Trekking Colombia

18 days
from
£3,569
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Trip code: 
TKC
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group Adventure Holidays, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Natural Wonders
Min age:
18
Group size:
4–12

From high altitude volcanoes to lost cities in the jungle and colonial cities, we uncover Colombia's amazing diversity.

Ranging from the high Andes to the Caribbean Sea, Colombia offers an incredible array of landscapes and ecosystems. Based around two very distinct areas we uncover the country’s natural beauty as we trek through the remote mountains of Los Nevados National Park and the jungles of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The latter culminating with the Lost City, abandoned and reclaimed by the rainforest. We also explore Bogota’s old town, visit colonial Cartagena, spend time in the coffee zone and have the opportunity to relax on the beach getting a large spectrum of what this fascinating country has to offer.

Highlights

  • Point-to-point trekking in Los Nevados National Park
  • Wonderful hospitality at the remote mountain fincas
  • Visit the wax-palm filled and photogenic Cocora Valley
  • The balmy Caribbean rhythms of Cartagena old town 
  • 4 days on 'The Lost City trek' (La Ciudad Perdida) in dense jungle

Key information

  • 16 days land only /18 flight inclusive
  • 11 days walking 
  • Altitude maximum 4571m, average 3727m (Los Nevados only)
  • 7 nights hotels, all en suite, 5 nights camping and 3 nights basic camp with shared facilities

What's included

  • All Accommodation
  • All breakfasts, 11 lunches and 8 dinners
  • London flights (of booking incl. flights)

What's not included

  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas & vaccinations
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Airport transfers for LO bookings
Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Day by day breakdown
Day 411.0km/7.0miles
Day 58.0km/5.0miles
Day 615.0km/9.0miles
Day 76.0km/4.0miles
Day 816.0km/10.0miles
Day 97.0km/4.0miles
Day 128.5km/5.2miles
Day 1316.0km/10.0miles
Day 1413.0km/8.0miles
Day 1516.0km/10.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Depart London.

    Depart London.

  • Day 2

    Start Bogota; morning at leisure; afternoon walking tour of the old town.

    Passengers on the group flight arrive in the early hours of this morning. After a few hours to rest and have breakfast we will head out on a city tour taking in Bogota’s colonial old town including visits to the Gold Museum, the National Museum and the main square.

    (We have also included your room reservation from the night before the tour starts. Land Only clients can arrive the day before and will be able to check in at the hotel) 

    Hotel Continental or similar

  • Day 3

    Morning walk up Monserrate hill; fly to Armenia; transfer to Cocora Valley.

    Early morning we climb Monserrate Hill (2,700m to 3,100m) for panoramic views of the city. We'll then catch the cable car back down, collect our luggage from the hotel and transfer to the domestic airport to fly to Armenia. It's a 45-minute flight and on arrival we'll transfer to Salento. This is coffee country and Salento is very much within the country’s famous Coffee Triangle. The town is very picturesque and there's time to explore and sample some of the locally grown crops. Late afternoon we'll drive to the Cocora Valley known for its Wax Palm trees, the tallest palm trees in the world and a symbol of Colombia. Their slender trunks can reach up to 60 meters and are topped with a few fronds.  We use Willys for this transfer (jeeps used as local transport around this region). We stay in a basic hotel for the night at 2,041m.

    Hotel Finca San Jose

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    First day trek in Los Nevados National Park; crossing rivers and into the cloud forest.

    This morning we will meet the trekking crew including the horses, horsemen and local guides. The team will need to arrange all our luggage and equipment for the horses to carry so we should begin the trek after breakfast. We'll walk for 1.5 kms passing towering Wax Palms before the path heads off from the main trail and begins to climb. The trek today passes through different ecosystems such as 'Bosque Alto-Andino' which is a cloud forest with a great diversity of plants and animals (an amazing array of bird species) and at the end of the day you will be closer to the Paramo ecosystem. We will cross the river a couple of times early in the day and en route we should see humming birds. At approximately 3,000 metres we will stop for lunch and also have a rest. From here it is about another 2.5 hours walking to Finca La Argentina, a working farm situated at 3,440m. We camp in the grounds of the finca about 100 yards from the house and have dinner in the farmhouse. There is running water and a toilet in the farmhouse.

    Full-service Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    Morning steep climb to the highland plateau; afternoon descend to the campsite.

    Today's walk begins with a steep 90 minute climb up to an abandoned farmhouse, Finca Buenos Aires (3,800m). From here we should catch our first glimpse of the Paramillo del Quindio(4,600m). We are now at the Paramo ecosystem (highland plateau) which is a unique tropical high altitude ecosystem just above the forest line but below the Andean snow line. It is the kingdom of the eerily beautiful 'Frailejones', plants with statuesque tall trunks and thick yellow-greenish leaves. Part of the sunflower family, they only grow 1cm a year and play a special role in capturing water vapour from passing clouds and then transferring it to the soil through their roots. A single Frailejon can vastly contribute to the ecosystem's water supply. These majestic plants can only be found in Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela and you will see thousands of them over the next few days. After climbing most of the day the final section is a descent to Finca La Playa, a small isolated farmhouse, inhabited by a family who farm cattle in the area. We camp in the grounds of the finca. The spectacular Nevado del Tolima (5,100m) can be seen from the farmhouse. There is a toilet and running water in the farmhouse.

    Full-service Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Most challenging day crossing the summit of Paramillo del Quindio.

    This is the most challenging and longest day of the trek as we cross the summit of Paramillo del Quindio. We leave the finca and after 2 hours the mountain pass will come into view before the trail drops down to the valley floor. We then cross the valley walking on 'cushion plants' called 'Cojines' that are soft and springy to the step and emerald in colour. At an annual growth rate of as little as 0.06cm some of these plants you encounter will be 400 years old, so take care not to pierce them with your walking poles. From here it is a 90- minute climb to the pass, through an arid stark zone composed of sand, rocks and ashes. From the top (4,571m) we will be able to see Laguna Leona below and a vast area of Frailejon trees, some of which are more than 200 years old. After taking in the spectacular views of Nevado del Ruiz we'll start our descent, meandering through groves of these majestic trees, making our own path as we go. Once at the lagoon the view back up to Paramillo del Quindio is a sight to be savoured and the mirror-like reflection of the peak in the lagoon's still water makes for a perfect lunch spot. The remainder of the day's trail is more moderate and follows a well defined path for 90 minutes. We arrive at Bageseca, a small farmhouse nestled amongst some meadows. We camp in front of the farmhouse at an altitude of 3,728m. It is possible to charge batteries here.

    Full-service Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Trek to Lake Otun and set up camp; afternoon optional walk to Laguna del Silencio.

    Today is an easier and shorter day. The trail to the lagoon is mainly level with no big climbs and we should be able to see some wildlife such as eagles, ducks and maybe even condors. After 3 hours we'll arrive at Laguna Otun, one of the most beautiful spots in the Los Nevados National Park. Located at 3,900metres the lake is of glacial origin and fed by the Nevado Santa Isbel. It is also an important breeding ground for several endangered bird species including the Colombian torrent duck and has a large population of rainbow trout. It is on the shores of this lake that we set up camp for the night. After a picnic lunch we'll head off to Laguna del Silencio, which is 3 km away from the campsite and is a 3 -hour round trip. We should be back at the campsite by 3:30pm. Those who prefer to rest can stay at the campsite this afternoon and explore the lake shore. There is an ablution block with toilets at this campsite but there is no access to a farmhouse here.

    Full-service Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Begin descending to lower elevations; spot hummingbirds in the cloud forest; continue to campsite.

    We begin our descent and start to leave the paramo behind and experience the change in ecosystems as we make our way down to lower elevations. Much of the trail is rocky and can be slippery. We stop at Jordan Finca for lunch, a cosy farmhouse that has great views of a huge waterfall. After lunch we descend into the cloud forest zone where we should see many different types of hummingbirds that inhabit the area. We camp in the beautiful grounds of the Refugio La Pastora located at 2,448m. There is an ablution block with toilets and cold showers. Meals are taken in the dining room at the refuge. 

    Full-service Camping

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Final day trekking in Los Nevados N.P; transfer to San Antonio del Cerro.

    Our final day trekking in Los Nevados. We’re now in a completely different environment as we continue to follow the rocky trail through dense rainforest passing the Otun River several times. We might be able to spot Howler monkeys on our way down. At the park gate we bid farewell to the local trekking staff and will be picked up and taken to a small town called La Florida for a well deserved lunch. We then transfer to San Antonio del Cerro, our hotel for the night. The afternoon is free to relax by the swimming pool and there is also a restaurant/bar as well a small spa. 

    San Antonio del Cerro or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 10

    Fly to Cartagena; afternoon walking city tour.

    After breakfast we transfer (approx. 30 minutes) to the airport in Pereira to catch our flight to Cartagena de las Indias on the Caribbean coast. There's a plane change in Bogota so we should arrive in Cartagena by lunch time. In the afternoon there will be a walking tour of the walled city with its cobbled streets and colourful houses, squares and churches. Cartagena was the jewel in the colonial crown and its popularity today is understandable. Founded in 1533, the city played a key role in the administration and expansion of the Spanish empire in the Americas. As well as being home to royalty and wealthy viceroys, it attracted pirates and merchants alike and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. We stay in the vibrant Getsemani neighbourhood, part of Cartagena’s old town.

    Hostal Villa Colonial or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Morning at leisure; afternoon transfer to Santa Marta.

    The morning is free to explore the beautiful city at leisure. After lunch we leave Cartagena and head along the coast (approx. 4hrs) to the city of Santa Marta and our hotel in the heart of the old town.

    Hotel 1525 or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Transfer to the start of the Lost City Trail; first day trek to camp #1.

    We will be picked up from our hotel at 6am and taken to La Aguacatera from where will then take a 4WD to El Mamey (also known as Machete Pelao) village. We have lunch upon arrival before heading off on a 3hr hike towards the first night’s campsite. The first part of the trek today follows a steep road which takes us through cattle farms in areas that were once covered in coca plantations.There will be opportunities at the end of each day to go for a refreshing swim in the river and fresh fruit is provided on trek. Upon arrival at the campsite we’ll be assigned a bed or a hammock. The terrain over the next few days involves a trail between 500m and 800m above sea level. There are sections of steep climbs and in the heat this can be very challenging.

    Camp with bed or hammock

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    Trek through the sacred lands of the Kogui, Wiwa and Aruaco communities; overnight in camp #3.

    Today's trail takes us into the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park and the sacred lands of the Kogui, Wiwa and Aruaco communities. Along the way we have more opportunities to encounter local indigenous settlements. We first make our way to camp #2 where we have lunch. After lunch the trail climbs through forest. This section of the trail is the steepest and most challenging section of the entire walk. Head to the river for a dip which runs by camp #3 for a refreshing dip.

    Camp with bed or hammock

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 14

    Today we reach our destination, the Lost City; tour of the site; return to camp #2.

    Today we reach the goal of our jungle trek: La Ciudad Perdida (the Lost City). Built by the Tayrona people 1,000 years ago, the city was abandoned after Spanish conquistadors dispersed the Tayronas into the mountains. Over time the jungle reclaimed the city which became ‘lost’ to the world. In the 1970s, however, grave robbers found gold and the city was rediscovered. The Lost City is earned by climbing more than 200 steps. We explore the site and learn more about the city and its history. Returning to camp #3 we have lunch before heading back the way we came towards camp #2 where we spend the night. There is no electricity at this campsite but the location by the river is perfect and at night we sit by candlelight.

    Camp with bed or hammock

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 15

    Final day of the Lost City trek; transfer to Palomino; free time at beach.

    Final day of our Lost City trek as we retrace our steps back towards camp #1 and finally El Mamey village marking the end of our time in the jungle.  After lunch we transfer to the main road where our vehicle will be waiting to take us to our hotel for the night. Finca La Jorara is near the village of Palomino. It's a peaceful comfortable place with a restaurant on site and the beach is a short walk away.

    Finca La Jorara, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 16

    Day at leisure to enjoy the beach or visit Palomino.

    Today is a free day to relax. The fishing village of Palomino is nearby and there are a couple of nice trails around the hotel grounds for those who want to stretch their legs. Alternatively the beach nearby is a nice place to rest. The sea here is very choppy and there are designated areas for swimming. Please check with the hotel owner.

    Finca La Jorara, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 17

    Transfer to Santa Marta Airport; fly to Bogota; evening depart.

    Returning to Santa Marta we catch our flight to Bogota arriving in time to connect with the international flight home.

    Please note you should book your international flight departing before 16:00. The flight from Santa Marta will arrive in Bogota at 12:300 at the latest.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 18

Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Colombia

Citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most European countries do not require a visa and will be granted a 90-day entry permit on arrival. Please ensure you have at least 3 blank pages in your passport.

Vaccinations

Colombia

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Yellow Fever. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites. For the latest information please visit www.exodus.co.uk/zika‐virus‐q‐a.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 11 lunches and 8 dinners included.

A lot of the food in Colombia is food you’ll be used to, protein in the form of chicken, beef or fish along with rice or potato and some salad are fairly common. Beans and plantains are also popular foods in Colombia which you may not commonly have at home. Each day you will also have the opportunity to try a fantastic array of delicious fruit juices - some of them familiar to the UK and some of them more exotic! We recommend you to try these as they taste much better in Colombia than anywhere else and cost a fraction of the price. We typically will have early breakfasts to make the most of our time, this normally includes eggs, bread or arepas (thick corn pancakes), local cheese, and no shortage of great coffee! All meals are included whilst camping and these will be prepared by staff. Elsewhere only breakfast is included. Please note that Colombia is not particularly vegetarian friendly, especially in rural areas, as meat forms a major part of the diet and many soups are often made with a meat base. Bogota is an exception, as there are sufficient options to cater to all dietary requirements.

Weather

Bogota is mild/warm during the day but temperatures can drop quite significantly at night and rain is possible at any time of the year. In the coffee region the climate is warmer during the days (can be up to 35ºC) but again gets considerably cooler in the evenings. We visit the Andes mountain range, where weather is very unpredictable and can range from warm and sunny to cold in the space of a few hours. On the Caribbean coast and in the Sierra Nevada National Park the weather is generally very hot and humid year-round.

Bogota

Is this trip for you?

Activity Level: 6 (Challenging/Tough) 

This is a trek where it is important to have experience of long walks at altitude in varied and irregular terrain. You must be a confident walker with a good level of fitness in order to manage the sections of ascent and long duration that some days demand. You will need to be prepared for walking in all kinds of conditions, as the weather can be unpredictable in Los Nevados and change quickly, making clothing and footwear choices important. Some of the paths are poorly defined and difficult underfoot. Walking poles are highly recommended.

In Los Nevados National Park we camp in the grounds of fincas. There is a toilet and running water in the farmhouse but there are no showers. This area is much less developed than other trekking areas you may have visited so don’t expect the same level of service as on the Inca Trail or in Nepal for example. Meals are taken in the kitchen/eating area of the fincas which is a cosy but basic set up. This is instead of a mess tent.

The trip also spends considerable time at altitude reaching up to 4,753m. Much of this time is also in remote areas.

For the Lost City trek you should expect very hot and humid conditions as the north of the country has a totally different climate. Keeping hydrated is extremely important, and so is taking the necessary precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Whilst on the Lost City trek the accommodation is in set camps, sleeping in beds or hammocks which are placed dormitory style under cover but open to the elements (with mosquito nets). Our group will be allocated an area of a dormitory but you should be aware that there will be other groups sleeping in the dormitory. There are ablution blocks at each camp with flushing toilets and cold showers. However all of the camp sites are located by the river and most people choose to cool off after a day's walk with a swim.

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels & camping

In Los Nevados National Park we spend 5 nights wild camping at altitude. The facilities are basic as we sleep in tents and do not have access to showers or toilets. On the Lost City trek in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta we stay 3 nights in basic campsites but sleep in either beds or hammocks (depending on availability and preferences). These campsites have shared ablution blocks and the beds and hammocks all have mosquito nets. We also have 7 nights in hotels (Bogota, Cartagena and Santa Marta) as well as Fincas (farms) near Salento and Palomino. In these accommodations the rooms are all en suite.

There is an optional single supplement on this trip that will cover single hotel rooms (subject to availability) from £370. Note that single accommodation cannot be booked for the 3 nights on the Lost City Trek (days 11, 12, 13) and also the night before the trek begins in Los Nevados National Park (day 2 ).

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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