Successful tour operation requires months if not years of careful research and planning. One award-winning travel company, known for its meticulous tour development, Wildland Adventures, is now primed to introduce the newest emerging travel hot spot of Colombia.
For 2018, Wildland Adventures (http://www.wildland.com/) offers three new active tour itineraries in Columbia that weave culture and wildlife with hiking, rafting, and birdwatching.
“Now that peace and security have been restored, Colombia is “one of the world’s extraordinary new travel hot spots because of its stunning biodiversity and cultural heritage,” said Kurt Kutay, Wildland Adventures founder and president.
Americans are often surprised by the sophistication they find upon shaking hands with such South American gems as Bogota, Colombia’s capital. These itineraries introduce the 500-year-old patinas of vibrant cities, still cobblestoned, former colonial hubs that welcomed explorers, pirates, and conquistadors searching for El Dorado.
“Our Wildland Adventures in Colombia utilize a comprehensive network of new airline connections and a good primary road system, with 4x4 access on secondary roads into more remote regions and trailheads. The last decade has seen new-found economic growth and political stability, and vastly improved security presenting itself as the new gateway to South America. As tourism develops, restored colonial boutique hotels and ecolodges are popping up across the country. There’s also an exciting gastronomic scene evolving,” added Kutay.
Colombia is a virtual topographical and ecological smorgasbord with…
- two coastlines, the Caribbean to the east and the Pacific to the west,
- Andes Mountains thrusting to 18,700 feet in elevation
- Amazon rainforests splayed across the horizon below Andean cloud forests
- Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, the most irreplaceable concentration of biodiversity on Earth
Rafting, snorkeling and diving into freshwater rivers and salty seas hint at a gold standard of adventure. Along with prehistoric and extant jungle creatures come nearly 20 percent of the world’s bird species. The company’s Colombia Wildlands and Wildlife is a 14-day program that starts and ends in Bogota. The per person double rate is from $5,840. See: http://www.wildland.com/trips/south-america/colombia/colombia-wildlands-and-wildlife/overview.aspx.
In Bogota, guests visit vibrant neighborhoods and plazas, including the impressive Gold Museum and the Botero Museum. Fernando Botero’s transcendent depictions of his people recall themes familiar in the work of Mexico’s Diego Rivera. Then the economy and culture of coffee come to life in the cool uplands of the central Andes, along with sub-tropical cloud forest rife with bird and wildlife. One of the world’s most difficult genus of birds to catch sight of, antpittas, and the masked saltator and ocellated tapaculo are protected in their natural habitat in the Rio Blanco Nature Reserve.
The Amazon Basin eco system introduces a conservation project and eco-lodge helping support indigenous peoples on their own lands. The tour visits a foundation that protects and studies primates on site. Another ecosystem of montane forest rises to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains, a coastal range home to around 600 bird species. Once off-limits for security reasons, the San Lorenzo Ridge is the crown jewel of the avian habitat, allowing birders to see over 20 of Sierra’s 24 endemic species representing the highest level of endemism in the world. Here are the Santa Marta parakeet and rufous antpittas that can be spotted walking along the road just before sunrise.
Highlights of Colombia is an 11-day itinerary from $3,150 per person double. See: http://www.wildland.com/trips/south-america/colombia/highlights-of-colombia/overview.aspx#/overview.
Guests meet in Bogota before transferring to Villa de Leyva, a 16th-century colonial town surrounded by a dry Andean Acacia forest. Guests hike in a nearby cloud forest and bike in the adventure capital of Colombia, the province of Santander, where the UNESCO World Heritage town of Barichara dating to the Spanish conquest remains “the prettiest town in Colombia.” One six-mile hike on the cobblestoned Caminos Reales (Royal Road) leads to a meet up with a restoration specialist who demonstrates how to construct mud adobe brick walls in their original style. Caminos Reales also connects to Chicamocha, the Grand Canyon of South America. A stay at a coffee plantation concludes the interior tour before moving to the Caribbean coast to explore Tayrona National Park, a bio-diverse, palm-fringed paradise skirting white sand beaches. Here are the ruins of El Pueblito, a vast system of stone terraces, aqueducts and round platform foundations of an ancient civilization.
Leaving nature behind, Cartagena, a UNESCO World Heritage city, teases appetites for colonial and Caribbean flavors in this former (1533) Spanish port. A visit includes a foodie walk stopping at favorite cafes and food stands frequented by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the fabled author of, among others, Love in the Time of Cholera. Kutay thinks that Cartagena is the most seductive city of the Caribbean.
“Here in the capital of amor, we eat and drink our way through Cartagena following in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ footsteps with a literary expert reciting excerpts from the author’s writings describing his favorite food stands, pastries, cafes and local drinks that we savor on a Marquez culinary walk in Cartagena,” he added.
Unexplored Colombia: Coffee, Culture, and Coast over 12 days combines the Coffee Triangle with whale watching (extension) on the Pacific. The per person double rate is from $3,660. See: http://www.wildland.com/trips/south-america/colombia/unexplored-colombia/overview.aspx.
From Bogota guests travel to Cali, famed for the Salsa Dance Academy. Medellin (the departure city) is revered as one of the most beautiful places in South America. Here via cable car, guests access the re-invigorated and thriving barrio that drug king Pablo Escobar helped build. They also hike through the Otun Quimbaya Flora & Fauna Sanctuary, a cloud forest with hundreds of species of butterflies; birds ranging from eagles to hummingbirds; and mammals, including spectacled bears, tapir, deer, cane skunks, and howler monkeys. Enroute to the Andes guests may climb 600+ stone steps for a 360-degree view from El Penol, a massive stone rising out of the flat ground and once worshiped by the Tahamies Indians. The one-time mansion of Pablo Escobar is nearby.
Guests engaged in the extension to the Pacific Coast fly to the Chocó region. Here there are no roads, just air and boat access. Misty jungle-clad hills spouting waterfalls and hot springs meet the white sand of the Pacific. This biodiverse region offers kayaking around one of world’s largest humpback whale migrations (June – November). Located in the Biological Conservation Corridor Panamá-Chocó-Manabí, this zone is one of the most pristine marine ecosystems in the Pacific.
About Wildland Adventures
Kurt Kutay, Founding CEO/President, and Anne Kutay, Vice-President, established Wildland Adventures in 1987. As active managing directors, they are continuously refining and evolving their Wild Style of travel. The ‘Wild Style’ is based on an ethic of sincerity, compassion and understanding that breaks down barriers of separation to build lasting intercultural, interpersonal, and environmental bonds designed to enhance rather than exploit the people and places where they travel.