Colombia: Corpus Christi – Photographic Expedition – 16 days

Welcome to Northbound Rhythms: A Journey Through Colombia’s People, Culture, and Nature.

This photographic expedition is a mosaic of vibrant experiences, inviting you to witness the pulsating heartbeat of Colombia.

Join us on an extraordinary adventure as we delve into the tapestry of this remarkable country, from the enthralling Corpus Christi celebration of the Indigenous Kankuamo people to traversing the northern landscapes.

Prepare to explore Barranquilla, where artisans weave tales through their crafts, and to be captivated by the natural wonders of Tayrona National Park. We’ll venture deeper into tradition, discovering the timeless customs of the indigenous Wayuu community amidst the grace of flamingos in La Guajira. Our journey will lead us to Valledupar, the birthplace of Vallenato, where every corner hums with the soulful rhythms of this cherished music.

With unparalleled photographic opportunities and a tapestry of travel experiences, this expedition promises an unforgettable immersion into Colombia’s rich heritage and breathtaking landscapes.

Tour Length
16 Days
15 Nights
Start / End City
Arrival: Barranquilla, Colombia
Departure: Cartagena, Colombia
Best Season

Fixed Dates: May 21 - June 5, 2024

Group Size Limit

15 Guests

Transportation

Van

Accommodations

Hotels & Hostels

Challenge Level

Level 2 - Easy Level

Highlights

  • City of Barranquilla – Caribbean sea port located on the Magdalena River
  • Carnaval de Barranquilla – 2nd largest Carnaval celebration after Rio de Janeiro
  • Nueva Venecia – an above-water community built on stilts in the Gran Cienega estuary
  • Tayrona National Park – at the foot of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Caribbean sea
  • Wayuu Community in Guajira – in northermost Colombia – a resilient and proud people
  • Vallenato in Valledupar – a local homegrown musical style from the Valledupar region
  • Corpus Christi – a religious celebration focused solely on the Holy Eucharist
  • Town of Mompox – a colonial era settlement next to the Magdalena River, peaceful and colorful
  • Cartagena – a colonial era Spanish city on the Caribbean coast with a protective stone wall enclosing it
  • The welcoming smile and warm greetings of the people of Colombia

Prices

Our tour prices are based on a tiered pricing modelMore guests = lower price, per person.  That means the prices go down on a per-person basis as more people book onto a specific tour departure.  Prices are based on double occupancy / twin share basis.  All prices are in U$ Dollars.  

Contact us for guidance on a quote for your group or private trip.

Lowest Price7-10 travelers$ 8,495 / per person
Average Price4-6 travelers-
Optimum Price2-3 travelers-
Highest Price1 solo traveler-
Single Supplement Feeper person / per tour$ 1,170 / per single room
  • Single Supplement Fees are quoted per tour.  Contact us for details.
  • Deposit: $ 700.00/per person (non-refundable administrative fee, included in the final price).
  • International airfare is NOT included in price.
  • For airline tickets, contact Geo Travel at 210-225-7903

Daily Itinerary

Colonial Cartagena de Indias

Day 1 / Tue / May 21: Arrival Barranquilla, Colombia

 

Arrive in Barranquilla on Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Guests will be picked up by private transport and taken to the hotel.  We will coordinate your arrival time based on your flights schedule.  Your meals are on your own today.

Hotel: Movich (5*)

Meals included:  none

Jaguar Mask 500 kB

Day 2 / Wed / May 22: Carnaval Museum and Galapa Mask Workshop

 

Barranquilla is home to the second largest Carnaval celebration in the world after Rio.  The morning will be spent visiting Casa de  Carnaval, where we come to know the deep connection between Barranquilla and this yearly celebration. The carnaval slogan is “Those who live it are those who enjoy it.” The carnival originates from a combination of pagan ceremonies, catholic beliefs and ethnic diversity and is a mixture of the European, African and Indian traditions, dances and music. It was at first a holiday for slaves and grew to be a celebration of the region.

The afternoon is spent visiting a several mask workshops in the Galapa neighborhood just outside the city. There are several shops in town that allow us access to the areas where masks are hand-carved, painted and polished before hitting the market. There is a deep connection between the mask-makers and the Carnaval tradition. Of course, the group will also have a chance to buy masks direct form the artists.

Hotel: Movich (5*)

Meals included:  B, L, D

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Day 3 / Thu / May 23: Barranquilla to Barlovento Beach via Nueva Venecia Floating Village

 

Nueva Venecia is Spanish for New Venice, and is aptly named after the flooded Italian city. The village, with about 300 inhabitants, lies in the vast Cienaga Grande marsh between Barranquilla and Santa Marta. Residents live in houses built on stilts in the marsh, and instead of cars and bikes, they get around by boat, mostly long canoes. Most residents make their living form fishing, but more recently they have opened up to tourism, creating job opportunities for the locals. After visiting Nueva Vencia, we have a two hour drive to the Tayrona National Park area.

Hotel: Maloka Barlovento (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 4 / Fri / May 24: Tayrona National Park

 

We will have a morning visit to the park, and if all things align for us, the Blue-billed Curassow could show up and allow for photographing. One abundant bird that is easiest to see here than anywhere is the stunning Lance-tailed Manakin. While exploring the park we will have a chance to photograph Cotton-top Tamarins, a gorgeous primate that is dwarfed by the less common White-fronted Capuchin. We have a whole day to explore the beaches, trails, and wildlife of the park, and enjoy the company of our trained guides here who will have the pulse on where the wildlife is.

Hotel: Maloka Barlovento (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 5 / Sat / May 25: Tayronaka Nature Reserve

 

On the banks of the Don Diego River lies the Tayronaka Reserve, a place that is as important ecologically as it is culturally, and we will have a whole day to explore it. Glacial melt from Pico Colon, Colombia’s tallest mountain (18,950 feet), supports the biological diversity of the most irreplaceable protected area on the planet, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Here we find the most important concentration of threatened wildlife on Earth, a treasure-trove of endemism. Apart from birdwatching and swimming in the pristine waters of the river, we will take a boat ride to seek out groups of Howler Monkeys along the edge and can participate in a spiritual cleansing ritual with a Kogi Mamo (tribal priest).

The Kogi are descendants of the Tairona culture and are a culturally intact as they’ve lived in seclusion since the Spanish conquest 500 years ago. Highly attuned to nature, the Kogi believe they exist to care for the world – a world they fear we are destroying. At the heart of the tribe’s belief system is “Aluna”, or “The Great Mother,” their creator figure, who they believe is the force behind nature. The Kogi understand the Earth to be a living being and see humanity as its “children.” They say that our actions of exploitation, devastation, and plundering for resources is weakening “The Great Mother” and leading to our destruction.

Hotel: Maloka Barlovento (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 6 / Sun / May 26: Visit to the Wayuu community in Los Flamencos National Park and transfer to Valledupar

 

The morning will start with a 2.5-hour drive to the Guajira peninsula for a visit with the Wayuu community, known as the people of the sun, sand and wind. They live in a very harsh, deserted environment in huts called rancherías, made from cactus or palm-leaf-thatched roofs, and yotojoro (mud, hay, or dried cane) siding. The dances of the Wayuu, inspired by the local birds is a visual delight with women dressed in bright red robes set against white sand beaches and the Caribbean blue sea.  La Guajira is full of life and the bird watching here can be outstanding.  We are on the lookout for vermilion cardinal, the elusive Tocuyo sparrow, the lovely buffy hummingbird and, if luck is on our side, American flamingoes.

We will meet with a large family in a communal area called an enramada, sharing stories with them and getting to see them working on their handcrafts before setting out to the flats to witness their traditional wind dance. After lunch the group begins a 3-hour drive to the city of Valledupar.

Hotel: Sonesta (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

Colombian vallenato composer Beto Murgas

Day 7 / Mon / May 27: The Acordeon Museum and The Vallentao Leyend Park

 

Today will be a musical kind of day, with a visit to El Museo del Arcordeon, to meet Beto Murgas, and discover the history of this fascinating instrument. We will also have  a visit to El Parque de la Leyenda Vallenata, to understand the importance of the Vallenato genre for their uniqueness as storytellers of the Colombian culture, always beloved and admired by Gabriel García Marquez.

 Hotel: Sonesta (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

Corpus Christi in Atanquez

Day 8 / Tue / May 28: Corpus Christi in Atanquez

 

Today we witness the celebration of Corpus Christi, a unique fusion of indigenous, african and Spanish traditions. Portrayed in Kike`s last book, La Fiesta del Sol en Atànquez, you will be part of a “non-touristic event”.  You will discover the essential message of Kike’s wonderful book, with its glorious celebration of the festival of Corpus Christi, La Fiesta del Sol, in Atanques, a small town on the lower flanks of the Sierra that we know well.

 

Hotel: Sonesta (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 9 / Wed / May 29: The Children of Vallenato

 

Today we visit la Escuela del Turco Gil. In 1999, he created Los Niños del Vallenato . For forty years has trained many vallenato kings and prestigious artists and thousands of musicians, who have brought vallenato closer to each other to a conservatory quality. They were in the White House during the term of Bill Clinton, who fell in love with the magic of the accordion, the caja and the guacharaca. In his book How can each of us change the world? (2007), the former president dedicated a few words to him: “How I wish that in every area of conflict there was a teacher like Turco Gil and children like Los Niños Vallenatos”.

 

Hotel:  Hotel Sonesta (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 10 / Thu / May 30: The Village of Nabusimake

 

Today we visit a village called Nabusimake, inhabited by the Kogi people. The Kogi are descendants of the Tairona culture and are a culturally intact as they’ve lived in seclusion since the Spanish conquest 500 years ago. Highly attuned to nature, the Kogi believe they exist to care for the world – a world they fear we are destroying. At the heart of the tribe’s belief system is “Aluna”, or “The Great Mother,” their creator figure, who they believe is the force behind nature. The Kogi understand the Earth to be a living being and see humanity as its “children.” They say that our actions of exploitation, devastation, and plundering for resources is weakening “The Great Mother” and leading to our destruction.

 

Hotel: Hotel Sonesta (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 11 / Fri / May 31: Valledupar to Mompox

 

The morning is spent on a 4-hour drive to Mompox, also known as Santa Cruz de Mompox, a historical town that was founded in 1540 along the banks of the Magdalena River. The town quickly developed as a hub for merchants transporting all manner of goods between the Andes and the Caribbean coast. Mompox was also a safe place for the Spaniards to keep gold and other treasures protected from the siege of pirates and a refuge for the families running away from the pirate attacks in Cartagena.

We will arrive in time for lunch, check-in, and have the evening to photograph its gloriously preserved buildings and churches from its early Spanish colonial rule. Mompox is a town frozen in time and was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1995.

 

Hotel: Bioma Boutique Hotel (4*) or Hotel La Gloria (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

Corpus Christi in Atanquez

Day 12 / Sat / June 1: Mompox

 

As Mompox was a main deposit for precious metals, it soon became a hub for artisans that specialized in Filigree jewelry, whereby the metal is melted down and made into a thread before being delicately transformed into detailed pieces of jewelry. The abundance of metals sparked the interests of skilled Spanish artisans, who came from Europe and settled in Mompox,  bringing their skills and techniques to the New World. Today we will visit some artisan shops and will spend the rest of the day exploring the town.

Hotel: Bioma Boutique Hotel (4*) or Hotel La Gloria (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

Corpus Christi in Atanquez

Day 13 / Sun / June 2: Mompox to Cartagena via San Basilio de Palenque

 

After breakfast we embark on a 5-hour drive to San Basilio de Palenque: the first free slave town of the Americas. Four centuries ago, escaped slaves built the village in the jungles that surround Cartagena. Today, the Afro-Colombian inhabitants of Palenque have preserved many of the customs of their African ancestors, including their music. In Palenque you can listen to many rhythms including lumbalu, bullerengue, la chalupa, mapale, puya, catalina and culebra.

The village is also considered the birthplace of a genre of music called champeta, a percussion-heavy mix of African and Colombian musical styles, and our visit will give us the opportunity to visit local recording studio Kombilesa Mi to learn about the musical history of Palenque and visit with local artists. There is no doubt that this new generation of Palenquero musicians have a very distinctive vision and voice of their own. After a long day we head on a 1-hour drive to Cartagena for check in and dinner at the hotel.

Hotel: Hotel Hyatt (5*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 14 / Mon / June 3: Bazurto y Getsemani

 

The morning is devoted to the Bazurto market, a great opportunity to get out of the charming old city and into the depths of local life in Cartagena.  A tour through the rowdy, frenetic, vibrant, and labyrinthine market is guaranteed to provide a taste of sensory overload, even to the most experienced travelers. The place is dirty but friendly, and most of the locals working the market are happy to show off the catch of the day, the recent butcher cuts, or the fresh and colorful fruits and vegetables that abound.

The visit to the market is followed by a visit to Convento de la Popa, the highest point in Cartagena, for stunning views of the city. We then have a nice lunch at Casa de Pepina, one of the last remaining 100% authentic eateries in town. After lunch, some time to escape the heat at the hotel pool or unwind while it cools off enough to stroll around in Getsemani, the very authentic neighborhood offers a glimpse into everyday life in Cartagena: local food vendors, graffiti art, galleries, public plazas, and kids being kids along the narrow streets.

Hotel: Hotel Hyatt (5*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 15 / Tue / June 4: Historic Old Town Cartagena

 

Few cities on Earth are as beautiful as Cartagena. On the sunny Caribbean coast of Colombia, Cartagena de Indias has righteously earned a designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And it is easy to see why. Founded in 1533, Cartagena still retains its colonial charm, with colorful balconies overlooking cobblestone streets and quaint plazas that pull you into impressive churches. The city was one of the main ports in the Americas during the Spanish Conquest, resulting in numerous pirate attacks that eventually led to the fortification of the city with 13 KM of stone walls.

The day will be devoted to photographing within the walled city, where there is something to suit all tastes. From beautiful architecture to warm and friendly people, to striking monuments. there are plenty of inspiring photographic opportunities to be had.

Hotel: Hotel Hyatt (5*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 16 / Wed / June 5: Airport Transfer in Cartagena

 

Based on your flight schedule, we will coordinate a departure time from the hotel. The ride from hotel to the airport takes between 30- 45 minutes, depending on traffic.  Domestic flights require 1.5 hours before departure and international flights require 3 hours before departure.

Hotel: none

Meals included: B

End of our services.

Corpus Christy Route Map

Route of 16-day itinerary for Corpus Christy

Included

  • airport Transfers IN and OUT of your arrival city
  • private vehicle and driver
  • bi-lingual photographer guide
  • all hotel / hostel /estancia accommodations for all nights (based on double occupancy)
  • all daily meals as denoted on the itinerary as ‘B, L, D’ (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
  • all entry fees and permits to protected areas: national parks, islands and museums
  • domestic airfare within the destination country (if there is a domestic flight in the itinerary, it’s included)
  • 1 liter of bottled water per person per day
  • snacks during the whole trip
  • Over 25 years of experience in tourism

Not Included

  • international airfare to destination country
  • visa requirement and fees
  • personal expenses of any kind (liquor, laundry, personal purchases, etc.)
  • telephone, email, mobile phone, Wi-Fi services
  • emergency evacuation expenses
  • personal travel or health insurance, doctor visits
  • gratuities to guides, drivers and other personnel

 

We, of course, would do whatever is necessary in case of medical emergency and evacuate to the closest hospital or clinic to make sure you receive medical care.