Small group vacation to Colombia

“This small group tour takes you from the Andes to the Caribbean coast, taking in dynamic cities, colonial towns, lush national parks and peaceful coastline”

Highlights

Bogata | Zipaquira | Villa de Leyva | Salento | Cocora Valley | coffee plantation visit | Cartagena | La Boquilla | Palomino
Responsible Travel, Travel Team

Travel Team

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Date
Price
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10 Aug 2019
US $3279
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12 Oct 2019
US $3449
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14 Dec 2019
US $3579
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11 Jan 2020
US $3499
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08 Feb 2020
US $3499
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07 Mar 2020
US $3499
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04 Apr 2020
US $3499
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08 Aug 2020
US $3499
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05 Dec 2020
US $3499
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Vouchers
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Vacation type

Small group vacation

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travelers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Small group vacation to Colombia

Accommodation and Meals:
We spend 9 nights in hotels and 2 nights in hammocks strung up in thatched shelters at Tayrona National Park. The majority of the hotels we use are small, locally owned hotels and guesthouses. With the staff being local people, we can ensure that income is going directly into the community and boosting economy. This is even more significant for businesses in the areas frequented less by tourists. With some of the hotels, such as in Villa de Leyva and Salento, these particular hotels, profits also go towards the repair and restoration of these colonial properties. By sleeping in hammocks for part of the trip, we reduce energy consumption and support employment of local indigenous tribes in the park. Provided meals are made using fresh, locally sourced ingredients and unscheduled meals can be taken at a range of recommended privately owned restaurants.

A Fair Deal:
On this trip, the tour leaders, various guides and drivers (when used) are local to Colombia and to the region which they work in. This creates valuable employment, generates income and stimulates the local economy and by giving local worked the opportunity to interact with an international clientele within Colombia helps to raise the profile and prestige of jobs that traditionally had been seen as low skill level employment. Local tour leaders are encouraged to discuss with groups Colombia’s contemporary history and period of internal conflict, by this means of education, awareness of Colombia’s history is increased internationally.

Local Craft and Culture:
In addition to purchasing supplies locally, tour guides encourage travelers to purchase handmade souvenirs to help support local communities. We take several tours and take in a number of cultural sites, including a tour of the historical Cadelabria district, the Gold Museum, the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira, Villa de Leyva, Cartegena and a coffee plantation. At the plantation we learn about the whole production process, as well as learning about the trials and tribulations of the plantations themselves and the many workers who rely on coffee for their livelihoods. Local guides and tour leaders are vital in creating this link between clients and community and allowing interchange of concepts and cultures.

Charity:
We support a number of projects in South America and elsewhere in the world. These range from helping schools or orphanages, to rebuilding communities after disasters or helping reduce carbon emissions by installing solar cookers or solar lights in remote communities. Our local partner is involved in assisting local Colombian entrepreneurs develop their product/business as well as working alongside the government to develop guide training initiatives and local infrastructure projects. They also support a number of local charities and, in particular, have been supporting NUTRIR since 2009 which provides nutritional meals to some 4000 underprivileged children.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

1 Reviews of Small group vacation to Colombia

4 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 07 Mar 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The whole trip was as expected and explained in the trip notes. I enjoyed the whole experience, especially the walking in the Andes.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Be open minded. Some of the journeys are long and bumpy. The climate varies greatly from Andes to coast. Cartagena is beautiful, hot, humid and expensive (compared with the rest of the country). Watch your valuables and don't take anything you can't afford to loose! One lady had her iphone pick-pocketed. We found drugs on our bus (cocaine).
The food is fabulous.
Avianca airline is poor, the food was inedible and very little water - take you own supplies. The only advantage is that the flight is direct and you don't have to go through the USA.
On this particular date the local guide was poor - apparently he was a stand-in for the regular guide.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


To a certain extent. Even though we all took re-usable water bottles , our guide produced the daily water in small plastic bottles!!!

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


A good balance of culture, adventure and relaxation. A great introduction to Colombia

Read the operator's response here:

We would like to thank Rosie for her feedback regarding her vacation in Colombia and we were pleased to read that she enjoyed the vacation overall. We were very sorry that she was disappointed with the leadership of this departure; we take great pride in our tour leaders and we are confident that the vast majority of our leaders are extremely popular as we regularly receive fantastic comments from clients about the value their tour leader has added to their enjoyment of their trip.

We are very sorry that this tour leader did not live up to expectations and we have asked the local team to do the necessary follow up to ensure he is aware of where he can improve., including ensuring he is acting inline with our stance on plastic water bottles. We would also like to assure Rosie that the matter of drugs being found on the bus has been looked in to.

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