Colombia

Tailor-Made

Introduction

The only country in South America to have both an Atlantic and a Pacific coast, Colombia has a great cultural diversity, from Andean to Afro-Caribbean, and a topography that includes Amazon jungle in the south and long mountain ranges stretching up from Ecuador to the lowlands of the tropical northern coast.

 

Highlights Include;
Cartagena
Bogota Gold Museum
Zipaquira Salt Cathedral
Coffee Triangle
Tayrona National Park
Medellin Flower Festival

HIGHLIGHTS

OVERVIEW:
cartagena-colombia

One of Colombia’s colonial gems is the old Spanish fortress town of Cartagena, a World Heritage site only a 40 minute flight from the capital, Bogota. Once a lively Caribbean port that was often plundered by pirates for the Spanish gold held there, Cartagena today is famous for its walled Old Town where you can walk the narrow cobblestone streets, look at the monuments, churches and Spanish colonial buildings – the Palace of the Inquisition, the Clock Tower and the Castle of San Felipe de Barajas – and enjoy the warm breezes as you pass through the squares and plazas.

OVERVIEW:
coffee-plantaions-near-pereira-colombia

This region is a real surprise to many, especially for its impressive landscape and coffee farms. The higher elevation, cooler climate and rich volcanic soil of this area in the mountains of western Colombia determined it would become the cradle of Colombian coffee culture. It is seductively aromatic, with a laidback lifestyle, and aside from the chance to see, taste, and learn everything about the almighty bean, this region has also become a centre for great eco-activities – it must be all that caffeine!

OVERVIEW:
cocora-valley-nera-pereira-coffee-region-colombia

To prevent exploitation of the wax palm and the threat against the endemic species dependent on the palm, mainly due to the celebrations of Palm Sunday, the government of Belisario Betancur proposed the creation of a wildlife sanctuary and the preservation of the wax palm as the national symbol of Colombia. Law 61 of 1985 was ratified on 16 September 1985.

OVERVIEW:
bogota-gld-museum-museo-del-oro-colombia

The Bogota Gold Museum is a must for anyone visiting Colombia (Bogota).  Known locally as the Museo del Oro it is one of the finest museums in all of South America.  The museum is beautifully laid out with over 55,000 objects displayed over three floors.  Exhibits are from the major pre-hispanic cultures of Colombia, with the oldest dating back to the Muiscas between 1200 and 1500 B.C.  Renovated and expanded in 2008 each exhibit is labelled in English and you’ll need at least an hour to discover its many wonders.

You’ll fin winged fish, ornately decorated figures, armbands and breastplates on display here.  A golden Muisca Raft is one of the highlights of the museum. Discovered in 1886 in a Colombian cave.  The piece depicts a local chieftain standing on a raft and surrounded by priests and oarsmen. The image recalls the ceremony recounted in the legend of El Dorado in which a new chieftain would sail with important members of the community to the middle of  Lake Guatavita to leave gold offerings to an underwater-dwelling god, tossing the precious metal into the water.

OVERVIEW:
tayrona-np-santa-marta-colombia

In the far north-west of Colombia, Santa Marta is the gateway to Tayrona National Park.  The park contains some of the most lovely and undiscovered beaches of the Caribbean, and there are archaeological sites of the pre-Hispanic Tayrona Indians that went unnoticed by the Spanish colonisers for centuries. Much of the area was once the Indians’ territory and, of the number of archaeological sites found, El Pueblito (Chairama in Tayrona Indian language) is the most important. Built on 250 terraces, it is a well-preserved hillside village that provides a good impression of the lives of the Tayrona people, and the short jungle trek to reach it is equally spectacular. This was once one of their largest settlements with around 2000 inhabitants living there between 450 and 1600 AD.

OVERVIEW:
colombian-siletero-medellin

Medellin is all too often remembered because of one of it’s past inhabitants – Pablo Escobar and the Medellin drug cartel he ran.  Colombia and Medellin have moved forward such a very long way since the days of the cartels and The FARC (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia).  In simple terms the government took back control of the country in 2002.  More recently FARC has signed an agreement to cease all hostilities, and the reality is Colombia has been safe for travel for more than a decade.

Medellin is incredibly clean, has a wonderful cable car and metro train system and has a pleasant year-round climate, it’s inhabitants are very proud of their city.  The biggest event in Medellin is the famous “Feria de las Flores” (Flower Festival) when many hundreds of rural campesinos descend on the city streets to join the Parade of the Silleteros. This remarkable spectacle sees men and women of all ages carrying on their backs huge, heavy and stunningly intricate displays of flowers arranged on extravagant 2-metre disks called ‘silletas’. The story goes that the wooden silletas were once used by slaves who were forced to carry rich people on their backs up and down the city’s surrounding mountains – but now the proud country folk carry only flowers.

Officially opening the festival is another of the largest and most popular events, the ‘cabalgata’, a 3-hour parade that features more than 6,500 locals on horseback and begins dramatically with fireworks in Colombia’s colours of red, yellow, and blue filling the sky.

EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCES

Flower Festival – Medellin, Colombia – August
flower-festival-medellin-colombia

A city known for its pleasant year-round climate, Medellin’s biggest event is the famous “Feria de las Flores” when many hundreds of rural campesinos descend on the city streets to join the Parade of the Silleteros. This remarkable spectacle sees men and women of all ages carrying on their backs huge, heavy and stunningly intricate displays of flowers arranged on extravagant 2-metre disks called ‘silletas’. The story goes that the wooden silletas were once used by slaves who were forced to carry rich people on their backs up and down the city’s surrounding mountains – but now the proud country folk carry only flowers.

Started in 1957 and referred to simply as “The Flower Party”, the original festival lasted only 5 days. Today the silleteros’ parade is the crowning event of what has become a 10-day festival with many other events including classic and antique car parades, folk music concerts, and an exposition of birds, exotic flowers and orchids (the national flower). Officially opening the festival is another of the largest and most popular events, the ‘cabalgata’, a 3-hour parade that features more than 6,500 locals on horseback and begins dramatically with fireworks in Colombia’s colours of red, yellow, and blue filling the sky.

A massive influx of tourists arrives from all over the world to witness this multi-day event and the city becomes a profusion of sound and colour, its balconies, terraces, gardens, and fences bedecked with flowers and flags.

The Coffee Triangle
cocora-valley-nera-pereira-coffee-region-colombia

A real surprise to many, especially for its impressive landscape and coffee farms. The higher elevation, cooler climate and rich volcanic soil of this area in the mountains of western Colombia determined it would become the cradle of Colombian coffee culture. There are so many delightful places to visit and things to do – among our favourites are:

A visit to the lush Valle de Cocora, its perpetually mist-covered hills scattered with towering wax palms (Palma de Cera), Colombia’s national tree that grows to 50 metres and more.
A stroll around Salento, a typical paisa (native Colombian) village, lovely and quiet, enjoying the brightly coloured Spanish colonial buildings, beautiful handcrafts shops and friendly people.
And, for an interesting insight into coffee production, a visit to the beautiful Hacienda San Alberto farm to learn all about the process from start to finish, topping it off with a ‘sensory tasting experience’ of delicious premium high mountain coffee.

A SELECTION OF ACCOMMODATION

Luxury

casa-san-agustin-premium-cartagena-colombia

Hotel Casa San Agustin

Cartagena, Colombia

Top class design and the finest facilities. Usually located in a spectacular setting it may be an exclusive hotel in a meticulously restored historic building, or recognised as the leading property of an international chain.

Boutique

ananda-luxury-boutque-hotel-cartagena-colombia

Ananda Hotel Boutique

Cartagena, Colombia

A perfect alternative to the big brand hotels:
exclusive and independently-owned properties with a smaller number of rooms and highly personalised services.

First Class

hotel-de-la-opera-courtyard-bogota-old-town-colombia

Hotel De La Opera

Bogota, Colombia

High quality with an excellent room standard, a full range of facilities and first-rate service; may be a new property or regularly refurbished with attention to ongoing maintenance.

Hacienda

hacienda-san-jose-near-pereira-coffee-region-colombia

Hacienda San Jose

Pereira, Colombia

Haciendas ‘estates’ are found across much of South America and may have been plantations, cattle or sheep ranches. Most date from the 18th & 19th centuries and offer guests an opportunity to glimpse the world of the land barons and their famed horsemen. These beautiful colonial residences, set in extensive gardens or on wide farmland, retain their original style and ambiance, with high beamed ceilings, open fireplaces, and spacious rooms filled with antique furnishings.

Lodges

ecohabs-tayrona-national-park-near-santa-marta-colombia

Ecohabs Tayrona

Tayrona National Park Santa Marta, Colombia

In the rainforests and jungles of Colombia choose from a small number of eco-lodges, thatched cabañas overlooking the Caribbean Sea location, to remote and rustic cottages offering a truly authentic experience. Most lodges are eco-conscious and dedicated to conservation management and preservation of their environment.

Luxury/Modern

b-o-g-hotel-bogota-roof-top-pool-colombia

B.O.G

Bogota, Colombia

Bogota and Cartagena, in particular, have many fine new build hotels that are exclusive, sophisticated and luxurious.  These properties cater for your every need and will be a surprise to many visitors with their very high standards.

Tourist-superior and tourist class accommodation is also available. For more information on the accommodation we offer, call 1300 784 794 or email contact@satc.com.au.

SAMPLE ITINERARIES

Planning Your Trip

The Booking Process

South America Travel Centre can look after all aspects of your holiday, including flights and travel insurance.

We start by asking you what your interests are and where you are interested in, when, for how long, what standard and style of accommodation (it can be a combination – for example you may wish to celebrate a special occasion while you’re away by staying in a very special property or place). Once we have a good understanding of just what you’re looking for, we can begin to create a holiday to meet your time and budget requirements and, most importantly, that will deliver interest and enjoyment in an experience to exceed your expectations.

Please book early. Many of the hotels, lodges and cruise vessels we recommend are relatively small. For example, the Hacienda San Jose accommodates just 20 guests. This exclusivity combined with high demand means they can be booked out up to 6-8 months in advance.

If you’re thinking of travelling during any major holidays like Christmas, New Year and Easter, or during any festivals, our advice is simply to book as early as you can, even 12 months or more, and we can add flights as soon as they become available.

Visa and Health Information

Australian citizens do not require a visa to enter Colombia. You will need to hold a valid passport and have a return ticket when you arrival.

It is strongly recommended that all travellers to Colombia be vaccinated for yellow fever before commencing their trip.

Vaccinations are advised for common diseases like Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid as well as Influenza.  There are no compulsory vaccinations.

We advise you to consult a Travel Doctor specialist prior to departure to assess any health risks in relation to your medical history and travel plans.

Flight Information

We have access to a wide range of airfares and have excellent relationships with our key airline partners. Our two main airline partners in Latin America are LATAM Airlines, QANTAS Airlines and Air New Zealand. We can also arrange internal flights for you within Latin America.

Irrespective of whether you book directly with us or with your preferred travel agent, we’ll request the details of all of your fights to ensure if there are any changes your transfers and other arrangements are adjusted accordingly.

The Best Time to Go

You can visit Colombia all year-round. The best time is from December to April

cartagena-rainfall
cartagena-temperature

Inspiration

  • There are a growing number of excellent properties in South America that are now part of ‘Relais & Chateaux’. We thought we’d tell you a little about some of the properties our guests regularly experience and thoroughly enjoy....

  • Colombia’s Caribbean coastline is home to a city that has seen the worst of history. Thankfully, as Cam Cope, travel writer for Get Lost Magazine, discovers, it now seems destined for a far more creative future. 'Even from two blocks away I can tell it’s live salsa. I’m on Calle de Media Luna, the street where Africans in chains were once marched straight from the slave ships.'...

  • Andrew Bain, travel journalist for the Traveller, tells us of his experiences in trying to find a decent cup of coffee in Colombia. 'In Colombia, coffee is a precious resource. An industry that employs half a million people, it accounts for approximately 16 per cent of the country’s GDP.'...

Client Reviews

We will tailor the perfect holiday to suit your needs.

We will tailor the perfect holiday to suit your needs.

START CREATING MY ITINERARY

It only takes four quick steps to start your journey

STEP 1: WHICH COUNTRIES >
Please tick the country or countries you wish to discover

South America

Argentina

Bolivia

Brazil

Chile

Colombia

Ecuador

Galapagos

Guyana

Peru

Uruguay

Venezuela

Antarctica

Central America

Guatemala

Panama

Costa-Rica

Mexico

Cuba

STEP 2: ACCOMMODATION >

ACCOMMODATION

Luxury

Pueblo first class

Casa Turquesa Tourist Superior

colca-lodge-Tourist-class

awasi-room-2

Mashpi-Lodge

Ship-Galapagos

Hacienda-Zuleta

STEP 3: YOUR INTERESTS >
History Art

Religions and Festivals

Bird-watching

wildlife 1

Trekking

Horse Rriding Explora

Bike Riding

Photography-1

Winery

cooking classes

Cruising

Scuba

OTHER

STEP 4: YOUR DETAILS

About You

Name:
Em
Phone:
Country:
 

 

Departure Date

Return Date