Colombia Discovery

This is a trip that unveils the true diversity of Colombia and northern Ecuador, from the jungles and stunning beaches of the Caribbean coast in Tayrona National Park to the snow capped peaks of the Andes and the spectacular wax palm trees of the Valle de Cocora.

Colombia is home to some of South America’s most beautiful colonial architecture as found in Cartagena, Popayan or Santa Cruz de Lorica. This is balanced by the cosmopolitan and contemporary feel of Medellin. No visit to Colombia is complete without exploring the coffee heartland around Manizales and a stay at a Coffee Finca to learn the tricks of the trade.

Further south the Afro Caribbean feel gives way to the indigenous mountain peoples of the Andes and before crossing into Ecuador to explore the Indian markets of Otavalo, you must explore the exquisite Santuario de las Lajas in Ipiales. This tour would, however, not be complete without time to explore the wonderful old colonial city of Quito, with its plethora of churches, cathedrals and markets.

  • Duration: 19 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of: Active/Adrenaline, Boating, Road Cycling, Trekking, Hiking, Local Culture & Cuisine, Historical Sites, Equestrian
  • Physical rating: Light
  • Supplier Tour ID: ZCQ2/158082
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Starts: Quito, Ecuador
  • Finishes: Cartagena, Colombia
  • Age requirement: 18 +
You will Visit
  • Quito
  • Otavalo
  • Ipiales
  • Popayán
  • Salento
  • Manizales
  • Medellín
  • Lorica
  • Tayrona National Park
  • Cartagena



Day 1: Quito

Border Information: if joining in Quito, you will most likely enter Ecuador at Quito Mariscal Sucre International Airport (IATA code: UIO).

There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm at the joining hotel - please look out at the hotel reception for a note from your leader with more details about this important meeting.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Quito before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Quito.

A note on altitude: If you are joining in Quito, we strongly recommend arriving at least 24 hours before the trip begins to allow additional time to acclimatise.

In Quito we will stay in a friendly local hotel in the 'New Town'.


Day 2: Quito

Today our journey begins with a short drive to Mitad del Mundo, the monument that marks the Equator. After this we will continue north to the charming town of Otavlo.

In Otavalo we will camp in the grounds of lovely Guesthouse..

Estimated Drive Time - 3 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).


Day 3: Ipiales

Today we will leave Ecuador behind and travel into Colombia. We will have an included visit to the Santuario de las Lajas en route to our hotel in Ipiales.

Border information: Exit Ecuador at Ipiales, enter Colombia at Ipiales.

Estimated drive time: 4 hours.


Day 4-5: Popayán

Today we will drive to the beautiful town and former colonial capital of Popay n.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours.

On the following day we will have a free day to explore Popay n or take part in some excellent treks or other optional activities in the surrounding area.

In Popay n we stay in dormitory accommodation in a local hostel.


Day 6-8: Salento

Today we will continue our journey north to the small town of Salento, the gateway to the spectacular Valle de Cocora.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

On the following day we will have a guided trek through the Cocora Valley to see the Quindio wax palm trees, the largest palms in the world and the national tree of Colombia.

In Salento we will stay at a local guesthouse in dorm rooms set within a coffee estancia.


Day 9: Manizales

Today we have a short drive to our Hacienda in the heart of the coffee region.

Estimated drive time: 1.5hrs

On arrival we will have some free time to enjoy the Hacienda or visit the thermal springs nearby.

We will stay in twin rooms in a comfortable hacienda.


Day 10-12: Medellín

Today we will drive to the vibrant city of Medell n, where we will spend 3 nights.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

On our first full day in Medell n we will have a guided walking tour of the city, and our second day will be free time to independently explore the town, its parks, churches, and museums.

In Medell n we will stay in dormitory accommodation in a centrally-located hostel, allowing you to enjoy the exciting nightlife of the city.


Day 13-14: Lorica

Today we have a drive north to the beautiful, colonial town of Santa Cruz de Lorica.

Estimated Drive Time - 10hours.

The following day we have a free day to explore the historic centre, learn about the traditional hates that are made in the region or head to the coast for a final beach sunset at San Bernardo del Viento.

In Santa Cruz de Lorica we stay in a lovely local hotel.


Day 15-16: Tayrona National Park

Today we drive north to Tayrona, one of the most popular National Parks in Colombia. Leaving our main luggage stored on the truck, we take a day-pack/night-bag and go on a moderate walk in to the park to where we will stay. Mules to carry your luggage can be hired at an extra cost.

Estimated Drive Time - 7 hours.

The following day is a free day to explore this stunning coastal park. We have the opportunity to trek to El Pueblito, a pre-Hispanic settlement of the Tayrona people, do some snorkelling, or just relax on the beautiful beaches.

In Tayrona National Park we will stay in rented hammocks. The hammocks are equipped with mosquito nets but please note that the nets are not treated with Permethrin or similar pesticides.

There is also an option to bring tents if you prefer to stay in a tent rather than a hammock, but please note that mules will have to ber hired to carry your tent, at an extra cost.


Day 17: Cartagena

We will have some more free time in Tayrona National Park in the morning, before we walk back to the park entrance and complete our epic journey with a drive to the beautiful coastal colonial city of Cartagena.

In Cartagena we will stay in a comfortable hotel just outside the historical centre.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.


Day 18: Cartagena

Today we will have an included walking tour of the city, and then the afternoon will be free to explore the city further, enjoy the many optional activities on offer, or simply relax on the beach.


Day 19: Cartagena

Border information: if you are finishing in Cartagena, you will most likely exit Colombia at Cartagena Rafael N ez International Airport (IATA code: CTG).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Cartagena. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

If you are continuing on to Panama then your leader will assist you with airport transfers for your included flight. You will stay tonight in a comfortable hotel in either Panama City or Cartagena (depending on the flight times and availability).

    • Visit the equator at Mitad del Mundo
    • Visit the jaw dropping Santuario Las Lajas on the outskirts of Ipiales
    • Head out on a half-day guided trek through the spectacular Cocora Valley, and see the incredible 50m-tall Quindio wax palms, the tallest plam trees in the world!
    • Learn all about the cultivation and production of Colombian Coffee on a guided tour
    • Explore some of Tayrona National Park's scenic walking trails, including a hike to the mysterious ancient ruins of Pueblito hidden in the jungles high above the coastline
    • Explore Cartagena on a guided walking tour
    Tour Staff
    • 2 Dragoman crew, Local guides where necessary
    • 17% Camping - 83% Hotels
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Tour Highlights:
  • Adventure Activities
  • Boating
  • Cycling
  • Hiking & Trekking
  • History & Culture
  • Horse Riding
  • Overland Journey