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Colombia Heritage Towns - Colonial trial

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Andrés Mesa

Colombia Tours

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Colombia Heritage Towns - Colonial trial

History, nature, culture and tradition are among the characteristics of Colombia’s heritage towns. These municipalities have supported sustainable development and enlisted the community’s participation in the work of preserving the country’s values—both tangible and intangible.

International arrival to Bogota

Bogotá introduction Vibrant and diverse Bogotá, the country’s capital and commercial back-bone. Colombia's bustling metropolis is a mix of old and new, trendy and traditional, stately and charming. Home to a dazzling array of museums, churches, colonial mansions and stately buildings Bogotá has a fine balance between its historical past and its movement in to the future. This city in central Colombia is located at an elevation of 2,650 m./8,660 ft. on a mountain rimmed plateau high in the Cordillera Oriental of the Andes Mountains. The city lies only 4°36' north of the equator. Bogotá was founded on the 6th of August 1538 by the Spanish conqueror Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada. The new city became the vice-regal capital of New Granada in 1717. It was captured by Simón Bolívar in 1819 and was the capital of the independent nation of Great Colombia (which included modern day Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela). It became the capital of New Granada (later renamed Colombia) in 1830 when Great Colombia was dissolved. The city initially grew slowly because Bogotanos (cachacos) wished to preserve their old culture. They cherished their churches, convents, homes (built in the ornate Spanish colonial style) and the National University, founded in 1573. They also prided themselves on speaking the purest Spanish in the New World. The city however expanded rapidly after 1940 as large numbers of rural Colombians migrated there in search of greater economic opportunities. It is sometimes called the Athens of South America. Bogotá is now Colombia's largest financial, political, and cultural centre. The National University of Colombia and many other universities located there make Bogotá the nation's chief educational centre. Bogotá is for many people the gateway city in to Colombia, and a fine start point for your Colombian adventure. Read more

Bogota/Morrison84/2Nights
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Full-day historic city tour of Bogota

Bogotá Paloquemao market, abundant with fresh food and flowers, offers a great insight into the life and customs of Bogotanos. The market is the second largest market in the city and one of the most important retailers in the country, where 750 merchants and a labyrinth of stands offer a large variety of fruit, vegetables, diary products, meats and flowers, one of Colombia’s biggest exports. You will do a tasting of some of the most exotic Colombian fruits before heading to La Candelaria. Then a short drive or interesting walk from the centre of the old town takes you to the base of the hill that leads up to the hill top view point and monastery of Monserrate. The summit can be reached by either funicular railway or cable car. From the highest point the view across the city will enable you to see the different sectors of Bogota. From La Candelaria and its terracotta tiled roofs to the high rise business sector and then on across the sabana (flat plains) and off in to the distance. The new convent is a pilgrimage site for many Colombians whom make their way past the fourteen Stations of the Cross until reaching the convent. There are a few artisan shops, with others selling snacks and refreshments La Candelaria is Bogota’s heart and soul, from its humble beginnings this is the oldest part of the city and the Plaza Bolivar (Main Square) are high on any visitor’s agenda. The Square is the focal point of this historic part of the city. Surrounding the square are several important Colonial and Republican style buildings including the Palace of Justice and Colombian Congress. The Plaza is also home to the Mayor’s office and the Primary Cathedral of Bogota that dominates an entire corner. Standing proud in the plazas centre is a statue of Simon Bolivar (Founder of Colombian independence) the first public monument to be erected in the city. As you wander the streets of La Candelaria away from the main square, your guide will not only explain the history of Bogota but also the intricacies of current Colombian culture and daily life. There will be time for a refreshment stop in one of the cities coffee houses. With your guide the next stop will be the Gold Museum which is situated on the northeast corner of the Parque Santander. The Museum is within the premises of the Banco de la Republica, and is one of the finest collections of Pre Hispanic gold in the world. This is a “must see” when in Bogotá, with more than 35,000 pieces of pre-Colombian gold work in the collection. Many of the works are said to be unsurpassed by goldsmiths of today and it’s easy to understand when you allow yourself time to study examples such as the Balsa Muisca (Offering boat). This golden raft is one of the focal point of the display and was the driving force in the Spaniards quest to find El Dorado. Your lunch will be at the museum on a private salon specially prepared for this. Read more

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Transfer to Villa de Leyva via Zipaquira

For some this is a religious monument, others a celebration of engineering or maybe even an artistic masterpiece. One of the marvels of Colombia, the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is well worth the visit. For the beauty of its landscapes, the richness of its earth and the hidden jewel beneath the earth’s surface, Zipaquirá is somewhat of a must during a stay in Bogotá. Travelling north of the city, through countryside once occupied by the native Muisca Indians, Zipaquirá is one of the more popular tourist destinations in Colombia. Zipaquirá is most famous for its Cathedral carved underground in a still functioning salt mines just west of the town. The subtle lighting pronounces the fourteen Stations of the Cross as you descend in to the mine, each station sculpted by a different artist. At the deepest point of the cathedral, 180 m below the earth’s surface, you encounter the nave and the north and south aisles dominated by the 16m high central cross. The illumination and execution of the work is a tribute to modern techniques and years of work from the miners and artists. Your guide will explain all about the cathedrals construction and how it and the mine still function in harmony. However you view this construction, you can’t fail to be impressed by its size and grandeur. Around the central square of the town of Zipaquirá the colonial buildings still hold their charm footed by brickwork paving and overlooked by the Cathedral Diocesana de San Antonio. Villa de Leyva introduction Villa de Leyva is Located some 150 kilometres north of Bogota, about four hours by car, passing through stunning savannah landscapes on the way. With its myriad of winding cobbled streets, lined on either side by orange roofed white washed houses, and surrounded by mountains, the village is a charming place to while away a few days. With scarcely a modern building in site and boasting one of the largest cobbled-stoned squares in South America this village where time stands still is a great place to see a snap shot of historical Colombia preserved in its entirety. The Hosteria del "Molino de la Mesopotamia" used to be an old mill but has been turned into a hotel packed to bursting with antiques and older than the village itself. You can also visit the birthplace of Antonio Ricaurte and the house in which Antonio Nariño lived. The latter translated the 'Rights of Man' into Spanish and both men became important figures in the Independence Movement. Just outside Villa de Leyva, there are some wonderful walks and excursions that can be made within half a day or a day. Alternatively you can take in some of the other sites such as visiting ancient giant Fossils, Muiscan observatories and indigenous sites or simply out on horseback to enjoy the enchanting scenery. Read more

Villa De Leyva/Getsemani/2Ni
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Discover Villa de Leyva & Surroundings

Half-day tour to the desert of Villa de Leyva The first point of interest during this half day excursion will be the Pozos Azules; this mineral enriched lagoon with its vibrant turquoise waters. Then from the Lagoon you will drive through the desert like terrain towards El Fossil (The fossil). This 120 million year old 12 meter Kronosaurus fossil is on show in a small palaeontology museum with other artefacts that have been found in this fossil rich area. From the museum you will continue your journey towards the Astrological site of El Infiernito. This site was once central to the local Muisca Indians and was used by them to predict season and hold rituals. The site has 30 cylindrical stone monoliths sunk vertically into the ground. From the comfort of your vehicle is a great way to see the local area and this half day trip takes in a number of the sites around Villa de Leyva. You will finish the tour back in to town in time for a well earned refreshment. Half-day afternoon walking tour of Villa de Leyva We recommend a sturdy pair of shoes for this excursion as the cobbled streets of the old town can become slippery in wet weather. You will walk through to the enormous plaza, undulating across its cobbled expanse of 14,000 sq. m, and said to be the largest in Colombia maybe even in all South America! The plaza is home to the main church that dominates the square. From the Plaza you will visit some of the interesting buildings including the house of Antonio Nariño, where you will learn all about the stories of this very important figure in the history of Villa de Leyva and Colombia. You will then make your way to other interesting buildings in the centre such as the Monastery of “Las Carmelitas de los pies descalzos”, which is still occupied by a secretive sect of nuns and the Casa del primer congress. Your guide will be on hand to explain about the area and how rural Colombian life affects the local inhabitants. This fascinating walk through the quaint cobbled streets of the village gives you an insight in to what life in Colombia may have been like in days gone by. Read more

Villa de Leyva/Getsemani/2Ni
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Private transfer to Barichara

Santander introduction The mountainous department or region of Santander contains a mix of charming traditional villages like Barichara, Girón and San Gil, the latter is also becoming the country’s adventure capital with rafting, rappelling and paragliding as some of the dare devil attractions on offer, additionally you have the department capital of Bucaramanga which is referred to as the city of parks due to its green open spaces. Another of the local attractions is the Chicamocha Canyon with its breath taking views. The region is also famous for its culinary delights including the local specialty of fried ants "Hormiga Culonas" Read more

Barichara/La Nube Posada/2Ni
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Discover Barichara & Surroundngs

Half-day hiking to Guane Walk around the most beautiful town in Colombia, Barichara, where we will learn a little about it's history and culture. We’ll walk on old horse trails from which you can see the Rio Suarez before arriving at the village of Guane. You’ll see the paleontology and anthropology museum in Guane where there are examples of our ancestors such as a Guane mummy. Half-day walking tour of Barichara Regarded as one of the best preserved Colonial towns of the region if not Colombia, Barichara`s charm is unavoidable. With its cobbled streets and white washed traditional building the town evokes easily the feeling of a traditional Colombian "Pueblo" or village from a bye gone age. In fact much of the town has remained unchanged for over 300 years. Designated a national monument in 1975 the village has a very peaceful atmosphere with lots of fine stonework, found in the churches and on the street paving, and houses painted in white and green or blue paint. The bohemian feel to the town with its many resident artists is added to by a great selection of restaurants, artisan shops and boutiques. Read more

Barichara/La Nube Posada/2Ni
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Fly to Cartagena

You'll be transfered to Bucaramanga's airport to fly into Cartagena. Cartagena introduction Founded in 1533 by Pedro de Heredia, Cartagena was formerly the Caribbean gateway port used by the Spanish. Here they would store the riches plundered form the interior before they were transported back to the old world. It is not surprising therefore that the city was a draw for buccaneers and pirates who attempted on many occasions to take the city, most notably by Sir Francis drake in 1586 who "mercifully" agreed not to level the city in return for 10 million pesos that he carted back to England. It was after the attack by Drake that plans were made to fortify the city and work on the defensive walls began. These walls still stand today and mark the boundary between the old and new parts of the city. The walls and fort took a total of 200 years to build and complete and the Spanish finished them just 25 years before Colombia gained Independence. Cartagena eventually won its Independence in 1821; a full 3 years after Bogota had been liberated. Cartagena's rich history, diverse culture and energy absorbs every visitor allowing them a glimpse into the past and a chance to relax in superb surroundings. This passionate and vibrant city with some of the best preserved colonial architecture in all of South America exudes character, mix in African rhythms and indigenous influences with the Spanish colonial splendor and Cartagena is truly an amazing destination. Read more

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Private overland transfer to Mompox

Mompós introduction Mompos located in the department of Bolivar on the sultry banks of the mighty Magdalena River an absorbing old time atmosphere. Founded in 1537 the town became an important trading port between the coast and Colombian interior. Simon Bolivar once said of Mompos that “While to Caracas I owe my life, to Mompos I owe my glory" such was its importance during the struggle for independence. The town dipped in significance after a change in trading routes towards the end of the 19th century. It’s rather isolated location has meant that much of the traditional feel of both the architecture and culture of the town remains intact, with its colonial character still very much visible. The town’s old folk sit on their verandas in the heat of the afternoon sun gently swinging on rocking chairs. For a snap shot of a by gone age in Colombia’s past Mompos is the perfect location. Approximate driving distance: 5.5 Hours. Read more

Mompox/Bioma/2N
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Discover Mompox & Surroundings

Either in one of Mompos’s shady parks or in the comfort of the hotel your local guide will explain about the history of the town and you will have time to learn about its connections with the great liberator Simon Bolivar and its Masonic history. Later in the afternoon after the heat subsides there will be time to take a walk around the town with your guide to visit some of the sites around town. These will include the Iglesia (Church) Santa Barbara unique in its design, San Agustin church which houses some of the religious artefacts used in the famous Easter festival and the Cemetery home to a number of elaborate tombs. This fascinating tour will give you a real insight in to the history of the town and a look at one of Colombia’s more off the beaten track locations. The afternoon will be spent on a small boat exploring the Magdalena River. You will pass through small riverside communities, and see how rural life is so dependent on the river. There will be a chance to stop on one of the islands in the river and take a swim to freshen up from the afternoon heat. There is a great variety of wildlife that can be spotted from the river including a plethora of birdlife, iguanas, and howler monkeys. You will return back to Mompos at sunset. Read more

Mompox/Bioma/2Nights
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Transfer to Cartagena

Cartagena introduction Founded in 1533 by Pedro de Heredia, Cartagena was formerly the Caribbean gateway port used by the Spanish. Here they would store the riches plundered form the interior before they were transported back to the old world. It is not surprising therefore that the city was a draw for buccaneers and pirates who attempted on many occasions to take the city, most notably by Sir Francis drake in 1586 who "mercifully" agreed not to level the city in return for 10 million pesos that he carted back to England. It was after the attack by Drake that plans were made to fortify the city and work on the defensive walls began. These walls still stand today and mark the boundary between the old and new parts of the city. The walls and fort took a total of 200 years to build and complete and the Spanish finished them just 25 years before Colombia gained Independence. Cartagena eventually won its Independence in 1821; a full 3 years after Bogota had been liberated. Cartagena's rich history, diverse culture and energy absorbs every visitor allowing them a glimpse into the past and a chance to relax in superb surroundings. This passionate and vibrant city with some of the best preserved colonial architecture in all of South America exudes character, mix in African rhythms and indigenous influences with the Spanish colonial splendor and Cartagena is truly an amazing destination. There are few things more romantic than an early evening traditional horse and cart ride along the cobbled streets of Cartagena's old town, winding along the lanes with colonial buildings rising around you spilling their balconies of flowers and a cooling Caribbean breeze. As you sit in the back of this historical form of transport, your driver managing his cart through the early evening bustle of the town you watch day turn to night and see a different side of Cartagena come alive. Read more

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Full-day tour to La Boquilla, Mangroves

This tour combines the experience of a local fishing community and exploring the Mangroves by canoe. The fishing village of La Boquilla is located 30 minutes east of Cartagena in an area of mangrove swamps. Many of the villagers are of African descent and on arrival there will be a performance of dance and a refreshment of fresh green coconut milk will be served. The Cueva Del Manglar is the Spanish name given to this protected eco system which is rich in birdlife and in keeping with Colombia’s reputation of being one of the most bio diverse countries on the planet you may well see Kingfisher, White Heron and Pelicans. The tour through the mangroves is taken by Canoe paddled by local fisherman, an ideal way for the clients to navigate the shallow waters through the “tunnels” naturally created by the Mangrove trees. As well as birdlife there is a wealth of flora and fauna to see in this rich ecosystem as you glide through the Mangroves. After lunch you will set off first to the Castillo San Felipe. This fort is the largest Spanish fortification in the Americas and dominates the old town. The first fortification on the site was started in 1536 and further extended over the following 200 years mostly by African slave labour. Underneath this amazing structure you will find a labyrinth of tunnels. The sun soaked fortification seeps tales of old for every traveller and the tunnels (some of which are lit and accessible to visitors) and ramparts are a living breathing history book. From the fort you will continue on in your private vehicle to the Convento La Popa. The hill is the highest point in the city and commands excellent views of the bay, old town and Caribbean Sea beyond. Started initially as a humble wooden chapel but later replaced by a more solid construction that was fortified two centuries later. Enjoy the flower filled patio and the views that stretch all over the city and wander through the cool patio and interior of the convent Read more

Cartagena/Don Pedro/2Nights
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Go back to home!

Departure day

ACCOMMODATIONS

Day in trip
Location
Hotel
Day 1
Location Bogota
Hotel Morrison84
Day 3
Location Villa de Leyva
Hotel Getsemani
Day 5
Location Barichara
Day 7
Location Cartagena
Day 8
Location Mompox
Hotel Bioma
Day 10
Location Cartagena

TRIP PACKAGE

Package includes

  • Transfer from/to the airport
  • Transport during the tour
  • Accommodation
  • Local guides
  • Information services
  • Entrance fee

Package excludes

  • Airfare
  • Personal expenses
  • Visa, consular fees or any other formalities.
  • Tips
  • Beverages
  • Additional journeys and transfers

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