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Visit the mountain capital of Bogota, journey through verdant fertile valleys and explore the vibrant city of Medellin before ending up in the stunning colonial port of Cartagena.
Depart the UK for your scheduled overnight flight direct to Colombia.
Arriving in Bogota in the early morning, your guide will meet you at the airport and accompany you to your hotel in the vibrant northern area of the capital city. After an early check-in and some time to relax its time to depart on a wonderful afternoon of sightseeing, beginning with a visit to the unique Gold Museum whose collection includes 35,000 pieces of pre-Hispanic gold work before visiting the dazzling museum of Botero where observers can marvel at the many great works of art including the Mona Lisa in exaggerated shape as well as paintings by Picasso. Dinner is included on your first evening giving you the chance to sample the traditional Colombian cuisine before retiring to your hotel for the night.
Following breakfast, today begins with a tour of Paloquemao Market, the city's hub that specialises in selling fresh aromatic and medicinal herbs and flowers, exotic and tropical fruits and all sorts of local food. From here you will visit the historic downtown area of 'La Candelaria', whose magnificent Baroque churches and Spanish Colonial government palace sit nestled amongst vibrant and colourful terracotta-tiled roofs, as well as time to see the Main Cathedral, a neoclassical building dating back to 1823, located in Plaza de Bolivar. Next take a cable car ride up to the summit of Monserrat Hill for breathtaking panoramic vistas showing the wide variety of areas that traverse the city from the low and colourful La Candelaria to the high-rise business sector. A wonderful old church sits atop the summit, surrounded by modern cafes and souvenir shops making a suitable place to pause and admire the view.
Depart your hotel after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your flight to Pereira - Colombia's most proliferate coffee-making region situated in the foothill of the Andes. Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel located in the Coffee Triangle where you will spend the next two nights.
Today you will explore the verdant Cocora Valley famous for its wax palm trees known to be the tallest in the world, during a walking tour of the area then up into the cloud forest to visit the traditional village of Salento to admire the ancient architecture, colourful buildings and variety of coffee produce on sale. Learn how to make empanadas during lunch, a traditional and popular Colombian snack made with cornmeal and filled with potatoes and stewed beef or pork. After lunch, continue to a local hacienda to embark on a coffee experience tour to take the journey from bean to cup, beginning with the lush, fertile plantations and ending with the drying and selection processes before making the perfect cup of sustainable Ocaso coffee.
Following breakfast, depart Pereira and travel by road to the city of Medellin making stops along the way for lunch and a chance to take photos of the scenic views over the Cauca river. Arriving in the afternoon there'll be some free time to explore the local area.
A full day tour will introduce you to the highlights of the city, providing an insight into the rich history and culture of this striking hillside metropolis. First, visit the famous Botero Plaza that exhibits the sculpture works of Colombian artist Fernando Botero, then take the metro cable up to Arvi Park Reserve for a nature walk before learning about the cultural and social transformation projects taking place in Santo Domingo, one the city's poorest areas. The rest of the afternoon is at leisure.
The "Pearl of the Caribbean", Cartagena is one of Colombia's main tourist attractions and you'll travel by plane to this beach-side city home to old colonial mansions, legendary pirate tales and balconies overflowing with flowers overlooking quaint plazas below. It was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1984 which has helped preserve the past memories and struggles between Spanish colonial ruling and independence. You will be met at the airport and accompanied to your hotel before enjoying a dinner together at a local restaurant.
Set off after breakfast for your full day tour of the city, beginning with the impregnable Spanish fortress of San Felipe de Barajas that was built to defend the city from intruders then Covento la Popa, the highest point in the city and an outstanding example of religious and colonial architecture that affords incredible views of the city below. Next visit Cartagena de Indias - the 400-year-old walled city that is packed with churches, plazas, palaces and colonial mansions making it one of the city's most enjoyable areas to appreciate and savour whilst leisurely wandering the ancient streets.
Today has been left at leisure to allow time to further explore Cartagena's sights and sounds, linger a little longer over lunch and simply enjoy the pleasures of the city. Alternatively, take the optional tour to the Rosario Islands (at a fee), located approximately one hour by boat from the south-west of Cartagena. Consisting of 27 islands and 20 hectares of coral reefs and swamps of mangroves and coconut trees they'll be the chance to stop for a swim and bathe in the clear azure waters and perhaps spot dolphins and other marine life. The tour returns in the afternoon in time to reconvene with the group for a farewell dinner all together.
After breakfast enjoy a morning at leisure before your transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK via Bogota or continue on to your chosen extension.
British passport holders are not currently required to obtain a visa in order to travel to Colombia. Further advice should be sought from the applicable tourist authority for other nationalities and for general queries. Visa requirements are subject to change and obtaining a visa is the responsibility of the traveller and not Mercury Holidays. We recommend you check with your destinations' Tourist Board or Embassy prior to departure for the most up to date guidelines regarding visas and passport validity.
We strongly recommend that you and all members of your party are suitably insured as soon as you book your holiday. It is a condition of booking that you must have suitable travel insurance. It is important that you purchase travel insurance that suitably covers your participation in whatever activities you may undertake at the time that you make your booking. To assist you with this, we have arranged travel insurance in partnership with Holiday Extras. To arrange your travel insurance with Holiday Extras, please call 0800 781 4237 and quote 'WK830' for preferential rates. Please ensure you provide us with the name of your insurer, policy number and their 24-hour emergency contact number as soon as possible. Mercury Holidays will not be liable for any costs incurred by you due to your failure to take out suitable travel insurance from the date of booking.
If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of £250pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.
Your initial flight is to El Dorado International Airport in Bogota with Avianca (AV), departing from London Heathrow Terminal 2. Each passenger is entitled to 23kg of hold luggage plus one item of hand luggage providing the exterior dimensions (height length width) do not exceed 115cm and 10kg in weight. Weight restrictions will be finalised on your e-ticket receipt. Should you wish to take additional luggage you will need to pay extra at check-in. Heathrow Airport advises that check-in should be three hours before your flight departure time.
A yellow fever vaccine is advised however, it is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include; www.fco.gov.uk, http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/, www.hpa.org.uk, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.
This tour is accessible to most people with a good level of fitness and normal mobility. It involves climbing steep stairs and getting on and off coaches and boats. This tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.
The minimum number of travellers in your group will be 10 and the maximum will be 45. In the unlikely event there are fewer than 10 passengers booked on your tour date, you may be asked to change to a different date. A full refund will be made available to you should this alternative not be suitable.
This is a fully escorted tour meaning that you will be met by a local guide in each of the cities that you visit, ensuring that you have first-hand knowledge at all times.
The currency in Colombia is the Colombian Peso (COP). We recommend that you exchange your currency before you leave the UK. US Dollars are widely accepted in Peru should you wish to keep an alternative currency on you. Cash machines are available in all the major cities to withdraw money in the local currency.
You will need to take some extra money with you to cover any dinners where these are not mentioned on your itinerary and personal purchases, such as souvenirs, extra drinks and snacks. Approximately £300-£400 per person should be sufficient for the duration of your tour. Tipping is a common practice in South America and it is customary to tip approx. USD $2-$4 per person per day which is split between the driver and the local guide. Tips can be given at the end of each day, or at the end of the tour. Tips are accepted in US dollars and local currencies.
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