The Undiscovered Colombia Adventure
This Colombia adventure is for intrepid travellers fired up with at least a little bit of the spirit of a pioneer. It is for people in love with nature, culture, adventure, and the road less travelled. You’ll be visiting the capital city, Bogota, before flying to the Caribbean coast and embarking on a five-day trek to the fabled Lost City, hidden deep in the jungle. After relaxing by the Caribbean for a couple of days you’ll travel south to the Colombian Amazon rainforest where you’ll experience the present-day life of its indigenous people and discover its wildlife and habitats.
- Discover the modern multicultural city of Bogotá
- Walk in the Sierra Nevada on a five-day hike through stunning landscapes
- Climb the 1200 stone steps to the remote and mysterious Lost City
- Unwind in the beautiful and relaxed Caribbean city of Cartagena de Indias
- Experience fascinating indigenous Amazonian rituals
- Camp on a breathtaking tree-top platform in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest
- Kayak along the Yahaurcaca creek and lake enjoying the sights and sounds of the Amazon
- Go on an evening river expedition to see rainforest wildlife, such as caiman, monkeys and sloth
This is a private tour and you will be accompanied by an English-speaking local guide during all excursions, and throughout your time on the Lost City Trek (Days 3-7), and in the Amazon (Days 10-14). The price displayed is per person based on two people sharing. All of our tours can be tailor-made to suit you.
To find out more about hiking to the Lost City, read The Guardian article Colombia’s Lost City: Lore of the Jungle.
This Colombia tour can be easily combined with one of our other South America adventures. To explore Colombia further, check our Intrepid Colombia Tour, the Criollo Colombia Tour or the Chicamocha Canyon & Colonial Colombia Adventure. It would also combine well with our From the Andes to the Pacific Coast – Ecuador Tour, the Amazon & Galapagos Tour, the Lake Titicaca & Machu Picchu Tour or the Natural Costa Rica Tour.
Colombia is an intriguing mixture of modern cities and remote wilderness, and on this tour you’ll experience both. First up you’ll explore the multicultural city of Bogota, before heading north to the Caribbean coast and plunging into the jungle for a challenging trek to the Lost City.
The Lost City is an ancient ruined citadel hidden deep in the Colombian jungle, just inland from the Caribbean coast. The only way to get there is by helicopter or on your own two feet. We’ll be taking the long way around and hiking there over five days. Along the way you’ll sleep in hammocks, swim in cool rivers and hike through spectacular forest to these incredible ruins.
You’ll be hiking up some steep paths and over rough terrain, as well as wading through rivers, so you’ll need to come equipped, both with the right attitude and the right equipment. Though it can be challenging in parts, there will be plenty of breaks for long lunches and refreshing swims, and you’ll be in a mixed ability group with several guides, so you can go at your own pace. Very often the most amazing experiences are the hardest won, and this hike is most certainly testament to that.
After your hike you’ll spend a couple of days relaxing in the Caribbean cities of Santa Marta and the beautiful Cartagena de Indias. From the Caribbean you’ll fly to the Colombian Amazon where you’ll be staying with several indigenous communities. You’ll experience their way of life and find out about traditional Amazonian rituals. You’ll be sleeping in hammocks and tree houses in the midst of the rainforest, making for a very real and immediate experience of the Amazon. Through hikes, canoe trips and boat rides you’ll discover its diverse plant and animal wildlife, and even cross briefly into the Brazilian and Peruvian Amazon!
Day 1: Bogota (-/-/-)
On arrival in Colombia you will be met at the airport, taken to your well-located hotel in the city and given some time to settle in, acclimatise and relax.
Day 2: Bogota to Santa Marta (B/-/-)
After breakfast, go on a guided city tour that includes La Candelaria, the Gold Museum and Monserrate Mountain, from where you have a great view over the city. Late afternoon, transfer to the airport for a flight to Santa Marta (approx 1.5h) on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Upon arrival you’ll be transferred to your comfortable hotel.
Day 3: Santa Marta to El Mamey – Lost City Hike (B/L/D)
After an early breakfast, you’ll be picked up for your journey to El Mamey, the starting point of the hike to the Lost City, an ancient settlement buried deep in the jungle. After shouldering your pack and filling your water bottle, you’ll set out into the jungle. The first part of the hiking route starts with a bang, following a steep ascent of 3-4 hours. After stopping for lunch, you’ll be able to rest and cool off with a swim in the refreshing waters of several natural rock basins. In the evening you will have a delicious dinner at a local farm before hitting your hammock for the night.
Day 4: The Lost City Hike (B/L/D)
Today you’ll have an early rise in time for breakfast at around 7am, before setting out on your hike. You’ll walk along a beautiful trail passing through abundant vegetation and enjoying memorable views of steep, forested hillsides. After lunch you’ll hike on to the valley of the Buritaca River where you’ll be able to take a welcome swim in its cool waters. Along the way you will see some interesting indigenous dwellings such as those at the small settlement of Mutanshi where the Kogui people live. In the evening, we will eat dinner and then sleep overnight in hammocks.
Day 5: The Lost City Hike (B/L/D)
After an early breakfast you’ll walk for about 4-5 hours to the Mumake-Teyumake native cabin. After lunch and a rest you’ll meet with Mamo Romualdo, the main religious leader of the local people who you’ll be able to talk to about local customs and beliefs. Mamo’s dwelling is one hour away through the forest, and in order to get there you will follow a winding path crossing several creeks. After arriving back at camp, we’ll enjoy dinner and sleep overnight in hammocks.
Day 6: The Lost City Hike (B/L/D)
You guessed it - another early breakfast. Then, we’ll walk for an hour to the archaeological area of the Lost City. Here, you’ll climb the 1200 ancient stone steps to reach Teyuna, the Lost City of the Tayronas, a sacred site for Indian communities living in the mountains. You can explore the remains of this incredible city, look at the archaeological excavations and experience its architecture. There will be spare time to enjoy the landscape and take photos. Then, we’ll have our meal and trek back to the native cabin where we’ll sleep in hammocks or beds.
Day 7: Return to Santa Marta (B/L/-)
After breakfast, you can spend the morning exploring the area and swimming in the local rivers. Then we’ll hike back to El Mamey (around 6 hours) and travel back to Santa Marta where you’ll rediscover the joys of a comfortable bed and a hot shower in your comfortable hotel.
Day 8: Santa Marta to Cartagena (B/-/-)
This morning you’ll be picked up at your hotel after breakfast to enjoy a guided tour of Santa Marta. After lunch, transfer to the station to take a bus to beautiful Cartagena de Indias (approx 4 hours). Check-in at a charming hotel in the Walled City. Free evening to enjoy the coastal breeze, alfresco drinks and a lively nightlife.
Day 9: Cartagena (B/-/-)
After breakfast, go on a guided city tour of this magnificent city. Free afternoon after lunch to enjoy the beach and free evening to walk through the small cobbled streets of this colourful walled city.
Day 10: Cartagena to the Amazon (B/-/D)
Today is Amazon day! We’ll take the first flight from Cartagena to Bogota, and then connect to Leticia (approx 5h in total). You’ll be picked up at the airport and transferred to the house of your host, Don Placido Huitoto, where he’ll talk to you about present-day indigenous culture and beliefs. You’ll find out about coca chewing and other indigenous rituals, as well as tasting traditional food and finding out about native agriculture, and customs. In the evening you’ll enjoy a dinner prepared over an open fire, and listen to stories about the region, its myths and its legends. Later on we’ll arrange hammocks and mosquito nets before falling asleep to the sounds of the forest.
Day 11: The Amazon (B/L/D)
Today you’ll eat breakfast in the maloca (ancient indigenous house) and then take a walk through this remote area of jungle (about 4 hours). After that, we’ll set up the camping area, constructing a fire, and slinging hammocks and mosquito nets. You’ll have lunch, explore the area, observing fauna and flora, and in the evening, if conditions are favourable, we’ll go fishing. Tonight, you’ll enjoy dinner under the stars before falling asleep.
Day 12: The Amazon (B/L/D)
Today we head to the Agape Natural Reserve, where we’ll swim in the creek, and walk to a very special tree, where we will be spending the night. We’ll climb up the tree to the platform at a height of about 35m, with the help of ropes and safety equipment. It is here that you can watch the sunset and enjoy the forest from on high. Dinner will be served in the tree and then you can choose between camping on the tree top platform (mats, blankets and mosquito nets provided), or else climbing back down to the Agape Nature Reserve and settling there in shared rooms with beds and mosquito nets.
Day 13: The Amazon (B/L/D)
Today will be a full and exciting day. After enjoying breakfast we’ll walk through the jungle to Tikuna, in the San Pedro community (approx 1hr). From there we’ll take kayaks and paddle along the Yahaurcaca creek and lake (around 4hrs during high water season. During low water season - July to Nov - we’ll take a slightly shorter kayak trip). Afterwards we board a private boat and sail up the Amazon River into Peru. We’ll cross the flooded zone in the Peruvian jungle, watching birds and other fauna typical of this habitat (monkeys, lizards, sloth) and have lunch on board. Whilst sailing through the Zacambu Lakes and the Javari River (which forms the border between Peru and Brazil). We’ll also visit a Brazilian-Peruvian family that runs a hostel built in the indigenous architectural style. (During low water season: we’ll go fishing, canoeing, observe river dolphins, and visit Amazon beaches). In the evening we’ll have dinner, and if the weather is good, we’ll go on an evening river expedition, which includes caiman watching.
Day 14: The Amazon to Bogota (B/L/-)
Today you’ll make the return journey to Leticia, and depending on the day’s flight schedule you may have the chance to stop off in some riverside villages along the way, such as Islandia or Santa Rosa. The journey will be taken by boat along the Javari River, along the frontier with Brazil and Peru, before heading upstream along the Amazon River arriving in Leticia in time for your flight to Bogota. Once there you’ll be met and transferred to your hotel in Bogota.
Day 15: Bogota (B/-/-)
Today is the last day of your Undiscovered Colombia Adventure. After breakfast (or lunch) you’ll transfer to the airport for your flight home.
- Trip duration: 15 days
- Countries visited: Colombia
- Comfort level: Adventure Accommodation in hostels (always in a private room) and B&Bs, and sometimes in hammocks, rustic cabins or tents. Internal transport is overland rather than by plane wherever possible. Note: this is a guideline, please refer to the tour detailed description for what is and is not included.
- Level of difficulty: Medium
- Accommodation: 2 nights in a hotel in Bogota, 2 nights in a hotel in Santa Marta, 4 nights in hammocks/bunks on the Lost City hike, 2 nights in a hotel in Cartagena 4 nights in hammocks/tree houses/bunks in the Amazon.
- Transport: Internal flights, mini-van, bus, private car, boat
- Meals included: 14 breakfasts, 9 lunches, 8 dinners
- Percentage of cost going to local communities: At least 35%
- Bilingual guide: Available in English, French or Spanish
- Extra services:
You will be greeted at the airport on arrival by our local team who will take you to your hotel and will be able to answer any questions, make any additional arrangements and generally ensure everything goes smoothly. No minimum number of passengers required and you will not be travelling with a group of people you do not know. Prices quoted are per person and based on at least 2 people travelling. For our standard tours, the maximum number of passengers who can travel together is 6. If you are travelling alone, or if your group is bigger than 6 people, please send us an enquiry and we will get back to you with your best options (do also ask about our discounts for groups). Furthermore our tailor-made tours are flexible and can combine several countries, levels of comfort and destinations, so do not hesitate to let us know exactly what you are looking for. Your passport is required at time of booking. For information on visa requirements and health formalities please visit the FCO Travel Advice Website. You will need a Yellow Fever vaccination for travel to the Amazon.
Return flights from London to Bogota start at £700pp. We can assist you to find and/or book the best flights. We will assist you with information on money changing in each destination, as well as what it is customary to tip for various services.
This tour of Colombia has a medium level of physical difficulty and includes several days of hiking and camping. If you have any concerns or require special arrangements please call or email us to discuss.
What to bring: Travel insurance, passport, binoculars, alarm clock, walking shoes, water bottle, daypack, sun protection, insect repellent, sun glasses and hat, swimwear, flip-flops, torch with extra batteries, head-lamp, travel towel, water bottle, water purification tablets, comfortable light cotton shirts with long and short sleeves, comfortable trousers made of cotton or a light synthetic material (bring at least two sets of light clothes which can be washed and dried easily), shorts, rain coat, plastic ziplock bags, plastic bags for your luggage in case of rain.
- Best time to travel: All year round
- Extra budget recommended: Around £200pp to cover meals and all other expenses not included in the itinerary.
- What is included: Welcome reception at the airport. Transfers (some may be shared) and internal flights. Overland transport. Accommodation. Entrance fees to sites of interest, museums and national parks mentioned in the itinerary. Guided activities and excursions with English speaking guides (some private, some as part of a small group). Meals as stated in the itinerary (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner). Contributions to the social projects visited. Donation to help in preserving the Amazon rainforest through agro-forestry and education.
- What is not included: Flights from your country of origin. Travel insurance. Alcoholic drinks. Additional meals or snacks. Travel within and around each town. Visa fees (if any). Tips. Souvenirs.
Bogota, the Athens of South America
With over 7 million inhabitants Bogota is the most populous city in Colombia and one of the largest in Latin America. Its generous supply of universities and libraries has earned it the title of ‘the Athens of South America’. Originally the homeland of the Muisca people, the area was colonised by Spanish conquistadores in the sixteenth century, many of them searching for gold and souls to convert to Christianity. Bogota has been at the epicentre of Colombia’s political struggles from independence through to the modern era. The Bogotazo uprising of 1948, in reaction to the assassination of popular Liberal Party leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, is still remembered as a defining moment in the country’s recent history. Today the city offers a wide range of attractions from the spectacular Museo del Oro (Museum of Gold), through to the Botero Art Museum, the old town of La Candelaria, and the Monserrate Sanctuary looking down from the hills to the city below.
Leticia, in the heart of the jungle
Leticia is a small town deep in the Amazon, which was at the centre of a brief war between Peru and Colombia in the early 1930s. The border conflict was resolved in 1934 through the successful intervention of the League of Nations. Founded in the 1860s, according to a local legend this remote city got its name from a Colombian soldier who fell in love with an Indian woman called Leticia. An alternative version is that a Peruvian pioneer named it after a girlfriend he had left back in Iquitos who went by the very anglo-saxon name of Leticia Smith. Whatever the origin, Leticia faces a sister settlement across the Amazon, the Brazilian town of Tabatinga. At one time a centre for drugs smuggling across the three borders, Leticia now rests its development hopes on tourism, with attractions such as its rivers, tropical rainforests, and nature reserves.
Breathtaking Parks and Nature Reserves
On this tour you will visit some of Colombia’s outstanding parks and nature reserves. At the Calanoa Jungle Lodge you will get a chance to stay in a wonderful natural habitat that is also home to birds and monkeys, frogs, butterflies, and the most surprising insects, flowers and plants. At the Aguas Claras Nature Reserve on the Amazon you’ll visit the Ticuna indigenous community and see the Huitoto Malocas, their communal dwellings. For a dramatic change of scene the Utria National Park offers mangrove swamps and mist-covered and thickly vegetated jungle foothills which swoop down to the Pacific coast line. Here you can find ocelots, pacaranas, agoutis, deer, wild pigs, silky anteaters, sloths, and bats. And out in the Pacific Ocean waters there are humpback whales to watch close up.
The Undiscovered Colombia Adventure
£ 1,685 GBP
Colombia is an intriguing mixture of modern cities and remote wilderness, and on this adventure you’ll experience them both. First up you’ll explore the multicultural city of Bogota, before heading north to the Caribbean coast and plunging into the jungle for a challenging five-day hike to the Lost City. From there it’s on to the Amazon Rainforest, on the border with Peru and Brazil, to discover its fascinating habitat, wildlife and indigenous people.