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Although we are now working from home, if you are due to travel shortly we will be in touch to support and guide you in either postponing or cancelling your trip, based on Foreign Office advice and your insurance arrangements.
 
When you feel ready to do so, we are here to help you plan your next holiday, knowing availability in many key destinations is already tight for next year. To help you move forward with confidence, our booking conditions have been relaxed in case you are unable to travel due to COVID-19 issues beyond your control (eg a new wave of infections; visa restrictions; mandatory quarantine; or cancellation of your international flight).
 
Thank you for your ongoing kindness & support in these difficult times. And remember that all our holidays are fully financially protected, wherever in the world you live.

Warm regards

Claire Farley, Managing Director

Historic Colombia: Bogota + San Agustin + Cartagena

Historic Colombia: Bogota + San Agustin + Cartagena
GPH12B
12 NIGHTS
FROM £2,998
Per person sharing
International flights quoted separately
Holiday Colombia San Agustin Gold Museum Bogota Fossil Leyva Cartagena

This holiday to Colombia focuses on the history of this stunning country, with a visit to the atmospheric San Agustin Pre-Colombian archaeological site; the astonishing Gold Museum in Bogota & small but impressive Fossil Museum in the beautifully preserved colonial town of Ville de Leyva. Also visit the historic city of Cartagena, before relaxing on Baru beach. English speaking guides, all transfers & sightseeing included.

Holiday Colombia San Agustin Gold Museum Bogota Fossil Leyva Cartagena
• 
Holiday to Colombia
• 
Bogota
• 
Gold Museum
• 
Salt Catherdal
• 
Villa De Leyva
• 
Fossil Museum
• 
San Agustin Park
• 
Tatacoa Desert
• 
Cartagena
• 
Baru
• 
Holiday to Colombia
• 
Bogota
• 
Gold Museum
• 
Salt Catherdal
• 
Villa De Leyva
• 
Fossil Museum
• 
San Agustin Park
• 
Tatacoa Desert
• 
Cartagena
• 
Baru
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 del 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 display 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 visit to 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
Enjoy a morning at leisure in Villa de Leyva.
 
In the afternoon we transfer 3.5-hours to Bogotá. 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.
 
Afterwards we continue to Bogotá, where you will be dropped off at your hotel situated near the airport.

A full day on the road today as you meet your guide at Neiva Airport and travel 5-hours along rough gravel roads to San Agustin.
 
Along the way we detour 1.5-hours visit the spectacular Tatacoa Desert (meaning 'rattlesnake'). Known by the local people as the Valley of Sorrows, this region of dry clay canyons has amazing ochre and grey sandstone formations and is today a dry tropical forest that is rich is fossils. Here we can admire the canyons and desert landscapes and visit the paleontological museum in Villavieja.
  
Afterwards your guide will introduce you to more of the beauty of western Colombia as we continue to the town of San Agustin. Situated in the Andes Mountains, at the intersection of the western and central Cordillera ranges at over 5,500 ft (1,700 m), this is the birthplace of the Magdalena River and home to an astonishing pre-Colombian archaeological site.
Days 6 To 7
Today we explore San Agustin Archaeological Park, the most important pre-Colombian historic site in Colombia.
 
This UNESCO World Heritage site contains the largest collection of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America and is considered the world's largest ancient cemetery. Two indigenous cultures lived in the adjacent valleys of the Magdalena and Cauca Rivers. Divided by uncrossable peaks, the rivers were their highways and it was here at the headwaters of both rivers that they met to trade, worship and to bury their dead. The result is more than 500 elaborate stone sculptures and tombs, mostly carved between AD 100 and 1200 by a northern Andean culture that pre-dated the Incas. Gods, animals, warriors and human faces were skilfully carved out of volcanic rock, in styles ranging from abstract to realistic, with the largest being over 23 ft (7 m) tall and weighing several tons.
 
Within the archaeological park there are several ceremonial sites, such as the Mesitas (small tables) A, B, C and D with their strange statues guarding the tombs; the Lavaplatas spring (a set of carved rocks on the bed of a creek) and the Alto del Lavaplatas megaliths at the top of the hill. At the entrance to the park you can walk through the beautiful Forest of Statues (El Bosque de las Estatuas). There is also a small archaeological museum.
 
There is also the option to hike (4 to 5-hours) or horse ride (2 to 3-hours) to the El Tablón and La Chaquira sites, where you can see more examples of these pre-Columbian statues and enjoy spectacular views of the Magdalena River.
 
Note: The Archaeological Park is closed every Tuesday. For the horse riding option you need to be a competent rider, as it is not suitable for beginners.
Day 8
This morning transfer 5-hours to Nieva 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
This morning transfer 1.5-hours to Baru Island.
 
Baru was originally a peninsula jutting out southwest from Cartagena towards the Rosario Islands, but is now cut off from the mainland by the Canal del Dique. Check into your hotel in this holiday paradise.
Day 11
At leisure to relax on the white sun-kissed beaches of Baru Island, with its warm turquoise Caribbean  waters.
 
The island is approximately 15 miles (25 km) long and in some places only half a mile (1 km) wide. The spectacular Playa Blanca is its most famous beach.
Day 12
Transfer 1.5-hours to Cartagena Airport for your flight home.

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