Andes Overland

Adventure Quito – Bogota

Optional Excursions

It’s not required to book any of these excursions in advance. You can decide on the day before the excursion, making the whole trip more relaxed and spontaneous.

 

City Tour & Mitad del Mundo – Quito

We begin the city tour in the heart of colonial Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage site where beautiful plazas, cathedrals and palaces connect the grid of narrow streets.

One incredible example is the church of La Compañia (constructed in 1605), considered to be the finest example of baroque architecture in the Americas. We then drive up to the Panecillo Hill, perfect for panoramic views of the historic quarter.

The tour continues to the very north of Quito, where the dramatic Middle of the World monument marks the dividing line between hemispheres: the Ecuator, or 0º 00’ 00” to be precise. In the museum Itiñan, close to the monument there are plenty of activities relating to gravity, balance, and photography. We then return to our downtown hotel.

 

Cuicocha Lake & Cotacachi

Cuicocha Lake is located at the base of the Cotacachi volcano, and is itself a volcanic crater lake, some 4km long and 3km wide. Rising from its center are three domes of volcanic rock, forming two islands covered with vegetation and separated by a channel of water.

Its name derives from a pre-Inca language: “Tsui cocha” meaning “lagoon of the gods.” After visiting this lake, we can explore the surrounding area before continuing the tour to the small town of Cotacachi, where the specialities are leather jackets, bags, accessories, and other quality souvenirs.

 

Tour to the archeological park – San Agustin

This park is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites in Colombia, and the principal archeological site in the country. It boasts the largest collection of religious and megalithic monuments in Latin America, and is also the world’s largest necropolis (ancient cemetery). The mysterious civilisation which built the complex disappeared without trace, except for their art and well-preserved graves.

 

Horseback Tour to Rio Magdalena Canyon – San Agustin

After breakfast we meet our local guide and his horses, which are assigned based on ability. Through the magnificent surrounding forests we ride, on pathways and across open fields until we arrive at the Rio Magdalena Canyon. Here, we can gaze 400 meters below onto the mighty river that eventually feeds the Caribbean sea.

With a bit of luck we’ll spot some Chulos, the smaller cousins of the majestic Condor. Once back on our horses, we continue this dramatic ride to a site where colorized stone carvings serve as a memory of the ancient civilizations that inhabited the area. In the afternoon, our guide will return us to El Maco Finca.

 

Salento and Cocora

Salento was an early settlement in the modern era, and happened to be isolated from development thereafter. It therefore retains more traditional colonial buildings than most other towns in the region, as well as a relaxed way of life in a pleasant climate.

We begin this tour with a traditional Colombian drink at Cafe Jesus Martin. It prepares us for a hike through the Cocora Valley, where spectacular landscapes appear on all sides. After a typical Colombian lunch in a local restaurant, we return to Salento and its beautiful architecture around the main square, not to mention the wonderful old houses in Bahareque.

 

Coffee Experience – Armenia         

In the morning our local guide takes us to his favorite coffee finca (farm) to demonstrate a particular Colombian pride. All the secrets of extraordinary coffee quality will be revealed! Then we hike around the beautiful coffee fields to take a closer look at the plant, as well as plantations of bananas, oranges and other local fruits.

Back at the finca, we are treated to a coffee tasting session, where we learn how to evaluate the quality of different coffee beans, and become real coffee experts.

 

City tour – Medellin

We first visit the Plaza Botero, where 23 big black sculptures by the artist Fernando Botero are exhibited. Then onto the enormous Metropolitan Cathedral, and the impressive architecture at the Orquideorama, and the Barefoot Park, where shoes are banned!

As part of this excursion we ride the Metro cable car, which is actually used as public transport, but also provides incredible view of the city. After all the sightseeing, there are several museums to visit: Museo de Antioquia, the Planetario de Medellin and Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellin. If we have time enough, we can visit all three!

 

City Tour – Bogota

Our local guide collects us after breakfast to begin the walking city tour of Bogota. Colombia’s chilly capital, like Medellin, is now a safe, modern metropolis with endless events and activities.

The Candelaria is one of the most interesting neighborhoods, with a bohemian vibe and impressive colonial-era buildings from the times of independence from Spain, complemented by modern skyscrapers like the iconic Colpatria tower.

Our guide takes us around the most important buildings in this governmental district. Then we whizz up the Monserrate Hill in cable cars, enjoying the extraordinary views over downtown Bogota, and realizing just how huge the Colombian capital is.

On this hill there is a church worth visiting, and a special local drink to sample: Canelazo, which is a hot alcoholic fruit beverage. At the end of the tour we may have time to visit some of Bogota’s famous museums. The Gold Museum, for example, exhibits the handcrafts and modern art of indigenous peoples, as well as astounding pieces of gold craft from ancient times.