Discover Colombia

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Bogota, Colombia viewed from Monserrate Mountain (Photo: iStockPhoto/Nelson Mejia)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on December 8, 2008. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: adventure travel, Alaska, Albania, arts and culture, Benin, British Columbia, Chihuahua, Colombia, diving, eco travel, family travel, hiking, India, Laos, Molly Feltner, mountain, Philippines, Scotland, sports, Togo, trekking, wildlife.

Provider: Big Five Tours & Expeditions
Length: Six days
Price: $1,880

Colombia has long had a reputation as one of the world's most dangerous destinations, and has been avoided by most travelers for decades. In the past five years, however, the country has quietly been getting its act together, putting in place stronger security measures and creating tourism programs to help it emerge onto the world travel scene. A few foreign tour companies are beginning to run trips to Colombia for intrepid travelers eager to be among the first wave to experience what the country has to offer: beautiful colonial cities, a vibrant culture, undeveloped Pacific and Caribbean beaches, and green hills where some of the world's best coffee grows.

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Next year, the custom luxury adventure company Big Five Tours & Expeditions, based in Stuart, Florida, will begin offering a six-day program in Colombia with a special emphasis on culture and coffee. The journey starts in Bogota with a guided tour of the city's historic heart. Here you'll see historic sites like the Casa de Narino, the president's palace; the richly adorned Iglesia De San Ignacio, which was constructed in 1635; and the Plaza de Bolivar, Old Bogota's central square. You'll also take the cable car up Mount Monserrate, which offers expansive views of the city.

Later you'll venture into the "Coffee Zone," a land of verdant hills and valleys in the Central Andes. "Much of the country's lifestyles and traditions are centered around coffee, so this part of the journey helps our guests really connect with Colombians," says Deborah Kilcollins of Big Five Tours. Based out of the luxurious Sazagua boutique hotel in Pereira, you'll learn about coffee traditions through visiting coffee plantations, touring the towns that developed around coffee growing, and possibly even attending the national coffee pageant in the city of Armenia. You'll also have time for hiking in Corcora Valley, where 160-foot wax palm trees tower like skyscrapers over the coffee bushes.

Trip Planning

This trip can be arranged at any time. Prices are per person based on double occupancy and include accommodations, ground transportation, daily breakfast and one lunch, guides, and entrance fees. Dinners, most lunches, and airfare are extra. Round-trip May airfare from Los Angeles to Bogota, starts at $568, including taxes, through Delta.

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