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Colombia is one of those gems of South America that many travellers still don’t know about, and this ten-day adventure is the ideal way to experience its mountains, hidden beaches, cobblestoned towns and so much more. Be captivated by Bogota’s colonial-era centre, laze on palm-fringed stretches of Caribbean shoreline and meet the locals that make Colombia one of the world's friendliest countries. While Tayrona National Park and the Guachaca region offer gorgeous hiking trails, off-track swimming holes and powdery beaches nestled in lush jungle, eye-catching towns like Barichara are a dream to explore, and adrenaline-fuelled San Gil is just moments away. For an off-track trip in South America that’s full of rhythm, music, colour and life, Explore Colombia is right up there with the best of them.
Wander beneath the floral balconies of Cartagena, the World Heritage-listed town combining Caribbean splendour and irresistible old-world charm
Tayrona National Park is a nature escape that seems to have it all, from perfect beaches and mountain backdrops to wildlife-filled jungle
Admire the colonial-era architecture of Barichara – this little gem is widely considered Colombia's prettiest town. Get lost on the cobblestone streets or head to nearby San Gil, a hotspot for adventure sports
Cartagena is one of South America's most historic cities. The old city, particularly the inner walled town, is the main attraction – it's packed with beautiful churches, monasteries, plazas and mansions.
Day 2: Cartagena
Spend some free time today getting to know Cartagena's Old City under your own steam. Shop for local handicrafts, head up to San Felipe de Barajas Castle (the largest of the city's fortresses), or perhaps head out of town to the Volcan de Lodo El Totumo.
Day 3: Guachaca
This is a beautiful region, awash with lush green mountains that collide with the rugged coastline, enjoy a cocktail or two with your travel companions or treat yourself to a message. It's the perfect jungle paradise in which to take the pace down a notch. Once you're there, the remainder of the day is free.
Day 4: Tayrona National Park / Guachaca Region
Head to Tayrona National Park, a protected plot of wilderness encircled by the massive Santa Marta mountain range on one side and the picture-perfect Caribbean on the other. There's a fair amount of hiking involved today, so be prepared and make sure your walking shoes are on (bug spray will also come in handy). The reward, however, is not only the superb beaches but the hike itself. The ambience of the jungle, the verdant scenery and the first glimpse of the sea make for a magical day out among nature.
Day 5: Guachaca Region / Barichara
Enjoy a final morning in your jungle haven, perhaps rising early to see the sun rise from the beach. After a tasty continental breakfast, head off for your (included) flight Santa Martha to Bucaramanga (approximately 3.5 hours including a stop in Bogota). From Bucaramanga, transfer to Barichara (approximately 3 hours).
Day 6: Barichara
With free time, spend today however you please. Barichara is itself a fine place to wander around on foot, with its artistic (but safe) atmosphere and plenty of nice shops to browse.
Day 7: Barichara
After breakfast, set out on a two-hour walk along the Camino Real to the village of Guane. The walk is stunning, full of awe-inspiring mountain scenery. Declared a national monument in 1988, the ancient trail was built by the indigenous Guane people. It starts off with a gentle descent down the rim of a canyon before crossing a valley filled with cacti.
Day 8: Bogota
Today travel by local bus to Bogota via San Gil (approximately 8 hours), so kick back and enjoy the lull as the scenery rolls by.
Day 9: Bogota
Visit La Candelaria, the historic heart of the city. Boasting a wealth of cosy cafes and colonial churches, it's a neighbourhood full of surprises. As well as loads of museums, art and great food to try, it's also just a beautiful town to walk around, an interesting clash of the old and new.
Day 10: Bogota
The trip concludes after breakfast this morning.
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