Cartagena – Isla Múcura – Santa Marta – Sierra Nevada
10 Days / 9 Nights
|Bastión Luxury Hotel||Cartagena||3 Nights|
|Punta Faro||Isla Múcura||2 Nights|
|Marriott Playa Dormida||Santa Marta||2 Nights|
|Casa Oropendola||Sierra Nevada||2 Nights|
- All domestic transport including ground, air, and water (flights on economy)
- Transport to and from all airports and hotels
- Hotel and housing accommodations in each destination, minimum standard of 4-stars when available
- Admission to all indicated activities
- Guides and translators at each destination and activity (English and Spanish guaranteed, extra price for other languages)
- Monitoring of all flight schedules and troubleshooting of any issues that may arise
- 24-hour emergency contact numbers
- Colombian Travel insurance for each client that comprehensively covers health throughout the country, expatriation, and some luggage issues
- All breakfasts and lunches
- Dinner, wine/beer when indicated
- Accompaniment in each destination by a member of True Colombia Travel or a highly trusted and experienced partner with whom we have worked before, unless otherwise stated or indicated, or by client request
- Water or other refreshment during transport and most activities
- International travel between Colombia and any other nation
- Food, gifts, wine, beer, or liquor when not explicitly stated
- Purchases made by the client outside of the parameters of this proposal
- Changes to the itinerary not caused by activity of True Colombia Travel
- Evening travel/taxis during free time (unless otherwise indicated)
Day 1: Arrival
Welcome to the beautiful Caribbean coast of Colombia! With two coasts (Pacific and Atlantic) running through the country, you’ll start your trip in the northern jewel of the Caribbean, Cartagena. A sprawling coastal town with a long and fascinating history, Cartagena is a modern mega-city including various distinct neighborhoods that play a key role in the early history of Colombia.
We’ll be waiting to greet you at the airport as you come through customs and ready to shuttle your over to your hotel to get settled in. Depending on the time of arrival we can schedule activities, orientations, and dinner reservations. Welcome to Colombia, you are going to have one of the most memorable trips of your life!
Day 2: Cartagena - A Walk Through 500 Years Of History
Wake up early to enjoy a sweet fresh-made mango juice and traditional “costeño” breakfast dish like arepa de huevo, a fried take on the popular Colombian arepa (corn meal patty) with one to two eggs inside and accompanied by a tomato and onion sauce called “hogao.”
You’ll be staying right in the heart of the “ciudad amurallada,” the old walled city of Cartagena. Here you’ll encounter enchanting streets and plazas lined with gorgeous bright yellow and blue walls of buildings that define the colonial architecture of this 500-year-old city.
After getting settled, walk off the sleep as you discover the history of Cartagena. Start at the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, one of the largest Spanish colonial fortresses ever built. As you walk the walls and tunnel systems of the fort you’ll gain an understanding of why, despite several attempts by outside forces, the Castillo de San Felipe was never taken and always successfully defended. You’ll see ingeniously designed pathways, acoustic passages, and even false plazas created to confuse the enemy.
After lunch, you’ll head out on foot to explore Getsemaní, one of Cartagena’s most exciting and changing neighborhoods. You’ll learn a bit about the life of the people in this area and the relationship they have had with the main walled city. You’ll walk alleyways and see some of the famous street art in this bohemian neighborhood, before heading to the historic neighborhood of Manga, where you’ll see some of the most important colonial homes on the coast.
Finally, tour of some of the key landmarks in this city that was a key hub in Spain’s inter-continental empire and later instrumental to Colombian independence. You’ll walk through neighborhoods like the one Gabriel Garcia Marquez lived in and feel the atmosphere that helped inspire his magical realism. Stop by and check out the famous bóvedas, once a prison but now a collection of small artisanal and souvenir shops. Feel free to browse at your pace and head back through the streets to go shopping for emeralds, gold, jewelry, and high-end clothing.
After the sun goes down you can wander the beautiful lit streets of the walled city and experience one of the excellent restaurants that the city features.
Dinner Recommendation: Candé
The perfect complement for a day exploring the history of Cartagena is a night exploring the gastronomy of Cartagena. Candé serves exceptional, gourmet-quality coastal food giving you the best highlights of traditional flavors and dishes in Cartagena.
Day 3: Your First Dive! Paradise In The Warm Caribbean Waters
Indulge yourself in the warm, crystal waters of the Caribbean to celebrate your next day in Colombia.
Wake up early and enjoy some fruit on the pier while waiting for your boat to take you to one of the tiny islands of the Islas del Rosario, a small archipelago of 30 islands located about 60 miles out to sea from Cartagena.
Get ready to plunge into the depths of the warm waters as you pass by pristine reefs and look out for the invasive lion fish, eels, lobsters, and more. You’ll have a fresh seafood lunch and water to refresh yourself as you beat back the heat of the day and get ready for your second dive.
In late afternoon, return to Cartagena to relax for the evening before settling in and getting ready for your next destination.
Dinner Recommendation: La Cevichería
For those looking for a distinct Caribbean flair and fresh seafood, La Cevichería is the best-known local spot for a wonderful cup of on-the-spot made ceviche.
Day 4: Transport To The Isla Múcura and Resort Punta Faro
As the sun rises on the beautiful and staggering Andes mountains, you’ll have a lovely breakfast before heading back toward the international airport for a short flight to the Caribbean coast and your final destination, Cartagena. Once you arrive you’ll go to the pier for your hotel-chartered boat ride to the isla of Múcura. You will coast on the warm waters of the Caribbean for two hours out of the bay of Cartagena, past other islands, and out into open waters. The captain on board will offer you refreshments if you’d like.
Almost out of nowhere the Islas del San Bernardo will appear on the horizon as you approach the crystalline waters of Punta Faro. As you arrive to the dock, the staff will greet you and lead you to reception for an orientation of the resort and a fresh welcome cocktail.
You’ll have the afternoon free to relax on the beach, wander the resort, and settle into your room. In the late afternoon, happy-hour begins with half off drinks which you can take anywhere on the island, or sit on the covered terrace and viewpoint overlooking the water in front of the bar. Take advantage of the opportunity to reserve a massage or a scuba diving excursion for the next day.
Lounge in a hammock as the rest of your sunny afternoon winds down. While the location of breakfast and lunch are fixed, dinner is rotated every night to take advantage of the winds, the open air, and the beautiful climate.
Food Recommendation: All meals are included, cooked fresh, and served buffet style for all guests. It’s recommended to arrive at meals on-time. Staff will serve you water, fresh juice or soda. Alcoholic beverages are very reasonably priced (average $6 – $8) and sold separately.
Day 5: Diving In The Archipelago Of San Bernardo
You’ll experience bliss and paradise on the gorgeous island of Múcura and have access to the wide variety of activities that Punta Faro provides at your leisure.
In the morning, you’ll take a dive, heading out on a boat leaving the resort and taking just a short ride to the nearby reef where you can spot turtles, barracudas, lemon sharks, and more. You’ll have two warm-water dives before returning to the hotel for the afternoon.
In addition to private beach, hammocks, and sports fields, Punta Faro offers bicycle rides through the island, ecologic walks through mangrove forests, an evening swim in a bioluminescent bay, snorkeling, scuba diving (on-site and certified dive center that caters to all levels of experience), and for rental paddle boards, kayaks, catamarans, a spa and a bar. These activities come at additional cost but are far lower than North American and European prices (a full-hour massage runs around $40).
Most activities can be scheduled same-day, but some (including the spa) have limited space available. Happy hour occurs every day from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at which times all alcoholic beverages and liquors feature a 50% discount.
Day 6: Santa Marta - Transfer and Relax On The Beach
Wake up early to enjoy your final breakfast on the island. It’s time to head to the dock and board your boat back to Cartagena. We’ll be at the pier to greet you with a car for the 3.5 hour drive to Santa Mara.
You’ll watch the shore line change as you move north toward the famed Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta. Once you arrive, you’ll be staying at a beach resort hotel. You’ll have the afternoon to head to the pool or the beach and relax as the gorgeous Santa Marta sun begins to set.
Day 7: Diving and Heading Up To The Sierra Nevada
Wake up to the warm sun and white-sand beaches of Santa Marta as you prepare to discover a world beneath the waves. You’ll be transported over to a dive shop in the neighborhood of Rodadero to be fitted for scuba gear. You will receive a briefing on basic diving principles and safety regulations. If you’re certified you’ll also learn a little about the dive sites.
Then, head out on a speed-boat for two dives off of Santa Marta and the giant park-reserve, Tayrona. In the clear waters you’ll spot lion fish, sea turtles, eels, and a tons of bright colorful coral. If the conditions are right, you can dive deeper to a sunken ship that now provides a natural reef for other sea life.
Feel free to dive together or split into two groups based on your certification levels. If you are not certified, your first dive will include a session on diving basics such as mask-clearing, breathing, bouyancy, and other principles of diving before enjoying a mini-immersion.
After a quick snack and rest, you’ll both return to the water for a second full immersion.
As the afternoon pushes on, you’ll return to the dive shop and be driven back to the historic center of Santa Marta to enjoy a late lunch, and wander the historic district walking in and out of various shops and craft stores. You can check out some of the famous mochila bags, hand-stitched by the local indigenous tribes.
Dinner Recommendation: Ouzo – Located right on the popular Parque de Los Novios (Park of the Couples) in the historic district of Santa Marta, Ouzo offers indoor or outdoor sitting in a comfortable ambient with great service. The menu features a wide range of Mediterranean-style cuisine from seafood to pizza to pasta. In particular, the grill octopus appetizer is excellent. The scene is a popular place for Colombians of all varieties.
Day 8: Welcome To Casa Oropendula
Get ready to enjoy the exotic Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the place in the world where snow-capped peaks have their closest proximity to the ocean. Covering over 30,000 acres of land and 7,400 acres of sea the famous national park, Parque Tayrona includes everything from white sandy beaches in its bays, to rainforest, to snowcapped peaks just 40 kilometers inland. You’ll be staying up in the mountains with breath-taking views of the area below in the area of the mountain for bird-watching.
Casa Oropéndola is a private lodge nested in a cloud forest, between dense jungles and coffee fields, and with a perfect view of the Caribbean ocean. The property sits at 1,500 meters above sea level (about 4500 feet), in the heart of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a lush mountain range that rises from the ocean up to 5,776 meters. The mountain’s ecosystem is particularly unique because of the cloud forest formations that shelter an incredible biodiversity of flora and fauna. It is also considered to be one of the world’s most irreplaceable nature reserves, and a prime destination for birdwatchers, who visit the region to see some of the 628 bird species (of which 20 are endemic).
Since the house is completely surrounded by nature, you should expect to see amazing birds, butterflies, and even monkeys and deer. A percentage of the profits from Casa Oropéndola and the experiences offered are dedicated to supporting local indigenous communities’ and projects to revitalize traditional education, in addition to Western education. It is critical that the new generations continue upholding the importance of protecting the environment and preserving their ancient culture, traditions and beliefs.
After arriving, you’ll be treated to a private cooking class by the house’s chef and you’ll have the ability to wander the grounds, have a fire lit for you, and relax in the mountain before the next day’s adventure (cooking lesson can be pushed to the following day as well). Enjoy hikes on the grounds and relax and destress from so much time in the sun.
Dinner Recommendation: All meals included at Casa Orapendula
Day 9: Trekking, Birds, Coffee and Cooking In The Sierra Nevada
Today you won’t have to go far, after waking up and enjoying a private breakfast, your personal host at the house will take you out on a nearby walk to look for birds up in the mountain. A nature enthusiast with a wonderful eye for conservation, your host will help you learn about the eco-system and the flora and fauna as you spot scores of hummingbirds, “backpackers” for whom the house (Oropendula) is famously named, and more. The walks range between 1 and 3 hours and do not require major physical requirements.
Afterwards you’ll return to the house and have a chance to visit the coffee produced exclusively for the house. Learning a bit about the coffee you’ll have a chance to harvest from the plants, a surprisingly therapeutic activity, before enjoying a cup of fresh coffee!
In the late afternoon you’ll head back for another quiet afternoon by the fire, and afterwards (if you haven’t done so the night before), you’ll join Casa Orapendula’s chef to prepare some local delicacies and learn about some of the secrets of the kitchen. The chef will propose various options so that together you can decide on the menu for your class. Learn about the best techniques for grilling, discover local dishes, or experiment with new ingredients like tropical fruits, coffee or chocolate.
Day 9: Departure
Take your time in the morning to sleep in and enjoy breakfast. Around 11 a.m. your private transport will pick you up for the 1-hour drive back to Santa Marta. From there you will take a flight back home.
|Tour price per person||$4,199.00|