A Taste of Captivating Colombia.

Join my Journey this spring to Colombia. Mention Latin America and Colombia, and your first descriptions might be dazzling mountain peaks, coffee farms, salsa music, a cathedral made of salt, sunshine and most likely, a history of crime. Colombia has all of these. Its people are stylish and sophisticated, few countries have managed the turnaround rebranding achieved by Colombia achieved in the last 15 years. Headlines noting unstable politics and city crime are now in the past. Improved trade and a growing tourism market have transformed the image. Travel now before it becomes a tourist mecca. Like South America in miniature, Colombia is a lively pastiche of Andean cities, Amazon basin, stately haciendas, marvelous artists, and charming colonial towns.

I arrive Bogota and will head directly to the Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina. The Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina entwines its 1940s colonial history with a splash of contemporary Colombia. A leafy suburban mansion set in the heart of the capital is an ideal retreat for those escaping the hustle and bustle of the city – settle down beside cozy fireplaces. Casa Medina is situated in the heart of Zona G, also known as the ‘gourmet zone’ of Bogotá. Within a one-mile radius there are more than a dozen restaurants and bars of a medium- to high-quality, situated in a safe area which is easy to explore on foot. Small details across the hotel pay homage to its founding architect, Santiago Medina, with stained-glass windows depicting a picture of birds and flowers – Medina’s passions. There are fireplaces in 16 of the 62 rooms, I’ve requested a cozy suite with fireplace.

Catching up from the trek from California, the first few days are filled with city touring and museum visits, including the historic La Candelaria where the two most noteworthy museums are the Gold & Botero Museums. Always schedule a Siesta in your planning!

After a few days of sightseeing and divine dining, head to the Coffee region to Hacienda Bambusa. Driving down the winding lane that leads to this hotel, you may feel like you’re approaching a working farm. What you actually come across is a carefully preserved, two-level hacienda that was the home of the Montoya family. Well-maintained gardens that are often busy with hummingbirds and farmland grazed by herds of white Cebu Brahman cattle encircle this intimate property.

Built around a tiny interior courtyard with a small fountain, the seven rooms face onto a balustraded gallery. They all have some outdoor space, and there are plenty of quiet corners in the gardens and by the swimming pool,

Many options include a classic day visiting the town of Salento as well as walk/hike, at whatever difficulty is comfortable in Corcora Valley.

Visit reborn city of Medellin. Venture out from Colombia’s second city to find a world in perpetual bloom. From its art and culinary scenes to the breathtaking Andes Mountains I can’t wait to experience the magic of Medellin.

The City of Eternal Spring – Known for its combination of warm days and cool nights, Medellin’s temperate climate in the Andes Mountains makes it an ideal destination year-round. From exploring this exciting city to adventuring out into the verdant countryside, soak in the incredible views. In Medellin, enchantment can be found around every corner, at every bend in the trail.

The Art of Medellin. In Medellin, guests are welcomed with open arms by paisas, as the locals are called. Wander to El Poblado to shop in the clothing boutiques filled with unique pieces made by Colombian designers. The grid of streets are overgrown in palms and gardens, cafes and chic shops. Don’t miss Makeno, a light flooded concept store that has approximately 100 Colombian fashion and accessory designers. A magical place where you can purchase high quality products with great design content. Visitors can check out Comuna 13 and its dynamic street art with a local artist, followed by contemporary fine art at the Medellin Museum of Modern Art. Medellin is the birthplace of Fernando Botero, his sculptures dot downtown and one can view the large collection of sketches and personal items he donated to the Antioquia Museum.

Siesta in Luxury – Of course, my team partners with the best five-star property in the city. Indulge in the luxury that Medellin offers while still experiencing the authenticity of the city and its people. I will be staying at El Cielo Hotel – of course, I have already reserved a table at the eponymous restaurant by superstar chef Juan Manuel Barrientos.

Perhaps more than anywhere else in Colombia today, Medellin is an example of just how far the country has come in the last 20 years –it has been recognized as one of the most innovative cities in the world. It is precisely this incredible transformation that makes Medellin a must for any visitor to Colombia looking to really appreciate and learn about the progress. Both the Festival of Flowers and the Christmas-time Festival of Lights are unique times to visit Medellin, with its beautifully mild climate, average 72 F, there really is not a bad time to visit what’s known as the “City of Eternal Spring.”

My team can curate an eight-day Journey which includes day trips to the small village of Santa Elena or up to 15 days.

Check out of Medellin for a drive out to Cannua Eco-Lodge. En route to Cannua, you’ll stop at the small town of Carmen de Viboral. Known for its local traditions of pottery making and ceramic art, Carmen de Viboral is a beautiful town whose buildings, monuments, and even their streetlights are adorned with unique ceramic pieces. Each wall of the town could have a mural, a ceramic design or even on its facade in an attempt to beautify the town while also paying respect to its generational tradition of ceramic artwork. 

Continue onto the small town of Marinilla to check in to the lodge Cannua. Cannua is an eco-lodge that opened its doors in late 2019 after many years of planning, studying the local environment, and employing the local community in its construction. With an emphasis on permaculture, Cannua was built within the nature, not on top of it.

Cannua Lodge

Optional tours that can be added onto your stay at Cannua: Rum, chocolate, and/or coffee tastings. Bird watching with an expert guide. Cheese-making with local farmers and livestock. Fuller day tours and hikes to Guatape, Carmen de Viboral, and other towns are available for those spending more time at Cannua.

Then, check out and transfer to Medellin airport for your flight onward to Cartagena.  Check in Casa San Agustin interesting places nearby the Hotel: Santo Toribio Church, Gold Museum, Inquisition Palace, Cathedral and old churches of Spanish Colonial era.

Arrive in time for a sunset cocktail at Café del Mar or one of the city’s rooftop bars is a great way to kick off your stay. The colorful streets are made for exploration on foot, so after breakfast you’ll meet your guide for a walking tour of the walled city center.

During your walk, we can arrange for an architect to join you and accompany you through the narrow and colorful alleys, to explain all the special characteristics of the monuments, churches, convents, and private houses that reflect all the influences – Moorish, colonial, military, Arabic, Spanish and North American – that have made Cartagena what it is today.

Before dinner, one of our favorite local bartenders will invite you to a tasting of several top-quality Caribbean rums. Rum is by far the most consumed alcohol in Latin America, and during the tasting you’ll also learn about the history of the spirit as well as the different styles and their origins. This is the perfect way to start a great evening in Cartagena!

Enjoy a day at leisure to explore Cartagena on your own. Or we can arrange additional exploration such as one of the favorite options: Explore the city’s art scene with a bilingual expert, focusing either on contemporary art museums and galleries. For shopaholics, a fashion specialist will get you special access to the top designers’ shops in Cartagena, featuring both Colombian and international designers.

Eat your way through Cartagena with tasting menus of typical dishes at four different restaurants. Or hit the traditional Bazurto market and then get to work in a Caribbean cooking class.

Explore Cartagena with an expert on the life of Gabriel García Marquez. Head out of the city to learn about the unique paso horses and go for a ride along the beach. The author of “Love in the Time of Cholera” and “One Hundred Years of Solitude” died in Mexico City, however in Colombia when he died, a marathon public reading of Garcia Marquez’s No One Writes to the Colonel took place at 1,400 public libraries. The Culture Ministry distributed 12,000 copies of the book for the occasion.

Gabriel García Marquez

Private Boat Island Hopping optional. Or, you may want to spend the entire day enjoying the Caribbean to its fullest.

The Rosario Islands are a coral reef comprising 27 islands, located about one hour by boat from Cartagena. Its natural landscapes, crystal clear water and coral reefs, home to diverse flora and fauna, are of course the main attraction.

Rosario Islands

Sail on a private motorboat or yacht, enjoy a joy ride and watch the Caribbean’s water as it changes color right in front of your eyes. You will stop at spots to snorkel and swim, as well as for lunch at one of our favorite rustic beach hotels. On board, your guide will have a choice of drinks and snacks for you as well! 

Until Next Time- check out and head home!

Cartagena de Indias and Rosario Islands

Plotting a Journey to the Southern Hemisphere…Details: Flight SFO-Cartagena 13h16m.

Weather: The month of November is characterized by essentially constant daily high temperatures, with daily highs around 87°F throughout the month, exceeding 90°F or dropping below 84°F only one day in ten.

Accommodation in Cartagena de Indias, two options:

ANANDA BOUTIQUE HOTEL Ananda in Sanskrit means “bliss,” which is why this hotel transmits a spirit of luxury and comfort in perfect harmony. This elegant, intimate colonial-era mansion is a balm to the senses. Its central court area is a haven of tranquility, and its terrace bar & lounge is cosmopolitan and exotic. 24 bedrooms. Private restaurant. Cocktail bar. Swimming pool. Jacuzzi. 24-hour room service.

QUADRIFOLIO BOUTIQUE HOTEL Intimate and quiet elegance characterizes this hotel, where pleasure gratifies all the senses. Eight tropically themed junior suites. Dreamy and romantic courts and terraces. Private restaurant. Bar. Swimming pool. Roof top terrace, with Jacuzzi. Room service 24 hours. With a wonderful staff, you will feel as if you are residing in your private house.

Travel to Rosario Islands

Accommodation in Rosario Islands: SAN PEDRO DE MAJAGUA BEACH RESORT Located in Isla Grande, in the Rosario Islands, just 45 minutes from Cartagena by speedboat, set sailing from a private pier; this resort has 17 comfortable bedrooms, 7 suites, 7 deluxe and 3 standard bedrooms. These bedrooms are designed and decorated according to the environment of the spectacular Nature Reserve of the Rosario Islands and San Bernardo. Visitors have at their access 2 small beaches of crystalline water, PADI dive center, outdoor room massage, ecological walks, kayaking through the lagoons of the island, visit to San Martin de Pajarales aquarium (except on Monday), beach bar, restaurant specializing in seafood. Internet service in the WI FI area.

Cartahegna Suggested Activities: PRIVATE WALKING TOUR THROUGH THE WALLED CITY: A walking tour around the Walled City visiting the most representative streets, squares, monuments and museums. Tour starts from hotel, visiting: San Pedro Claver church and cloister, Palace of the Inquisition, Gold Museum of Zenú Culture, Santo Domingo church, Santo Domingo and San Francisco Javier bastions and other emblematic points of the Old City.

PRIVATE CITY TOUR BEYOND THE RAMPARTS: Private guided tour to two of the most impressive monuments of colonial Cartagena’s heritage. San Felipe de Barajas fortress is a key part of the city fortifications. Full of tunnels, passages and ancient military resources, it is located beyond the walled city. La Candelaria church and cloister, on top of La Popa hill, represents a very important piece in the Spanish colonial baroque religious architecture, also offering a 360° view of the city landscape.

SALSA CLASS: Learn your first steps to salsa dance, with a private teacher, in the salon of a Colonial Mansion, just for our clients.MODERN LATIN AMERICAN ART PRIVATE TOUR: Accompanied by a knowledgeable guide of local and international art; visit the Museum of Modern Art of Cartagena de Indias, located in an old galley store of the sixteenth century in the old city. View the permanent collection, composed of works by prominent contemporary American painters, from the 50’s to modern times and the seasonal exhibition. In addition, a private visit to the atelier of a Colombian artist based in Cartagena, who will interact with guests to talk about his work. Finally, the two most well known art galleries of the city will welcome you in private to share their recent collection.

PRIVATE CARIBBEAN CREOLE COOKING CLASS (Intensive and cheerful Caribbean Creole cuisine course): In the kitchen of an exclusive boutique hotel in the old city, visit can also include a dip in the swimming pool. Meet and cook with the chef and his team who instruct guests how to work with the local tropical products and prepare a Cartagena’s typical menu. The class is framed with a menu composed of starter, a great main course with two accompaniments and a dessert. The cooking class is “seasoned” with tropical cocktails. In the end guests enjoy the dishes they have cooked in a casual dinner served at the chef´s table accompanied by a selection of wines married with the menu. Detailed recipes are given to the guests after the class.

Cartagena features a rich fusion cuisine, combining ingredients from its African, Spanish and Indigenous roots as well as the food brought by Arabic and Spanish immigrants. Its local cuisine is mainly composed by seafood dishes, like fish and shellfish and accompanied with coconut rice, fried plantain and salad. The city has numerous  restaurants inside and outside the walled city. Arabic, Cuban, Italian and traditional Colombian restaurants can be found in the modern and historic areas representing the diversity and the flavors brought about by immigrants and inhabitants of the city.

PRIVATE CANOE JOURNEY IN THE MANGROVE FOREST: Enjoy an exceptional tour in the mangrove forest on board a typical canoe. There you will paddle between the vegetal tunnels and the swamp with a chance to admire local and migratory bird species, especially at sunset and dawn.ROMANTIC SUNSET SAILING TOUR, exclusively for a couple: Exclusive and romantic journey on a private sail boat to enjoy the sunny afternoon and sunset in a relaxing cruise along the Bay of Cartagena de Indias with spectacular views of the Old City. Wine and  appetizers served on board and musical entertainment.

 Reserva para mí, por favor!