Colombia's Hidden Gems
Charming colonial towns and the mystical mountains of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
Personalised journeys from start to finish
Save an acre of rainforest each time you travel
Every detail taken care of
- Luxury accommodation
- Internal flights and private transfers
- All tours specified in the itinerary
- Full support from your travel designer and concierge before, during and after your trip
- All meals included during your stay at Casa Galavanta
At a glance
Colombia is a hugely diverse country. On this 11-day trip you’ll get to explore its major cities, its lesser visited but wonderfully charming towns, and its beautiful northern mountain range.
Your adventure starts in Bogota, where you’ll learn more about Colombia’s tumultuous past as well as its current political position. Enjoy exploring the winding streets of La Candelaria with your expert guide who will bring the country’s history to life as you pass through the iconic Plaza Bolivar.
From Bogota you will head to Villa de Leyva via the magnificent salt cathedral – a huge network of underground tunnels into which churches have been carved. Villa de Leyva is a real colonial treasure and a favourite weekend spot for many Colombians. Whitewashed buildings line its cobbled streets and you’ll get to discover its hidden corners with your local host.
A glorious drive through the coutryside brings you to Barichara, another of Colombia’s beautiful small towns. Enjoy time to wander along its streets and explore its squares, and hike along the Camino Real to the charming town of Guane. It’s then a short flight from Bucamarange to Cartagena, Colombia’s most handsome town, full of Caribbean spirit.
Cartegena was the inspiration for many of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novels and you’ll explore the city with a guide that specialises in the literary giant’s work. Cartagena is also a wonderful place to simply wander by foot and take in the sounds and colours that make this city so special.
Your final stop will be a wonderfully secluded private houses high up in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. From here you can hike, bird watch and horse ride to your heart’s content while enjoying the exclusivity that comes from having your own private home in the cloud forest.
Example Trip Itinerary
Meet and greet at Bogota airport
Private transfer to your hotel in Bogota
Accommodation in Bogota
- 62 rooms and suites
- Two restaurants
The beautiful Four Seasons Casa Medina was the creative vision of Santiago Medina Mejia, a Paris-educated artist and architect from Medellin. He salvaged local architectural treasures, such as stone columns and hand-carved wooden doors from two recently demolished colonial convents, to create was declared a monument by the country’s Ministry of Culture in the 1980s. The hotel features 62 rooms and suites, where beamed ceilings and aged leather accents coupled with fresh, contemporary touches making them a sophisticated blend of old and new. The hotel has two restaurants; the lively La Bodega that focuses on tapas and Colombian coffee, and Castanyoles Raciones y Tapas, where guests chave the option to dine in the beautiful glass atrium with Spanish tiles, living walls and drop lights. There is also a gym and a spa with treatment rooms, relaxation room and steam room.
- 102 rooms
- Small fitness centre
The Sofitel Victoria Regia is located in Bogota’s Zona Rosa district, with many of the capital’s top shops and restaurants on its doorstep. It takes its name from the beautiful water lily that can be found in the Colombian Amazon, and if you look up as soon as you enter the hotel, you’ll see a beautiful stained glass skylight inspired by the Victoria Regia. There are 102 rooms and suites, a blend of local Colombian character and classic French elegance. Basilic is the hotel’s in-house restaurant, serving exquisite Mediterranean cuisine using local ingredients. There is also a bar where guests can enjoy a drink before heading out to explore Bogota’s incredible foodie scene. For those that like to keep active while away, there is a small gym as well as treatment rooms where you can indulge in a massage or beauty treatment.
- 168 rooms and suites
- Fitness centre and spa
Located near the bars, restaurants and boutiques of Usaquén, is the W Bogota – a sleek hotel with a thoroughly contemporary feel. The W is inspired by the legend of El Dorado, a mythical chief who was covered in gold dust before setting sail on Lake Guatavita, into which his attendents threw gold and emeralds. There are several elements that allude to this magical tale throughout the hotel. There are 168 rooms, ranging from the Wonderful, Spectacular and Fabulous rooms to the impressive Marvellous, Wow or Extreme Wow suites. Decor is modern with splashes of bold colours and shimmering bathroom tiles. Beds are shaped like the raft aboard which the chief travelled across Lake Guatavita. Relax with a tropical fruit juice or a lulo mojito at the W Lounge. The lounge is the heart of the hotel and features delicate gold chain curtains and a huge graffiti mural depicting an interpretation of the El Dorado legend. For casual dining, head to The Market Kitchen which embraces the farm-to-table concept. There is a fitness centre that looks out over Bogota’s skyline as well as a spa with steam room, treatment rooms and hydrotherapy pool.
- 41 rooms (14 suites)
- Two bars
- Rooftop pool
- Health club
- B.O.G. is just 20 minutes drive from El Dorado International Airport
Located within Bogota’s exclusive business district, this is a modern boutique hotel with impeccable style. A contemporary design concept, which runs throughout the hotel, takes inspiration from Colombia’s most opulent exports: gold and emeralds. There is great attention to detail here, meaning B.O.G is well deserving of its Design Hotels membership. Their guest rooms and suites feature luxurious touches such as 500-thread count linens and bath products, exclusively produced for the hotel, and modern amenities such as complimentary WiFi and iPod docking stations also come as standard. B.O.G’s restaurant, La Leo, is superb and offers fusion dishes inspired and built on by traditional local recipes. Scan and choose from a fantastic cocktail menu whilst sitting at the rooftop Terrace Bar and pool, or there’s the Lounge Bar for a relaxing aperitif or two before you eat or to relax after a long flight.
Colombia's capital is as recognisable and enjoyable as any other in this continent. Packed with its colonial legacy, beautiful architecture, charming historical districts, museums recounting ancient to modern treasures and times, to sophisticated restaurants, shopping malls, local markets and much more. Your travel designer will advise you on how best to spend your time here and what aspects of Bogotá would suit you.
Together with your local host, you will explore the trendy neighbourhood surrounding your hotel, peek into quirky cafés, sample local treats, stroll along streets lined with designer boutiques and experience how locals truly enjoy Bogotá.
Walk through the winding streets of La Candelaria and surrounding neighbourhoods with your local expert, who will offer fascinating stories behind the cobblestone streets, houses, plazas and cathedrals of this neighbourhood. Passing by government buildings, the iconic Plaza Bolivar, and the city centre's impactful street art, get insight into Colombia’s difficult past and the recent political and economic revival as told through the stories of the murals.
Head north to Zipaquirá to see its famous salt cathedral. A complete church has been built into the a salt mine. Walk along the Via Crucis until you reach the imposing central nave. On a Sunday you might even find yourself in a Catholic mass.
Villa de Leyva
Accommodation in Villa de Leyva
- Seven rooms and suites
Just a short stroll from Plaza Mayor, the historic centre of Villa de Leyva, lies Casa Terra. Located on a quiet street, this boutique hotel is full of character and the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding area. Seven bright rooms are filled with local artwork and textiles and shuttered windows that flood the space with light. Surrounded by pretty gardens this tranquil hideaway is the perfect place to relax with a cup of Colombian coffee while the birds come and splash in the fountain. Local materials were used in the construction of the building, preserving the original architecture and maintaining features such as the stone walls, wooden beams and clay tiles. Some of the doors and windows were rescued from a convent in the nearby town of Chiquinquira. There is a small lounge area where you can enjoy a glass of wine while leafing through the many books on Colombian culture and nature. Your hosts are attentive and incredibly friendly but discreet, so you can properly relax and enjoy soaking in the atsmophere of this charming town.
Villa de Leyva is one of Colombia’s best colonial treasures. Literally suspended in time, having been declared a national monument in 1954, the original whitewashed mansions and cobbled streets are marred by not one bit of modern architecture. This striking town is steeped in history from when the Muiscas people built their astronomical observatory here before the Spanish arrived, to the Dominican Santo Ecce Homo Convent built with local stones embedded with fossils. It is also home to one of the largest Plaza Mayors (main squares) in all Latin America.
Walk along this beautiful colonial town's cobblestone streets with a local expert who can provide an in-depth understanding of the town's history, architecture and culture.
This transfer takes approximately four hours, during which you will pass through the beautiful Colombian countryside.
Accommodation in Barichara
- 4 rooms with space for up to 13 people
Casa Barichara is a gorgeous boutique hotel looking out across the town with its red-tiled roofs and cathedral dome. It’s the perfect spot for a few days of downtime in this spectacularly pretty part of Colombia. Designed by Ezekiel Alarcón, the simple but comfortable villa features exposed wooden beams, terracotta roof tiles and white-washed walls, invoking the Spanish colonial history of Colombia. There are six bedrooms as well as chill-out areas such as the lounge, sunny terrace with a pool and hammocks in which to laze away the afternoon.
- 14 bedrooms
- Small dining area and terrace
- Rooftop pool
Hotel Alto del Viento is located on the outskirts of Barichara, meaning guests are rewarded with beautiful views from the rooftop. The hotel is built around a central courtyard filled with tropical plants, and there are 14 bright and spacious rooms. Decor is simple but elegant and rooms feature large shuttered windows and outdoor bathrooms. There is a small dining area where guests can enjoy breakfast, as well as a small outdoor terrace. The highlight of the hotel is the rootop pool from where you can look out over the terracotta roofs and the lush green hills that surround Barichara.
Spend your time in this colonial town soaking up the well-preserved churches, getting involved with some adventure activities, hiking the old Camino Reales or horseback riding in the hills. There are lots of lovely cafes and squares where you can relax and soak up the atmosphere, as well as a great hands-on paper making museum.
Explore the region while an easy downhill hike from Barichara to the quiet village of Guane. Along the way, you'll pass tobacco fields and cow paddocks, enjoy the view over the Valley of the Río Suárez and the powerful Cordillera de Cobardes. Don’t miss the little museum of fossils and relics of the indigenous Guane tribe in the small village.
Private transfer to Bucaramanga airport
Flight from Bucaramanga to Cartagena
Private transfer to your hotel in Cartagena
Accommodation in Cartagena
- 31 rooms and suites
- Restaurant and bar
- Swimming pool
- Bikes for hire
Casa San Agustin is a beautiful boutique hotel in the heart of Cartagena’s vibrant old town. The hotel comprises three connecting 17th-century buildings, in the middle of which are the remains of an aqueduct which was used to collect rainwater for the walled city. There are 31 rooms and suites, some with their own Jacuzzi and small balcony. Rooms have maintained their colonial charm with dark wooden beamed ceilings and tiled bathrooms, but the soft blues and greens and natural fabrics add a fresh, contemporary edge. The large duplex prestige suite is ideal for small groups or families with two large en suite bedrooms, living room and small kitchen. There are beautiful orchids, Colombia’s national flower, in each room. The open-air swimming pool sits at the heart of the hotel with the aqueduct towering above. It is the perfect place to cool off and relax after a day exploring the city of Cartagena. There is a small rooftop terrace as well as a library, which features original frescoes uncovered during the renovation, where a daily afternoon tea is served. The Alma Restaurant is the perfect place to try traditional Colombian cuisine, with seafood casserole and ceviche perennially popular. The Alma Bar is a beautiful space and ideal for unwinding with a G&T. Breakfast can be enjoyed indoors or on the patio. The Aurum Spa is inspired by the gold Colombia is so famous for, and is a beautifully relaxing space where guests can indulge in a treatment.
- 51 rooms
- Rooftop swimming pool
- Small spa
Bastion Luxury Hotel is located in Cartagena’s charming old town in a restored 16th-century private home. A colonial aesthetic runs though the hotel balanced perfectly with more contemporary touches. Its 51 elegant rooms and suites have a neutral colour scheme and feel bright and fresh. Some come with a separate living area and outdoor terrace. The hotel’s restaurant, El Gobernador, showcases the best of Colombian cuisine and offers a nine-course tasting menu, while the patio restaurant offers more relaxed dining. El Gobernador also has a small patio which is a lovely space to enjoy breakfast. The rooftop terrace is a real highlight of the hotel with a good sized swimming pool, ample space to relax under a cabana and a bar where you can enjoy a drink and light bites as the sun goes down of the beautiful city of Cartagena. There is also a small spa with treatment room and outdoor Jacuzza and relaxation area, as well as a small gym.
- 103 rooms, 19 suites
- Two restaurants and one bar
With a history dating back to 1621, the former convent of Saint Clare of Assisi is now one of Cartagena’s grandest and most illustriest hotels. The Sofitel Santa Clara is still home to crypts, wells, confessionals and paintings which have been expertly resorted to fit its new life as a modern luxuiry hotel. At the centre of the hotel is a large courtyard filled with lush tropical plants and framed by the original stone arches of the convent. There are 123 rooms and suites, including four ‘iconic’ suites, two of which are insired by famous Colombian artists, Fernando Botero and Enrique Grau Araujo. More modern rooms complete with contemporary republican décor are available, many with views of the city wall and Caribbean Sea. There’s also the option of staying in the cavernous and colourful colonial rooms adorned with grand antique furniture. Enjoy modern cuisine with a Caribbean touch at the Santa Clara’s two restaurants, El Claustro and 1621, and make time to relax with a drink in the beautiful garden. The hotel is home to a large outdoor swimming pool as well as a spa and small fitness centre.
- Seven rooms
- Rooftop pool and terrace
Behind the doors of a typical house from the 17th century in the heart of Cartagena is Hotel Amarla, a beautiful space which we recommend booking as a private property. On entering the house, you’ll find yourself in a gorgeous lounge area characterised by whitewashed walls, large archways and wooden ceiling beams and filled with antiques and Colombian handicrafts. Part of this area is open-air and filled with tropical plants. There are seven rooms including their signature duplex suite with two bedrooms and bathrooms. One of the highlights of Hotel Amarla is the spectacular rooftop pool which overlooks the candy coloured dome of the cathedral. There is plenty of shaded space up here as well as a staircase that leads up to another small terrace which is a real sun trap. Views don’t get much better than this.
Cartagena is Colombia's coastal gem and its most romantic city. The warm Caribbean breeze gathers up sounds of salsa music and the scent of the flowers that cascade down from the balconies of the rainbow-coloured houses that line its cobbled streets. Steeped in colonial and nautical history, Cartagena boasts impressive ramparts, forts and bastions as well as plenty of Spanish-style architecture. This is a city made for exploring: wind your way through the historic centre passing carts laden with juicy fruit and women selling coconut candies under the shade of the arches that ring the plazas. There are also fortifications to explore, museums to discover and lots of rooftops from which to sit and watch the world go by.
Walk through Cartagena’s old city with a local expert specialised in the life and works of Colombia's remarkable Nobel prize winner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Learn about Gabo's life as you gain insight into some of his most renowned novels. Visit the mystical places where Marquez found inspiration for his famous characters, settings and stories that made him the master of magical realism. Reading Love in the Time of Cholera and/or Of Love and Other Demons prior to this tour will really make it come alive!
Private transfer to Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
Accommodation in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
- Four rooms
- Dining room
- Living room
- All meals, drinks and snacks included
Located in the heart of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria moutain range, is the wonderfully secluded Casa Galavanta. Sitting 1,500 metres above sea level between dense rainforest and coffee fields and with views across the Caribbean, this is the perfect place to switch off and reconnect with nature. The lodge has been built in harmony with its natural surroundings and there is a strong focus on protecting the environment and preserving the local culture. The decor is inspired by its location with timber-clad walls, natural colours and wicker furniture. There are just four rooms which are simple but comfortable, all featuring a hammock positioned by the window so you can make the most of the extraordinary views. There is a large living room with a fireplace leading out onto the decking where you can gaze out across the forest and over the ocean. The dining area features floor-to-ceiling windows and here you will enjoy delicious Colombian cuisine made using local organic produce such as coffee, cacoa and honey as well as herbs, fruits and vegetables picked from the garden. Guests staying at Casa Galavanta will receive three meals a day as well as snacks, local fruit, fresh juices, coffee and tea and picnic lunches for when you are out on excursions. The surrounding cloud forest results in an incredible variety of flora and fauna and there are countless walking trails right on your doorstep. There is plenty to do at the lodge including cooking classes and yoga, but there is also a lot to be said for simply sitting back and taking in this very special environment.
High up in the cloud forest in a private house with your own chef and host, how you choose to spend your time is up to you. There are lots of hikes that start from the house, fantastic birdwatching opportunities and horse riding. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included and you can join the chef in the kitchen if you want to pick up some Colombian cooking tips. Casa Galavanta's terrace overlooks the forest, the town of Sierra Nevada and the ocean and the sunsets here are epic.
Private transfer to Santa Marta airport
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Colombia's Hidden Gems
How We Work
We create fully personalised trips from start to finish, working with you to pick locations, accommodation and guides that suit you.
Each time you travel with us, you preserve an acre of precious rainforest through our partnerships.
From in-depth private tours to restaurant reservations, we take care of every detail so you can make the most of your journey.