01582 766122
Coronavirus: a message to our customers
If you are due to travel shortly we will be in touch to support and guide you, based on current Foreign Office advice.
 
If you are ready to start planning you next holiday, our 'Book with Confidence' pledge has been created to give you peace of mind. For new bookings made before 31 December 2021, we will not charge if you need to move your holiday dates or change to a new destination due to Covid-19, up to 60 days prior to travel. You can move your holiday to any time up to 31 December 2022 or 12 months from your departure date, whichever is later*. If you are unsure of your future travel plans when you need to make this change, we will provide you with a 100% travel credit note.
* Terms and conditions
We may need to adjust the cost of your trip to reflect any seasonal differences. Sometimes non-refundable deposits are required by local suppliers, which would be specified prior to booking. If you are unable to travel, we would secure a credit note for future travel from these suppliers, but you would not get a cash refund for these items. Flights that have already been issues will be subject to the rules of your airline. All other terms and conditions remain as standard.
 
If you are looking to travel closer to home, our sister company Auriel Holidays – offers a wide range of tailor made holidays in the UK, Europe & worldwide.

Warm regards

Claire Farley, Managing Director
2by2 for holidays that will change your life
2by2 for holidays that will change your life
Call 01582 766122

Holidays to Colombia and Panama: Canal Tours + Cocora Valley + Cartagena

Colombia Highlights + Panama Canal
GPQ14B
14 NIGHTS
FROM £2,990
Per person sharing
International flights quoted separately
Holidays to Colombia and Panama Canal Tours Cocora Valley Cartagena

Our wonderful range of holidays to Colombia and Panama, including Panama Canal tours & a ride on the Coast-to-Coast Railway. Visit Bogota with its Gold Museum, Salt Cathedral, pretty colonial Ville de Leyva, the beautiful Corcora Valley in the Coffee Region & the historic walled city of Cartagena - a World Heritage site. English speaking guides, all transfers & specified sightseeing included.

Holidays to Colombia and Panama Canal Tours Cocora Valley Cartagena
• 
Holidays to Colombia and Panama
• 
Bogota
• 
Salt Cathedral
• 
Villa de Leyva
• 
Coffee Region
• 
Cocora Valley & Salento
• 
Botanical Gardens
• 
Cartagena
• 
Panama Canal Tours
• 
Panama Railway
• 
Holidays to Colombia and Panama
• 
Bogota
• 
Salt Cathedral
• 
Villa de Leyva
• 
Coffee Region
• 
Cocora Valley & Salento
• 
Botanical Gardens
• 
Cartagena
• 
Panama Canal Tours
• 
Panama Railway
Day 1
You will be met at Bogota Airport and transferred to your hotel in this high altitude city, located in a valley between the eastern and central Andes mountain ranges at 8,660 ft (2,640 m).
 
Check in and relax in this sprawling city that is the capital of Colombia.
Day 2
Today enjoy a full day private tour of Bogotá, with included restaurant lunch.
 
We start with a visit to the Gold Museum, the most important gold museum in the world, with a splendid collection of over 36,000 pre-Colombian gold and emerald pieces. Galleries on three levels display exquisitely crafted pieces dating back nearly 2,500 years. Two large carved stones from the San Agustin archaeological site can also be seen here. Visit the vault-like room on the top floor where the most treasured pieces are displayed, including the famous miniature golden raft.
 
We then walk through the cobbled alleys of La Candelaria, the historic Old Town. Here you will see many beautifully preserved Spanish colonial houses and churches that date back centuries, such as the church of Santa Clara that today contains the Museum of Colonial Art and the 17th century Church of San Francisco, the oldest surviving church in the city. View the library of Luis Angel Arango as we head for the main square - Plaza Bolívar - where you can see a statue honouring Simon Bolivar, a Venezuelan military leader who played a key role in the revolution against Spain. View the Metropolitan Cathedral, Colón Theatre, Casa de Nariño (the presidential residence, which has an observatory in its gardens), the Congress Palace, the Palace of Justice and the Cardinal's Palace.
 
Time permitting we can also visit the small Botero Museum. Housed in a beautiful colonial mansion, it showcases a collection of artwork donated to the city by Fernando Botero, Colombia’s most famous contemporary artist renowned for his proportionally exaggerated chubby figures. Around 120 pieces of his work are displayed here, including paintings, drawings and miniature sculptures. He also donated his personal collection of original artwork by Picasso, Renoir, Dalí, Degas, Chagall, Matisse, Monet and Giacometti which are also on display here.
 
At the end of the day we ascend Monserrate Hill by funicular or cable car, for panoramic views. The chapel atop this hill can be seen from almost anywhere in the city.
 
Note: When visiting churches and monasteries, women must not wear shorts or miniskirts and men must not wear shorts. The Gold Museum is closed Mondays and Botero Museum is closed Tuesdays.
Day 3
This morning your guide will drive you 4-hours to the old colonial town of Villa de Leyva, considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in Colombia.
 
After 1.5-hours we reach the small town of Zipaquirá, which was founded in 1600 and still conserves its colonial heritage. Here we visit the amazing underground Salt Cathedral, built in a cavernous series of tunnels in the worked-out section of a productive salt mine. In this darkened underground environment, you will walk past 14 small chapels, each representing one of the 'Stations of the Cross' that tells the story of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Once you reach the main Roman Catholic cathedral, you can marvel at the workmanship that went into creating this remarkable church. Afterwards we walk through the charming main square of Zipaquirá, which is the home town of Tour de France winner, Egan Bernal.
 
We then continue driving northwards through fertile agricultural lands planted with crops such as onions, potatoes, corn and tomatoes. This is also a rich dairy-producing region. As the land becomes less fertile we arrive at the colourful colonial town of Ráquira (meaning 'City of Pots'), with its vividly painted facades and beautiful buildings. This town specialises in pottery and fine handmade ceramics, so in the shops around the main square you will find everything from ceramic bowls, vases, pitchers, children’s toys, piggy banks and dwarfs to Christmas decorations.  
 
In the afternoon we arrive at Villa de Leyva, one of the most charming colonial villages in all of Colombia and steeped in atmosphere. Declared a national monument in 1954, this photogenic village has been preserved in its entirety including its whitewashed buildings with terracotta tiled roofs, pine green doors and balconies decorated with flowers. Enjoy wandering around the Plaza Mayor, the largest in the country, and exploring the beautiful wide cobbled streets. You can also walk to the nearby Plaza San Agustín and view the house of Antonio Nariño, a famous journalist, political and military leader who played an important role in Colombia's independence.
 
Note: Please be aware that the Salt Cathedral will be extremely busy with local visitors over weekends.
Day 4
Today we explore beautiful Villa de Leyva. We start with a walking tour through the colonial town. We then visit the small but fascinating Fossil Museum, as this region high in the Andes was once located just above sea level and is a treasure trove of paleontological remains - from giant dinosaurs, mammoths, armadillos, alligators and sabre toothed tigers that used to roam here to huge sea turtles and a wide variety of marine life.
 
Our next stop is the Santo Ecce Homo Convent, founded by Dominican monks in 1620. This large stone and adobe building has a lovely courtyard and floors, paved with local stones that contain many ammonites (extinct marine molluscs) and other fossils.
 
We then visit the Marqués de Villa de Leyva, one of the few wineries in the country. This vineyard produces high quality Cabernet Sauvignon and award-winning Sauvignon Blanc in a tropical climate. You can walk through the vineyard, visit the wine cellar and taste one of the wines.
 
We then return to Ville de Leyva, with the afternoon free for you to explore independently.
Day 5
Today transfer 3.5-hours to Bogotá Airport for your onward flight.
 
Along the way we make a brief stop at Tunja, the site of the Battle of Boyaca Bridge, where forces led by Simon Bolivar decisively defeated the Spanish and assured the independence of Colombia in 1819.
 
We continue to Bogotá Airport where you will be dropped off for your onward flight.

You will be met by your guide at Pereira Airport and transferred to your hotel in the extremely fertile Coffee Region, with its year-round greenery, over-sized palm trees and magnificent bamboo forests.
 
Situated in a high valley between the central and western Andes mountain ranges, this verdant region receives a high rainfall and is an abundant producer of coffee, bananas, plantains, papaya, avocados and many other agricultural products. Farmers from this region are known as Paisas and have a reputation for hard work and getting things done.
Day 6
Today enjoy a full day excursion to the cloud forests of the Cocora Valley and the colourful colonial towns of Filandia and Salento, high in the Andes.
 
Our first stop is at the charming village of Filandia, where you can climb an observation tower for 360 degree views over the whole valley. Enjoy wandering through the cobbled streets to the town square, which is surrounded by brightly painted houses and has a beautiful church. The film ’One Hundred Years of Solitude’ based on the book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez was filmed here, as well as a popular soap opera called ’Coffee, with the Scent of a Woman’.
 
We then continue 1-hour to the striking landscapes of the Cocora Valley, where Colombia's national symbol - the gigantic wax palm - can be seen. These are the largest palm trees in the world, measuring up to 200 ft (60 m) and living for more than 120 years, making for spectacular scenery. Enjoy a 2-hour hike through this magnificent reserve to a view site where, if you are fortunate, you may see Bolivia’s national bird - the enormous Andean condor - soaring on the thermals. The critically endangered yellow-eared parrot is also found here.
 
After an included restaurant lunch we drive back to Salento, one of the first settlements in Quindío state. Here you can explore the Plaza de Bolivar with its church and colourful balconies and the main street, Calle Real, with its many handicraft shops. This town is famous for its annual Yipao festival, when farmers parade and perform acrobatic tricks in their iconic (and hugely overloaded) Willys Jeeps.
 
Note: Wear good walking shoes today, as the descent from the view site is down a steep hill. If you do not wish to do the hike, you can still view the palm trees along the first part of the trail. Alternatively you can ride most of the way to the viewpoint, if requested in advance. A full day 7-hour hike is also available, including three viewpoints and seven hanging bridges, but this needs to be booked in advance and you will not have time to visit Filandia. Try and avoid weekends, when the park is very busy with local visitors.
Day 7
This morning we drive 1-hour to the Quindio Botanical Gardens in Calarca. In addition to its wonderful array of orchids, palms, ferns, guadua (bamboo) and other flora, you can visit the wonderful butterfly house that is shaped like a giant butterfly, climb the lookout tower and watch hummingbirds at the bird feeders.
 
Afterwards we visit a Coffee Farm to give you more insight into how coffee is grown and the lifestyle of the workers. Colombia prides itself on producing the finest Arabica coffee in the world, all of which is hand-picked. Learn how the plants are cultivated and how the beans are harvested, processed, sorted, dried and ultimately roasted before enjoying an excellent cup of Colombian coffee.
 
Note: The coffee fields are located on a mountain slope, so let us know in advance if you have any walking difficulties and we will arrange for you to be driven in a vehicle. Your driver today will only speak Spanish.
Day 8
Transfer to Pereira Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Cartagena Airport and transferred to this tropical port city, situated on the Caribbean coast.
 
Check into your hotel in this colourful city, whose magnificent 16th century walled Old Town is a World Heritage Site.
Day 9
This morning enjoy a half day private tour of the city of Cartagena de Indias, starting with a visit to the 17th century La Popa Monastery situated outside the Old Town on a hill that marks the highest point in the city, with spectacular views over Cartagena Bay and the modern high-rise city, as well as the Old Town. Dedicated to Our Lady of La Candelaria, this charming Augustinian monastery has a beautiful chapel with an ornate gold altar.
 
We then visit San Felipe Castle located on San Lazaro Hill, the largest Spanish military building in the New World dating back to 1536. It was built to guard the city’s landward side from invasion and has a complex system of tunnels connected to the Old City, used to distribute provisions and for a possible evacuation. The tunnels were built so that any noise would echo along them, making internal communications easier and allowing the citizens to hear even the slightest sound of an enemy advance.
 
Afterwards we enter the old walled city and walk through Las Bóvedas, a series of 23 vaults built in the 18th century and considered the last major military colonial construction within the city walls. The vaults were used as storerooms for munitions and provisions by the Spaniards and later they became jail cells. Nowadays they are used as crafts markets where you can find handicrafts, antiques, galleries, jewellery, clothing and souvenirs.
 
Our last stop is the church and monastery of San Pedro Claver, built in the early 17th century by the Jesuits. Pedro Claver, a Jesuit priest, was a defender and protector of slaves and lived in this monastery until his death. The rest of your day is at leisure to explore the charming Old Town independently.
 
Note: Short skirts should not be worn when visiting churches, monasteries and religious shrines. Colombia is the world’s largest producer of emeralds, so let your guide know if you would like to buy one and he will take you to a reputable store.
Day 10
At leisure to explore the photogenic city of Cartagena independently.
 
We suggest walking through the old colonial streets of the historic centre, starting at the Clock Tower (Torre del Reloj) that was once the main gateway into the walled city. Walk across the Plaza de la Aduana, the largest  and oldest square in the Old Town that was used as a parade ground and is now surrounded by important government building. Here you will see a statue of Christopher Colombus.
 
You can walk through the Plaza Santo Domingo, known for its nightlife and spectacular church. Enjoy the pleasant shade of Simon Bolívar Park or visit the Palace of the Inquisition - one of the finest buildings in the city but with a shameful past, as it was here that the church sought to stamp our heresy through torture. The Emerald Museum and the Gold Museum are both worth a visit.
 
Many optional activities are available in the Old Town such as a gastronomy tour, rum and chocolate tasting or a salsa tour. You can take an optional day tour to San Basilio de Palenque, the first freed slave settlement in the Americas, where you can learn more about Cartagena's iconic 'Palenqueras' (Afro-Colombian women who wear brightly coloured dresses and expertly balance heavy bowls of tropical fruit on their heads). Alternatively you can take a 1-hour boat ride to the spectacular Rosario Islands.
 
Whatever you do, ensure you soak up the atmosphere of this vibrant city that inspired the novels of Noble prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Day 11
Transfer to Cartagena Airport for your onward flight.

You will be met at Panama City Airport and transferred to your hotel in this modern city, situated on the Pacific Coast at the entrance to the Panama Canal and surrounded by tropical rainforest.
 
Panama was the starting point for the Spanish expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire of Peru, and today it is a major centre for international banking and commerce.
Day 12
Today enjoy a shared tour of Panama City, including a visit to the famous Panama Canal.  
 
We start with a visit the Miraflores Visitors Centre, where you will learn about the history and operation of this engineering wonder, with an audiovisual display and four floors of exhibits about the Panama Canal that cuts through Central America, linking the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean. From the observation deck you can enjoy 180 degree views of the southern locks and the Pacific. Depending on shipping transit schedules, you may even see a ship manoeuvre through the locks.
 
Afterwards we drive along the Amador Causeway, built as a wave-breaker during the construction of the canal and now linking four small islands to the mainland. From here you have panoramic views of the modern city skyline, the old Colonial City, Panama Bay, the Bridge of the Americas, Taboga Island and ships transiting through the canal.
 
Our tour continues with sightseeing in the old Colonial City, which is today a UNESCO World Heritage site. Originally founded in 1519, it was burnt down in 1671 on the orders of its governor, to prevent the city falling into the hands of the pirate Henry Morgan. It was rebuilt a few years later. Here you will see many beautiful baroque, colonial and neo classical churches and monuments. Among the best preserved are the Cathedral of Our Lady of Assumption, Casa Alarcón (a massive private residence) and the church and convent of Santo Domingo. The restored Old Quarter (Casco Viejo) is vibrant, with many outdoor dining venues, bars, handcraft markets. In the evening you can enjoy live music here.
 
Note: The ruins of the Old City and Canal Museum are closed on Mondays.
Day 13
Request a breakfast box from your hotel this morning, as you will be collected early (around 06.00) and transferred to Panama Canal Station in good time to board your train to the city of Colón on the Atlantic coast.
 
The Panama Canal Railway is one of the great train journeys of the world, travelling for 1-hour along a  picturesque route that crosses the Isthmus of Panama from 'Coast to Coast'. As the train proceeds from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, it follows the Panama Canal with its astonishing locks - passing through lush tropical jungle, the Culebra ('snake') Cut and across Gatun Lake.
 
You will be met at Colón Station on arrival and driven along a jungle track to Fort San Lorenzo on the Caribbean coast. At this World Heritage site you can see some interesting 17th and 18th century military fortifications built by the Spanish to defend their transatlantic trade.
 
Afterwards we visit the new locks at Agua Clara, which were put into use following an expansion of the Panama Canal in 2016. Enjoy an included lunch, with some time to enjoy beautiful Lake Gatun, before returning to Panama City by road at the end of your tour.
Day 14
At leisure to explore more of Panama City independently.
 
There are many optional excursions available - such as a partial navigation through the Panama Canal, an excursion to visit the Embera Quera tribe living in Chagres National Park, a day trip to the Gamboa Rainforest or a full day visit to the Guna Yala tribe living on the magnificent San Blas Islands.
Day 15
Transfer to Panama City Airport for your flight home.
 
Note: International airport departure tax of $50 per person payable locally.