Colombia & Galapagos (15 Days)

Colombia and Ecuador

2019/24/06
  • Price: $7,100
  • AGE RANGE: 18 to 65 year olds
  • ACCOMMODATION: Hotel, Berth / Cabin, Guesthouse
  • MAX GROUP SIZE: 36
  • TRANSPORTATION: Jeep & 4WD, Ship, Local Transport, Private Vehicle, Plane
  • TRAVEL STYLE: Adventure, Wildlife 

 

 

Highlights

 

Start in Cartagena and end in Quito! With the adventure tour Colombia & Galapagos, you have a 15 day tour package taking you from Cartagena to Quito and through Cartagena, Colombia and 11 other destinations in Latin America. Colombia & Galapagos includes accommodation in a hotel as well as an expert guide, meals, transport and more.

 

 

Tour Itinerary

 

Experience an in depth journey through the highlights of Colombia, from beautiful colonial towns to the aroma of local coffee, before getting your camera at the ready for some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the world as you sail around the archipelagos of the Galapagos. Starting your adventure in the vibrant Cartagena, spend 8 days getting under the skin of one of the most fascinating countries in the world as you dance, explore and eat your way down to Bogota. After enjoying a taste of Ecuador in the capital city of Quito, hop on board our vessel and venture to the lands that inspired Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Learn about the unique species that inhabit the Galapagos Islands and experience everything from the dramatic scenery to the playful sea lions.

 

Day 1: Arrive Cartagena

Drenched in old town charm, Cartagena de Indias lies on the northern coast of Colombia and is one of the most picturesque colonial towns on the continent. Founded in 1533, the town was named after Cartagena, Spain, and subsequently became a key factor in the expansion of the Spanish Empire, playing a political, economic and administrative role during the colonial period. Relics of the Spanish Empire can be seen far and wide in the beautifully preserved churches, monasteries, plazas and palaces. The old city is considered the heart of Cartagena, echoing the city's long history while incorporating true Colombian culture. Vibrant narrow streets are adorned with wooden balconies and hanging plants, while brightly coloured houses can be seen in every turn. Keep an eye out for the elaborate door knockers, which are designed in the shapes of seahorses, lizards, turtles and more. In Cartagena society, doors were considered a status symbol. While simply getting lost in the charming streets is the best way to discover the allure of Cartagena, important sites include Castillo San Felipe and the fortress on San Lazaro hill. Beneath the fortress you can find a maze of tunnels where cannons still stand along the battlements. For some of the best views of the city, head up La Popa hill and visit the vibrant convent. For a unique trip out of the city, head to the mud volcano. With a Caribbean climate and some of the most stunning beaches in the Americas, Cartagena is also the perfect place to dip your toes in the ocean and admire this fascinating corner of the globe. End your evening sampling true Colombian delicacies at a local market stall or high end eatery. Whatever your taste; Cartagena won’t disappoint. 

  • Accommodation: 1 night at Hotel Casa Mara or similar. 
  • Optional Excursions:

City tour – US$30 including entrance fees to San Felipe Castle, La Popa and the Gold Museum 
Day Tour to Playa Blanca (Beach) – From USD20

 

Day 2: Fly to Medellin  
In and around Medellin
This morning we say goodbye to the sounds of the Caribbean and head to Colombia's second largest city, Medellin. Also known as “The City of Eternal Spring” due to its year round pleasant weather, Medellin has flourished in recent years and now has one of the fastest growing economies on the continent. Once known as the playground for infamous drug lords, the city has since shed its reputation and welcomes travellers from far and wide who are eager to experience what this progressive and exciting city has to offer. There are numerous parks and plazas in Medellín waiting to be explored, such as Parque Berrio, Jardin Botanico or Parque Explora, which features Latin America's largest freshwater aquarium. Spend your evening in Parque Lleras, the best place in the city for restaurants, bars or nightclubs. Try Medellín’s most traditional dish, the bandeja paisa. A hearty plate of rice, eggs, meat, beans and avocado, the servings are usually huge and can be shared between two, but are one of the most important dishes in the region and should not be missed!

  • Approximate Travel Time: 1.15hr flight to Medellin. 
  • Accommodation: 1 night at Hotel Poblado Botique or similar. 
  • Meal: 1 Breakfast

 

Day 3: Medellin

Today is free to further explore Medellín! Why not try using the world renowned public transportation system? The cable car connects the city centre to the outskirts and results in some of the best views of the city once you reach the end of the line, Parque Arví. You could visit the Metropolitan Cathedral in Bolivar park which holds the record for the most clay bricks on any building in the world, with an impressive 1.1 million bricks being used in the building process! Also worth exploring is the Plaza Botero, where you can see many of the figures by the sculptor Fernando Botero. Botero is one of the most famous artists to come out of Colombia, known for his still life images of plump figures. Another option is to take a day trip to the colourful village of Guatapé. Here you will find the famous Peñol Boulder, a 200 metre high rock which you can climb for some incredible views of the surrounding area! 

  • Accommodation: 1 night at Hotel Poblado Botique or similar. 
  • Meal: 1 Breakfast
  • Optional Excursions:

Guatape Day Tour – From USD30 
Pablo Escobar Tour – USD25

 

Day 4: Coffee Plantation Overnight Excursion

No trip to Colombia would be complete without an immersive coffee experience. Today we head to a local coffee plantation where we will stay the evening on the grounds to learn everything there is to know about this well loved beverage. Your time will be spent learning about the culture, history and variety of coffee, as well as the coffee making process. Witness the roasting process, experiment with the flavours and walk through the plantation where you can see the packaging take place. Arriving late in the day, your coffee experience will normally take place tomorrow morning. Tonight we stay in a Hacienda, the main house on the plantation. With over 100 years of tradition the coffee farm is the perfect place to relax and take in the lush scenery. Enjoy a local dinner prepared by your hosts and spend the evening relaxing by the pool.

  • Approximate Travel Time: 5hrs in a private vehicle. 
  • Accommodation: 1 night in a guesthouse at Hacienda Venecia or similar. No single room upgrade available. 
  • Meals: 1 Breakfast, 1 Local Lunch, 1 Local Dinner

 

Day 5: Salento

After our coffee tour we head for Salento, nestled in the Zona Cafetera region of Colombia. Salento is a beautiful and colourful town, having managed to keep it’s slow and relaxing pace due to the main route between Cali and Bogota being diverted which meant the town did not develop as fast as others in the region. Hike to the viewpoint at the end of Calle Real for some of the best views over the valley, and don’t forget to walk around the charming and humble town square.

  • Approximate Travel Time: 3hrs in a private vehicle. 
  • Accommodation: 1 night at Hotel Salento Real or similar.
  • Meals: 1 Breakfast
  • Included Excursions: Guided Coffee Plantation Tour including entrance

 

Day 6: Salenta & Cocora Valley

We take a jeep from town to the Cocora Valley and spend a whole day hiking through the lush green hills. Our jeeps are true classic cars with bright colours and can date as far back as the 60’s; riding in them is a truly unique experience. The hike provides sweeping views of the valley and the iconic wax palms, Colombia's national symbol. In the evenings, make sure you try the region´s speciality, trucha, a fish normally served with rice but cooked many different ways. Head back to Salento for the evening and perhaps enjoy a game of Tejo, a traditional Colombian throwing sport. 

  • Accommodation: 1 night at Hotel Salento Real or similar. 
  • Meal: 1 Breakfast
  • Included Excursions: Cocora Valley Tour with optional trek

 

Day 7: Fly to Bogota

Our final Colombian stop is of course the bustling capital city, Bogota. With a population of 7 million, it is also the largest city in the country and the centre of everything from politics to sport. With the dramatic Andean peaks looming in the background, Bogota radiates classic colonial charm while modern and sophisticated businesses are popping up by the second. We will be staying in the Candelaria district which is an excellent location within walking distance of many of the main sights including the main square - Plaza Bolívar, the Cathedral and Simón Bolívar's house. You may like to take the funicular to Monserrate for the incredible city views, or visit the world famous gold museum.

  • Approximate Travel Time: 1hr transfer in a private vehicle followed by a 1hr flight to Bogota. 
  • Accommodation: 1 night at Hotel Regina or similar.
  • Meal: 1 Breakfast

 

Day 8: Bogota

Spend today getting further acquainted with the city. Take a walking graffiti tour and get up close and personal with some of the most impressive street art in the city. Political and social turbulence has often been the inspiration behind the unique art found round every corner which was made legal in certain areas in 2011. The art is now seen as part of the cultural identity of Bogota with artists travelling from all over for inspiration. Check out the gold museum, which houses the largest collection of Pre-Hispanic gold with a collection that exceeds 50,000 pieces. The artefacts which consist of gold, pottery, rock and textiles have allowed archaeologists a better understanding of ancient South American civilizations. Another brilliant museum to explore is the Botero museum, home to Botero’s private collection of works by international artists such as Monet and Dali. The entire collection was donated to the museum on the condition that entry would always be free for customers. There is also the opportunity here to try Ajiaco, the cities most traditional dish. Come evening, search beyond the rice and beans and sample some of the best Colombian foods. From grilled meats, fresh fish, ceviche and an array of local fruits and vegetables, it’s not hard to find something that suits your tastes. 

  • Accommodation: 1 night at Hotel Regina or similar.
  • Meal: 1 Breakfast 
  • Optional Excursions:

-Gold Museum – US$1 
-Cerro de Monserrat, the cable car to Monserrat for views of the city – US$7 
-Botero Museum- Free 
-Graffiti Tour- Free but donations welcomed

 

Day 9: Fly to Quito

This morning you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Quito; gateway to the Galapagos. Enjoy a free afternoon in the bustling capital city of Ecuador, exploring the streets and squares of the largest historical centre in the Americas. The old town is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and has many quaint cafes, shops and attractions. Visit the Basílica del Voto Nacional towers, a Roman Catholic church and largest neo gothic basilica in the world, or the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus church which is considered one of the most beautiful landmarks in the city. Tonight, take the opportunity to sample some classic Ecuadorian cuisine, with various restaurants dotted around the city. From ceviche to guinea pig, there is a variety on offer from the mountains to the coast. Try one of the most famous dishes, Llapingachos, a fried potato omelette stuffed with cheese and served with a fried egg, avocado or meat.

  • Approximate Travel Time: 2hr flight to Quito followed by a 1hr transfer to the hotel. 
  • Accommodation: 1 night at Hotel Quito or similar. Upgrade to your own room here. 
  • Meal: 1 Breakfast

 

Day 10: Quito

Spend today discovering more about the history of Ecuador on an included colonial city tour. Visit the Basílica del Voto Nacional towers, a Roman Catholic church and largest neo gothic basilica in the world, or the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus church which is considered one of the most beautiful landmarks in the city. Drive through the traditional neighbourhood of San Juan, a historical district which dates back to the Inca times. We finish the day at the Panecillo hillside with its breathtaking views of the old and modern city. 

  • Accommodation: 1 night at Hotel Quito or similar.
  • Meal: 1 Breakfast
  • Included Excursions: Colonial City Tour plus visit to “The middle of the world” equator

 

Day 11: Quito to Santa Cruz Island

Get ready to channel your inner David Attenborough and experience some of the most untouched, wildlife packed islands in existence, as today you start your Galapagos adventure. This morning transfer to the airport and fly to San Cristóbal Island where you will be met by our guide and taken to your home for the next few days, the Coral Cruise. This afternoon we visit the Cerro Colorado Tortoise Breeding and Rearing Center for young tortoises. Passengers can learn about the National Park's conservation programs and about an assisted reproduction programme. If time allows, you may have the opportunity to visit the port village and have a shop for arts, crafts and souvenirs. Spend your evening relaxing on the boat, with indoor and outdoor space to rest or socialise. Make use of the open deck jacuzzi and enjoy a dinner of either Ecuadorian or international cuisine. You will be onboard the Coral I or II.

  • Approximate Travel Time: 4hr flight. 
  • Accommodation: 1 night on boat.
  • Meals: 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner 
  • Included Excursions: Visit Charles Darwin Research Centre & Fausto Llerena Breeding Centre

 

Day 12: Mosquera Islet & North Seymour Island

This morning we explore Mosquera Islet, a tiny low lying islet which is covered in coral sand and set between the North and South Seymour Islands. With a mostly sandy terrain, it is easy to walk around while viewing the large groups of sea lions who laze around on the soft white sand. Snorkelling is also possible here and you might find yourself sharing the waters with sharks, rays or barracudas.

  • Difficulty level: easy
  • Type of terrain: Sandy

We then make our way to the Northern Seymour Island, an area covered in bushy vegetation. Here you can witness the spectacular show of the frigatebird males courting their counterparts. Experience the bill-clapping, shuddering and wing flapping while they also show off their bright red and largely inflated gular pouch. Not to be outdone, the blue footed boobies can also be found here attempting the same level of charm as they dance to prospective mates.

  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Type of terrain: Rocky 
  • Accommodation: 1 night on boat
  • Meals: 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner 
  • Included Excursions: Walk & snorkelling on Mosquera Islet & North Seymour Island

 

Day 13: Santa Fe Island & South Plaza Island

Landing on Santa Fe Island you will be welcomed by an abundance of sea lions frolicking on the shore. After admiring these beautiful animals we begin our walk in search of the unique giant Opuntia cacti, which cover various areas of the island. This is also the home to the Santa De land iguana, paler in colour than their cousins on the other islands. Other animals known to show an appearance on the island are the Galapagos hawk and rice rat.

  • Difficulty level: Difficult
  • Type of terrain: Rocky

In the afternoon we journey to the South Plaza islet. This small island is painted with red succulents with more Opuntia cacti scattered around. The cliff edges here are the perfect place for bird watching; watch them swoop and dive between ocean and sky. The Galapagos shearwaters are just one of the many species that can be seen here, as well as many more frigatebirds.

  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Type of terrain: Rocky 
  • Accommodation: 1 night on boat
  • Meals: 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner 
  • Included Excursions: Deep-water snorkelling & walk on Santa Fe Island

 

Day 14: Santa Cruz Island & Return to Quito

Our final stop on our Galapagos adventure is the island of San Cristobal. On route, we circumnavigate the fascinating Kicker Rock, otherwise known as Leon Dormido due to its resemblance of a sleeping lion. Composed of compacted volcanic ash, it towers at almost 500 ft above the ocean floor. While the various species of birds soar above, under the surface is where most of the action can be found. A plethora of fish and other marine life call this place home, such as the giant hawkfish, sharks and the visually stunning parrotfish. Prepare to come face to face with the majestic giant tortoise as we visit the breeding centre La Galapaguera and learn about the various stages of these amazing animals. The tortoises are free to roam in a semi natural habitat near the centre, lending itself to perfect photo opportunities. We then head to the local town, where you can purchase handicrafts or souvenirs of the Galapagos.

  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Type of terrain: Sandy

We make our way to the airport and return to Quito for the night.

  • Accommodation: 1 night at Hotel Quito or similar.
  • Meals: 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
  • Included Excursions: Visit San Cristobal Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre
  • Optional Excursions:

-Teleferico sky tram to Volcan Pichincha – US$10 + taxi fare 
-La Mitad del Mundo with taxi – US$15 
-City Tour US$15 
-Plaza de la Independencia – free, US$1 to enter cathedral 
-Museo de la Ciudad – US$3


Day 15: Depart Quito

Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. If you have a late flight or have lengthened your stay by adding post tour accommodation you will have more time to explore the sights. 

  • Meal: 1 Breakfast
  • Included Excursions: Departure transfer

 

Tour Services

 

Included

  • Accommodation

Hotel

  • Guide

Your tour has sections managed by our Travel Tour Leaders and others by Specialist Guides. Our Travel group trips are accompanied by English speaking Tour Leaders. Your Tour Leader will provide information about the places you are travelling through; offer suggestions for things to see and do as well as recommending great places to eat and enjoy local experiences.

While not being a guide in the traditional sense, you can expect your Tour Leaders to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on your trip. We often employ specialist Local Guides to help you to delve deeper into the local culture at specific sites or locations on tour.

Longer tours which visit multiple countries may have different Tour Leaders in different regions, we endeavour to have experienced Tour Leaders on each tour however, due to the seasonality of travel, in rare situations your leader may be new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

Specialist tours (Walking, Trekking, and Cruise) may be operated by trusted local partners who have expertise in the activity and whose Specialist Guides have additional training and qualifications needed to manage your specific tour.

  • Meals

14 Breakfast(s), 1 Local Lunch(es), 1 Local Dinner(s), 4 Lunch(es), 4 Dinner(s)

  • Transport

Main: Public Transport

Others: Private Vehicle, flight(s), Public Bus, 4WD, cruise

  • Additional Services

-Guided Coffee Plantation Tour including entrance

-Cocora Valley Tour with optional trek

-Colonial City Tour plus visit to “The middle of the world” equator

-Visit Charles Darwin Research Centre & Fausto Llerena Breeding Centre

-Walk & snorkelling on Mosquera Islet & North Seymour Island

-Deep-water snorkelling & walk on Santa Fe Island

-Visit San Cristobal Giant Tortoise Breeding Centre

-Departure transfer

 

Not Included

  • Flights

International flights are not included

  • Insurance

Insurance is not included

  • Optional

Other activities and services not included

  • Additional Services

-City tour – US$30 including entrance fees to San Felipe Castle, La Popa and the Gold Museum

-Day Tour to Playa Blanca (Beach) – From USD20

-Guatape Day Tour – From USD30

-Pablo Escobar Tour – USD25

-Gold Museum – US$1

-Cerro de Monserrat, the cable car to Monserrat for views of the city – US$7

-Botero Museum- Free

-Graffiti Tour- Free but donations welcomed

-Teleferico sky tram to Volcan Pichincha – US$10 + taxi fare

-La Mitad del Mundo with taxi – US$15

-City Tour US$15

-Plaza de la Independencia – free, US$1 to enter cathedral

-Museo de la Ciudad – US$3

 

Vaccinations

These are only indications, so please visit your doctor before you travel to be 100% sure.

  • TYPHOID

Recommended for Colombia and Ecuador. Ideally 2 weeks before travel.

  • HEPATITIS A

Recommended for Colombia and Ecuador. Ideally 2 weeks before travel.

  • TUBERCULOSIS

Recommended for Colombia and Ecuador. Ideally 3 months before travel.

  • HEPATITIS B

Recommended for Colombia and Ecuador. Ideally 2 months before travel.

  • RABIES

Recommended for Colombia and Ecuador. Ideally 1 month before travel.

  • YELLOW FEVER

Recommended for Colombia and Ecuador. Ideally 10 days before travel

 

Destinations

Covering a total distance of approx 4,267 km.

  • Cartagena (Colombia): 465 km
  • Medellin (Colombia): 178 km
  • Salento (Colombia): 9 km
  • Valle del Cocora (Colombia): 156 km
  • Bogota (Colombia): 722 km
  • Quito (Ecuador): 1,323 km
  • Isla Santa Cruz (Ecuador): 25 km
  • Isla Mosquera (Ecuador): 1 km
  • Seymour Norte (Ecuador): 53 km
  • Isla Santa Fe (Ecuador): 28 km
  • South Plaza Island (Ecuador): 88 km
  • Isla San Cristobal (Ecuador): 1,219 km
  • Quito (Ecuador)
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