The Undiscovered Colombia Adventure
This Colombia adventure is for intrepid travellers fired up with at least a little bit of the pioneer spirit. It is for people in love with nature, culture, adventure, and the road less travelled. You’ll start by visiting the capital city, Bogota, before traveling south to the Colombian Amazon rainforest where you’ll experience the present-day life of its indigenous people and discover its wildlife and habitats. Next you’ll fly up to the Caribbean coast and embark on a challenging five-day trek to the fabled Lost City, hidden deep in the jungle. Finally, you’ll get a chance to unwind in Cartagena, the undisputed queen of the Caribbean.
- Discover the modern multicultural city of Bogotá
- Experience fascinating indigenous Amazonian rituals
- Camp on a breathtaking tree-top platform in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest
- Kayak along the Yahaurcaca creek enjoying the sights and sounds of the Amazon
- Go on an evening river expedition to see rainforest wildlife, such as caiman, monkeys and sloth
- Walk through the Sierra Nevada on a five-day hike amidst 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
This is a private tour and you will be accompanied by an English-speaking local guide during all excursions, and throughout your time in the Amazon and during your Lost City Trek. 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 south 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!
From there you’ll fly north to the Caribbean coast and plunge into the jungle for a challenging but fun 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 Cartagena de Indias, a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site, before heading back to Bogota for your return flight home, or perhaps another adventure!
Day 1: Bogota (-/-/-)
Welcome reception and transfer from the airport for check-in at your comfortable hotel in La Candelaria, the historic centre of the city. On the way to the hotel, your guide will give you all the tips and recommendations you need to make the most of your stay in Colombia. Free time to relax and/ or explore Bogota, depending on your arrival time.
Day 2: Bogota (B/-/-)
After breakfast, you will be picked-up for a full-day private city tour. In the morning you will discover La Candelaria neighbourhood and the city centre. In the afternoon, you will embark on a visit the city’s main attractions, including the main square, the Botero museum, the world famous Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) and Monserrate mountain, from where you’ll have amazing views over the city. Free evening to relax and enjoy the city.
Day 3: Bogota to Leticia (B/-/D)
Today is Amazon day! We’ll transfer to Bogota airport for a midday flight to Leticia (approx. 2 hrs). All excursions and activities in Leticia are private, and you'll be with the same English-speaking guide throughout. You’ll be welcomed at Leticia airport and transferred to the house of your host. Here you will learn 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 mattresses and mosquito nets before falling asleep to the sounds of the forest.
Day 4: Around Leticia - Jungle walk (B/L/D)
Today we’ll eat breakfast in the maloca (ancient indigenous house) and then take a guided walk through this remote part of jungle (about 4 hours). After that, we’ll set up the camping area, constructing a fire, and hanging mosquito nets over the mattresses. We’ll have lunch, explore the area, observing fauna and flora, and in the evening, if conditions are favourable, we’ll go fishing. You’ll enjoy dinner under the stars before falling asleep in the camping area.
Day 5: Around Leticia – Canopy tour (B/L/D)
Today, after breakfast, we’ll head to the Agape Natural Reserve. Here 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 you can choose between camping on the tree top platform (mats, blankets and mosquito nets provided), or climbing back down to the Agape Nature Reserve and sleeping instead in shared rooms with beds and mosquito nets.
Day 6: Around Leticia - The Amazon River (B/L/D)
Today is a full and exciting day! After enjoying breakfast, we’ll walk through the jungle to Tikuna, and the San Pedro community (approx. 1hr). From here 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’ll 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 enjoy lunch on board. After sailing through the Zacambu Lakes and the Javari River (which forms the border between Peru and Brazil), we’ll stop to visit a Brazilian-Peruvian family that runs a hostel built in the indigenous architectural style, and this is where we will spend the night. In the evening we’ll have dinner, and if the weather is good, we’ll go on an evening river expedition, which includes looking for caimans.
Day 7: The Amazon River - Leticia - Santa Marta (B/-/-)
Today you’ll make the return journey to Leticia and have the chance to stop off in some riverside villages along the way, such as Islandia or Santa Rosa. After breakfast, you will be taken by boat along the Javari River, which forms the boundary between Brazil and Peru, before heading upstream along the Amazon River, arriving in Leticia in time for your earlier afternoon flight to Santa Marta (approx. 6 hours, with a stopover in Bogota). On arrival in Santa Marta, you will be transferred to your comfortable hotel. Free evening to relax and prepare for the Lost City Trek.
Day 8: Santa Marta - Machete Pelao - Camp Adan (B/L/D)
After an early breakfast at your hotel, you will be picked-up in a minivan and transferred to Machete Pelao (3.5 hours approx.), for your 5 day small group excursion to the Lost City. After lunch, your adventure will properly begin and we’ll start our trek! The first part of the route will be rather steep, and will take around 6 hours to complete, until we reach our first destination: the rural community of Adan. In the evening we will have a delicious dinner at the local settlers’ farm, and sleep in hammocks with mosquito nets.
Day 9: Trek to Paraiso Teyuna (B/L/D)
At 7am we’ll serve breakfast and we’ll then walk for 8 hours to the camp at Paraiso Teyuna. The trail is beautiful with abundant vegetation and memorable views. During the hike, we’ll stop for lunch in the indigenous Wiwa community. From there, we can easily reach the valley of the Buritaca River (15 minute walk) where there will be an opportunity to enjoy some swimming. We will then continue our hike, where we’ll have the opportunity to see indigenous dwellings such as those at the small settlement of Mutanshi, where the Kogui people live. After dinner at in Paraiso Teyuna, we’ll sleep overnight in beds or hammocks with mosquito nets.
Day 10: The Lost City (B/L/D)
You guessed it - another early start! After breakfast, we’ll walk for an hour or so to the archaeological area. Here, you’ll have to climb the 1200 stone steps to reach Teyuna, the Lost City of the Taironas, a sacred site for indigenous communities living in the mountains. You will meet up with Mamo Romualdo, the main religious authority for local people. Mamo’s dwelling is part of the Lost City complex, but in order to get there we’ll have to cross a few creeks, so we hope you will have remembered a pair of sandals! You will have time to explore the remains of this ancient city, look at the archaeological excavations and experience its architecture. There will also be time to enjoy the landscape and take photos. We’ll then head back to Paraiso Teynuna to have our lunch, before trekking back to the Wiwa Camp (approx. 6 hrs) where we’ll sleep in hammocks with mosquito nets.
Day 11: Wiwi Camp - Adan Camp (B/L/D)
Today you will enjoy a well-deserved free morning to relax or go swimming in Buritaca river! After lunch at Wiwa Camp, we’ll walk for around 6 hours until we reach the rural community of Adan. You’ll be be able to admire the lush vegetation and wildlife of the Sierra along the way. After dinner, you’ll sleep in hammocks with mosquito nets.
Day 12: Adan Camp to Santa Marta (B/L/-)
After an early breakfast, we’ll hike back to Machete Pelao (around 5 hours), where we will have lunch. We’ll then travel back to Santa Marta (approx. 2.5hrs) where you’ll rediscover the joys of a comfortable bed and a hot shower in your hotel! Free afternoon and evening to relax.
Day 13: Santa Marta - Cartagena (B/-/-)
This morning you’ll be picked up at your hotel after breakfast to enjoy a private half-day tour of Santa Marta. Early that afternoon, you'll enjoy a transfer to the beautiful Cartagena de Indias (approx. 5 hrs). After checking at a charming hotel in the historic city-centre, you'll have a free evening to appreciate the coastal breeze, alfresco drinks and lively nightlife.
Day 14: Cartagena (B/-/-)
In the morning, you’ll go on a private city tour to discover the main highlights of Cartagena, including the San Felipe Castle and the Cero de la Popa. The city is the undisputed queen of the Caribbean, and Cartagena’s old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Optional day trip to Islas del Rosario: Travel in the morning to Isla del Encanto, a charming coral archipelago located only 50 minutes by speedboat. Upon your arrival, free time for you to explore this beautiful place and enjoy the beaches of the National Natural Park of Corales. Optional nautical activities available upon arrival.
Day 15: Cartagena to Bogota (B/-/-)
This is the last day of your Undiscovered Colombia Adventure. You will transfer to the airport to catch a flight to Bogota for your connecting flight home.
- Trip duration: 15 days
- Countries visited: Colombia
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, 4 nights in hammocks/tree houses/bunks in the Amazon, 2 nights in a hotel in Santa Marta, 4 nights in hammocks/bunks on the Lost City trek and 2 nights in a hotel in Cartagena.
- Transport: Internal flights, mini-van, bus, private car, boat
- Meals included: 14 breakfasts, 8 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 overall, and includes several days of hiking and camping. Some people find the Lost City Trek quite challenging. 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.