Immerse yourself in the colors and flavors of Colombia, from the wildly painted homes of Guatapé to graffiti-covered neighborhoods in the hills of Medellín. Along the way, taste some of the best food and drink the country has to offer in the company of chefs, coffee farmers, and home cooks.
The trip begins with two nights at Colombia's first luxury eco-lodge, where we'll soak in views of the lush surrounding countryside and enjoy delicious meals from the hotel's own farm. From there, it's on to Medellín, where we'll meet street artists who are transforming their once-neglected neighborhoods, have lunch in a local family home, and use the ingredients we find at the Minorista market to cook dinner at the home of a professional chef. We'll also take a day-trip to the region's only organic coffee farm, located deep in the forest and accessible only by four-wheel-drive vehicle.
To cap off the trip, we'll head to the Caribbean coast for two days in Cartagena and Palenque. We'll wander centuries-old streets in the old-walled cities, and sit in on a practice session with some of Palenque's best musicians.
This trip is limited to a small group of 12 explorers.
- Vibrant villages & colorful cities: Visit the wildly colorful village of Guatapé, its buildings a cornucopia of vibrant hues; see the mural-lined alleys of Medellín; and soak in the colonial charm of Cartagena.
- Deep in coffee country: Venture into the lush, densely forested Titiribí mountains to visit the region's only organic coffee farm, and enjoy a farmhouse lunch with the owners.
- Home-cooked meals: Join a local family for lunch in Medellín's Comuna 1 neighborhood, and have dinner in the home of a professional chef.
INTRODUCING OUR PARTNER: CHASE SAPPHIRE
We're working with Chase Sapphire® to curate incredible travel experiences near, far and to the places-in-between, like this one to the Colombia. All cardmembers who book their travel from 10/1-11/01/2018, receive a custom welcome package inspired by your destination!
A $500 deposit is required to secure your spot. This deposit is nonrefundable after three days. We have limited capacity and expect the trip to fill quickly. The trip will cost $4,250—the $500 deposit plus the $3,750 final payment—and will cover all fixed costs including accommodations, meals, and activities as listed in the itinerary below.
Please email us at trips@or call us at (646) 961-4857 with any questions about the itinerary, logistics, and payment.
Welcome to Colombia!
- You’ll be picked up from the airport in Medellín and travel about 45 minutes to the lush, mountainous countryside of Eastern Antioquia. Our home for the next two nights is Cannúa, Colombia's first boutique, luxury eco-lodge.
- If you arrive on the early side, you can participate in a guided permaculture walk through the hotel's farm, taking in beautiful views of the surrounding countryside along the way.
- In the evening, start getting to know your travel companions during a festive welcome dinner.
Colorful Friezes and Soaring Views
- This morning we'll make our way toward Guatapé, a quaint lakeside town whose buildings are painted with wildly colorful bas-reliefs. On the way, we'll make a short stop to learn about El Peñol, a town that was submerged to create the gigantic, artificial lake system that now generates 35 percent of the country's electricity.
- Arriving in Guatapé, we'll board a speed boat for an hour-long ride. The lush, surrounding countryside is quite beautiful, and the shores are dotted with impressive homes, many with ties to dark periods of Colombian history.
- Back in the village, we'll stop for lunch at a local restaurant that serves a regional speciality: grilled trout cooked in a savory garlic sauce with fried plantain.
- As we stroll the cobblestone streets of Guatapé, we'll learn the stories of the "zocalo" friezes adorning many of the buildings.
- Soaring high above the village is El Peñon de Guatape, known colloquially as La Piedra. Climbing a series of walkways built into the nearly vertical face of the rock, we'll ascend some 649 steps to take in stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
- We'll return to Cannúa for a final evening in our comfortable mountainside cabins.
Street Art in the Hills of Medellín
- Today we'll head to Medellín. After traveling part of the way by road, we will hop on one of the city's gondolas for an aerial entrance into Barrio Popular, one of Medellín's many hillside favelas.
- Snaking through the narrow streets, we'll make our way to the Santo Domingo and Popular 1 sectors to meet with members of the youth collective Klan Ghetto Popular (KGP). They'll escort us through the barrio, introducing us to the street art (much of it their own work) that's all over the neighborhood. We'll learn about the changes they've seen in their neighborhood in recent years, and the way the street art reflects those changes.
- A local family will treat us to lunch inside their home.
- Afterward, we’ll enjoy a private concert and art show, touching on themes of violence, change, and development in the community. Before leaving, you'll have the chance to try your hand at stenciling, and create your own piece of art to bring home.
- Heading to the center of the city, we'll visit the workshops of the Universidad de Bellas Artes, where the leader of KGP is helping bring together the city's street-art and fine-art traditions.
- Once we return to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is free to relax or discover the city on your own.
A Coffee Farm Deep in the Mountains
- Traveling about an hour and a half into the mountains of Titiribí, we'll make our way to Cocondo, the region's only certified organic coffee farm. Our drive through the mountains will take us past the dramatic pyramidal peak of Cerro Tusa, and along the winding Cauca River. The final portion of the drive will take us into the forest, along a steep mountain road only accessible via four-wheel-drive vehicles.
- As we explore the finca, we’ll come to understand the process of growing organic coffee, including producing organic charcoal, making fertilizer from coffee shells, and cultivating microorganisms that help the coffee grow.
- On a walk through the farm, we'll stroll amid mountain streams and a profusion of flowers, keeping an eye out for local wildlife.
- At the farmhouse, we’ll cool off with some fresh fruit juice and enjoy a delicious lunch prepared by the owners and staff of the farm, followed by a walk through another part of the property.
- Enjoying a drink as the sun sets, we'll take in one of the most majestic views in Colombia before heading back to our hotel in Medellín.
Colors and Flavors of Medellín
- We'll begin the day with an exploration Medellín's civic center, learning about the roles architecture and transit have played in transforming the city. Some of the areas we'll visit were once amongst the most dangerous in the world, but are now symbols of transformation and civic pride.
- We will walk through the brilliant Parque de las Luces, then head to Parque Berrío and Plaza Botero to see the sculptures of Colombia's most iconic artist, Medellín's own Fernando Botero. At the Museum of Antioquia, we'll see sculptures, paintings, and drawings donated to the city by Botero himself.
- After stopping at a local market, we'll have lunch at a small, tucked-away restaurant that's as highly regarded as it is well hidden.
- In the afternoon, we’ll wander Minorista Market, picking through its tremendous variety of fruits, herbs, and meats. Feel free to touch, taste, smell, and take in the colors of some of Colombia’s best produce.
- Dinner will take place at the private home of a professional chef, who will teach us how to make good use of the ingredients we purchased earlier at the market. We will enjoy a home-cooked, gourmet Colombian meal and lend a hand in making it!
Onward to Cartagena
- After a final breakfast in Medellín, we will make our way to the airport for a short flight to Cartagena.
- Once we reach Cartagena, we'll explore streets and plazas lined with gorgeous blue and yellow buildings and learn about the colonial architecture of this 500-year-old city on the Caribbean coast.
- Our first stop will be La Popa monastery, set atop the city's only hill. We'll take in the building's beautiful flower-filled patio, then walk the outer wall for some excellent views of Cartagena.
- At Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, one of the largest Spanish-colonial fortresses in the world, we'll wander the tunnels, passageways, and false plazas designed to confuse intruders.
- Walking through some of the city's most iconic and picturesque neighborhoods, we'll cap off the day with something sweet: a private chocolate-making workshop at the Choco Museo.
History, Seafood, & Music in Palenque
- For our final full day in Colombia, we'll make our way to the small village of Palenque. Founded by escaped slaves in the 17th century, Palenque was the first "free" town in the Americas. As a result, it has a distinct set of linguistic, musical, and cultural traditions.
- We'll spend some time walking around town, meeting some of the residents, and learning about Palenque's fascinating history.
- After a traditional seafood lunch, we'll visit some local musicians at the place where they practice. We will listen to them play and try out a few of the instruments ourselves.
- In the afternoon, we head back to Cartagena, but not before trying some of Palenque's famous shredded-coconut sweets.
- Back in Cartagena, we'll gather for a festive farewell dinner together at one of the city's best restaurants.
Your Colombia Trip Includes
- Accommodations at a comfortable eco-lodge in Eastern Antioquia, and four-star hotels or better in Medellín and Cartagena. (Private rooms are available for a single supplement of $1,650. Otherwise we’ll work to place singles of the same gender together.)
- All breakfasts and lunches during your stay, and three dinners including welcome and farewell dinners with wine and beer. The other dinners are yours to enjoy on your own (with expert recommendations from our local hosts).
- Internal flight from Medellín to Cartagena (economy class).
- An expert local guide, as well as special guests along the way.
- Admission to all proposed activities and events as listed in the itinerary.
- A full briefing packet for each explorer, including country information, logistical and contact information, recommended reading list, and packing list.
- A curious group of fellow Atlas Obscura explorers, excited to discover all that Colombia has to offer!
Travelers are responsible for
- Transportation and flights to and from Colombia.
- Individual travel insurance (recommended).
- Baggage charges.
- Additional meals and drinks outside of Atlas Obscura offerings.
- Incidental expenses such as laundry and gift purchases.
- Expenses incurred during free time (such as a taxi to a dinner on your own), and any other services not listed above in the inclusions above.
Travelers should be reasonably fit and feel comfortable walking 3 to 6 miles each day and remaining on their feet for long periods of time. We’ll be spending a good amount of time outside and in rural areas, sometimes at high altitudes, and walking up and down stairs.
You will be charged a $500 deposit to hold your space. This deposit is nonrefundable after three days. The final payment of $3,750 will be due by November 18, 2018. All reservations will be final after this date, and subject to our cancellation policy. By submitting your deposit, you agree to the trip’s Terms & Conditions. For those wishing to have a single room, a supplement of $1,650 will be included with the final payment.
Please email us at trips@or call us at (646) 961-4857 with any questions about the itinerary, logistics, and payment.