“Colombia! Coffee, Culture, Caribbean”

The Tropical Awesome-Sauce of South America

June 15-22, 2017

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According to TripAdvisor, magical Colombia is now a major tourist hotspot where the dollar is so strong and the locals so friendly. The stellar hospitality of Colombians will have you at “hello”. Sandwiched between the Pacific and Caribbean, there’s incredible diversity of 300 beaches, dry deserts, snow-capped Andes to rainforests of the Amazon. Add in Spanish history with stunning colonial architecture and a spicy hot nightlife, you have a perfect vacation! Here is the land of jungles, gold and emeralds. Also coffee. Starbucks has nothing on Columbia’s Coffee Triangle! You’ll taste some of the world’s best brews and get educated at ‘coffee college’. In the Cocora Valley, we’ll ride Jeeps through coffee plantations and hike among the world’s tallest palms. Then we step back in time exploring the cobbled streets of charming Salento.

Overview

It all begins in bustling Bogota where contemporary meets colonial. So much to see in this vibrant capital from the beautiful old quarter to the superb Gold museum.  Then fly to Cartagena, queen of the Caribbean coast. So much beauty is preserved within its 11 miles of old stone walls, the entire Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The churches are amazing and so is the trendy Bocogrande, Colombia’s Miami Beach. Cruise to the Rosario Islands, a must see archipelago, to snorkel over coral reefs.

We made this adventure Large Fun. Imagine a canoe trip through mangrove tunnels to see local villages and putting on your dancing shoes for a lesson in salsa! Come smell the coffee, taste the empanadas and explore colorful mercados. There’s seriously good shopping here. June is the perfect time for sun and fun in a land of jungle that spills into the ocean. Don’t miss this AFS journey into a verdant wonderland filled with passion.

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Our Glorious Itinerary

Jun 15 – Arrive Bogota

Bien Venido Colombia! You will be welcomed at the airport and transferred to your hotel.

Check in to Morrison Hotel 84 for 2 nights: Pool, fitness, sauna, wifi, city center, 2 restaurants. Walking through the area you will find upscale shopping centers, the city´s most exclusive restaurants, boutiques of renowned designers, and an entire business and entertainment district that will make your stay in the city unforgettable.

Overnight: Morrison Hotel 84


Jun 16 – Bogota City Tour & Columbian Salsa Class

After breakfast we embark on a city tour. We begin by climbing to the top of Monserrate by cable car for breathtaking views. There is a fabulous church, cafes & shops up in the clouds. Next we visit ‘La Candeleria’ (historic downtown) with its magnificent churches, government palace and ‘Plaza Bolivar’. The spectacular Gold Museum will leave you spellbound with the world’s largest collection of gold pieces and pre-Hispanic Colombia art in metals. Colombia is famous for precious emeralds mined here for more than 4,000 years. We visit an emerald shop to learn about these special stones. If time permits continue on to Mercado de las Pulgas for great handicraft souvenirs. Also you may want to visit the famous Botero museum. This is the home of paragliding and we can arrange paragliding tour for those who may be interested.
 
This evening visit Galeria Café Libro for a delicious dinner and a salsa class! This isn’t your every-day salsa, Colombian salsa has its own unique style with fast footed steps while keeping the upper part of the body still. Your teachers are professionals of the dance academy of Paso Latino in Bogota, who also participate in international dance competition. This is the perfect place to learn how to move your feet and body to salsa music.

Overnight: Morrison Hotel 84 B, D


Jun 17 – Armenia & Coffee University

We fly to Armenia with cooler temps and higher elevation, located in coffee country. The Coffee Triangle of Colombia is THE place to experience the worlds’ best coffee.  The beautiful tropical region consists of 3 coffee areas: Pereira, Manizales and Armenia.

At Café San Alberto you’ll learn everything about the world of coffee on our Coffee University Plantation Tour. You’ll be transformed into coffee apostles in the gourmet brews. San Alberto has a particular taste and aroma due to the excellent climatic conditions located in Buena Vista with the cool winds of the Quindio valley. The entire process- from the bush to the finished cup is demonstrated on this unique tour experience. Your coffee experts will share their knowledge and reveal the secrets of planting, harvesting, washing and drying the coffee beans. Later you’ll take a coffee exam along with tastings to discover what makes award-winning coffee. At the end you’ll receive a certificate as a new Colombian Coffee Ambassador!

You’ll never forget the smell and taste of one of the world’s best coffees here. Take some home to brew for your friends and show off your new brew master skills.

Check into the coffee belts award winning eco-concious lodge. Rafting, ziplines, horses and hot springs. open air restaurants, bars, 3 pool, sauna, turkish bath, jacuzzis, fitness center and WIFI.

Overnight: Compastre las Camelias   B


Jun 18 – Valley of the Palms, Salento & Fly to Cartegena

This morning we board jeeps into the Valley of Cocora set in the foothills of mountains for stunning scenery. Colombia’s national tree is the Wax Palm which thrives in the high altitude here. Enjoy a hike and photograph palms trees over 200 feet tall that live 120 years.

Continue on to the charming colonial town of Salento, famous for its culinary delicacies like fried river trout and local liqueurs. It’s a great place to shop for unique handicrafts like ‘guadua’ (bottled gourds), bamboo crafts and leather goods. It’s a bohemian center for local artists and filled with art galleries.

Transfer to airport for our 1 ½ hour flight to fabulous Cartagena.

Welcome to Cartagena!

Check into Hotel Caribe your 5-star historical beachfront hotel in Bocagrande (‘Miami Beach’ of Columbia) with beautiful Spanish architecture facing the Caribbean Sea. Enjoy international cuisines at Pedro de Heredia Restaurant, sushi at Karibukai or outdoor dining barbecue and poolside bar.

Take a dip in the adult only swimming pool, have a designer cocktail at the Bolero Bar, relax on the Chill Out Terrace, catch up with WIFI or stroll the gorgeous grounds.
    
Overnight: Hotel Caribe B


Jun 19 – Cartagena City Tour & Mangroves Canoe Tour

At the core of this great city is the walled old town with 16th century plazas, cobbled streets and colorful colonial buildings. After breakfast we head out on a city tour beginning with 2 historical monuments outside the old city. San Felipe Barajas is a fortress to defend the city, the monastery and church of la Candeleria on the hill of de La Popa are outstanding examples of religious architecture and provide amazing views.

On our walking tour visit the neighborhood Getsamni. Head on to the historical center passing Torre de Roloj, Paseo de los Dulces, San Pedro Claver, the Inquisition Museum, Plaza Bolivar, Plaza Santo Domingo, Café del Mar and Plaza Santa Teresa. Enjoy strolling the charming alleys lined with impressive colonial buildings. See the castle of San Felipe, the Inquisition Palace and the historic Clock Tower. Cartagena de Indias is impressive with so much history in its walls, narrow cobbled streets and beautiful verdant parks.

In the afternoon, we depart the urban city center for a nature immersion by canoes on a cool mangrove tour. Mangroves are a key ecosystem they work as a natural barrier to protect the land from natural disasters and make a unique scenario to be in close contact with nature. In 10 wooden canoes are guided through the channels and tunnels formed by dense mangrove swamp forests at Cienaga de Juan Polo, making stops at small hideaways where the exuberant biodiversity is the protagonist.

Your guide will explain all about the flora, fauna and wonderful birds. Here you’ll find mainly families with African origin, that live off of fishing.  Great photo-op day!
   
Overnight: Hotel Caribe B


Jun 20 – Rosario Islands – Island San Pedro de Majagua

We spend the day in the UNESCO natural park of the Rosario Islands. The archipelago ISLAS DEL ROSARIO is comprised of 4633 sq. miles of water and ocean floor with 30 islands. Favored by Colombian locals and tourists alike - to take a break from the Cartagena hustle & bustle - these protected waters teem with troves of tropical fish and marine life, particularly dolphins. Take in the beautiful sun rays and iridescent water as you cruise to the alluring archipelago.

We dock at Island San Pedro de Majagua. Plunge into the crystal clear Caribbean waters; snorkel over coral reefs, sink your toes into the silken sands as you enjoy the refreshing shade of a palm tree, listening to the gentle lapping of the waves; treat your taste buds to a traditional lunch and visit a local aquarium to discover diverse marine life. Around 4:00 sail back to our hotel.

Explore the nightlife which begins at 10pm until dawn with great music and culinary venues.

Overnight: Hotel Caribe B, L


Jun 21 – Free Day & Farewell Dinner

We love to provide a leisure day as there is so much to do in Cartagena: food tours, cooking classes, paddle boarding, beach bumming, fishing, dance workshop, scuba and more.

Optional AFS Tour: Tortuno Volcano Mud Bath $55
We head out into a beautiful world of verdant forests and glittering lakes for panoramic views of the surroundings. The Tortuno tour is the most popular for visitors. Arrive at the volcano, a legendary natural landmark steeped in history and legend; according to local folklore, a priest sprinkled holy water over the molten lava of the volcano, transforming it into the therapeutic mud bath it is today.  Climb the wooden staircase to the summit of the 50-foot (15-meter) volcano, and then descend by ladder into the viscous depths below.  Float upon the dense mud, choosing to receive a personal massage from an on-site attendant. Rub the thick liquid into your skin to take advantage of its rejuvenating qualities, and then emerge to take a refreshing dip in a nearby lake. Rinse off and revitalize then relax during the journey back to your Cartagena hotel.   

Bid Adios to your fellow AFS travelers at a farewell dinner at the popular La Vitrola restaurant.

Overnight: Hotel Caribe B, D


Jun 22 – Depart Cartagena

Transfer to airport for your flight home.

 Morrison Hotel 84

Morrison Hotel 84

 

Hotel Las Camelias

HOTEL LAS CAMELIAS

 

Hotel Caribe

 

MOre CARIB

 

More Notes: 

The Trip Tips can always be found on the itinerary page. This tab is only visible to people who’ve booked, so you need to log in.  Updates and addendums will be emailed and added here.

Prepare to be thrilled by Colombia’s incredible diversity. Once a dangerous country, it’s now South Americas “comeback kid” hot on the tourist trail! Americans are now discovering a verdant wonderland with a vibrant culture.  It’s a perfect AFS Escape. See white sand Caribbean beaches, Spanish colonial villages, World Heritage Sites, uber-cool cities ad lush mountain scenery for pics of a lifetime. You’ll ride boats, jeeps, maybe paraglide and even get a degree from Coffee University on the world acclaimed brews. It’s Large Fun!

Recommended Optionals – Paragliding and hang-gliding are hugely popular in Bogota. Here it’s a blast over the mountains and city. We have the best outfitter http://parapenteenbogota.com/    On afternoon June 16, we can make a booking for 18 of you at just $145 (They have GoPro). I’ll remind you later and get a head count.

Free Time – Bogota: Your guide will provide suggestions outside of paragliding. Don’t know if you know artist Botero, (I love him!) try and visit the fabulous Botero Museum. http://www.banrepcultural.org/museo-botero .

Cartagena: You can do Chocolate Making Tour, Ceviche tour, bike tour, cooking class, private salsa lesson and more.  Evening – dine at Café Havana for spectacular live Salsa (book early there.)

Totumo Volcano Mud Baths: For adventure seekers to swim in crater of warm mud with a mud massage. It’s a hilarious swimming experience. Warning: You’ll either love it or hate it!  More details on this later. 

 


Activity Level:

2. I have no trouble walking and if necessary, can walk for 3+ miles. Uneven surfaces are not a problem. I do not need a cane or walking device.

Pricing

A $400 deposit will secure your space on first come basis. air to be presented later inTrip Tips.

Land price - $1595 + $240 for two internal domestic flights  

  • Bogota to Armenia
  • Armenia to Cartagena

Includes all services above in first class hotels, daily guided tours with entrance fees, meals as stated, A/C private coach, AFS trip leader. 

Not included – gratuities & optional.

Group Air:

International Air – Group Air Miami - Bogota - Cartagena - Miami 

Bogota on Avianca  Airlines -  $398 + $74 taxes

 

10 reasons to add Colombia to your travel bucket list

Colombia is home to some of the happiest people in the world and is becoming a major tourist destination. This incredible country has something to offer to everyone. Whether you are searching for sand and sun or seeking more of an adventure, like rock climbing or paragliding, Colombia’s got it. Culture, history, and dancing will surround you everywhere you go.

•    People – Everyone in Colombia is friendly and accepting of visitors. Many of the locals are quick to invite you onto the dance floor to teach you to salsa or share their favorite local authentic cuisine.
•    Beaches – Colombia has over 300 beaches spread over the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. No matter what you want to do on this beach vacation, you are sure to find it in Colombia
•    Scenery – You can visit one city or a number of different cities; either way you’ll be touched with the lush rainforests, beautiful coastlines, and rolling mountains. Simply put, where the jungle meets the open ocean.
•    Coffee – Coffee is a staple to the morning for most people. Now you can head out to where one of the most popular types of coffee is made! Colombia has the perfect weather conditions for growing coffee, and you can tour the facilities that produce this “morning must-have”.
•    Festivals – With such diversity, Colombia is home to some of the most colorful and important celebrations, such as Carnaval de Barranquilla, Festival de Blancos y Negros, Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro, and Feria de flores.
•    Food – Colombia hosts delicious and unique cuisine, which is difficult to find anywhere else in the world, so be sure to try a few delectable dishes while you are here! Some of the most famous soups include ajiaco, bandeja paisa, and sancocho. If you want a tasty snack, try arepas, tostadas de platanos, or empanadas. Be sure to try some of the best fruits you could ever want; there is a wide variety to choose from. Ask to try lulo, maracuya, or guanaba.
•    History & Culture – Step back in time as you walk the cobblestone streets and see the colonial architecture. Colombia is a country with a vast history, and you will see and feel it everywhere you go, as you wander through the streets. Cartagena, the first port city, was where the imported good and slaves first arrived.
•    Adventure – If you are looking to do something extreme, Colombia has it! For those who are into extreme sports, head to Bogota where you can paraglide from the mountain tops, or go on hikes, nature walks, or river rafting.
•    Nightlife – Colombia is known for its bustling nightlife, bars, clubs, and incredible entertainment. Stay up late to experience the dancing, games, and drinks that Colombians share.
•    Exchange Rate – The exchange rate between Colombia and the USA is very low right now, which makes flights, hotels, and sightseeing activities very reasonable. Travel to Colombia now to get more bang for your buck!

Options

Name
Description
Price
Gratuities

This 'option' is a required additional charge for this trip.

It is protocol to tip your drivers, porters and local guides - we have the absolute best. $14 pp per day should suffice as minimum and will be added to your final bill. We will give this to your GTL to disperse accordingly throughout. It’s easier this way. Tips are for local guides, drivers, group meals (except breakfast) and hotel porters that bring bags from bus to lobby.
$80.00
Group Air
International Group Air MIA-BOG-CRT-MIA 6/17 Miami to Bogota 6/22 Cartagena to Miami Exact flight information are in Trip Tips.
$472.00
Internal Air

This 'option' is a required additional charge for this trip.

Bogota to Armenia Armenia to Cartagena
$240.00
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Please review AFS Terms and Conditions as well as Heading Abroad with AFS. Group air - Airlines may add surcharges to offset fuel inflation or taxes. The total ticket cost is not final until we receive your final payment and are ticketed. If doing own air, airport transfer may or may not be included depending on your air schedule. Do not buy air until we either group air is set or we advise - dates can change! Itineraries are prepared often a year in advance. Though not likely, AFS and our suppliers reserve the right to change or modify such to meet local conditions. Although rare, hotels can change – all hotel rooms are run of the house. Our prices are based on current taxation structures. In case any revision in taxes, sudden fluctuation in currency levels, change in Visa fees or increase in fuel charges, we will amend our prices and inform you accordingly. Land price is based on minimum number of trip participants.