Colombia small group tour

“Explore a country where ‘magical realism’ seems almost a way of life, with this colourful tour of Colombia, one of South America’s most exciting destinations.”


Bogota | Gold Museum | La Candelaria | Museo Botero | Paloquemao Market | Take the cable car up Monserrate | Popaya | Silvia Market | Armenia | Visit an 18th century sugar mill | Stay in a hacienda | Salento | Filandia | Tour a coffee farm | Pijao | Medellin | Cartagena | Guatape | Colombia National Aviary | Boat trip to the Rosario Islands |

Description of Colombia small group tour

Emerging from its turbulent recent history, Colombia is now firmly on the map of must-visit destinations in South America, a country with an enthralling cultural heritage, great scenic beauty and welcoming people. This two-week small group tour of Colombia takes you from Bogota to Medellin and finally Cartagena, via Armenia - heart of the coffee growing industry, indigenous markets and the stunning Rosario Islands off the Caribbean coast.

This immersive tour is designed to show people how Colombia has evolved since the notorious days of Escobar, as well as illuminating the country’s rich indigenous history. You will stay in small, often locally owned accommodations, flying conveniently between destinations, and touring key landmarks that rightly feature on any Colombia itinerary.

In Bogota, wander the balconied houses in the colonial La Candelaria neighbourhood, and the vibrant flower stalls of the Paloquemao farmers’ market, before admiring the capital from above with a cable car journey up Mt. Monserrate. In Popayan, visit the weekly Silvia market where indigenous people, often in traditional garb, flock to sell their wares such as hand-spun textiles that make fantastic souvenirs.

A big highlight is Armenia, which is among Colombia’s most picturesque regions, surrounded by Andean peaks. You’ll tour a working coffee farm here, and have the opportunity to stay in a beautiful old hacienda. Medellin is a fascinating city, regenerating masterfully despite the scars of recent history, and a cultural dynamo.

After two intensely memorable weeks on the road, the trip comes to an end in Cartagena, its old town a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a historic colonial city where the streets are always alive with music and dance. You can take a romantic horsedrawn carriage ride around the old town, and also join an optional boat excursion out to the nearby Rosario Islands, an archipelago where the snorkeling is magnificent – a relaxing end to a trip that will no doubt stay with you for years to come.

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19 Feb 2021
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Holiday type
Small group holidays
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a local guide
No matter how experienced your group leader, they can never make up for the knowledge gained from a lifetime in the destination. That’s why many of our trips work with local guides around the world – who invite you into their homeland with pleasure.

Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

Colombia's reputation is changing. Over the last few years the country has been cultivating a reputation as an exciting, emerging adventure travel destination. We always want to show you as much of the real country as we can so we employ a local tour leader and variety of local guides who can really bring the culture to life for you in an authentic way.

Staying in small accommodation wherever possible really brings us closer to the culture and gives us many opportunities for unique experiences. In Medellin, we take the cable car up to Comuna 13, a low-income neighbourhood that sprawls up the mountains surrounding the city. Since Pablo Escobar's regime the area has totally reinvented itself through the creative innovation of its inhabitants. An important signpost in the change of the country is the fact that tourists are now coming back to Medellin, and we are happy to do this in a responsible way.

Using local guides and crew is consistent with our policy to generate local employment and deliver direct economic benefits to the areas we are travelling in. We also do this by using locally owned hotels, spreading our business to a variety of local restaurants. It is important that the people who work for us are treated fairly and confident in their work. This is why we take care to train all our local tour leaders and give them all the support they need to do their job well.

The Impacts of this Trip

An important part of our business is our commitment to environmentally responsible practices in all of the locations that we visit. In Colombia this is no different, and our local Tour Leaders will encourage customers to use their own water bottles (which we advise customers to take), advising them where to fill them up in each destination. This guide will also have training in upholding our policy of Leaving no Trace – this is particularly important in areas like the Cocora Valley, which are rich in wildlife and potentially fragile. We brief all customers on sticking to designated trails and following local conservation regulations.

Due to the size of Colombia, we use several internal flights to get around. We try and mitigate this by using lower carbon forms of transport as much as possible when we’re on the ground. For example, in Salento we explore the hills of the Cocora Valley on foot, and in Cartagena we have the opportunity to take a canoe trip through the Boquilla mangroves.

In addition to the above, we are continually looking for ways to improve and are proud to be ‘Responsible in everything we do’. Education is key and so all staff, Tour leaders and partnering suppliers are trained in responsible and sustainable tourism. At our Head Office, we continually strive towards a sustainable and planet-friendly working environment, including having solar panels installed and a company commitment to reducing our plastic usage. As well as this, we have valuable and longstanding partnerships with UK charities Toilet Twinning and Send a Cow, plus many smaller initiatives and projects around the world. We’re members of UK travel industry bodies Tourism Concern and AITO because we believe it’s important to share our knowledge and experience, as well as learn from other operators.

As a company we support Cool Earth. Protecting rainforest is one of the most effective actions to tackle climate breakdown. CoolEarth work with indigenous communities empowering them to conserve their forest; keeping CO2 locked in.


1 Reviews of Colombia small group tour

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 27 Jan 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Cocora valley scenery and walk, climb and views from the top of El Penol and coffee tour at the Hotel Combia.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared for slow journeys as there are lots of vehicles on a poor road system.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

It benefited the local people as local tour guides were used, who were generally good for each part of the trip.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Generally good. The hotels were of a good standard, there were varied and interesting things to see and do and the tour leader was competent.

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