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Signature Colombia: Culture and coffee

11 days from £1825pp

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Signature Colombia: Culture and coffee:
Trip Dossier

Colombia is one of Latin America's most distinctive and until recently misrepresented countries, and is possibly the continent's most beautiful. This fascinating private journey explores a few of Colombia's highlights. Included are the rolling hills of coffee country outside the energetic capital Bogotá, and the white coral Rosario Islands off the Caribbean coast, visited from the seductive port of Cartagena

Colombia's distinct and heady mixture of Hispanic, colonial, indigenous and African influences has left its mark on the food, music, architecture and culture; its vibrancy, welcoming people and extraordinary natural and architectural features make this an unusual and captivating journey.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Bogotá and transfer to hotel.

Day 2

City tour with Gold Museum.

Day 3

Drive to Villa de Leyva via Zipaquirá salt cathedral.

Day 4

Discover Villa de Leyva and its surroundings, including el Fosil.

Day 5

Fly and drive to the coffee region.

Days 6-7

Excursions from the coffee farm.

Day 8

Drive to Salento and Filandia

Day 9

Walking tour of Cartagena.

Day 10

Excursion to the Rosario Islands.

Day 11

Transfer to the airport for flight home.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Bogotá and transfer to hotel.
You’ll be met at the airport and escorted to your hotel in the capital. Bogotá is a city of sparkling prosperity, oppressive poverty, and everything in between. Its centre is awash with splendid colonial churches, fascinating museums, futuristic architecture and lively universities. Its population is diverse and engaging and its cultural life vibrant and seductive. 

Day 2

City tour with Gold Museum.
On your first full day there is a guided exploration of the city with a walking tour of the historic core, the colonial Candelaria colonial district.

Set off from the Plaza de Bolivar, where the Cathedral and Congress buildings are located, continue on foot through the steep colonial streets towards the Gold Museum for a visit to this extraordinary, well-displayed collection of pre-Columbian artefacts housing more than 34,000 gold pieces. It’s arguably the most impressive museum of its kind in the world.

In the evening there's an ascent of the steep hill towering over Bogotá, with a white church at its peak. The path up is quiet throughout the week, but on Sundays city dwellers depart en masse to climb or take the funicular railway or cable car to visit this place of pilgrimage. From here, at 3,152m, you’ll have splendid views. You'll be driven to the cable-car/funicular railway station at the base of the mountain. Visit the church, the 14 stations of the Cross, handicraft and souvenir stands, and pause to enjoy the sunset. You have the opportunity to dine (at additional cost) in one of the two traditional restaurants. Take the cable car/funicular railway to return to the city.

Bogota Gold Museum

Day 3

Drive to Villa de Leyva via Zipaquirá salt cathedral.
3-4hrs’ drive from Bogotá, Villa de Leyva is a well-preserved colonial highland town steeped in history, popular among Colombian and foreign visitors alike and busy at weekends.

En route call in at Zipaquirá, home to a centuries-old salt mine, which is still functioning. Nearly 200m beneath the earth is an extraordinary, mysterious salt cathedral, its vast pillars and walls made from glistening salt. There are 14 stations of the cross sculpted by different Colombian artists.

During the week, you can wander alone through Villa de Leyva’s vast, cobbled main square, winding narrow streets lined with picturesque whitewashed houses bedecked with flowers. The little town sits in a hilly landscape peppered with the sites of pre-historic remains, some of which you can visit.

Villa de Leiva

Day 4

Discover Villa de Leyva and its surroundings, including el Fosil.
Head into the surrounding countryside and visit El Fósil, a 7m fossil of a marine dinosaur found in the area. Continue to the Dominican convent of Ecce Homo and the archaeological site of El Infiernito. An optional horse riding trip to a beautiful waterfall in the surrounding hills is also available.
Horse riding

Day 5

Fly and drive to the coffee region.
Drive back to Bogotá via the Boyacá Bridge, where Simon Bolívar and his troops won the most important battle against the Spanish, sealing Colombia’s independence. Fly onwards to Armenia in the coffee region on the western slopes of the Cordillera Central. It has a pleasant, warm climate, and lovely bucolic scenery; with a mountainous, lush, green landscape of shiny coffee bushes interspersed with enormous bamboo jungles and banana plants.

You spend a couple of days in this beautiful, relaxing region, with walking trails, horse riding opportunities, zip-line canopies and colourful flora and fauna and fresh coffee omnipresent throughout.
Coffee region Colombia

Days 6-7

Excursions from the coffee farm.

Spend time at one of the region’s very best coffee fincas and learn about the intricacies of coffee production, from the picking of the coffee cherries to the various stages of processing, sorting, grading, roasting and the final brewing of the beans. You’ll also visit the Quindio butterfly farm, whose vast glass butterfly house is home to over 50 different species, and wander around the botanical gardens whose orchid collection is particularly impressive.

Colombian chivas

Day 8

Drive to Salento and Filandia
Drive to Salento, a charming, traditional and picturesque village set in high in the Andes, its houses adorned with balconies bursting with flowers, and wonderful views of the Cordillera Central emerging from behind elegant colonial buildings.

Hike through the cloud forest to explore Valle de Cocora, a valley full of hundreds of wax palms, the only palm found at this altitude in the Andes and the national tree of Colombia. Follow a well-marked path up the valley and look out over the mountains' lush foothills, and the cultivated patchwork patterns made up of a dozen shades of green. Continue to Filandia, one of the most quintessential villages of the coffee region.


Day 9

Walking tour of Cartagena.
Transfer to Pereira airport and fly via Bogotá to Cartagena de Indias on the Caribbean coast. Founded in 1533, the city quickly blossomed to become the main Spanish port in the Caribbean, and a gateway to the north of the continent.

Treasure plundered from native inhabitants was stored here until the galleons could ship it back to Spain, and it therefore became a tempting target for pirates. In order to protect their booty, the Spanish constructed an elaborate system of ramparts, which encircle the town.

Today, the walled centre has changed very little, allowing a glimpse of 16th- and 17th century Spanish architecture and town planning. Enjoy the shade provided by the buildings in these labyrinthine, cobbled streets, and explore the monasteries, palaces, churches, plazas and imposing mansions whose balconies are heavy with flowers.

Beyond this, the city opens up: an eclectic and seductive mix of Caribbean and African influences produces a vibrant street life, with fruit stalls lining the roads and pulsating rhythms emerging from cars and houses. A guided tour will help you soak up the atmosphere of this unique city.


Day 10

Excursion to the Rosario Islands.
A full-day excursion takes you to the Rosario Islands, a group of some 30 offshore islets, with white, coral sand and dense mangrove vegetation.

Make your way independently (by foot or taxi) to the colonial hotel Santa Clara on Plaza San Diego in the old town. At the dock, continue by boat (sometimes choppy and bumpy, 1 hr) to the archipelago of El Rosario, 35km south of the Bay of Cartagena. 

The surrounding reefs have a huge variety of fauna, and the whole area has been declared a national park. Spend your time wallowing in the warm, turquoise waters, or sipping coconut milk from the husk beneath the shade of a palm tree.

Colombian Caribbean beach

Day 11

Transfer to the airport for flight home.

Essential information

Included exursions

• City tour with gold museum, Bogotá
• Zipaquirá salt cathedral
• El  Fósil and El Infiernito, Villa de Leyva
• Excursions from the coffee farm
• Walking tour of Cartagena
• Rosario islands, Cartagena


2 domestic flights (both 3.5 hours); 2 scenic road journeys. 


Here you will stay at small, mid-range, friendly hotels, colonial or modern in style with well-equipped rooms, private bathroom and heating or air-conditioning. In the coffee country you stay on a traditional coffee farm (finca).


Breakfast daily.


We carefully select our local partners, most of whom we have worked with for many years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Summary of nights

11 days, 10 nights: Bogotá 2; Villa de Leyva 2; coffee finca 3; Cartagena 3.

Included in the journey price

• Services of our team of experts in our London office 
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides
• All land and air transport within Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified
• Meals as specified
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees

Not included in the journey price

• International flights to Latin America.
• Tips and gratuities
• Meals other than specified
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
• Optional excursions


The unit of currency in Colombia is the Colombian peso.

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$45 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds. We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency, and possibly some travellers’ cheques, though these are gradually falling out of use (American Express are the most widely accepted). Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money. Never change money on the street.


Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. 

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.


Travel insurance is essential. 

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

Generally this holiday is suitable for most visitors, including families with children. Should you have a disability, please contact us.


The dry season in Colombia is from December until March and then June to September. Temperatures during this period average around 30°C, although are reasonably consistent throughout the year. Bogotá, and towns in the coffee growing region, because of their altitude, have a spring-like climate and can be chilly at night. Cartagena and the Caribbean coast are hot throughout the year, with the rainy seasons typically in April, May, October and November.


Several days are spent at high altitude (over 2.500m). You may notice the effect of high altitude; symptoms vary: most common are mild headaches and breathlessness. If you drink plenty of water and allow your body to acclimatise (don’t exert yourself or drink alcohol) in the first couple of days after arrival, you will minimise your chances of being adversely affected.

Please refer to our Briefing Dossier for further information.

Clothing and special equipment

Bring plenty of light cotton clothing and good, comfortable walking shoes. Some warm items and a good waterproof jacket or umbrella are also useful. We suggest that you plan to 'layer' your clothing; it is easier and more efficient to put on a couple of light layers than one thick jumper. Sandals are a good informal option for evenings. Protection against the sun (sunblock, sun hat) and mosquito repellent are essential and you should bring swimwear. 

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and can be hard to come by in Latin America.


Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements, including advice on yellow fever and malaria tablets.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.


Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins.  Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.
APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online.
This costs $14 per person. This must be done by you personally.
Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

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