Colombia: Hot Springs, Paramos and Coffee – 9 days

Experience Colombia in a whole new light, where the fusion of history, stunning landscapes, natural marvels, and the aroma of coffee create an unforgettable journey.

Embark on a photographic adventure through the authentic Colombian countryside, where every frame captures the essence of tradition amidst breathtaking scenery. Our itinerary leads us off the beaten path, revealing hidden gems bathed in the perfect light, while boutique hotels offer cozy havens along the way.

Our expedition begins in the heart of Coffee Country, where rolling hills and lush coffee plantations set the stage for an immersive cultural encounter. Over nine days, we delve into the soul of Colombia, exploring traditional coffee estates, towering palm forests, and colonial towns brimming with vibrant architecture and local charm.

From the fertile valleys to the mist-covered Paramos, where Colombia’s life-giving waters originate, our journey unfolds amidst the soothing embrace of natural hot springs and the melody of exotic birds. Each moment presents a captivating snapshot of Colombia’s diverse landscapes and rich heritage, promising an unforgettable immersion into its beauty and allure.

Tour Length
9 Days
8 Nights
Start / End City
Arrival: Pereira, Colombia
Departure: Pereira, Colombia
Best Season

Fixed Dates: August 17-25, 2024

Group Size Limit

10 Guests

Transportation

4x4 & van

Accommodations

Hotels & Hostels & Glamping

Challenge Level

Level 2 - Easy Level

Highlights

  • City of Viterbo – a quaint town in the heart of the Colombian coffee triangle
  • Coffee – one of Colombia’s legacy exports and a source of pride and a delicious beverage
  • Cacao – Colombia’s is known for having some of the best chocolate anywhere on the planet
  • Spanish colonial architecture in the quaint town of Salamina
  • Frailejones in the Paramos of the Coffee Triangle
  • The Wax Palm – the world’s tallest palm trees, reaching up to 70 meters in height!
  • La Quebrada de los 7 Colores – a multi-colored hot springs creek with stunning views
  • La Cabaña Hot Springs – an improved thermal experience with infrastructure
  • Los Nevados National Park – one of Colombia’s crown jewels!
  • Termales del Sifon – a natural hot springs river, located within Los Nevados Nat. Park
  • Laguna Negra and Nevado del Ruiz – a glacial lagoon below an extinct volcano
  • 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$ 3,915 / per person
Average Price4-6 travelers$ 4,315 / per person
Optimum Price2-3 travelers$ 4,665 / per person
Highest Price1 solo traveler$ 5,275 / per person
Single Supplement Feeper person / per tour$ 975 / 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

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Day 1 / Sat / Aug 17: Arrival to Matecaña Airport - Pereira, Colombia

 

Arrive in Matecaña airport (Pereira) and continue to Viterbo on Saturday, August 17, 2024

Welcome to the Off-the-Map Coffee Zone!  Here, the warmth of Colombian hospitality and the rich flavors of the world-renowned Coffee Triangle converge to create an unforgettable experience that is not on the turista-trail.  You’ll be met at the Matecaña international airport in Pereira and drive to Viterbo.

Along the way we will stop for a wonderful view at Belalcázar by taking a winding road between plantations of coffee and platano (similar to bananas) to the top of Cerro del Alto del Oso.  Here you’ll find a giant (45 m/148 ft) statue of Christ the King, which was built over a 7-year period, from 1947 to 1954, in hopes of ending political bloodshed and restoring peace. The view from the base of the statue is fabulous, and on a clear day you can enjoy observing hundreds of kilometers in all directions to 4 regions of Colombia: Caldas, Quindío, Risaralda and Valle del Cauca. If you care to climb to the head of the Jesus statue you will also be able to see the Chocó region, along with Los Nevados del Ruiz and Santa Isabel. If you suffer from claustrophobia, you can skip the stairs, they are cramped the higher you go.

Before arrival in Viterbo’s entrance, you’ll travel through a wonderful tunnel of trees, known as the “Tunnel of the Samanes”…the road is lined with huge Saman trees, with some close to 100 years old. When these giant trees are dying or have fallen, a local artisan creates colorful wooden sculptures with a chain saw and basic tools ranging in size of (2-8 m/6-26 ft)…true works of art. You’ll find everything from a Jesus Christ to brightly colored butterflies, and farmers picking coffee beans to an indigenous man and cups of steaming hot coffee.

We check-into hotel Portal del Viterbo which is nestled on the outskirts of town, with picturesque views of sprawling natural farmland, this charming boutique hotel that exudes simplicity, cleanliness, and a sense of openness. A true gem for those seeking a tranquil retreat, this hotel offers a delightful stay just a short stroll away from the bustling plaza, inviting restaurants, and cozy cafes.

Hotel: Portal del Viterbo (3*)

Meals included:  D

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Day 2 / Sun / Aug 18: Artisan Coffee & Cacao Tour in Viterbo

 

After breakfast you’ll be taken to a wonderful finca (a farm) that produces not only prize-winning coffee but wonderful, sweet cacao and an unimaginable variety of organic fruits. You’ll be greeted with a smile and a refreshing juice before starting your visit of this classic farm. Walking down into the valley you’ll feel like you are on another planet surrounded by cacao, coffee, tropical fruits, welcoming nature, birds, and wild bamboo.

An expert will explain the complete process of the harvest and production of both cacao and coffee, as you’re walking through this lush environment. Crossing a small hand-made bridge through the plantation and into a dense bamboo forest, we continue up the valley to discover more trees with exotic and wild fruits, like pineapples. You’ll come to a 120-year-old house made of Bahareque (a mix of timber, bamboo and mud used in the construction of the walls). Once here you’ll participate in roasting cacao and coffee beans on a 100-year-old stovetop, and make traditional coffee, along with rich freshly-made chocolate , just like they have for hundreds of years. We head to the other side of the valley to the top of Apia mountain to enjoy a nice walk, punctuated with a final cup of coffee (if you so desire) before heading back to the hotel for the evening.

Hotel: Portal del Viterbo (3*)

Meals included:  B, L, D

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Day 3 / Mon / Aug 19: Through the mountains to Salamina Caldas

 

We continue to Salamina Caldas, where the vistas unfold in a magical display of the Andes Mountains. Upon your arrival we indulge in a delightful lunch, setting the stage for a leisurely exploration of this picturesque haven of colonial charm and cultural heritage. Often overshadowed by mainstream tourism, Salamina beckons travelers to step into a meticulously preserved world, happily staking claim to another, more tranquil time. Admire the captivating Spanish colonial architecture as you stroll along cobbled streets adorned with vibrantly colored houses and ornate balconies that echo tales of centuries past. Nestled amidst lush coffee plantations and surrounded by panoramic landscapes, this quaint town encapsulates the essence of Colombia’s rich history, offering a serene escape for those in search of authenticity and tranquility. Following your explorations, check into your hotel and enjoy a free afternoon, immersing yourself in the serene atmosphere of this untrammeled destination.

We will check-in to hotel Casa Lola Boutique in the early afternoon, promising a delightful night in this enchanting destination. Immerse yourself in the allure of this picturesque town and savor the unique blend of history and tranquility that each colonial hotel offers.

Hotel: Casa Lola Hotel Boutique (4*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 4 / Tue / Aug 20: East from Salamina to San Felix

 

Following a relaxing breakfast in Salamina we start your journey to the beautiful region of San Felix. Traveling for less than an hour towards the east of Salamina you’ll discover another little coffee culture town called San Felix, which has a notable dairy tradition, with its factories producing kumis, yogurt, and cheese. It is a super cute town, with its simple and colorful houses. An authentic and peaceful atmosphere emanates from it, as in most non-touristy towns. The Wax Palm Forest of San Felix is a grand forest of thousands of Wax Palms (up to 70m in height) and is located on a private finca called La Samaria, and is larger than in the Cocora Valley where most people go to visit the wax palms. Once here you’ll have lunch and enjoy a 2-hour walking tour of this wonderful and peaceful location before checking into your hotel based at the entrance of the finca. After checking-in to hotel Mirador Valle de la Samaria, you can enjoy a relaxing time in the middle of the world’s tallest palm trees, the perfect location to escape the ordinary.  Located near San Felix, this eco-conscious haven offers tranquility and stunning views of the Samaria Valley where you can immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Colombia’s countryside.

Hotel: Mirador Valle Samaria (3*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 5 / Wed / Aug 21: Valle de Samaria

 

Waking before the birds begin to chirp you’ll leave for a wonderful sunrise in the amazing valley of Samaria. Following breakfast, we get an introduction to this active farm dedicated to the preservation of the majestic Wax Palm and its surrounding ecosystem. This valley emerges as a haven for conservation enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The farm not only serves as a vital guardian for these iconic palms but also provides an animal sanctuary, offering travelers the opportunity to spot birds such as golden Plumed Parakeets, Toucans, and many more. Your guided walking tour will seamlessly blend explanations of the farm’s conservation efforts with panoramic views showcasing the palms at every stage of their development within their natural forest habitat. You’ll enjoy a wonderful lunch of local food from the property before enjoying another tour of the Wax Palm Forest, but this time on horseback!  We return at the end of the afternoon to relax and have some personal down time before sunset and dinner.

Hotel: Mirador Valle Samaria (3*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 6 / Thu / Aug 22: Samaria to Murillo and Paramos

 

Today, you’ll wake up early to catch another stunning sunrise before trying your hand at milking a cow. This fresh milk will be used in your breakfast shortly before you pack up and hit the road, continuing our journey.  Departing from the majestic coffee region, we’re setting our course for Murillo. Get ready to dive into the heart of excitement as we embark on a thrilling exploration of paramos, spanning heights from 3600 to 4300 meters above sea level. Wake up your senses and take a real break in the heights of the Andes Mountains! Step out of your routine and soak in those feel-good vibes that bring a breath of fresh air to your life! This journey happens in Colombia’s paramo, and here’s a cool fact: half of the world’s paramos are in Colombia. The snow in the paramo is a primary water source for the country, feeding into major rivers. After four and half hours, we’ll make a stop at the Laguna Negra viewpoint—a stunning glacial lagoon in the high coffee zone, near the impressive Nevado del Ruíz. It’s a perfect spot with a special mix of high Andean wetlands, short forests, and paramos.

We continue our drive and arrive to Termales Del Sifon. This thermal river has a turquoise color, located within Los Nevados Natural Park, near the Nevado del Ruiz Volcano. These waters flow underground near the volcano, warming up before emerging from the ground. The water is notably hot and enriched with sulfur from the volcano (you will notice the aroma). These thermal springs are entirely natural, free from any human intervention. We will be around 4000 meters so walking and breathing can be challenging, so it’s important to keep yourself hydrated and walk at your own pace as you might feel a little tired due to the altitude. Our next stop is one of the most beautiful lagoons, where you can appreciate the water plants that grow inside, giving it the appearance of having five different colors. The weather here is very cold, so make sure to have a warm jacket with you. Swimming is not allowed. We continue driving a short distance to Laguna La Lorona for another brief pause for photos before continuing onto Murillo.

Checkin to Murillo Hotel Villa Lore.  With limited accommodation options in Murillo our glamping option is the best choice with easy walking with wonderful views of the Navada del Ruiz and surrounded by nature.

Hotel: Villa Lore Glamping (3*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 7 / Fri / Aug 23: De La Cabaña Hot Springs

 

We depart early after breakfast as we head to the Termales De La Cabaña (hot springs), located within Los Nevados National Natural Park—one of the most beautiful parks in Colombia. From the starting point of the trail, you will walk for an hour and a half through the Murillo paramo, ranging from 3,800 to 4,300 meters above sea level. This walk takes you through a ‘Frailejon’ forest, a forest of these unique plants only found in paramos in South America.  A fascinating fact is that these plants grow 1 centimeter per year, and many of them are over 2 meters high, meaning that many are over 200 years old. Colombia has over 50% of the Frailejones world population—a truly magical experience. The path to these hot springs can be muddy in some parts, so it’s essential to wear solid hiking shoes or boots and a have a warm jacket handy. Upon reaching La Cabaña Hot Springs, you’ll find a shop where you can get hot drinks and other food to recharge.  The owners are upgrading the infrastructure so no swimming is allowed currently but the views and photo ops are outstanding.  The Quebrada de los 7 Colores descends directly from the mountain and is characterized by its uniqueness. Its waters contain sulfur, creating a beautiful effect that translates into a rainbow of colors. It’s an impressive place, ideal for photography and contemplation.

We return to our accommodations later in the day for a nice dinner and a well deserved rest.

Hotel: Villa Lore Glamping (3*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 8 / Sat / Aug 24: Murillo to Hacienda el Bosque EcoLodge

 

We’ll embark on a 90 minute journey from Murillo to the Hacienda El Bosque with a few stops along the way for more photo ops of the high Andes.

Today’s journey will takes us on a 3 hour journey towards the town of Manizales. En-route we’ll revisit the páramo road, having a second opportunity to capture stunning pictures of this unique landscape in case of unfavorable weather conditions previously as the paramos are often cloudy and windy. We will revisit the following places: Laguna La Lorona, we will stop to admire this beauty and then continue our journey. Our next stop is one of the most beautiful lagoons, where you can appreciate the water plants that grow inside, giving it the appearance of having five different colors. The weather here is cold and humid, so make sure to wear a warm jacket.

We check-in to Hacienda el Bosque EcoLodge.  A traditional family dairy farm with an elevation gradient from 2,800 to 3,900 meters. Allowing for varied ecosystems such as pastures for livestock and dairy production and large areas of high Andean forest and paramo. In the middle of this high Andean landscapes you will nestle into a luxury retreat that will allow you to live the best experience around the total connection with nature.  Rest, good food, and innumerable opportunities for observation, and photography of the local fauna and flora.  Dinner and overnight.

Hotel: Hacienda el Bosque EcoLodge (3*)

Meals included: B, L, D

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Day 9 / Sun / Aug 25: Airport Transfer to Pereira, depart Colombia

 

After our final sunrise opportunity and breakfast we will coordinate a departure time from Hacienda el Bosque EcoLodge based on your flight schedule. The ride from the hotel to the airport in Pereira takes two and a half hours, depending on traffic.  Domestic flights require 1-1.5 hours before departure and international flights require 2.5-3 hours before departure.

Hotel: none

Meals included: B

End of our services.

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Overland route of this 9-day itinerary (clockwise)

Included

  • airport Transfers IN and OUT of your arrival & departure 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.