Your journey begins as you board your flight to Bogotá. Upon arrival, you will be met by your Classic Escapes representative and escorted to your hotel.
Bogotá is Colombia’s capital and largest city with a population of approximately eight million people. It is a sophisticated cosmopolitan center and has become an epicenter of business, politics and entertainment. It has been transforming itself into a beautiful tourist destination and welcoming city. Bogotá has a thriving nightlife, superb al fresco dining and bar culture as well as international shopping.
Your home for the next two nights is the Hotel Cité, perfectly located in the heart of one of Bogotá’s most exclusive neighborhoods. The hotel’s high-design ambiance complemented by some of the best park, city and mountain views in the city, combine to create a truly unique guest experience. Guest rooms offer the full complement of amenities, including flat-screen televisions and complimentary Wi-Fi access. The hotel’s heated rooftop pool offers breathtaking views of the Bogotá cityscape and Andes Mountains. Overnight at HOTEL CITÉ. http://www.citehotel.com/default-en.html
Your day begins with a panoramic view of the city and the vast plateau of the northern area of Bogotá. You will arrive at the small town of Zipaquirá where you will take an underground tour to discover the famous Salt Cathedral, to experience the extraordinary architecture and engineering of this remarkable underground mine. This cathedral was carved inside an active salt mine formed 250 million years ago, under the Halite Mountains. Here you will find 14 small chapels that represent the Stations of the Cross and Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, a sanctuary and a main cathedral. Although this is a popular tourist destination to be visited, this is also a place of pilgrimage for the local community.
Afterwards explore the town of Zipaquirá, founded in 1600 and still preserves its colonial heritage. Stop at the main square, where you will find whitewashed houses decorated with olive-green trim and base, as well as the most important municipal buildings.
Continue to the well preserved historical colonial quarter of La Candelaria. Steeped in history, this area is a must for photographers with its splendid colonial architecture. Walk through the streets permeating with the heady atmosphere of the past, as revealed by the library of Luis Angel Arango and down to the prominent Plaza de Bolivar, the heart of Bogotá, where locals and visitors mingle amongst the magnificent and foreboding structures. Discover the history of this old part of the city by visiting the Cathedral, Congress Palace, Cardinal’s Palace, colonial churches of El Sagrario and San Agustin, Independence House, Palace of Justice and City Hall which are all located in this impressive square.
Get ready to be awed at the “Museo del Oro”, the most important gold museum in the world and a ‘must see’ when traveling to Bogotá. This museum displays one of the largest collections of pre-Colombian gold. Galleries on three levels display exquisitely crafted pieces dating back nearly 2,500 years. Visit the vault-like room on the top floor where the most treasured pieces are displayed, as well as the Offering Room, where visitors enter a black circular area that is gradually illuminated with indigenous music playing in the background; the light begins to dawn, and finally a remarkable display of the gold collection is discovered.
The tour then continues to “Museo de Botero”, housed in a renovated colonial mansion. The works on display are all donated by Fernando Botero, Colombia’s most famous contemporary artist. Around 120 pieces of his own work are displayed at the museum including his famous sculptures, paintings and drawings. His work is well-known for the ‘proportionally exaggerated’ fat figures. In addition to his work, his personal collection by Picasso, Renoir, Dalí, Degas, Chagall, Matisse, Monet and Giacometti are also exhibited Return to your hotel in the late afternoon and enjoy your evening at leisure. Overnight at Overnight at HOTEL CITÉ.
Transfer to the airport this morning for your flight to Pereira, the capital city of the region of Risaralda. Located in western Colombia in the foothills of the Andes, this area is referred to as the Coffee Triangle which includes Caldas, Quindio and Risaralda and is Colombia’s principal coffee-growing area. Its spectacular natural beauty makes it one of the most beautiful destinations to visit combining lush green valleys, exotic wildlife and balmy climate. This is the perfect place to unwind and relax, while you sit back and enjoy the freshest coffee you’ll ever taste.
Your tour today, begins with a visit to Combia Coffee Farm, located just outside of Armenia in the town of Calarcá. You will learn how the 4 basic elements – earth, wind, water and fire – contribute to the growth and production of coffee.
The tour starts with an instructional demonstration of basket weaving, which guests will be able to attempt under the guidance of an artisan. Afterwards, you will be walked through the process of growing and producing coffee, from the agricultural considerations of plant growth to the harvesting and selection process of fully developed beans. To complete the tour, you will be shown the process of creating ceramic coffee cups and will be served the coffee, complete with latte art.
For the next two nights you will stay at the Hotel Boutique Sazagua, located in the heart of the coffee cultural landscape. Its name pays homage to the Quimbaya civilization that inhabited the region. This intimate boutique hotel evokes the old coffee houses of fiefs and recreates their environments with wooden structures, spacious corridors, colonial flooring, roof tiles, bright colors, light and nature. The eclectic decor with antique furniture, plus a select collection of art, creates a captivating atmosphere of home comfort, refinement, friendly service and a personal touch in every detail. Sazagua has a fine restaurant allowing you to enjoy an innovative and contemporary cuisine that combines traditional and international dishes. Its spectacular garden with beautiful collections of palms and tropical plants attract a variety of birds in the region, and its beautiful and unique spa which includes a sauna, Jacuzzi, pool and a selection of treatment services is built with large river rocks, making it a treat for the senses. Luxurious rooms offer a perfect combination of tranquility and design with modern amenities including LCD TV, Internet access and in-room safe. Overnight at HOTEL SAZAGUA. http://www.sazagua.com/en-us/
Enjoy breakfast and venture off for a full day visit to the beautiful Cocora Valley, located in the department of Quindío. This majestic valley is home to the wax palm, Colombia’s national tree and the tallest variety of palm tree in the world. These palms can measure up to 190 feet tall and live more than 120 years. You will be amazed by the natural beauty and diversity of fauna and flora that you’ll encounter throughout the valley. On arrival you will be welcomed with a typical cocktail called “canelazo”. Afterwards you will visit the misty forest to learn about the importance of protecting and conserving this beautiful ecosystem.
Your day continues with the “Ritual de la Palma”, a way to help preserve the wax palms. Visitors from around the world have helped plant future wax palms at the park, and you will also be able to grow your own palm tree for eternity.
Next, travel to the town of Salento in the typical “jeepaos”, the most common form of transportation when traveling to Salento. Founded in 1842, Salento was one of the first settlements in the Quindío state, which until today still preserves its colonial bahareque architecture. Salento’s centuries old buildings are awash in harmonious color, especially along Calle Real, the main street lined end to end with restaurants, bars, handicraft shops and souvenir stores. Enjoy a lunch of fresh trout from the region before returning to your hotel for an afternoon at leisure. Overnight at HOTEL SAZAGUA.
Transfer to the airport for your short flight to Cartagena. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel for the next three nights.
With its breathtaking colonial architecture, horse-drawn carriages and narrow, cobbled streets, the city of Cartagena de Indias is one of the most exciting destinations in Colombia. This Caribbean colonial jewel, founded in 1533, was the first Spanish colony on the South American mainland and one of the main ports for the Spanish fleet which turned the city into an important center of trade in the 16th century. Having been declared a cultural heritage site by UNESCO in 1984, it is a city full of history which has been an inspiration for artists, writers, historians and musicians. This vibrant and colorful city throughout the years has enchanted tourists with its fairytale charms that invite people to linger and explore the city for days.
This afternoon you are in for a special treat as you embark on a twohour walking tour through the inner walled section of the city. Enjoy this delicious and colorful experience as you will be able to taste some of the local flavors of the city and learn about its culture. Discover different sites and people from the colonial city, with whom the local residents relate on a daily basis as they pass by and stop for breakfast, lunch, dinner or typical snacks. Featuring seven authentic food stops with a selection of delicious tastings, you’ll get to escape the crowds and taste the best of what the city has to offer. Along the way, you’ll be entertained with stories and insights into Cartagena’s culture and history.
Your home for the next two nights will be the Bastión Luxury Hotel. This lovely boutique hotel offers the charm of old Cartagena houses with modern comfort. Rooms are contemporary with colonial touches and offer a flat screen TV and a minibar. The hotel has an elegant restaurant, lounge, fitness center with Jacuzzi and a rooftop pool offering beautiful views of the city. Overnight at BASTIÓN LUXURY HOTEL. http://www.ghlhoteles.com/hotel/bastion-luxury-hotel/57
Begin your morning with a visit to the “Convento de la Popa”, where the city’s highest point is located and you can enjoy the best view of this beautiful city. The convent was built in the 17th century by the Augustinian Monks. Initially it was just a small wooden chapel, but later it was replaced by a strong construction which still remains.
Continue with a visit to the “Castillo de San Felipe”. This castle was built by the Spaniards in the 1600s and it is the greatest and strongest fortress ever built in a Spanish colony. Located at the top of San Lázaro hill, its purpose was to protect and guard the city’s landward side from any attack or invasion. This fortress provides a complex system of tunnels connected with strategic points to distribute provisions and facilitate a possible evacuation. Additionally, the tunnel’s architecture was built so that any noise would echo along them, in order to make internal communications easier and hear even the slightest sound of the enemies approaching.
Afterwards, embark on a walk through “Las Bóvedas.” These 23 vaults were built in the 18th century and they are considered the last major colonial construction made within the city walls for military purposes. The vaults were used as storerooms for munitions and provisions by the Spaniards, and later on, they became jail cells. Nowadays, they are used as craft markets where you can find handicrafts, antiques, galleries, jewelry, clothing and souvenirs, among other things.
Finally, you will visit the “Iglesia y Convento San Pedro de Claver.” This convent was founded in the early 17th century by San Ignacio de Loyola. The name of the church was given in honor to San Pedro Claver, a Jesuit priest who spent his life ministering to the enslaved people brought from Africa. This baroque church has an imposing stone facade and inside are fine stained-glass windows and a high altar made of Italian marble. You will also find a beautiful cloister surrounded with trees, a museum and the place where San Pedro Claver lived and died. Overnight at BASTIÓN LUXURY HOTEL.
The Rosario Islands are located about 30 miles away from Cartagena and make up an archipelago formed by coral reefs with small white sand beaches, and clear Caribbean waters. These small islands have been protected by the authorities since 1977, when they were declared a National Park. The park’s coral reefs, mangrove habitats and lagoons support more than 1,300 different species in nearly 500 square miles.
Your day begins as you are transferred to a local port to board your boat to Majagua Island. The ride takes approximately an hour and upon arrival, the day is yours to do as you wish. Activities include lounging on the beach, a dive course among the coral reefs, or taking advantage of a local spa for a relaxing massage. Lunch, including local favorites like fish and plantains, is included.
In the afternoon, return to Cartagena and savor one last night in this enchanting country. Overnight at BASTIÓN LUXURY HOTEL.
Time to return to the USA today. You will be transferred to the airport for your return flight home. Sadly it is now time to
say “adios” to beautiful Colombia.
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