Day 1: Bogota
Nearly 8 million people call Bogota home, and this capital city is the affable beating heart of a country on the mend. Founded in the 16th century, Bogota is the fastest growing city in Latin America and is renowned for its and many iconic houses and buildings of and houses many iconic buildings of architectural and historical and architectural value, abundant universities and libraries and its rich culture. In addition to its old world ambiance and dynamic urban atmosphere, Bogota also is situated among the magnificent Andes mountains, so it’s surrounded by stunning natural landscapes that make it the perfect beginning to any Colombian vacation.
During your visit to this UNESCO World Book Capital city, you’ll stay in the middle of La Candelaria Old Town at The Orchids Hotel. Here, you’ll find traditional sophistication in the hotel’s intimate all-suite guest quarters. Built in 1892, the hotel is nestled in a former Neo-Classical Republican style home, and it boasts remarkably preserved interior details that are apparent throughout the hotel.
Most international flights arrive in the afternoon, and it takes approximately an hour for your private transfer to the hotel, so we’ve left this afternoon at your leisure. If you arrive early and feel up for it, we recommend a leisurely stroll through this energetic city. We’ll also be more than happy to make dinner reservations for you should you choose (dinner is not included).
Today, your flight will arrive at Aeropuerto Internacional El Dorado, where you’ll be greeted for a private transfer to check-in at The Orchids.
Day 2: Coffee Region
It’s Day 2 of your Colombia and Panama combo vacation, and you’re headed to the coffee region via direct domestic flight from Bogota to Armenia. Here, you’ll check in to Hacienda Bambusa after the approximately 30-minute flight. The transfer to the airport is private, but the flight is a regional carrier. Private chartered aircraft is available for an additional fee.
Sometimes called “the coffee triangle,” the country’s coffee region is located in the rural Paisa district and its three departments. This area is globally recognized for producing some of the best coffee in the world, but it wasn’t very long ago that the area was all but inaccessible to outsiders. Today, this area is a wonderful and culturally rich destination with a mild climate year-round and very friendly residents. While in the coffee region for the next few nights, you’ll be staying in Armenia at Hacienda Bambusa.
Hacienda Bambusa is a working farm hidden among almost 400 acres of idyllic rolling landscapes and a backdrop of the imposing Andes. The hacienda includes seven large and comfortable guest rooms, providing an easy oasis of tranquility and natural beauty. Here, you’ll be totally immersed in stunning vistas and the cultural heritage of the country.
Day 3 and 4: Coffee Region
You’ll awake on Day 3 to find you have two full days to immerse yourself in all the unique region has to offer. All private excursions are included in the hacienda rates, and you’ll be able to choose your favorite each day with help from your private on-site guide. Some of our favorite activities include:
Hike to witness the bamboo forest and cacao plantations while learning about the local flora and fauna.
Witness the awe-inspiring scenery via mountain bike or horseback.
Sightsee from village to village, and enjoy the Andes experience as you go.
Trek the Cocoa Valley, where you’ll see the tallest wax palms in the world.
Lazily float down the nearby river on a bamboo raft.
Get an aerial view of the region via zip line.
Get up, up and away in a hot air balloon.
Whatever you may choose, you’ll get up close and personal with awe-inspiring scenery, including creeks, rivers, exotic flowers, bamboo forests and farm-raised crops such as bananas, plantains, ginger and tangerines as far as the eye can see. When your day is complete, head back to the hacienda and dine on haute cuisine at the property’s delectable restaurant helmed by Chef Vanesa Quintana or simply lounge by the pool.
Day 5: Cartagena
After two days of exploring the country’s scenic coffee region, you’ll have the morning to relax before heading out toward the emerald city - Cartagena! You’ll start with a 30-minute private transfer to Armenia’s airport for the connection through Bogota before arriving in Cartagena, where you’ll enjoy a private transfer to your hotel.
Located on the amazingly beautiful and ever popular Caribbean coast, Cartagena de Indias is a UNESCO World Historical and Cultural Heritage site that seems as though history is frozen in time. The city is a magical place that spellbinds guests with its folklore, authentic charm and romantic beauty dating back to the 1600s. From the alluring pace of Old Town to the fashionable ambiance of its trendy beach communities, Cartagena, though not truly a beach destination, is home to an irresistible combination of warm and friendly citizenry and Afro-Caribbean culture.
During your time in this internationally-renowned city, you’ll discover Colonial Cartagena and make lifelong memories from a home base at the luxury boutique hotel, Casa San Agustin. Here, you’ll relish in an intimate yet opulent trio of historic buildings carefully restored to accent the city’s lively Caribbean atmosphere and fresh style. The hotel includes 24 guest rooms and six spacious suites in the heart of Old Town.
Once you’ve checked in at Casa San Agustin, you’re free to explore this whimsical city on a walking tour of the walled old town. Once back at the hotel for the evening, you may prefer to take a dip in your private plunge pool or Jacuzzi (in select rooms) or partake of a culinary odyssey at the hotel’s Alma Restaurant. Stylish locals, who love the fresh ingredients and sophisticated menu, consistently are seen dining here either indoors or by candlelight al fresco.
Day 6: Cartagena
As Day 6 unfolds, you’ll be whisked away on a private full-day tour especially designed to let you experience the city as a local would. It’s our exclusive “Live the City Tour,” and you’ll enjoy the opportunity to taste local street food, sip coffee on the Square, learn about Cartagena’s talented art scene through its galleries and, of course, see the iconic monuments and landmarks of this amazing city.
In addition to the above, you also can choose one of the following tours at no extra charge:
Take a private salsa lesson then head out on a salsa club crawl.
Go kite-surfing or fly-boarding on the Caribbean (not recommended for beginners).
Take a specialist-led art tour.
Go bird watching on a canoe (this is an early morning trip).
Hit the links at a local golf course.
Taste some delicious Caribbean Rum.
Head out on a bike tour of the up-and-coming Getsemani neighborhood.
Visit a local market with a local chef, and take a cooking class with the ingredients.
Day 7: Rosario Islands
It’s Day 7 of your Colombia and Panama dream vacation, and today you’re heading off shore to the dazzling Rosario Islands on a privately-chartered full-day boat tour (motorboats and yachts are available - the picture here is the VIP option, but there also are others).
Just an hour via boat from Cartagena, Rosario Islands is an island archipelago of 27 coral reef islands that seem a world away from the busy city. Here, you’ll find the National Rosario and San Bernardo Coral Nature Park— home to breathtaking natural landscapes, crystal blue waters and a marine ecosystem that’s often been referred to as a “marvel of nature” due to its extreme biological diversity.
Today, witness the seawater change color before your eyes, as you cruise through the archipelago, before stopping for lunch, snorkeling and, of course, lounging on the beach.
The day’s private itinerary includes:
8am: Pick up at your hotel.
8:30am: Board the yacht, and sail the Caribbean.
10am: Snorkel around the islands (locations are determined by the skill of guests).
11am: Enjoy cocktails, fruit and snacks onboard with a private chef.
12pm: Stop for a seaside lunch and relaxation at a beautiful beach resort.
3pm: Return to Cartagena for an evening at leisure.
The program is flexible and times can be adjusted upon request, so please ask the captain for desired changes.
After your last breakfast in Colombia, you’ll take a private transfer back to the Rafael Nuñez International Airport in Cartagena for the transfer to the second leg of your dream vacation in Panama.
Day 8: Azuero Peninsula & El Valle
Often called Panama’s most traditional region, the interior areas of the Azuero Peninsula, Coclé and El Valle are totally removed from modern Panama. The extrasolar location, idyllic landscapes and folkloric pace will envelop you in a completely different culture from the more populous and tourist-centric regions.
Despite the area’s remote reputation, there’s a ton to love in this diverse ecosystem that is home not only to the national drink and the country’s most important sea turtle nesting ground but also a broad array of rich culture, as well as activities and excursions to suit any travel style. Although water sports, canopy walks, horseback riding and even a variety of cultural tours including local market and more are available in this area, our schedule saves the water sports for last and focuses on culture and adventure while in the wilds of interior Azuero.
The Elle Valle community, also known as Anton Valley or El Valle de Anton, is renowned for its busy market housing a variety of handcrafted art, native plants and local fruits and veggies. The district boasts a spring-like moderate climate perfect for summer vacation, but also is among the best birding spots in the entire country.
El Valle and Azuero may be off-the-beaten path, but the region still manages to include an impressive array of unique resorts and hotels for intrepid travelers. One of our favorites is the Tuscan-inspired Los Mandarinos Boutique Hotel & Spa.
Whether you’re seeking a romantic honeymoon escape, some family bonding time or recreational adventures, Los Mandarinos offers an invigorating experience in the heart of the El Valle community. The large suites overlook the magnificent mountain and each of the six rooms comes equipped with living rooms, kitchenettes should you be inclined to cook and private balconies to enjoy the view. There also are nine honeymoon suites with living rooms, kitchens, and terraces and mountain views (some also include Jacuzzis).
Today, you’ll arrive in Panama for the second half of your dream vacation and check into Los Mandarinos following a private transfer from Panama City to the hotel. We recommend planning an early arrival for the journey to Azuero and El Valle.
Day 9: Azuero Peninsula & El Valle
After enjoying a delicious breakfast at the hotel, you’re headed out on a tour highlighting the pearls of the El Valle region. This private full-day tour takes you to see the famous El Nispero Zoo and Botanical Garden, the breathtaking 100+ foot Chorro Macho waterfall, ancient petroglyphs, the Butterfly Garden thermal water wells and, of course, the famous market mentioned previously. While at Chorro Macho, don’t miss the nearby hiking trails, glistening pool and the cloud canopy tour that starts near here.
Once back at Los Mandarinos, stop by the hotel’s Spanish eatery for a glass of vino from the expansive wine list or the Irish pub for a bite of some traditional Emerald Isle cuisine.
Day 10: Azuero Peninsula & India Dormida
Today, you’re setting off on a moderate hike to India Dormida or the “sleeping Indian girl.” The silhouette of this centuries old mountain looks like that of a sleeping girl when viewed from a distance, and the trek there includes several stunning views of El Valle and the Pacific. On your way back down the mountain via a different route, you’ll pass waterfalls (feel free to take a dip) before ending your day at another set of petroglyphs. No one knows exactly from where these ancient glyphs came, but the painted and carved rocks are scattered throughout the region and have garnered numerous theories since their discovery. One thing is for sure though— the largest (the size of a small house) will leave you pondering the meaning of life.
After a full day hiking El Valle, there is nothing more restful than a visit to the spa, and Los Mandarinos features the ultimate in relaxation just beyond your guest quarters. Here, expert therapists provide a variety of massages, facials and body treatments to leave you revitalized and looking great for the remainder of your dream vacation in Panama’s Pearl Islands.
Day 11: Panama City
They say all roads in Panama lead through the modern and bustling Panama City, so today your guide will pick you up from Los Mandarinos for a private transfer back to the capital before continuing on to the islands.
Contemporary and cosmopolitan yet rich with the pulse of history, Panama City is both the capital and largest city of this amazing country. It offers an array of adventure, culture and leisure activities.
The most renowned of the city’s landmarks is the masterful Panama Canal. You’ll begin your tour of the Canal with a short drive to Miraflores, where you’ll see the gigantic ships passing through. We try our best to arrive during the busy hours of 9-10am and 2-5pm, so you’re sure to see ships lowered and lifted in the locks from the comfort of a sheltered terrace, but this isn’t always possible with transfers from El Valle. Before we leave the Canal, you’ll visit the Miraflores Museum and Visitor Center to learn more about the history of this masterpiece of engineering and its importance to world trade.
After your visit to the Canal, get ready to visit the Colonial quarter, known as Casco Viejo, located along the Amador Causeway. Here, you’ll witness amazing views of the Pacific, the city skyline and, of course, the Canal. Once you’ve arrived in Casco Viejo, you’ll feel like you stepped back in time as you stroll amongst narrow streets brimming with impressive churches and charming Colonial homes that tell the story of Panama since its founding in 1519. In keeping with this deep heritage, it seems only fitting you should overnight at a consistent Condé Nast Traveler Top 10 Hotel in Latin America winner— the Bristol Hotel.
Nestled in the heart of the city’s financial district, this legendary hotel offers smooth urban style and uncompromising sophistication in an upscale and intimate retreat for discerning travelers. The 125 guest suites and rooms each include modern amenities, bespoke services and fine dining in an historic mansion overflowing with ambiance.
The Bristol is especially well known for its restaurant, Salsipuedes, and we highly suggest dining here when you return from the afternoon tour of the Canal and Casco Viejo.
Day 12: Pearl Islands
After your last breakfast at the Bristol, you’ll take a brief private ground transfer to the domestic airport for a quick 20-minute flight to San Jose island in the Pearl Island archipelago. Named for an indigenous king whose subjects’ occupation was diving for pearls, the islands are home to colorful sand beaches of white, black and gold, turquoise coves, fresh water rivers and an abundance of wildlife, including agoutis, deer, iguanas, wild pigs and more than 100 species of bird.
During your time in the Pearl Islands, you’ll enjoy stylish modern comfort and island charm at a secluded luxury resort called Hacienda del Mar. A hotel representative will collect you from the local airstrip to drive to this secluded all-suite eco resort. Here, you’ll rapidly discover unmatched access to triple canopy forest, white sand beaches, and the resort’s own thriving wildlife population on an otherwise unpopulated island.
From your home base at Hacienda del Mar, you’ll enjoy a plethora of possible activities during the last few days of your dream vacation.
Day 13: Pearl Islands
The most famous landmark of the Pearl Islands is the sensational Three Monks rock formations that simply seem to erupt from the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Today, you’ll head out on a privately-guided snorkeling tour that takes you to the Three Monks and a wide array of other snorkeling locales that are among the most beautiful and unique in the world. From Mogo Mogo to Contadora, there are literally hundreds of small islands (and a few bigger ones too) in the archipelago. All offer warm, clear water and sparkling beaches that would make just about any beach bum jealous. You’ll never want this amazing snorkeling experience to end.
Day 14: Panama City
After your last morning in Panama, you’ll take a private transfer back to the airstrip on San Jose before heading onto Panama’s Tocumen International Airport for the return flight home.