Colombia: The Future of Sustainable Peace
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11 days

from ₹4,12,800 trip_detail hint icon

Prices are indicative. Based on twin share. The rate of exchange calculated is approximate and the final tour cost will be as on the final date of payment. Taxes are additional.

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Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include walking tours, visits to sites, safari drives, and easy hikes; and some days will have more physical activities such as longer hikes, kayaking, snorkeling, or biking.

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Premium expeditions are led by a National Geographic expert, an expedition team, or top guides, and tap into National Geographic's worldwide resources to allow for in-depth exploration and special access to sites and experts in the field. Itineraries are fully planned, with some free time. Accommodations are high-end or best available. Ground transportation and most meals and activities are included in the trip price.

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EXPEDITION OVERVIEW
  • Join experts from National Geographic and The Wall Street Journal to explore revitalized neighborhoods in Bogotá and Medellín, and hear from local guides on how these communities are slowly emerging from their crime-ridden pasts.
  • Tour a sustainable cacao farm to learn how the crop came to symbolize the country’s battle with cocaine production—and is offering a way forward for local farmers.
  • Meet with indigenous groups in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains to glimpse age-old traditions and hear about mining projects threatening their ancestral lands.
  • Immerse yourself in vallenato—the iconic, accordion-led music of Colombia—on a visit to the Casa Beto Murgas Accordion Museum in Valledupar.
EXPERTS ON THIS TRIP

A National Geographic and Wall Street Journal expert will accompany each departure, and local guides join us along the way.

Itinerary

Emerald mountains, quaint colonial towns, irresistible coffee, and the nostalgic strains of vallenato music—Colombia’s riches have been inaccessible to travelers for decades due to prolonged civil conflict. This intriguing nation is gradually emerging from its tumultuous past following a landmark 2016 peace treaty. Witness the rebirth of Colombia’s major cities—from Bogotá to Medellín—and learn how strategic public projects are helping convert crime-ridden communities into havens of creativity. Venture to the countryside to meet coffee and cacao farmers, former guerrilla fighters and indigenous tribes, and hear inspiring stories of resilience. Get immersed in Colombia’s vibrant culture as you travel, and gain firsthand insights on the country’s troubled history and the challenges it faces moving forward.

Day 1: Bogotá, Colombia

Arrive in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. Settle into your elegant hotel, situated in the stylish Zona Rosa district.

Day 2: Bogotá

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Set out to discover some of Bogotá’s most emblematic sights. Climb up the commanding Monserrate mountain for sweeping views of the city, then head down to the historic La Candelaria neighborhood—the heart of Bogotá. Bask in the glow of more than 30,000 pre-Columbian artifacts at the extraordinary Gold Museum; stroll across the grand Plaza Bolívar, named after South America’s celebrated liberator; and stop at El Chorro de Quevedo, where the city is said to have been founded.

Later, take a walking tour of the Egipto neighborhood. Until just a few years ago, this low-income neighborhood was a hotbed of crime and gang violence. Hear from your tour guides—former gang members themselves—about the community’s transformation, then sample exotic fruits in a local market and enjoy a hip-hop dance performance. Tonight, join your experts from National Geographic and Wall Street Journal experts for a welcome dinner.

Day 3: Bogotá

Spend the morning in Matarredonda Ecological Park hiking through pristine paramo landscapes—a type of alpine grassland that grows just below the snow line. Later, learn about the significance and impact of Colombia’s monumental peace treaty. Signed between the Colombian government and FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) in November 2016, the treaty marked the end of a violent civil conflict that had ravaged the country for more than 50 years. Meet with a university professor over lunch to hear about the efforts that brought the treaty to fruition. Pay a visit to the moving Center of Memory, Peace and Reconciliation; and speak with the women behind the Memoria y Nación exhibit at the National Museum of Colombia.

Day 4: Zipacón/Valledupar

Immerse yourself in the aromatic world of coffee on an excursion to La Palma y El Tucan coffee farm. This sustainable, fair-trade farm buys its fruit directly from local families at a better price than the national average, and provides training opportunities to help farmers improve crop quality and yield. Tour the farm’s advanced milling and processing facilities, observe the different stages of coffee production—from bean to brew—and learn about what sets Colombian coffee apart. Then drive to the Bogotá airport to connect to your flight to Valledupar.

Day 5: Valledupar

Known as the “forest city” for its abundant vegetation, the town of Valledupar was largely off-limits to travelers during the darker years of Colombia’s civil conflict. After breakfast, embark on a walking tour of this tree-lined city. Stroll the lively Plaza Alfonso López, then visit the Casa Beto Murgas Accordion Museum to learn about vallenato music, an expressive blend of African, European, and indigenous styles that originated around Valledupar. Admire the museum’s impressive collection of accordions, vallenato’s signature instrument. This afternoon, pay a visit to an indigenous Kankuamo village north of the city. Native to Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, the Kankuamo have managed to preserve their cultural identity and traditions despite centuries of persecution. Hear from community elders about the Kankuamo “law of origin,” and observe a dance performance and weaving demonstration.

Day 6: San José de Oriente

This morning, we drive to the hilltop village of San José de Oriente for an eye-opening tour of Tierra Grata, a rehabilitation facility for ex-FARC guerrillas and their families. Talk with these former fighters and hear how agriculture and tourism initiatives are providing them with economic opportunity. After lunch, meet with members of an Arhuaco community. Another indigenous tribe of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the Arhuaco have been battling the Colombian government to roll back mining projects that threaten the ecology of their ancestral lands. We’ll have the opportunity to speak with Arhuaco lawyers for an insider’s perspective on the dispute.

Day 7: Medellín

Fly to Medellín, known as the “city of eternal spring.” Surrounded by lush mountains and fragrant flower farms, Medellín is undergoing a resurgence after a turbulent late 20th century, when it was ruled by infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar. Settle into your chic hotel, and spend the afternoon at leisure.

Day 8: Medellín

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Spend the day learning about Medellín’s troubled past and the strides the city has taken to ensure a safer future for its residents. Begin with a visit to Moravia—a former landfill that became home to thousands of rural migrants displaced during the 1970s and 80s by the civil conflict. Hear about the social, urban, and ecological efforts that have transformed this space into a beautiful park; then continue to Comuna 13, once one of Colombia’s most notorious neighborhoods. Meet with local leaders and learn how government- and NGO-sponsored art and music programs have transformed this one-time epicenter of drug violence into a vibrant community.

Day 9: Medellín

After breakfast, head out for a tour of a sustainable cacao farm. Discover the history of this extraordinary fruit, native to Central and South America and cultivated for millennia by indigenous tribes; then learn about how the region’s chocolate production came to a halt when cacao farms were taken over by drug cartels to grow coca. Meet with farmers displaced by the conflict, and discuss the impact of a United Nations-backed project that is helping growers reclaim their farms and livelihoods. Try your hand at producing a bar of artisanal chocolate, and cap off the tour with a taste of pure hot chocolate, prepared in the Colombian fashion.

Day 10: Medellín

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Today, we explore Medellín’s La Sierra neighborhood on an illuminating walking tour. Plagued with crime and gang violence for decades, this mountainside district is turning a new chapter, spurred by the introduction of public transport. Visit the House of Memory Museum, which records the stories of the survivors and victims of Colombia’s protracted conflict, and walk past evocative street murals. Prepare traditional Colombian specialties during a hands-on cooking class, then meet with a political scientist for an analysis of how the city’s strategic projects have impacted its citizens. Our tour culminates with a ride on La Sierra cable car, which gives a firsthand look at how new infrastructure is improving the quality of life for community members. This evening, toast your Colombia journey at a farewell dinner.

Day 11: Medellín

Transfer to the Medellín airport for your international flight home.

What to Expect

This expedition is rated as light/moderate; travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Travelers should expect full days, many of which require several miles of walking. Much of the touring occurs outside, rain or shine, and offers limited access to shade or benches. Excursions may include navigating uneven terrain, climbing stairs without handrails, and walking on paths with steep ascents or descents. On Day 3, travelers will hike in Matarredonda Ecological Park. Please note that there are some long travel days on rough terrain.

ACCOMMODATIONS

Throughout the trip, we stay in ideally located, high-end hotels with ample amenities.

1 /5

Sofitel Bogotá Victoria Regia - Bogotá, Colombia

Designed by renowned Colombian architect Miguel Soto, this hotel combines classic French elegance with locally inspired elements. Stunning marble floors greet guests in the lobby, while wood trimmings lend a warm, cozy feel to the rooms. For a gourmet dining experience, guests can head to the on-site restaurant, serving French and Colombian fusion fare; or step out in the nearby Zona T neighborhood to discover some of Bogotá’s most popular eateries.

2 /5

Sonesta Hotel Valledupar - Valledupar, Colombia

Conveniently located in downtown Valledupar, this modern hotel offers comfortable rooms with a range of amenities. At the on-site restaurant, guests can sample creative dishes that highlight local produce while enjoying breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains. The hotel also boasts an outdoor pool, a gym, and a colorful lobby bar.

3 /5

Sonesta Hotel Valledupar - Valledupar, Colombia

Conveniently located in downtown Valledupar, this modern hotel offers comfortable rooms with a range of amenities. At the on-site restaurant, guests can sample creative dishes that highlight local produce while enjoying breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains. The hotel also boasts an outdoor pool, a gym, and a colorful lobby bar.

4 /5

Sonesta Hotel Valledupar - Valledupar, Colombia

Conveniently located in downtown Valledupar, this modern hotel offers comfortable rooms with a range of amenities. At the on-site restaurant, guests can sample creative dishes that highlight local produce while enjoying breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains. The hotel also boasts an outdoor pool, a gym, and a colorful lobby bar.

5 /5

Hotel Park 10 - Medellín, Colombia

A beautiful brick building surrounded by lush foliage, Hotel Park 10 is located in Medellín’s lively Zona Rosa neighborhood. The cappucino-colored marble floors and luxurious wood paneling in the common areas evokes colonial-era clubhouses, while mid-century furniture and a chromatic color scheme in the rooms adds to hotel’s old-world ambience. Relax with a book in the charming, leafy terrace; enjoy a meal at the on-site restaurant; or indulge in a range of therapies at the spa.

PRICES & DATES

  • date Mar 27-Apr 6, 2020
  • double occupancy ₹ 4,12,800 Per Person
  • single occupancy ₹4,81,300 Per Person
  • extensions yes

Prices are per person based on double or single occupancy (unless otherwise noted) and do not include international airfare to/from your destination. Internal flights are $275 per person. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars and subject to change. See the terms and conditions for this trip for more information.

  • Transfers upon arrival and departure
  • Accommodation as indicated in the itinerary
  • Meals as indicated in the itinerary
  • Daily activities and excursions as indicated in the itinerary
  • All gratuities
  • Airfare to and from destination, as well as internal airfare where applicable
  • Trip cancellation insurance or any other travel insurance
  • Visas
  • Alcoholic beverages
Juan Forero
Editor
"

Juan Forero is South America bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, based in Bogotá. Prior to joining the Journal in 2014, he worked for National Public Radio, The Washington Post and The New York Times. Raised in the U.S. by immigrant parents from Colombia, Juan has spent the last 18 years in Latin America as a full-time correspondent where his keen understanding of both cultures informs his reporting. Much of his work in Colombia has entailed covering the rebel conflict, the cocaine trade, corruption and rights abuses, the peace process and a range of features of all stripes.

Juan will join half of the Colombia: The Future of Sustainable Peace expedition.

"
  • Mar 27-Apr 6, 2020
William Saturno
Educator Archaeologist
"

Archaeologist William Saturno is a National Geographic Explorer specializing in early civilizations. He has received numerous grants from the Society to support his ongoing excavations of ancient Maya murals in Guatemala. His breakthrough discovery at San Bartolo of the oldest intact Maya murals yet found became the focus of the National Geographic magazine articles "The Sistine Chapel of the Early Maya" in December 2003 and "The Dawn of Maya Gods and Kings" in January 2006. The June 2012 issue described his recent unearthing of murals at Xultún. Outside of Mesoamerica, Bill has conducted archaeological research in the American Southwest, Bolivia, Cambodia, and most recently on the North Coast of Peru. He has taught university courses that encompass major archeological and historical sites all over the world.

"
  • Mar 27-Apr 6, 2020
Juan Forero
Editor
"

Juan Forero is South America bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, based in Bogotá. Prior to joining the Journal in 2014, he worked for National Public Radio, The Washington Post and The New York Times. Raised in the U.S. by immigrant parents from Colombia, Juan has spent the last 18 years in Latin America as a full-time correspondent where his keen understanding of both cultures informs his reporting. Much of his work in Colombia has entailed covering the rebel conflict, the cocaine trade, corruption and rights abuses, the peace process and a range of features of all stripes.

Juan will join half of the Colombia: The Future of Sustainable Peace expedition.

"
  • Mar 27-Apr 6, 2020
William Saturno
Educator Archaeologist
"

Archaeologist William Saturno is a National Geographic Explorer specializing in early civilizations. He has received numerous grants from the Society to support his ongoing excavations of ancient Maya murals in Guatemala. His breakthrough discovery at San Bartolo of the oldest intact Maya murals yet found became the focus of the National Geographic magazine articles "The Sistine Chapel of the Early Maya" in December 2003 and "The Dawn of Maya Gods and Kings" in January 2006. The June 2012 issue described his recent unearthing of murals at Xultún. Outside of Mesoamerica, Bill has conducted archaeological research in the American Southwest, Bolivia, Cambodia, and most recently on the North Coast of Peru. He has taught university courses that encompass major archeological and historical sites all over the world.

"
  • Mar 27-Apr 6, 2020