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Colombia Highlights + Panama Canal


GRC13B
13 NIGHTS
FROM £2,595
International flights quoted separately
Combine the highlights of Colombia & Panama on this 2-country holiday. Visit Bogota & its surrounding colonial towns, including the Salt Cathedral, the Coffee Region and historic port city of Cartagena - a World Heritage site. Then fly to Panama City for a tour of the Panama Canal & the old town. Also visit an indigenous Indian community. All transfers & English speaking guides included.
Photo Colombia Panama Canal Tours Cartagena Bogota Tribes
• 
Bogota
• 
Salt Cathedral
• 
Villa de Leyva
• 
Coffee Region
• 
Otun Quimbaya Reserve
• 
Cocora Valley
• 
Cartagena
• 
Panama City
• 
Panama Canal
• 
Wounaan Community
• 
Bogota
• 
Salt Cathedral
• 
Villa de Leyva
• 
Coffee Region
• 
Otun Quimbaya Reserve
• 
Cocora Valley
• 
Cartagena
• 
Panama City
• 
Panama Canal
• 
Wounaan Community
Day 1
You will be met at Bogota Airport and transferred to your hotel in this sprawling high altitude city.
 
Check in and relax in this capital city of Colombia.
Day 2
Today enjoy a full day tour of the city of Bogota, starting with a funicular ride up Monserrate, the mountain that dominates the city and offers panoramic views.
 
Then enjoy a walking tour through the cobbled alleys of La Candelaria, the historic Old Town. Starting from the church of El Carmen, you will see many beautifully preserved Spanish colonial houses and churches that date back centuries, such as the church of Santa Clara that today contains the Museum of Colonial Art. In the main square, Plaza Bolívar, you can see a statue honouring Simon Bolivar - a Venezuelan military leader who played a key role in the revolution against Spanish rule.
 
There are also many beautiful buildings such as the neoclassical performance hall Teatro Colón and the 17th-century Church of San Francisco. View the presidential residence, Casa del Nariño, which has an observatory in its gardens, the National Capitol, the Palace of Justice, the Cathedral of Bogota and the Palace of the Archbishop.
 
After lunch (own account), we visit the Gold Museum with its splendid collection of over 36,000 pre-Colombian gold and emerald pieces (closed on Mondays). We also visit the Museo Botero, showcasing the art of Fernando Botero (closed on Tuesdays).
Day 3
Today we leave Bogota and travel 1-hour to Zipaquirá.
 
Here we visit the amazing Salt Cathedral - a Roman Catholic Church built in the tunnels of a salt mine 200 metres underground. The temple at the bottom has three sections representing the birth, life and death of Jesus. The icons, ornaments and architectural details are all hand carved in the halite rock, with some marble sculptures.
 
After lunch (own account), we continue 3-hours to Villa de Leyva, one of the most charming colonial villages in all of Colombia and steeped in atmosphere. Declared a national monument in 1954, this photogenic village has been preserved in its entirety, including its cobblestone streets and whitewashed buildings.
Day 4
This morning enjoy a guided walking tour of colonial Villa de Leyva, with its many whitewashed buildings. We start at Plaza San Agustín and continue to the house of Antonio Nariño, a journalist, political and military leader who played an important role in Colombia's independence.
 
We then travel 4-hours to Bogota Airport for your onward flight, stopping along the way at Tunja to see the site of the Battle of Boyaca Bridge - the definitive battle that marked Colombia’s successful fight for independence from the Spanish crown.
 
Note: Airport departure tax of $8 per person is payable locally.

You will be met at Pereira Airport and transferred to your hotel.
 
Check in and relax in this gateway to Colombia's coffee-producing region.
 
Day 5
Today enjoy a shared jeep excursion to the Cocora Valley and Salento, high in the Colombian Andes.
 
Travel 1-hour to the striking landscapes of the Cocora Valley, where Colombia's national symbol - the gigantic wax palm - can be seen. These surreal plants are the largest palm trees in the world. Take a guided walk in the magnificent cloud forest and wonder at the biodiversity of its flora and fauna.
 
After lunch at a local restaurant (pay locally), we visit the sleepy little town of Salento. Here you can explore the Plaza de Bolivar with its colourful balconies and the main street with its many craft workshops. Enjoy the panoramic viewpoint at Cocora before we return to Pereira.
Day 6
Today we suggest an optional excursion, travelling 1.5-hours to Risaralda in the heart of the Andean Mountains to visit the lush Otun Quimbaya Reserve.
 
Admire the landscape of the Otun valley, and enjoy a 2-hour level walk through this amazing flora and fauna sanctuary, where you can view more of Colombia's iconic wax palms and see a great variety of birds, butterflies and small mammals.
 
After lunch at a local restaurant (pay locally), you will have some free time to enjoy this rainforest and sub-Andean forest, before we return to Pereira.
Day 7
This morning enjoy a Coffee Tour that will give you insight into the lifestyle of workers on a coffee farm and teach you more about the history of coffee growing in Colombia.
 
Follow the production process, as coffee beans are harvested and brought to the cooperative where they are pulped and dried. You will have the opportunity to sort, toast and grind the coffee before enjoying an excellent cup of Colombian coffee.
 
After lunch at a restaurant (pay locally), transfer to Pereira Airport for your onward flight.
 
Note: Airport departure tax of $8 per person is payable locally.

You will be met at Cartagena Airport and transferred to this tropical port city, situated on the Caribbean coast.
 
Check into your hotel in this colourful city, whose 16th century walled Old Town is now a World Heritage Site.
Day 8
Enjoy a walking tour of beautiful Cartagena today, starting with a visit to the Convento de la Popa, the highest point in the city with spectacular views over Cartagena Bay. This 17th century Augustinian monastery served as a fortress during colonial times.
 
We then visit the Castle of San Felipe located on San Lazaro Hill, the largest Spanish military building in the New World dating back to 1536. It was built to guard the city’s landward side from invasion and has a complex system of tunnels connected with strategic points, used to distribute provisions and for a possible evacuation. The tunnels were built so that any noise would echo along them, making internal communications easier and allowing the citizens to hear even the slightest sound of an enemy advance.
 
We also visit the church and monastery of San Pedro Claver, built in the early 17th century by the Jesuits. Pedro Claver was a defender and protector of slaves and lived in this monastery until his death. Afternoon is at leisure to explore Cartagena independently.
 
Note: Shorts and short skirts should not be worn when visiting churches, monasteries and religious shrines.
Day 9
Transfer to the pier today for a full day excursion to the Rosario Islands in the Bay of Cartagena.
 
We sail 1-hour to this spectacular archipelago of 27 coral islands, with their crystal clear turquoise waters. The whole archipelago is a marine park and activities include swimming and snorkelling. There is an aquarium at San Martín de Pajarales and also an open-sea oceanarium (pay entrance locally).
 
Enjoy an included lunch at a local resort, before returning to Cartagena in the mid afternoon.
Day 10
Transfer to Cartagena Airport for your onward flight.
 
Note: Airport departure tax of $8 per person is payable locally.

You will be met at Panama City Airport and transferred to your hotel in this capital city, situated on the Pacific Coast at the entrance to the Panama Canal and surrounded by tropical rainforest.
 
Check into your hotel in this modern city that was the starting point for the Spanish expeditions that conquered the Inca Empire in Peru, and is today a centre for international banking and commerce.
Day 11
Today enjoy a small group tour of Panama City.
 
We start with a visit to the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal, including the Canal Museum (closed Mondays). At Miraflores lock we can stop and watch ships pass through this amazing canal that cuts through Central America, linking the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean.
 
We continue to the World Heritage site at Panama Viejo, the remaining part of old Panama City, for wonderful views of the city below (or Ancon Hill if closed). We then enjoy a walking tour of the old town - Casco Viejo (also known as Casco Antiguo).
 
Now a UNESCO world heritage site, the old Panama City was founded in 1519 but in 1671 it was burnt down on the orders of its governor, to prevent the city falling into the hands of the pirate Henry Morgan. Today it is an open air museum and you will find helpful descriptions in front of each ruin. Among the best preserved buildings are the Cathedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, the former private residence Casa Alarcón, and the church and convent of Santo Domingo.
 
Lunch is included today. After your tour you will be dropped off at your hotel or at one of the many plazas in the city.
Day 12
Today enjoy a partial navigation through the Panama Canal, as this is the best way to admire this magnificent feat of engineering that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
 
You will be collected from your hotel early and transferred to your port of embarkation at the Amador Causeway. From here you will board your boat and navigate either southwards or northwards, passing through two systems of locks on the Pacific side of the canal.
 
The Miraflores Locks are the tallest on the canal, due to the extreme tidal variation of the Pacific Ocean. Your boat will be raised or lowered 55 ft (17 m) above sea level in two steps, as the canal joins Miraflores Lake which is nearly 1.2 miles (2 km) long. A transition from the salt water of the Pacific Ocean to the fresh water of the lake and canal takes place here.
 
At the Pedro Miguel Locks your boat will be raised or lowered by 30 ft (9 m) in one step. This is where the Gaillard Cut, the narrowest section of the Panama Canal, joins Gatun Lake. The Chagres River flows into the canal here, near the town of Gamboa that is the headquarters of the Panama Canal's dredging division.
 
We also sail under the Bridge of the Americas, which connects the land divided by the canal and allows the Pan-American Highway to cross it. Lunch is included today as well as soft drinks, but as the weather can be variable remember to wear comfortable shoes and bring rain gear, as well as a sun hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Afterwards disembark and transfer back to Panama City.
 
Note: Navigation is only guaranteed on a Saturday.
Day 13
Today  travel across Gatun Lake on a shared excursion to visit the indigenous Wounaan Community.
 
You will have the very special opportunity of observing their culture and way of life, including watching their artisans at work. You will learn about their extensive knowledge of botanical plants and their cultural dances and music will take you back in time. There is also the opportunity to paint your own body with jagua fruit, as they do.
 
Afterwards enjoy a walk in the dense jungle, where you can see a great variety of birds, and visit Monkey Island where you can watch many monkey species and other small animals.
Day 14
Transfer to Panama City Airport for your flight home.

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