Villa Beachscape

Villa Coffee Country preferred hotels when travelling in colombia

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Casa San Agustin Hotel

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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.

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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

Bogota-city-tour-latin-excursions-372x372 Colombia in Style

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

bambusa-entrance-latin-excursions-372x372 Colombia in Style

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

Bambusa-Landscape-latin-excursions-372x372 Colombia in Style

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

cartagena-latin-excursions-372x372 Colombia in Style

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

colombian-cooking-latin-excursions-372x372 Colombia in Style

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

colombian-accessories-latin-excursions-372x372 Colombia in Style

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

cartagena-sunset-latin-excursions-372x372 Colombia in Style

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

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?

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.

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.