Colombia in Style

The only danger is not wanting to return…
By Sophie Anderson

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Snows of La Sierra Nevada

Two and a half magical weeks in Colombia taking in the Sierra Nevadas, the desert of La Guajira, the Tayrona National Park and romantic Cartagena and its pristine islands.
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Day 1 & 2 - Bogota

Recover from your travels in La Candelaria, the old historic quarter of Bogota at the beautiful Hotel de la Opera and spa, enjoying steams and saunas to revitalise energy level and the excellent roof top restaurant.

In terms of sightseeing, a walk around La Candelaria is recommended, following the route from Plaza de Bolivar to Parque Santander taking in the Donacion Botero museum which has a small but impressive collection of Botero paintings. The Iglesia Museo de Santa Clara is also highly recommended one of Bogotas finest colonial churches with its adorned walls of paintings, statues of Saints and 17th and 18th Century altarpieces. Finally the the worlds best Gold Muesem the Museo del Oro with its stunning collection of over 34,000 gold pieces from pre-hispanic cultures in Colombia.

Eat Sweet street snacks on la Puerta Falsa or visit De Lucca, a chic atmospheric Italian restaurant in La Zona Rosa for dinner. Order the exquisite Octopus Carpacio and then Endive salad with pear and roquefort before diving into a steaming bowl of fresh pasta. Also highly recommended is 14 Incas, an interesting and delicious Peruvian menu with a dangerously strong house cocktail.

For nightlife one must experience Andres Carnes De Res a 30 minute taxi ride out of town to this memorable restaurant and night club. Absolute must at the weekend even for great oldies and children. Take your camera, and pretend its your birthday for a carnival celebration Or sit back and enjoy others. Dress-up to enjoy a totally eccentric wild and colourful evening to remember with delicious Colombian food and drink.
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Day 3 & 4 - Barichara


Fly directly to Bucaramanga and then take a taxi to Barricharra (2-3 hrs) via breathtaking mountain gorge roads which Colombians refer to as the 8th wonder of the world.

Stay at Posada La Nube for the ultimate experience and relaxation. Breakfast with the birds in the garden or for more action afterwards head to San Gil (a 30 minute taxi ride) for a mesmerising white water rafting experience.

Enjoy picturesque short walks around the town in the late afternoon taking pictures of the most well-preserved, beautiful romantic white washed town. For sunset walk up the cobbled streets to the church at the top of the hill.
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Day 5, 6 & 7 - La Guajira

Fly from Bucaramanga to Rio Hacha. Hire a 4X4 and drive by day the 5 hrs to Cabo De Vela in La Guajira, Colombia’s Desert on the northern peninsula bordering Venezuela. Take plenty of mineral water and cash from the last banks in at Rio Hacha.

Stay at simple Rancheros. Either in hammocks or thatched huts. Enjoy swinging in hammocks, costal walks and off- Roading through desert paths and towering cacti. meet the lovely warm Wayuu Indians with their painted black faces. Drive 10 minutes to the fabulous Dune beach take a picnic. Walk to the top of the mountain and along the coast to the blow holes. Photograph the desert where it meets the sea and enjoy plenty of Fresh lobster.
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Day 8 & 9 – Tayrona National Park


Drive 6 hours from Cabo De La Vela back along the coastal road towards Santa Marta and Parque Tyrona and stay en route at the Beautiful beach front Koralia. Get the sand out of your hair and relax with the beautiful shanty vibe and relaxed staff. Koralias rum cocktail is pretty delicious made with the local marriquya fruit.

Or drive a little bit further along the wild coastal road, with pounding waves on your right and the rising Sierras on your left. The only place in the world where you can see snow capped mountains next to the sea and stay at Eco-Habs which has a wonderful restaurant. Experience these luxury beach huts perched atop the jungles edge over looking the treacherous waves. Marvel at the enormous leaf cutting ants.

Don't swim on main beach at Eco Habs as there are very dangerous rips. There are many other beaches in close proximity, Take the mules first thing in the morning or hike the two hours to the breathtaking beach of Arrecifes and onwards to La Piscina if time permit. Take plenty of insect repellent, water and a mask and snorkel. Alternatively, drive very early back into the first entrance of the Parque Tyrona to Bahia Neguanje and take a lancha to the turquoise waters of Bahia Cinto for the day.
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Day 10, 11, 12 & 13 – Around Santa Marta

Stay 2 nights in Taganga at La Belena Azul and enjoy fresh fish at the hotels excellent restaurant. Ignore the hippies and the bustling bay and use it as a stepping stone to get to secret beaches. By pass the busy ‘Playa Blanca’ and ask your driver to stop off at one of the two next tiny and quite deserted coves. Re arrange a pick up late afternoon. Here the snorkeling is excellent and on one of the bays you will see a shack which will fry up fresh Pargo fish, pataconnes and cold beers. Spend the day here lazing and snorkeling...

Take a taxi to Santa Marta, Have a walk around the sea front and plaza de Bolivar along the historic quarter ending in Plaza de Novios for a drink. Eat at Ben and Joeseph’s steak restaurant on the sea front.

If in Santa Marta by day eat cocktail de Cameron on the street at the end of Avenida Primera or ask for the best empanadas in town and gloopy Avena drinks. Try as many Batidos and Jugos as possible just ask without ice if your nervous. The Lulo juice is very thirst quenching and is supposed to get rid of a hangover, and the Nispero and Zapote with milk are delicious and naturally sweet.

Here in Santa Marta and around this area you will often see the odd Indian from the sierras de Santa Marta. They are highly respected and will often be walking bare footed wearing all white clothes and be carrying their possessions from a strap tied around their heads. Apparently they love to receive sea shells.

Drive or take a taxi to Bahia Concha, 30 minutes from Santa Marta. When you arrive pay extra to get into the ‘camping zone’ towards the far right end of the beach. Here the water is very clear and if you order your lunch at the gate they will bring your fish and rice etc onto the beach. Look for harmless and sleepy Boa-constrictorsin in the trees above the beach.

Alternatively, if your too beached out and you want to visit a small and quiet sierra town you can 4x4 up the sierras towards Minca for ice cold swimming in the fresh rivers and walks in the cooler mountain air. Eat a sandwich and fresh juice at the organic shop as you arrive into the town. Buy freshly baked granola, organic Colombian coffee and wild honey.
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Day 14, 15, 16 & 17 – Cartagena


Take a driver or your hir car to the wonderful Romantic old city of Cartagena a 4 hr drive from Santa Marta, passing by the lagoon and shanty fishing town of Cienaga. Buy ice cold coconuts for drinks on the side of the road and empanadas.

Cartagena old town is an addictive and enticing labyrinth of winding Calles and shady flowering plazas. Its a complete assault on your senses, from the sound of horses trotting around pulling their carriages, Panama hat sellers, ladies in colourful Caribbean dresses weighed down with aluminum bowls of tropical fruits and emerald dealers.

El Centro Historico and the bordering neighborhood of Getsemani are the best places to stay. In terms of high end The Hotel LM, The Santa Clara or the Hotel Charleston are strongly recommended.

For more middle of the range options and private accommodation, try Casa Blanca, Casa Lola, Casa Quero, Casa Del Arzobispado, Quadrifolio, El Marques. Tres Banderas is a very good budget option, although they don’t take kids.

Try and time your trip to Cartagena for the International Classical Music Festival in January, the HAY literary Festival in February or the International Film festival in March. Avoid Cartagana around Christmas or New Year unless you have booked 6 months in advance.

There are a multitude of great restaurants in Cartagena including Oh La! La! a delicious French restaurant run by husband and wife. Laid back atmosphere with excellent food and fine Rum collection. Everything highly recommended especially the deserts including the exquisite Mousse au chocolate and crumble de manzana. El Santissimo offering funky modern fine Colombian dining, La Perla, a small modern restaurant great food for lunch or dinner, La Vitrola offering atmospheric chic dining with great live music or just drinks at the bar or Casa Tito a Private house on Calle La Tablada owned by an Italian Family who will cook up the best private dinner party for groups under 15 people. Lobster with spaghetti and cold meat entrée were delicious.

For food on the run try dinner sitting on the walls of the pretty Plaza Fernandez de Madrid at the delicious Pizza en el Parque or the …..Social Club in Parque Centenario, for crab claws ice cold Aguilas. Taste sweet treats try Portal del Dulces for local sweets or follow the locals and eat street fried egg areppas or a fresh spicy empanada and cheesy buenello. You are never far from the Tinto man selling shots of black coffee and sweet herbal with cinnamon and mint.

For cocktails try the roof of the LM Hotel for delicious classic Martinis and a magical view, the Santa Clara Bar for live music, or The Whiskeria on Plaza Fernandez de Madrid for plastic chairs, Cuba Libres and loud music watching the world go by… Don’t miss Havana a Pure salsa club in the Getsemani neighborhood whipping up the Rumba with outstanding musicians.

In terms of Special Trips From Cartagena take a boat to Playa Blanca for lunch or to the charming Hotel Sport Baru on Baru Island. Organise a fishing trip, scuba diving, private island hopping and snorkeling off the Rosario Islands.

If your in need of a swim in a pool take a passa dia at the roof top pool of the Hotel Charleston. Eat Lunch and while away the day away with the spectacular views of the whole old walled city of Cartagena and the Carribean waves in the distance. Enjoy fish ceviche and fresh lemonade and coconut cocktails. End your day watching the sunset with a cocktail or visit the Spa on the second floor for a beautiful treatment.
Snows of La Sierra Nevada.
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