Trip reference number: ITN-COL008
Trip Operator: Rainbow Tours
This itinerary combines the highlights of Colombia and Panama. Explore the historic centre of Panama City, the Casco Viejo, built in 1673. Admire French, Spanish and Italian influences through its architecture. Journey along the canal on a half day transit aboard the Pacific Queen and experience something truly unique, taking in the canal and its operation. Catch a flight to Bogotá, Colombia's exciting capital city before flying to the heart of the Colombian coffee triangle. Learn about the coffee making process, visit the stunning Cocora Valley and colourful traditional villages of Salento and Finlandia. Travelling overland, means soaking up Colombia's natural beauty as you head to Medellin. This is Colombia's cultural hub, the innovative city is known as the city of Eternal Spring and has a long and interesting history. Your final stop will be the Caribbean coastal city of Cartagena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a tour of this colonial city and visit the San Felipe Fortress built on San Lazaro hill. Its cobblestoned streets, lined with colourful facades and bougainvillea filled balconies make it one of Latin America's most beautiful cities.
Day 1 Depart the UK today on an overnight flight to Panama City via Bogotá.
Day 2 On arrival into Panama City, you will be met and transferred to your hotel, the Central Hotel Panama for 2 nights (and includes immediate check-in). In the afternoon, your guide will come to the hotel to take you on a half day city tour and visit to the Miraflores Lock.
Day 3 The canal transit is number five on the National Geographic's 100 Journeys of a lifetime. It took 250,000 people more than 10 years to build this engineering wonder. This partial canal transit starts at Gamboa where you will board the Pacific Queen to start the cruising part of the excursion. Enter the canal at Gaillard Cut (which is also known as Culebra Cut because its curves resemble a snake) and cruise for 13.7km to Pedro Miguel locks. You will also be able to see the ongoing work for the Canal expansion. Once at the southern end of the cut you will pass under the Centennial Bridge before reaching Pedro Miguel where you will be lowered 9 metres to the Miraflores Lake. An artificial body of water, this lake separates the canal from the Pacific ocean which is a further 18 metre drop. The partial canal transit takes around 5 hours and finishes at Flamenco Marina.
Day 4 This morning fly to Bogotá, Colombia's vibrant capital city for a 2 night stay. Cradled by Andean peaks, the cosmopolitan city is the beating heart of the country. Upon arrival, you will be met and transfered to your hotel, the NH Collection Andino. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 5 Accompanied by a guide, explore the historic centre of Bogotá, known as La Candelaria. This downtown area is where visitors with find all of Bogota’s traditional, historic attractions. The Spanish colonial centre is home to the main square; the Plaza de Boliviar, which is flanked by some of Bogotá’s most significant buildings and the Cathedral. Visit the Botero Museum; a colonial house exhibiting some of Fernando Botero’s masterpieces as well as other world-renowned artists and the Gold Museum; home to the world’s largest collection of gold artefacts and precious stones. Ride the cable car up Monserrat mountain for a bird’s eye view of the city below.
Day 6 Today fly from Bogotá to Pereira, the gateway to the coffee region. The world’s third largest producer of coffee, Colombia's finest is found here; in mineral rich volcanic soils with the help of a pleasant climate and slight altitude, the conditions are ideal for coffee bean cultivation. On arrival, you will be taken to a coffee plantation to learn about the production process from bean to cup. From the farm, enjoy picturesque views of the coffee region’s famous rolling emerald green hills and of course a coffee tasting experience. Afterwards, transfer to your hotel, a traditional hacienda style property.
Day 7 On a full day tour visit the Cocora Valley, home to the tallest wax palms and visit Salento and Finlandia. Within the Cocora Valley, head into the cloud forest to learn about the biodiversity of its flora and fauna. Marvel at the palms towering up to 60m above and spot a great number of birds such as hummingbirds, the endangered yellow-eared parrot and the palm parrot. This afternoon, continue to the quaint towns of Salento and Finlandia. The picture postcard towns boast cobblestone streets, typical paisa architecture, colourful balconies, lovely handicrafts and coffee shops. Lunch is included in a local restaurant.
Day 8 Today travel by road to Medellin (approx 5-6 hours). An optional stop at an Orchid farm can be included. Spend 2 nights at Patio del Mundo.
Day 9 Discover why Medellin is one of the best examples of social transformation and regeneration of any city. On an exciting tour, learn about the history of this infamous city and its transition to a fascinating metropolis known as the "City of Eternal Spring". Visit the downtown area, dotted with 23 Botero sculptures and some of the city’s most famous neighbourhoods such as Comuna 13.
Day 10 Transfer to the airport for your flight to Cartagena, via Bogota. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984, Cartagena is Colombia's jewel of the Caribbean. Ananda boutique hotel is located in the heart of the historic district within the city walls. The hotel is a restored XVI century colonial house with many original features.
Day 11 In Cartagena take a half day panoramic tour of this coastal colonial city and San Felipe Fortress built on San Lazaro hill. The fortress was once used to defend the city from pirates. End the tour at the artisan market to appreciate the local handicrafts. Spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Day 12 Enjoy free days in and around Cartagena. Perhaps escape the city to the beautiful Rosario Islands, ringed by coral reefs. The clear blue waters are ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving, perfect for discovering the myriad of underwater life.
Day 13 This afternoon you will be transfered to the airport to fly to Bogotá and connect onto your overnight international flight to UK.
This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website
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