Tailor-Made Holiday

Colombia - Darien Gap, Caribbean Coast & Medellin

Discover previously hidden parts of Colombia - tropical jungles & Carribean communities

14 days

from £3,750pp

A holiday idea to celebrate President Santos being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; as the President's efforts to bring peace to Colombia are internationally recognised, parts of the country that were previously off-limits are now opening up to adventurous travellers.

  • Trek in the notorious Darien Gap – one of the world’s least visited jungles forming the border between Colombia and Panama
  • Take a guided tour of the infamous sites and neighbourhoods of Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel
  • Visit the Caribbean communities of Capurgana and Sapzurro, accessible by boat
  • Take to bikes and explore Bogota and experience the spirit of ‘Ciclovia’

While the people of Colombia recently rejected a peace deal between the government and FARC, the fact that the two parties are seeking reconciliation is a positive sign for tourism in the country. Already, areas previously considered off limits to tourism, are opening up. Places like Capurgana on the border with Panama where one can snorkel off pristine beaches, trek through the wild jungle of the Darien Gap and step across "unofficially" into Panama.

The legacy of Pablo Escobar

Before heading to the Caribbean visit the city of Medellin where one can take a guided Pablo Escobar tour to gain an insight into the brutal, uncompromising underworld of the drugs trade. While Medellin acknowledges its troubled past the city has invested millions into transforming the city, developing libraries, theme parks, botanical gardens and river side parks to improve the lives of both rich and poor.

the darien gap

Fly from Medellin to Acandi from where a horse and cart and speedboat are required to reach the isolated sea-side community of Capurgana. Here the culture has an Afro-Caribbean influence and due to its remote location the infrastructure is basic (there are no roads and no ATMs at time of writing). Coral reefs, uncrowded beaches and unspoilt nature walks are the best ways to spend time in and around Capurgana. It is also a starting point for trekking through the tropical forest of the Darien Gap, where South America meets Central America in a jungle with both mythical and notorious status.

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • International flights
  • Internal flights
  • All accommodation and meals as stated in the itinerary
  • All transfers

what is excluded

  • Gratuities

PLEASE NOTE THE ABOVE FLIGHT COST IS A SUGGESTED FROM PRICE. FLIGHT COSTS WILL BE CONFIRMED AT TIME OF BOOKING. ALL FLIGHTS ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Bogota overnight

Day 2

Afternoon visit to Cerro Monserrate
This afternoon travel with a guide to the cable car station for a ride to the top of Cerro Monserrate, the 3,152 metre high peak that towers over Bogotá. From the summit there are beautiful panoramic views of the city and surrounding Andean mountains. Sitting atop the peak is a 17th century church, containing a shrine dedicated to 'El Señor Caído'. Meaning 'The Fallen Lord'. This shrine earns its name from a 350-year-old sculpture of Jesus being taken off the cross.

Once a byword for crime and poverty, Bogota is rapidly developing into one of Latin America's most interesting and cosmopolitan capital cities.

Rivalling London for size, this sprawling metropolis is still fringed with shanty towns to the south. However, beautiful churches, engaging museums, cultural events and gastronomic experiences fill the centre of the city, while the cool mountain air and smattering of public parks make for a relaxed and genial atmosphere. The Baroque and Spanish colonial architecture and plazas of historic La Candelaria neighbourhood is one of Bogotá's big draws while the modern uptown zone is packed with restaurants, bars and cafes that buzz with a new generation of Rolos enjoying an era of peace and stability.


You will be staying at Hotel de La Opera, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

Full day Bogota Tour
First head to La Plaza de Mercado Paloquemao, one of the biggest and most recognised local markets in Bogotá, where all traditional produce and ingredients of Colombian cuisine can be found.
Continue with a walking tour through the historic centre of La Candelaria. This antiquated barrio is of great architectural and cultural heritage. Visit the Plaza de Bolivar, where a statue of the great liberator Simon Bolivar is located. This Plaza, originally called the Plaza Mayor, was used for civil and military purposes, as a marketplace, a bullring and a gallows. The visit continues with the Botero Museum, a colonial house exhibiting some of Fernando Botero´s works of art and pieces from his own personal collection that includes works by Picasso, Renoir, Dalí Matisse, Monet and Giacometti.
Next is the Gold Museum which has a permanent exhibition of some 32,000 pieces of gold, 20,000 stones, ceramics and textiles all precious to the Quimbaya, Calima, Tayrona, Sinu, Muisca, Tolima, Tumaco and Magdalena cultures.
A traditional lunch is included, after which you will continue north travelling on the Carrera 7, one of Bogotá’s principal Avenues (called the Vía Real del Comercio in colonial times) used as the main exit to the north to the salt mines.
The trip will end in Usaquén, a colonial district that was formerly a town in its own right but has now been absorbed by the city. Appreciate the atmospheres of a barrio that is slightly rural, colonial in style and at the same time modern. Take in the colonial plaza and wander through its narrow streets to find small boutiques, art galleries and restaurants.
Return to your hotel.


You will be staying at Hotel de La Opera, Bed & Breakfast

Day 4

Sunday bicycle tour of central Bogota
Every Sunday and public holiday, the Mayor of Bogota orders that the biggest streets and avenues in the city centre are closed to traffic between 7am and 2pm. Up to a million people regularly take this opportunity to explore a car-free city by foot, bicycle, skateboard and skates.

This "ciclovia" is a great Bogota tradition that was started by dissatisfied students in 1976 who staged a peaceful protest on bicycles in the city centre to reclaim public spaces from traffic congestion.

Transfer from your hotel to the bike rental office to begin your exploration of a car free city centre.


PM: Lunch at a local restaurant, maybe El Panoptico at the National Museum. Visit murals in downtown


You will be staying at Hotel de La Opera, Bed & Breakfast

Day 5

Fly Bogota to Medellin


When Marshal Jorge Robledo first set eyes on the Aburra Valley in 1541, even he - a conquistador of great vision, would not have imagined what this city, founded in 1616 would have become - a centre of industrial Colombia in the first instance and now declared as the most innovative city in the world.

Nestled at over 5,000ft above sea level, in the depths of a stunning Central Andes valley, Medellin quite rightly claims to be the city of eternal spring, with temperatures hovering at around 24 deg. C all year round, creating a perfect climate to enjoy one of Colombia's most vibrant nightlife scenes with great bars, restaurants and clubs.

One of the most surprising and interesting attractions however, are its various new-age projects that aim for social inclusion and equality that have transformed the lives of those living in the poorer neighbourhoods that hug the mountainsides. Medellin is definitely a city that is looking forwards, not back.


Lunch at a local restaurant and afternoon to explore.


You will be staying at Art Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 6

Pablo Escobar Half Day City Tour
Follow in the footsteps of Pablo Escobar. During the years of the Medellín-Cartel, the city of Medellin was one of the most dangerous cities in the world and the cartel's influence is still visible in the city.
Learn about the effects of drug traffick in Medellin. Back in the early 90s, when the hunt for Pablo Escobar took place, the head of Medellin's drug cartel was at his most powerful. Visit some of the emblematic sights of Pablo Escobar's life in Medellín. Start at his old house, which today is a ruin in one of the most fancy areas of the town.
Continue to the "Virgin of the murderers", where they prayed before every crime and learn why Pablo Escobar was so popular in the poorer neighborhoods.
Visit the former prison that was built for Escobar outside of Medellín before finishing the tour with a visit to his grave at the Monte Sacro Cemetary and understand why people still bring him flowers today.


Innovation Tour
Afternoon Innovation Tour: 2 - 6pm (includes lunch).

Focus on sites which have transformed Medellin to the innovative city that it is today. Visits include:

* Metro Cable - cable car system that has allowed members of poorer communities to have easy access to the city.
* External escalators - again, a method to mobilise large and isolated populations in the city's poorer communities.
* Parque Explora - massive investment project which transformed Medellin's very rough and dangerous city centre, now home to the municipal library, science exploration themed park and botanical garden, amongst other initiatives.
* River side parks - another massive multi-billion dollar investment project to rehabilitate the Medellin River and give back green spaces to citizens throughout the length of the Valle del Aburra.


You will be staying at Art Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 7

Full Day Santa Fe De Antioquia Tour
Drive out of Medellin across the Puente de Occidente, an engineering masterwork and one of the first suspension bridges in South America. It's a 75 minute drive to Santa Fe de Antioquia, which was founded in 1541 by Jorge Robledo and was the capital of Antioquia until the government moved to Medellin in 1826. The spirit of Spain is still palpable in the narrow streets and whitewashed buildings.

Visit Santa Barbara Church, Museum of Liturgical Art, the Cathedral and Juan del Corral Museum.

Lunch is included, after which return to Medellin via the wonderfully preserved town of Jeronimo with its beautiful church and fine examples of architecture from both Colonial and Republicaneers.


You will be staying at Art Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 8

Fly Medellin to Acandi

Travel by horse, cart and speedboat


Arrive in Acandi and transfer by horse and cart to the pier, then transfer to Capurgana by speed boat (40mins).


Isolated on the north-western extreme of Colombia, Capurgana is a joy to behold. From the moment you're greeted at Acandi airport by a cheerful horse and cart driver to when you're speeding along in a launch bouncing off the swell as you watch uninhabited beaches, enshrouded by hills covered in lush jungle rush by, you quickly realise that this place is worth coming to.

Afro-descendant communities welcome you to the stony, sandy (car-less) streets of Capurgana which lies looking out at a magnificent vista of Caribbean Sea.

Visitors are enveloped by the sleepy, slow way of life where there are walks along the coastline to local reserves, or short climbs through jungle to reach the golden sandy bay of nearby Sapzurro, or even a walk over the steps into Panama where more paradisaical beaches await - this certainly fits the bill as a Caribbean getaway.

Maybe most impressive, however, is that Capurgana lies nestled in the shadow of one of the world's great and most treacherous rainforests - the Darien - that runs unbroken and pristine into Panama and south to the Choco and Ecuador.

Overnight jungle treks await those willing to enter this stunning forest.


Arrive in Capurgana and walk to the hotel


Afternoon Coastal Walk
Afternoon coastal walk (30mins) to La Coquerita Reserve owned by Remberto the fisherman and his wife Sonia. Drink lemonade or Caribbean Flower drink, bathe in natural freshwater and seawater pools.

Return to Capurgana for some time at the beach and then onto the hotel to freshen up.

Dinner at Josefina's restaurant on the beach.


You will be staying at Lodge Mares Capurgana, Bed & Breakfast

Day 9

Birding and Nature Walk
An early morning start for a birding and nature walk to Sapzurro and La Diana waterfall, a 3.5 mile walk.

Arrive in Sapzurro and stop for drinks on the water front.


Panama & La Miel
This afternoon continue to Panama and La Miel, walking up stairs to a border crossing.

There will be a typical fish lunch in La Miel followed by some time for swimming in the sea.

Later this afternoon, transfer by speed boat to Capurgana (25mins) when the reminder of the afternoon and evening will be at leisure.

Dinner at local restaurant.


You will be staying at Lodge Mares Capurgana, Bed & Breakfast

Day 10

Hike to La Paloma Reserve
Today embark on a fairly strenuous group hike to La Paloma Reserve, located 8 miles away and traversing through humid lowland tropical forest of the Darien Gap. There will be the possibility of viewing some very special fauna along the way.

Eat a 'fiambre' lunch at a local farm before continuing the hike.

Spend the night at the reserve cabins, enjoy dinner and discuss the reserve, local flora and fauna. There will be a night-time river walk to go machete fishing.

(550m ascent taking approximately eight hours).


You will be staying at La Paloma Reserve Cabins, Full board

Day 11

Return to Capurgana
This morning start the descent back to Capurgana.

Lunch will be taken at a local farm, before continuing to the hotel. Afternoon and evening at leisure.


You will be staying at Lodge Mares Capurgana, Bed & Breakfast

Day 12

Day at leisure
Free day to relax or explore the surrounding area.


You will be staying at Lodge Mares Capurgana, Bed & Breakfast

Day 13

Drive from Capurgana to Acandi (Road Journey)


Transfer by boat from Capurgana to Acandi followed by a horse and cart journey to Acandi airport with a stop for coffee and snacks.

Fly Acandi to Medellin

Fly Medellin to Bogota

Fly Bogota to London overnight

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Hotel de La Opera

Hotel de La Opera

Hotel de la Opera is located in the historic centre of the Colombian capital, near attractions such as the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum), Teatro Colón and Palacio San Carlos....

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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