famous from Buenos Aires and Brazil, and frequently compared to the Hamptons. Celebrities migrate to Punta del Este for Christmas and New Year’s, and lavish private homes and trendy clubs are the places to be on December 31st. Unlike Cartagena and Rio, where there are ample festivities for the masses, Punta del Este is highly exclusive, and many of the soirees are invitation-only. Some merry-makers head to the Our Lady of Candelaria harbor for the fireworks display at midnight, but the crowd clears quickly, bound, perhaps, for tireless clubs in La Barra, 24-hour casinos, or luxurious hotels that sell out months in advance.

Wellness: Bogotá Discovered

Bogotá is inundated by the great outdoors.  Live walls and parks are sprinkled throughout the city, bike paths dominate sidewalks, and mountains covered in hiking trails and jungle are at your backdoor.  There’s no excuse, it’s time to be active and get outside. 

The city of Bogotá sits in what was once Lake Humboldt, at 8,660 ft., in the Andes mountain range.  The savanna, as it’s called, has 2 rainy seasons, each 3-4 months long, so it’s not a matter of if it’s going to rain, it’s a matter of when.  Carry an umbrella with you at all times, or at minimum a hat.  The rain doesn’t stop locals, but it may make most visitors hesitate before going outside.  Such is life in Bogotá.  The good news is that everything is green, lush and clean.  And when the sun comes out, you’ll find yourself whispering ‘what is this… Gorillas in the Mist?’ as the clouds rise and show off the jungle mountain range alongside the sprawling city.

Photo by Lee Wagner

You have multiple hike options from almost anywhere you’re staying in Bogotá.  In North Bogotá, you’ll find the beautiful hike of Sendero Quebrada La Vieja.  Off of downtown, you’ll find Monserrate and trails to Lady Guadalupe.  All 3 of these famous hikes have gorgeous views of the city (assuming there’s no cloud cover).  Monserrate is the most popular with visitors and is a pilgrimage destination.  Hiking the trail on a Sunday, you may pass people making the trek on their knees.  There is a funicular and gondola option, however, and at the top are the 14 stages of the cross, a church, restaurants and an outdoor market. 

Just an hour and a half outside the city is the tiny town of Suesca: Colombia’s most famous area for rock climbing.  We went hiking, bouldering, and cave exploring in this area with 3 guides.  It was my first time bouldering in a cave.  Careful hand and feet placement are crucial as you work to avoid falling into the numerous cave ponds, holding on to sharp rocks with just the tips of your fingers.  How deep are these ponds, you ask?  If you’re 5’2″, they’re chest deep.  Yup, I took a plunge on my first attempt.  Other than being a bit wet and cold the rest of the day, the scenery, views, professional rock climbers and high-liners were all spell-binding.  Most hikers are trailed by a few happy dogs who find their way up the cliffs and, amazingly, over narrow swing bridges.  At the end of the day, the community of hikers and climbers all congregate at the 4 shack restaurants in town to relax, refuel, and tell the gripping tales of that day.  

 Aside from the Gold Museum and Andrés Carne de Res restaurant, a visit to one of the Flower Farms here in Bogota is almost a requirement.  Because of the biodiversity of this country and the wet climate, Colombia is the world’s 2nd largest flower exporter.  We went to Bacata Finca’s mum farm, just one of 5 farms they own on the outskirts of Bogotá.  You’ll gain a whole new appreciation for buying flowers at the store after walking through the hand-planting, watering, and tending that is required for the growth of 70,000 flowers per day.  During Mother’s Day week, they ship 5 million mums alone overseas.

Ciclovia: Sundays and holidays are for biking in this city.  Major roads are closed to pedestrian-only traffic, and the streets line with sliced fruit and juice vendors.  Take Carrera 15 downtown to La Candelaria on a bike (about 6 miles each way from Zona T) and experience the excitement and chaos of downtown.  Street performers consist of Michael Jackson look-a-likes  dancing to Thriller, silver painted men singing the blues, and Alien vs Predator characters posing for pictures (among many other eyebrow-raising scenes).  And alongside all of this, couples have no problem dancing Tango and Salsa next to 1980’s boomboxes blasting music.

Bogotá may be the city your mom told you to avoid in the ’90’s, but it’s blossomed into a safe, affordable capital with access to the path less traveled.  Discover the great outdoors of the new Colombia before everyone else does.

Discovering the Ancient Figures of San Agustin by Foot or Horseback

Deep in southern Colombia is a mysterious destination that few visitors have ventured to discover in the last 30 years. This is because this region was once the stronghold of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as FARC. Today, this small town with a population of about 30,000 is free from the risks of yesteryears and the San Agustin Archaeological Park is one of the most alluring reasons to visit Colombia.

Deep in southern Colombia is a mysterious destination that few visitors have ventured to discover in the last 30 years. This is because this region was once the stronghold of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as FARC. Today, this small town with a population of about 30,000 is free from the risks of yesteryears and the San Agustin Archaeological Park is one of the most alluring reasons to visit Colombia.

Getting to San Agustin is not the easiest. About 140 miles from Neiva, the capital of the Huila department, and 85 miles from Popayan, the country’s white city known for its gastronomical flair, it is a long though breathtaking journey to the deep countryside. Coming from Neiva, the Tatacoa Desert makes for a grand stopover, while coming from Popayan, the Andean highlands and their endless fields of high altitude flora such as frailejón set the mood for what feels like traveling to the ends of the world.

The town itself is modest and unassuming, with few nods to targeted tourism besides the handful of crafts shops and signs pointing towards the archaeological park. A short 15 minute ride outside of the city, you will have your first decisions to make. Should you visit the official San Agustin Archaeological Park with carpark and well groomed trails, or take a more adventurous route and see some of the pre-Colombian statues still unearthed in the area?

If you choose to go horseback riding, then be sure to wear your active gear! This is a great option for those interested in archaeology as well as being amid nature. The horses will take you gracefully up and over mountain rides and through rarely used paths almost as if on autopilot. Your expert local guide will point out where to direct your eye, explaining the history and significance of the stone figures.

The government funded and volunteer supported San Agustin Archaeological Park, a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most impressive historical sites in Colombia. Studies are still being conducted to fully understand the ancient burial sites which are prefaced with delicately carved stone figures in human and animal forms. A highlight is La Fuente de Lavapatas, an intricate network of carvings and canals in a stream’s bedrock that brings together earth and water. At the end of the marked walking path is an outlook that peers over the entire San Agustin valley. It is well worth bringing a picnic or snack to rest and soak up the prehistoric energies in this area of remote Colombia.