Colombia

Colombia: Peace, at Long Last

Colombia is a diverse, complex, beautiful country facing a turning point in its history. Change can be felt and seen in every corner, as a new country is reborn from the ashes of decades of conflict.


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Starts At
$3,550

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Length
14 Days




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Your Itinerary


Tour Difficulty:

Tour Highlights

  • Discover first-hand how former right-wing paramilitaries and left-wing guerrilla fighters are rejoining society and giving hope to a new generation of peace
  • Spend time with brave young indigenous and afro-descendant activists defending their heritage and crafting a more inclusive Colombia
  • Experience thriving Medellín, one of the great success stories of Latin America, and Cartagena, where history meets modernity
  • Visit Tayrona National Park, where blissful tropical beaches meet the Sierra Nevada mountains - a snow-covered mountain right in the middle of the Caribbean!  
  • Immerse yourself in Colombian culture: from the intoxicating rhythms of cumbia and vallenato to delicious arepas and refreshing luladas, from intricate and ancient goldwork to the sumptuous modern paintings of Botero, see why Colombians are so proud of their heritage.
Day Briefing

Arrival​ ​to​ ​El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá​ ​and​ ​transport​ ​to​ ​​hotel. Introductory dinner in the evening to meet the other travelers and the Justice Travel team, discussing the current​ ​situation​ ​in​ ​the​ ​country and the goals of the trip.

Hotel: BH Bicentenario Hotel, in the historic La Candelaria neighborhood


Day Briefing

Begin the day with the famous cable car ride to Monserrate, 3152 meters above sea level, for the best views of the city. We will then head through La Candelaria’s narrow cobblestone streets to the world class Gold Museum and Botero Gallery.

Afterwards we will have a different kind of window into Colombia with a guided tour of the incredible street art in Bogotá.     

In the evening, dinner with civil society initiative Rodeemos el Diálogo (ReD), an NGO dedicated to the peace process in Colombia. They will be our guides on the next day’s activity.

Hotel: BH Bicentenario Hotel


Day Briefing

After an early breakfast, we will travel with ReD to Icononzo in the mountains to the southwest of Bogotá. This day will be an incredibly unique experience to visit with former FARC guerrilla members, seeing behind the headlines and learning what it means to return to society after decades of conflict.

Return to Bogotá in the evening.

Hotel: BH Bicentenario Hotel


Day Briefing

We will spend the morning with Juan Fernando Londoño, former Vice Minister of Interior, to discuss our visit to Icononzo and the current political conundrum in Colombia. A chance to learn and ask questions with a true political insider.

The rest of the day will be free to explore the city, with suggested activities. Or just rest up for the next few days of travel!

Hotel: BH Bicentenario Hotel


Day Briefing

After breakfast we will take a short flight to Cali. 

We will spend the afternoon in Cali with AFRODES, the Association of Displaced Afro-Colombian communities, getting to know both their struggle and the vibrant Afro-Colombian culture. AFRODES has been a vocal advocate for true peace, going beyond a cessation of conflict to build a more just and equal future.

Hotel: Hotel Obelisco, in the El Peñon neighborhood


Day Briefing

In the morning we’ll meet with local indigenous leaders on a beautiful finca in one of the lushest green valleys on earth. The Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca (ACIN) represents the interests of rural communities across the region, and is fighting to make sure that peace comes to Cauca – and stays. They are also key allies of AFRODES.

Hotel: Hotel Obelisco


Day Briefing

In the morning, we will visit the Cristo Rey statue for amazing panoramic view of the city.

No visit to Cali is complete without experiencing salsa, one of the most representative expressions of the joyful and celebratory spirit of Colombians.  Don’t worry if you’ve never danced before, Cali is the ideal place to learn. After all that dancing, we’ll have an early dinner and jump on a short flight to Medellín.

Hotel: Hotel Poblado Alejandría, in the El Poblado neighborhood

Photo credit: Hectorangelazul – Eigenes Werk, CC-BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46315922


Day Briefing

Medellín is one of the great success stories of Latin America. Our guide today, a professor from the University of Antioquia, will help us see, through the eyes of local residents, the story of how Medellin went from narco capital to the ‘Most Innovative City in the World’. We’ll visit Comuna 1, Museo Casa de la Memoria, and ride high above the city on the famous cable car.

Hotel: Hotel Poblado Alejandría


Day Briefing

Colombian coffee is the best in the world. It is also an true protagonist in Colombian history, and today supports thousands of rural communities. We’ll visit Granada, just outside Medellín, where partners Tejipaz and Urbania Café are working with farmers who were violently displaced during the conflict and are now returning home to their verdant green coffee farms.     

Hotel: Hotel Poblado Alejandría


Day Briefing

The Sierra Nevada mountains are a Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site, the world’s highest coastal mountain range. We’ll take a short early morning flight to Santa Marta and travel up the coast, stopping to visit the location where Simón Bolivar died and have lunch with Cámara Oscura, a young group of innovative activists using film to heal the wounds of the past.

We’ll stay the night at Finca Barlovento, an eco-touristic paradise on the beach.

Photo credit: Dwayne Reilander – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63661639


Day Briefing

Tayrona is famed as a magical place located between mountains, tropical forest and some of the most beautiful white sand beaches of the country. We’ll have a relaxing day on the beach, a chance to swim in the clear blue Caribbean and take a nap. Watch out for one of the park’s 300 species of birds!

Hotel: Finca Barlovento


Day Briefing

The famed “Pearl of the Caribbean” has it all: astonishing colonial architecture and magical sunsets that will transport you into a Gabriel García Márquez novel, mouthwatering cuisine, entrancing music – and staggering inequality. We’ll see both sides of this fascinating city. After a morning ride, we’ll spend the rest of the day with FEM in the La Popa neighborhood, understanding the relationship between the extreme wealth and extreme poverty in Cartagena. . 

Hotel: Hotel Simón Bolivar, in the Getsemani neighborhood


Day Briefing

In the morning, a guided tour of the historic center of the city. A stark contrast – and in many ways, an explanation – for what we saw yesterday.

In the evening we will all sit together for a closing dinner. This is an opportunity to discuss everything we’ve experienced and learned, and build an action plan for you and your fellow travelers to become ambassadors for our partners in your own countries and your own communities.

Hotel: Hotel Simón Bolivar


Day Briefing

Departure from Cartagena.

Alternatively, we can book you a ticket back to Bogotá to fly home. This carries an additional cost of US$150. After you have paid the deposit, please let us know if you would prefer to depart from Bogotá and we will arrange the flight.


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Country Representative
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Our expert Country Representative will accompany you throughout the tour

Accomodation
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All 3- and 4-star hotels

Guide
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Experienced, bilingual guides

Meals
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All breakfasts, and some lunches and dinners included

Transportation
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All ground transportation (including airport pickup and drop-off) is included, as well as flights within the country. Note that if you want to depart from Bogotá instead of Cartagena, there is an additional cost of US$150 for the extra flight.

International flights
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You must purchase international flights separately

Travel insurance
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You must purchase travel insurance separately

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Departure dates

Prices displayed below are based on per person, double occupancy.

Start End Price Action
Tuesday
August 7, 2018
Bogotá
Monday
August 20, 2018
Cartagena / Bogotá
$3550
Tuesday
October 2, 2018
Bogotá
Monday
October 15, 2018
Cartagena / Bogotá
$3550
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Understand Before You Go

Colombia is a hectic, complex, beautiful country currently facing a turning point in its history. Without exaggerating, it is one of the most exciting countries on the planet today. Change can be felt and seen in every corner, as a new country is reborn after decades of conflict. The UN Secretary General recently said that Colombia is one of the few sources of good news in the world, as a result of the recently concluded peace deal between the government and the FARC.

Dare to adventure into Colombian diversity, which stands out as the only country in Latin America touching the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific Ocean, the Andes, and the Amazon Rainforest! Each region invites you to discover a new world of different flavors, rhythms, landscapes and traditions.

History

Even though Colombia is one of Latin America's oldest and most stable democracies, decades of violent conflict prevented it from flourishing as a prosperous nation - to the point that back in 2005 it was labeled as a “failed state”. Fast forward to the present and the difference is remarkable. Since 2002 the country has been making significant progress towards improving security (according to government figures, 2017 was the safest for the country in the past 40 years) and building the foundation of a new country.   

Colombia seems to be ready to turn the page of conflict, which is great news if it leads to realizing the full potential of the country. In Colombian civil society, voices are increasingly demanding a political agenda focusing on bridging inequality divide and leveraging the rights of the traditionally excluded indigenous and afro-descendant communities. Justice Travel will guide you into some of the most fascinating stories in the country, of brave activists breaking with violence and pointing the way towards a prosperous future.   

Read: Oblivion: A Memoir

Watch: There was no time for sadness

 

People

Colombia is a multiethnic country with an estimated 49 million people - the third most populous country in Latin America. Colombians have a diverse cultural heritage, descending from original indigenous communities, European immigrants primarily from Spain, Africans originally brought as slaves, and immigrants from the Middle East. Spanish is the most commonly spoken language but there are over 60 living indigenous languages. 

Although diverse overall, there is a clear divide in the country, with the indigenous and afro-descendant populations inhabiting mainly rural and historically neglected territories, and areas where the armed conflict has been lived with greater intensity. These communities face death threats and violence, and they most affected by forced displacement - Colombia has the world’s second-largest population of internally displaced persons after Syria.

Read: ¡Basta ya! Colombia: memories of war and dignity 

Watch: “Los Colores de la Montaña”

 

Culture

Colombian culture reflects the diversity of its peoples and variety of landscapes. Because of its natural structure, it can be differentiated six very distinct natural regions (Andean, Caribbean, Pacific, Orinoquia, Amazon and Insular regions), each one with unique traditions and cultural expressions. Clothing, cuisine, handcrafts, rhythms, even the character of people changes based on the region in which they live. Colombians often joke about how hard is to believe that they all belong to the same country.

Art is a key element for Colombian society, one of the few spaces allowing common ground and dialogue among people from different regions and backgrounds. Artistic expression allows people to tell their own stories, all sharing an essential Colombian quality: A country of extravagant beauty where violence has been a persistent sickness; a country full of creativity which often has been used for the wrong purposes; a country where the surreal and the real get mixed together. It is no coincidence that “magical realism”, literary genre found in the novels of Colombian Gabriel Garcia Marquez, was born here.

Read: A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1982 Nobel Prize in Literature)

Watch: Doris Salcedo's Public Works

 

Land

Colombia is the fourth largest country in South America. It is about the same size as France, Spain and Portugal combined, or Texas and California put together.  Colombia is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean to the north, the only country in South America that has coastlines on both seas. The Amazon rainforest runs along its southern border, and the Andes mountains run north to south, giving the country a significant variation of climates and ecosystems. Among other amazing facts, you may find it interesting that:

  • Per square foot, it is the most bio-diverse country in the world
  • It has more species of birds and frogs than any other country
  • Colombia has the sixth-largest renewable freshwater supply in the world
  • Certain parts of Chocó, on the Pacific coast, receive more rainfall than anywhere else on Earth
  • It is a major producer of gold, silver, emeralds, platinum and coal

With the end of over 50 years of civil war, there are great expectations for Colombia as an ecotourism hub. Nevertheless, there are huge challenges due to the strong link between conflict and environment. Large portions of the country have been left unexplored for decades because of the violence, and with peace a national debate has been ignited about land rights and land usage. At the core of that discussion is the return of indigenous and Afro-Colombian populations who were violently displaced from their ancestral territories, as well as the creation of sustainable alternatives to guarantee their livelihoods.        

Read: Peace and environmental protection in Colombia

Watch: Colombia wild magic

 

Food

Variety of climates and ecosystems make of Colombia a mecca for foodies. Exotic fruits are a delight for the senses, an extravaganza of flavors, shapes and colors. Colombian cuisine benefits from fresh and organic products coming from the different regions all year round, resulting in magnificent autochthonous dishes which blend food preparation traditions brought by migrants from around the world.

Colombia is one of the seven countries that the UN has identified as major future food producers. The post-conflict progress and further development of the country depend on how successful Colombia is at creating jobs and sustainable productive projects for the a burgeoning food industry, capable of raising living standards in rural areas and reaching new foreign markets to guarantee a stronger local economy.

We will have a unique opportunity to learn first-hand how the transition to peace is being paved by local producers. We will visit Granada, a small town outside of Medellín, where our partners Urbania Cafe and Tejipaz are supporting coffee-growing livelihoods for families forced to flee their homes during the decades of violence in the region.      

Read: 23 Food Reasons Colombians Know What’s Good

Watch: Anthony Bourdain No Reservations - Colombia

 

Climate

Colombia is located on the Equator, meaning that in each region the temperature varies little throughout the year. However, Colombia's different regions are quite diverse and weather can change rapidly, so packing can be tricky. It also varies according to altitude so expect a cold climate in the mountains, and warm and tropical on the coasts and the north. Bogota is 45 to 67 Fahrenheit so you will need a jacket, especially during the nights when it can get really cold. Do not show up in shorts and flip-flops! Cali and Medellin (known as the city of eternal spring) have warmer temperatures between 63 and 87 Fahrenheit; while Cartagena and Santa Marta have temperatures rising up to 91 Fahrenheit so light clothing will be needed. It's always handy to have a light rain jacket with you throughout the tour. 

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Tour Operator
Macondo DMC

Macondo DMC is leading the return of tourism to Colombia, and as a member of the US Tour Operators Association, one of the most professional and environmentally conscious travel companies in the region. Their name originating in the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Macondo has offices across the country and a unique combination of customer service and commitment to the communities they visit.
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Our Partners

ACIN

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Afrodes

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Camara Oscura

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Casa de la Memoria

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Tejipaz

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Tour Operator
Macondo DMC

Macondo DMC is leading the return of tourism to Colombia, and as a member of the US Tour Operators Association, one of the most professional and environmentally conscious travel companies in the region. Their name originating in the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Macondo has offices across the country and a unique combination of customer service and commitment to the communities they visit.

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Country Representative
Juan J. Orjuela
Country Representative

Juan has a Masters in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex (UK); a postgraduate degree in Development, Social Responsibility and Organizations from Universidad de Los Andes; and a B.A. in Government and International Relations from Universidad Externado de Colombia. He has over nine years of professional experience while working for UNDP, International IDEA, the Pacific Alliance, the Colombian national government and local NGOs. He enjoys travels, politics, books, sports, music, photography, new flavors. He believes in the power of curiosity; aroused by the puzzling Latin America and the ongoing transformation of Colombia.

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