The Heart of Colombia
July 13-21, 2019
Enjoy the Natural Wonders of Medellín,
Coffee Country and the Cocora Valley
Be part of history and get to know one of Latin America’s most exciting, creative and innovative cities - Medellín - along with picturesque villages in Colombia’s mountainous interior. Soak up nature’s splendor on a working coffee farm, hike beneath towering wax palms, through cloud forest and sub-alpine moorlands, and immerse yourself in the vibrant, diverse culture of Colombia.
$2495 per person
8 nights’ accommodations in boutique, centrally located hotels and farmhouse eco-cottages
Transfers to/from Medellín airport
Roundtrip domestic flight between Medellín and Pereira
All ground transportation between Medellín and Guatapé, Pereira and Salento/Cocora Valley, and group excursions
Medellín walking tour to learn about the history of social activism and revitalization in the city
Cocora Valley day hike through cloud forests and alpine zones to the subalpine paramo
Entry to the Acaime Hummingbird Reserve and opportunity for bird viewing
Learn about Colombia’s unique Wax Palm and its importance in the ecosystem
Organic coffee farm tour with tastings and an overnight farmhouse stay
Entry to El Peñol monolith in Guatapé
Willey’s Jeep ride in through the Salento Valley
Daily breakfast at our accommodations
Multiple dinners and lunches using traditional ingredients and local sourcing
Visit to our local community partner to learn about social justice in Colombia + donation to their organization
Traverse representative 24/7 + local guides
Small group experience, max 12 people
Day 1: saturday - arrival
Arrive in Medellín by 3 p.m. and be transferred to your boutique hotel. Settle in, meet your roommate, and enjoy the evening breeze in this dynamic city. We’ll have dinner at a spectacular Colombian restaurant that sources locally and presents traditional dishes with a modern twist, employing former rebel fighters and demobilized soldiers as staff and using the motto “Cooking for Peace.” Try traditional fare like bandeja paisa, tamales Antioqueños cooked inside a square-shaped wrapping made of bijao leaves, sancocho stew, or - if you’re daring - mondongo (pork, tripe and chorizo soup).
Day 2: sunday - MEDELLIN – Explorations & Community Partner
Sundays in Colombia are special, family-centered affairs. Those from Medellín, known as paisas, are hard working and entrepreneurial and today is a day of rest. After breakfast we’ll head to the outdoor art exhibits and markets, perhaps witnessing a flash-mob Zumba session along the ciclovía where Sunday streets are closed to automobile traffic. We’ll meet with our community partner and explore several innovative neighborhood development projects in the neighborhood of Comuna 13, which has become a symbol of Medellin’s rebirth. We’ll learn about the significance of street art and have a chance to meet local artists. Many have identified the essential ingredients to Comuna 13’s transformation as accessibility, creativity, and community. The afternoon & evening are yours to roam, shop, relax explore art museums such as the work of Fernando Botero, with his uniquely proportioned sculptures and painting subjects, and Medellín’s famed Botanical Garden.
Day 3: monday - MEDELLÍN & GUATAPÉ
After breakfast we’ll take private transport to the picturesque village of Guatapé, with a stop for lunch en route. We’ll get views of the lush green hills of Medellín on the way out from beautiful lookouts, and stop for aguapanela– an unrefined sugarcane drink packed with vitamins and minerals - with a side of traditional farm fresh cheese. After we check into our hotel in Guatapé, you’ll be free to roam all evening and enjoy the town’s colorful streets and surrounding waters.
Day 4: Tuesday - GUATAPÉ & EL PEÑOL MONOLITH
After a delicious paisa breakfast at our hotel, we’ll head out to El Peñon de Guatape, a ten-ton monolith - one of the largest monoliths in the world, a gigantic rock that rises 650 feet above the flat ground and lakes below and was once worshipped by the area’s Tahami Indigenous tribe. We’ll climb it the only way possible, one step at a time up its 700 steps to the top with a much-rewarded view from the top! Once back down on tierra firma, you’ll have the afternoon to stroll, shop, or photograph the famously colorful town of Guatapé. Relax in a hammock or head out to explore the surrounding lakes while enjoying fantastic local cuisine.
Day 5: wednesday - SALENTO
Today, we’ll rise and shine early before taking private transport to Medellin’s airport, hopping a short flight to the city of Pereira. From there we’ll drive to the picturesque village of Salento, right in the heart of Colombia’s Eje Cafetero, or Coffee Triangle. Recently named one of Colombia’s most architecturally beautiful towns and sustainable destinations, Salento is part of the Paso del Quindío, a key stopover for Simón Bolívar and his troops during his campaign to free Colombia from Spanish rule in the early 1800s. After a late lunch we’ll settle into our accomodations, take time to explore town and walk to the top of the Alto de la Cruz for spectacular views of the town and region. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see the white-capped Nevado del Tolima in the distance rising above the lush green hills. Dinner is on your own with dozens of restaurants and food stalls to please any palate. We recommned the plato montañero, a hearty dish of locally farmed trout and flattened plantains served with pinto beans.
Meals: B, L
Day 6: thursday - COCORA VALLEY & CLOUDFOREST HIKE
We’ll wake up early again to take a Willy’s Jeep over to the Cocora Valley to hike. The trail takes us past Wax Palms, Colombia’s national tree and the tallest palm trees in the world - reaching up to 200 feet tall. We then enter a beautiful cloudforest, switching back across several footbridges over mountain streams up to the Acaime Hummingbird Reserve, where we’ll enjoy a trail lunch and learn about Colombia’s avian diversity - at 1,900 birds and still counting. We’ll be on the lookout for toucans, eagles, songbirds and hummingbirds, known in Colombia as a colibrí or picaflor- “the flower nibbler.” We’ll then ascend to the Mirador for a spectacular view of coffee country’s lush mountains. Finally, we’ll continue on high up to the páramo, a unique sub alpine moorland that plays a critical role in ensuring Colombia’s water supply and is home to the iconic frailejones, some of the funkiest, fuzziest plants in the world. We’ll end the day back in Salento with dinner and a fireside presentation from local environmental leaders and researchers learning how Wax Palm restoration prevents the extinction of these special trees and the bird life that depends on them.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 7: friday - Organic COFFEE FARM
After a delicious breakfast of local fare and a leisurely morning in town, we’ll depart for one of the area’s fantastic coffee immersion experiences. You’ll learn about the effort it takes to meet rigorous sustainability and certification requirements and taste coffee to your heart’s content. You’ll have time in the afternoon to explore the beautiful, rustic farmhouse and surrounding property before dinner together and our overnight stay in the large, quad-occupancy rooms.
Meals: B, D
Day 8: saturday - MEDELLIN & Farewell Dinner
After an early breakfast we’ll transport back to Pereira’s airport, taking the short flight back to Medellín. The day is yours for R&R, shopping, and exploring this amazing city one last time. We’ll reconvene for our final group dinner and farewell at a spectacular restaurant located inside a beautiful house in the El Poblado neighborhood with contemporary cuisine based on local ingredients and flavors with creative, modern dishes.
Meals: B, D
Day 9: sunday - departure
Plan your airport departure for the morning or mid-day. The airport is a 1-hr to 1.5-hr drive from Medellin (located in Rio Negro, east of Medellin). You’ll receive a transfer to the airport according to your flight time.
$2495 per person, based on double occupancy (with a quad room for one night during our farmhouse stay).
Grouped by same gender unless requested otherwise.
+$495 “my own room” option
Trip Does Not Include:
Additional excursions and activities
Additional meals not specified
Required travel insurance
Your Traverse Representative:
Ashley Blake is an avid traveler, cultural consultant and outdoor enthusiast with a background in tourism, entrepreneurship and project management. She is a fluent Spanish speaker and has worked and traveled in 35+ countries across Latin America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa including tours she has led in Nicaragua, Ecuador, Spain, Germany, China and Canada.
Ashley is passionate about connection, communication and coordination in order to link others with the opportunities and experiences that promote self-growth and community engagement.
Ashley founded Traverse Journeys in 2017 with then intention of contributing to sustainable development through tourism. Ashley is particularly excited about the nature and culture-based activities and community partnerships planted with this itinerary in Colombia.
Dave Kramer’s greatest interests include travel, conservation, Latin American culture and the Spanish language. He is fluent in Spanish and has traveled to 13 countries in Latin America and has lived in both Guatemala and Colombia.
With two bilingual children, he believes in making every day an adventure with eyes wide open, noticing the details of life around us. Dave has a background in international development and conservation as well as in education - including in classroom settings and outdoor adventure learning.
There is nothing he’s more passionate about in the world than Colombia’s coffee country where he’s led backpacking trips, hiked with his father and best Colombian friend; and most of all, where he proposed marriage to his wife, a Colombian woman from Cali.
Terms & Conditions
Please refer to registration for complete terms.
A $250 non-refundable deposit is required for each traveler to secure the booking.
Payments can be made either by 1) full payment on booking 2) $250 deposit on booking + payment schedule per registration. Payments will be invoiced via e-mail for credit card or Paypal payment online. To pay by check, please indicate on registration and make check payable to Traverse Journeys and send to PO Box 40516, Austin, TX 78704.
$250 deposit due on booking. 50% remainder due 30 days from initial invoice. Balance due 30 days prior to trip start.
Cancellations, less the trip deposit ($250), are refundable up to 90 days before trip start date. Please refer to the full Payment Plan for details.
Travel insurance is required for all trips with Traverse, and must cover injury, medical, evacuation, and repatriation as well as trip cancellation and trip interruption. Most insurance companies require purchase to be made within 2-3 weeks of booking for full benefits (in particular, trip cancellation). Once insurance is obtained, a copy must be sent to Traverse. Failure to provide proof of insurance within 30 days of booking will result in trip booking suspension until proof of insurance has been provided. We suggest using Wanderwell, a B-Corp Certified provider, or you can choose from any carrier that meets our requirements.
Documents, Personal Identification, Vaccinations
Traveler is responsible for all required travel documents including passport, visas, entry or exit fees, and vaccinations. Traverse does not cover the cost or assist in obtaining any of the above, and reserves the right to collect information on all.