Colombia – Colonial History
Arrive at El Dorado International Airport, Bogotá. Met and greeted by tour guide and transferred to the selected hotel for checking-in.
Bogotá is a modern fast growing city and one of Latin America's urban highlights with a thriving nightlife, superb dining and al fresco café and bar culture; yet none of the traditions are lost from its graceful churches, excellent museums to its plazas and urban parks.
Breakfast and transfer to the well preserved historical colonial quarter of La Candelaria. There will be an opportunity for photographs at Plaza de Bolivar, the main square of Bogotá. The Cathedral, the Congress Palace, the Cardinal's Palace, the colonial church of El Sagrario, the House of Independence, the Palace of Justice and the City Hall are located here.
After visit the famous and 'must see' Gold Museum, where the world's greatest collection of pre-Hispanic Indian gold crafts is displayed. Next visit the FERNANDO BOTERO Museum which contains paintings and sculptures of this famous contemporary Colombian artist.
NOTE: The Gold Museum is closed on Mondays and the Botero Museum is closed on Tuesdays.
Later, driven through the northern residential area of the city and through the fertile plateau to the small colonial town of Cajicá, where a short stop will be made at the main plaza. Lunch included. After a hearty lunch the tour continues to the town of Zipaquirá famous for its underground salt cathedral. Experience this extraordinary architecture where the Stations of the Cross and three naves are eerily illuminated along with other sculptures and cavernous pools; all hewn from the salt mine tunnels under the Halite Mountains. Though a popular tourist destination it is still a place of pilgrimage for the local community.
Return and overnight in Bogotá.
The tour begins northward through the plateau of Bogotá, taking in magnificent mountain scenery and completes the journey at Puente de Boyacá. This is where Simon Bolivar defeated the Spanish forces and assured the Independence of Colombia in 1819. After this visit a secondary road winds its way to Samacá with stunning landscapes and beautiful views which is on route to Villa de Leyva. On arrival in Villa de Leyva, transfer to POSADA DE SAN ANTONIO ****, the accommodation for the stay here. The afternoon is dedicated to a walking tour of Villa de Leyva, a colonial town founded in 1572. A national monument, the town has kept its grand colonial charm despite the march of time and attrition.
Enjoy the quiet surroundings and solitude of its streets and the easygoing life of its friendly inhabitants. All together a relaxing setting that takes the visitor back to another era. Overnight.
American breakfast at the hotel included. If in Villa de Leyva on a Saturday, a visit to the local market will be arranged. At midmorning, depart hotel to visit El Fósil Museum where an impressive complete 120 million year old Kronosaurus queenslandicus fossil is on exhibition. The tour continues to Ecce Homo Monastery located in the desert area of La Candelaria. Return to Villa de Leyva followed by an afternoon visit to the nearby town of Ráquira, famous for its pottery and colony of artisans. Overnight.
Early breakfast followed by trip to Barichara via San Gil where a visit to Park "El Gallineral" with its lush vegetation including the ancient trees with its fronds like silvery beards dangling from its branches. Time for lunch, not included, and then transfer to the colonial town of Barichara and accommodation at the selected hotel. Afterwards, a lovely walking tour around the town will be organized. Overnight at chosen hotel.
Breakfast and morning to explore the treasures of the town of Barichara, not only its colonial architecture but also the many artisan workshops where quality local products and handicrafts are manufactured, such as intricate interlaced sisal bags and paper; a small cigar factory which stands up to Cuban quality and a lamp and furniture factory that uses un-endangered wood from local forests.
In afternoon there will be a walk, approximately 8 km (5 mi) along a stone path constructed in 1840 to the village of Guane for a visit to the paleontological museum. The museum keeps an interesting collection of relics from the ancient Guane Indian community and fossils discovered in the valley of the river Suárez.
Time for lunch, not included in the tour, and then followed by a drive to a location near Charalá to visit the spectacular 180 m (600 ft) waterfall of Juan Curí. To reach the waterfall a walk through the forest for approximately 30 minutes is necessary, after which there is an opportunity to enjoy a refreshing shower in the natural pool and relax on the boulders whilst admiring the scenery of the forest. Return to Barichara and overnight.
360 degree view is truly magnificent of the expansive undulating landscape with paragliders riding the thermals high above the terrain, and deep gorges bathed in tropical greens and blues. The tour then continues on a drive to Girón, another lovely jewel of a colonial town, just on the outskirts of Bucaramanga, the capital of Santander Department. Overnight close to Girón at HOTEL SAN JUAN***.
Breakfast and early morning transfer to the airport for the flight to Cartagena. Met and greeted by the guide and transfer to the selected hotel.
Cartagena is truly a highlight of Colombia. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage site the city has an wealth of character that will capture any traveller's senses, from its well preserved colonial architecture, romantic atmosphere, vibrant flora, balmy temperature, excellent cuisine and amazing sunsets over the Caribbean to its warm and inviting people. It was this alluring setting that fueled the imaginative powers of Gabriel García Márquez to write 'Love in a time of Cholera'.
Breakfast and a tour to the most important monuments of the city will follow lunch.