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Cartagena to Quito
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Overlanding is the best way to see South America by far! Dragoman have been leading the way in South American overland expeditions since 1990, so take advantage of our years of experience and come with us as we include all the must-see attractions as well as heading to some unique hidden gems, well away from the usual tourist trail. Starting at the incredible colonial town of Cartagena on the Caribbean coast, we make our way to the rugged and beautiful beaches of Tayrona National Park. Driving south, we will arrive in Colombia's outdoor capital of San Gil, where we will have plenty of time for some of the amazing optional activities on offer such as trekking, abseiling, caving, and white-water rafting! We will continue to the historic old town of Villa de Leyva and then head to our stay on a coffee plantation at Manizales. After travelling through the huge palm trees of Salento and the impressively-located Santuario de las Lajas in Ipiales, we will cross over into Ecudaor, where we first visit the market town of Otavalo and visit the Equator on our way to the buzzing capital of Quito. A fantastic holiday-length adventure through the fantastic country of Colombia!

Latin America

Duration: 19 Days Guaranteed Departure: Yes
For lovers of: Boating, Road Cycling, Trekking, Hiking, Equestrian Physical rating: Light
Accommodation standard:   Budget% Traveller Tour Rating: 80.0%  
Your Guide: English speaking Tour code: 158081
Starts: Cartagena, Colombia Finishes: Quito, Ecuador
You will Visit
  • Cartagena
  • Tayrona National Park
  • Mompós
  • Aguachica
  • San Gil
  • Villa de Leyva
  • Honda
  • Manizales
  • Salento
  • Popayán
  • Ipiales
  • Otavalo
  • Quito

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Cartagena

Border Information: if joining in Cartagena, you will most likely enter Colombia at Cartagena Rafael Núñez International Airport (IATA code: CTG).

There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm at the joining hotel - please look out at the hotel reception for a note from your leader with more details about this important meeting.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Cartagena before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Cartagena.

In Cartagena we stay in a comfortable hotel just outside the historical centre.

If you are continuing on from Panama, then your leader will have assisted you with airport transfers for your included flight to arrive in time for the joining meeting.

02

Day 2: Cartagena

Today we will have a full day in the beautiful coastal colonial city of Cartagena.

In the morning we will have an included walking tour of the city, and then the afternoon will be free to explore the city further, enjoy the many optional activities on offer, or simply relax on the beach.

03

Day 3-4: Tayrona National Park

Today we have a short drive to Tayrona, one of the most popular national parks in Colombia. Leaving our main luggage stored on the truck, we take a day-pack/night-bag and go on a moderate walk in to the park to where we will stay. Mules to carry your luggage can be hired at an extra cost.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

The following day is a free day to explore this stunning coastal park. We have the opportunity to trek to El Pueblito, a pre-Hispanic settlement of the Tayrona people, do some snorkelling, or just relax on the beautiful beaches.  

In Tayrona National Park we will stay in rented hammocks. The hammocks are equipped with mosquito nets but please note that the nets are not treated with Permethrin or similar pesticides.

There is also an option to bring tents if you prefer to stay in a tent rather than a hammock, but please note that mules will have to ber hired to carry your tent, at an extra cost.

04

Day 5-6: Mompós

Today we will have an early morning start to walk back to the National Park entrance, rejoin our truck, and drive to the peaceful and rarely-visited colonial town of Mompós, where we will stay 2 nights. 

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.

The following day we will go on an included short boat trip down Rio Magdalena to observe the riverside life and do some wildlife spotting. There will also be plenty of free time to explore this historical colonial town, the first town in Colombia to declare independence from Spain, wander the beautiful streets and soak up the atmosphere of the architecture.

In Mompós we stay in a lovely local hotel.

05

Day 7-9: San Gil

Today we will drive south to San Gil, the outdoor capital of Colombia and a mecca for extreme-sports enthusiasts! Tonight we will enjoy a vegetarian Indian buffet from the campsite's in-house restaurant.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-11 hours.

The following two days will be free to enjoy some of the myriad of adrenaline activities on offer in the area, or to spend some time relaxing on the farm.

In San Gil we camp in a coffee and cattle farm outside town.

06

Day 10-12: Medellín

Today we will have a full day's drive to the vibrant city of Medellín, where we will spend 3 nights.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-11 hours.

On our first full day in Medellín we will have a guided walking tour of the city, and our second day will be free time to independently explore the town, its parks, churches, and museums.

In Medellín we will stay in dormitory accommodation in a centrally-located hostel, allowing you to enjoy the exciting nightlife of the city.

07

Day 13-14: Salento

Today we will continue our journey south to the small town of Salento, the gateway to the spectacular Valle de Cocora.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

On the following day we will head out in the morning for an included visit to a coffee plantation to learn all about the cultivation and producing of Colombian coffee! After a local lunch, we will take an included guided trek through the Cocora Valley to see the Quindio wax palm trees, the largest palms in the world and the national tree of Colombia.

In Salento we will camp in a well-equipped campsite, 15 minutes drive out of town.

08

Day 15-16: Popayán

Today we will drive to the beautiful town and former colonial capital of Popayán.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

On the following day we will have a free day to explore Popayán or take part in some excellent treks or other optional activities in the surrounding area.

In Popayán we stay in dormitory accommodation in a local hostel.

09

Day 17: Ipiales

Today we will have a full day drive to the border town of Ipiales.

In Ipiales we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours.

10

Day 18: Ipiales

Border information: Exit Colombia at Ipiales, enter Ecuador at Ipiales.

Today we will have an early start to visit the famous Santuario de las Lajas church outside of Ipiales. We will then head south and cross the border into Ecuador and drive to the bustling captial, Quito. En route into the city we will have an included visit to Mitad del Mundo, the monument that marks the Equator.

In Quito we will stay in a friendly local hotel in the 'New Town'.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.

11

Day 19: Quito

Border information: if you are finishing in Quito, you will most likely exit Ecuador at Quito Mariscal Sucre International Airport (IATA code: UIO).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Quito. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Freely explore the fascinating colonial city of Cartagena or learn all about its incredible history on a guided walking tour
    • Explore the area of Mompós by boat, on a beautiful short trip out on the Magdelena River
    • Head out on a fascinating walking tour of Medellín and learn all about it's tumultuous past
    • Head out on a half-day guided trek through the spectacular Cocora Valley, and see the incredible 50m-tall Quindio wax palms, the tallest plam trees in the world!
    • Explore a working Colombian coffee plantation near Salento and learn all about its cultivation and production
    • Visit the jaw-dropping church of Santuario de las Lajas on the outskirts of Ipiales, built on a bridge spanning a 45m-deep river gorge
    • Visit the monument to mark the Equator at Mitad del Mundo
    Tour Staff
    • 2 crew, local guides as necessary
    Accomodation
    • 40% Camping - 60% Hotels
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Tour Highlights:
  • Adventure Activities
  • Boating
  • Cycling
  • Hiking & Trekking
  • Horse Riding
  • Overland Journey


Reviews (7)
Patricia P Posted on: 

Local guides were all excellent and well chosen

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Michael B Posted on: 

I had a great time on the tour. I went to Guatape and Otavalo, places that I would not have visited had I travelled on my own, and I thought they were great. I liked Rachel and Jamie, I thought they did a great job. It is very well done for people who want this type of experience and I am happy to recommend Dragoman. Both crew were fabulous. There were several local guides and I thought they were all very good.

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Alexandra B Posted on: 

Rachel was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable and brought the whole group together well. Jaime was also enthusiastic and such a happy personality to have around.

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Søren Elleby A Posted on: 

The leaders did good! I like that Jamie always seems happy!

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Kathleen R Posted on: 

I think the style of the vehicle adds an extra quirk to the whole trip so for that reason I quite liked it. What we expected given the nature of this trip, happy customers! We had a great time! Everything was beyond expectations. Rachel has so much enthusiasm and drive, she definitely fits the true qualities required of this job. Her confidence in handling difficult situations shone and kept us at ease throughout the trip and she just made things great fun! Couldn't ask for more of her!

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Lauren B Posted on: 

I really enjoyed the trip! Both leaders were very helpful, and supported us well.

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Brett M Posted on: 

It was an amazing experience, exactly as described and good value for money. They were fantastic! It's a difficult job which they made look effortless…

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