Group Tours with Rosa Ramirez Carlson
DAY 1 - AUGUST 15
Departure from USA
Welcome to Colombia!
Our departure from Albuquerque will be on United Airlines flight #5857 at 11:55am and arriving in Dallas at 2.37pm. There we will connect to United Airlines flight # 1123 leaving Dallas at 5.55pm and arriving in Bogotá at 11.15pm. Upon arrival and after clearing customs and immigrations we will be met and taken to our hotel.
DAY 2 - AUGUST 16
Our tour this morning begins at La Candelaria, the old historic center named after Nuestra Señora de La Candelaria. The district has retained much of its colonial atmosphere with cobblestone streets and centuries-old houses. Among the oldest educational establishments in the area is the Colegio Nacional de San Bartolomé founded by the Jesuits and operating continuously since 1604. We will visit Plaza Bolivar from where we will see the Corte Suprema de Justicia, the Catedral, the Alcaldia Mayor de Bogotá and the Capitolio. Our tour continues at the Botero Museum. Situated in a renovated colonial house, the museum was opened in 2000 after Fernando Botero, Colombia’s most famous artist, donated 208 works, 123 of his own and 85 by other international artists. After lunch we will visit the Gold Museum, which houses the world’s largest collection of pre-Hispanic gold work, making it one of Colombia’s most historically important museums. The objects on display tell us about the social make up of the regional pre-Columbian cultures. Some of these were organized into rather strict caste systems. Some dignitaries were cast in gold as half-human, half-animals because they were viewed as descendants of gods, relating to powerful animals like jaguars. The museum’s masterpiece is probably the “Muisca raft” which is displayed in its own room towards the end of the exhibition. This incredible, golden sculpture portrays a chief, his priests and six oarsmen sailing in a raft. A group of peasants discovered this incredible object in a cave south of Bogotá in 1856 and it has been dated to between 1200-1500BCE.
DAY 3 - AUGUST 17
Villa de Leyva
We leave Bogota and travel across a high Andean plateau through countryside once inhabited by the native Muisca Indians. In this region where salt deposits have been mined since pre-Colombian times, we will stop in the town of ipaquira and walk deep into the ground as we venture into the Salt Cathedral. The Salt Cathedral is renowned for its magnificent architectural and artistic style. Throughout the town square in Zipaquirá we will find beautiful buildings that have preserved their colonial style, and are considered to be national monuments. Our tour continues on through the splendor and expanse of the Bogotá Sabana to our lunch destination. After arriving in Villa de Leyva and checking into our hotel, we will have a brief walking tour of the town center.
DAY 4 - AUGUST 18
Villa de Leyva
Our full day excursion from Villa de Leyva includes a visit to several surrounding villages including Ráquira, a pottery-making village since pre-Columbian times and still considered a center of ceramic production. There are dozens of craft shops around the main square and several where you can watch pottery being made. Just 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) past Ráquira is the town of La Candelaria and the Monasterio de La Candelaria, founded in 1597 by Augustine monks, where you can visit the chapel and its 16th-century painting of La Virgen de la Candelaria, a small museum, the library and the courtyard flanked by 17th century canvases. We end this trip at Sutamarchán, where people come from hundreds of miles away to taste their famous pork sausages.
DAY 5 - AUGUST 19
Villa de Leyva
You can spend the day enjoying your surroundings. We encourage you to have a late breakfast and then go meandering through this picturesque town. For our more active travelers we recommend a hike to nearby areas.
DAY 6 - AUGUST 20
After breakfast and check out we will depart our hotel for the three hour journey back to Bogota. We will be taken to the airport for our domestic flight to Pereira. Our Avianca Airlines flight #8503 departs Bogota at 2.21pm and arrives in Pereira at 3.21pm. Upon arrival in Pereira we will be taken to our hotel.
DAY 7 - AUGUST 21
Our exploration today covers a region enveloped in the stunning natural beauty of the Cocora Valley. As we enter into Filandia, the character and architecture that has withstood generations shows us that we are in the heart of the Colombian coffee region. The town square has not changed in decades and the historical buildings, landscapes and welcoming locals makes Filandia one of the most beautiful and attractive towns in Colombia. From Filandia we will drive through the picturesque Cocora Valley, a sanctuary for the Wax Palm tree, the tallest palm tree in the world and recognized as the national tree of Colombia; it is also a threatened species.
We will continue on to Salento, a municipality in the northeastern area of the Quindío Department. This was the first modern settlement in Quindío, dating back to 1850. Offering a very traditional and rural appeal, Salento is a picturesque town surrounded by distant snowcapped mountains and spotted with various traditional houses of the original architectural style. For our more active participants, we will walk to a viewpoint which overlooks Salento on one side and the Cocora Valley on the other.
DAY 8 - AUGUST 22
With the support of Colombia Coffee Growers Association, UNESCO has recognized the region as a Colombia Coffee Cultural Landscape: an example of human adaptation to challenging geographical locations creating a landscape where the natural, cultural and economic features merge. People of coffee country are proud of this recognition. This journey will surround us with hills covered by lush green coffee, yucca and plantain fields. As you begin to appreciate this enchanting region, you’ll see the “campesinos” pass by on their way to the fields and begin to imagine what life is like for these rural populations. Today we will immerse ourselves into a very personal and up close experience in the heart of the world’s Coffee Belt. We will learn about the coffee plantations and see the process of coffee production, from seedling to coffee cup.
You’ll never look at coffee the same way again as you understand the hardships that the region’s coffee growers face and how this simple bean can affect their entire way of life. That delicious roast has a history where entire regions of people are planting, picking, toasting and tasting to bring you the magic “elixir of life” from this beautiful region of Colombia.
DAY 9 - AUGUST 23
This full day journey (6 to 8 hours) will take us through some of the most spectacular scenery in Colombia and give us the opportunity see parts of the country that visitors rarely get to experience. As you descend from the undulating hills of the Coffee Region to the valley of the Rio Cauca, the country’s second longest river, we will travel through small villages and fertile farmland before the road winds its way through the river valley and gorges to the small town and river crossing at La Pintada. From here we ascend the winding mountain road passing by orange plantations and small coffee farms before the final descent to the Aburra Valley and Medellín, the city of eternal spring. Along the way we will have lunch at one of the many excellent roadside restaurants, “estaderos”, serving simple but delicious food, prepared from local ingredients.
DAY 10 - AUGUST 24
A tour within the central area of Medellín will show why Medellín is so important to Colombia in terms of both culture and commerce. The tour will take in many of the principal sites and locations of this fascinating city. A ride on the city’s famous metro system will not only provide great views of the city but will be a unique chance to understand the geography and social make up of Colombia’s second largest city. We pass through the barrio of Santo Domingo, which once suffered from appalling levels of violence but which now has been transformed through transport, education and art projects. Line L of the metro, an aerial cable car, extends from Santo Domingo station to Parque Arvi, inaugurated in 2009. The ride from Santo Domingo to Parque Arvi takes 20 minutes over hillsides and forests and the views are spectacular. After a walk in the park, our bus will pick us up and take us to a local restaurant for lunch. In the afternoon we will visit the Parque Berrio, where we will see some spectacular sculptures by Fernando Botero, and the Museum of Antioquia before returning to our hotel. The rest of the day is free for further exploration.
DAY 11 - AUGUST 25
Today we travel from Medellin to the fascinating port of Cartagena, a name that conjures defensive walls, color, music, riches and pirates. Our flight departs Medellin on Avianca Airlines # 9313 at 11.28am and landing in Cartagena at 12.25pm. We will take a meandering walk through some of its cobbled stone streets and courtyards before enjoying a sunset drink (on your own).
DAY 12 - AUGUST 26
Our tour will begin as we walk through the old town under the Puerta Del Reloj, a symbol of Cartagena, into the Plaza de los Coches. We continue from the Plaza San Pedro Claver with its stunning church, on through to the Plaza Bolivar; with its shady areas, where a fresh lemon juice can be enjoyed while watching the world go by. Later we will continue to Castillo San Felipe. This impressive fort is the largest Spanish fortification in the Americas and dominates the old town. Finally we will visit the Convent of La Popa, a 150 meter-high (490 feet) hill that is the highest point in the city. Its name literally translates to the Convent of the Stern, after the hill's apparent similarity to a ship's stern. Its official name is actually Convento de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria. A beautiful image of La Virgen de la Candelaria, the patroness of the city, can be found in the convent's chapel, alongside a charming flower-filled patio. There is also a statue of a martyred Padre Alonso García de Paredes, a priest who was murdered along with five Spanish soldiers for trying to spread Catholicism. This is a perfect spot for outstanding views of the entire city.
DAY 13 - AUGUST 27
Cartagena de Indias is a fairy-tale city of legends, romance and absolute beauty. With its delicate historical buildings, beautiful colors and buoyant people, it is a city that can become addictive and a rather hard place to leave behind. This is a place where all sightseeing routines must be abandoned in place of a simple stroll through Cartagena’s cobbled alleyways. With towering churches, leafy plazas, enormous Moorish balconies, and a prohibition of most vehicles, there is an abundance of ease to be had. Relax and take time to visit one of Cartagena’s many open-air cafés, a prime spot to view the spectacle of horse-drawn carriages, stylish locals and bustling tourists.
DAY 14 - AUGUST 28
After breakfast and a leisure morning, we will be taken to the airport for our flight to Bogota. We will depart on Avianca Airlines flight #9757 leaving Cartagena at 5.50pm and arriving in Bogota at 7.24pm. There we will wait for our international connection on United Airlines flight #1122 leaving at 12.10am.
A Cultural Journey to Colombia
August 15 - 29, 2018
Quick Links: Colombia
Day 9 - Medellín