The 18 day trip to Colombia started with 3 nights in Bogota including 2 scheduled half day tours with our guide Andres. On the 2 half days which , turned out to be nearly full days, Andres guided us round all the best bits that the vibrant city of Bogota had to offer. The changing historical landscape of the city was portrayed in so many ways with its varied architecture, different ethnicity of the population, informative museums and its wonderful street murals. The food and drink complimented the variety that was on offer. The Hotel Opera in the district of La Candelaria was a great base for our stay in Bogota After Bogota we next visited the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira en route to the colonial settlement of Villa de Leyva. The underground Cathedral is a great testimony to the skill , invention and faith of those involved. The small settlement of Zipaquira had its own charms including the church and small Plaza Mayor which typified so much of the parts of rural Colombia we visited. In Villa de Leyva we again saw the charm and interest of a typical Colombian settlement built by the Spanish colonials. Villa de Leyva also had the advantage of sites of archeological interest nearby and an attractive mountainous backcloth for its setting. En route from Bogota , once we had got through the sprawling mass of the conurbation, we passed through an attractive agricultural landscape dominated by dairy farming which gave it a European feel. Also en route,we stopped to see the Momento a Bolivar and reflected on his role in the independence of so many parts of South America. Our short stay in the tranquil settlement of Villa De Leyva was welcome after the hustle and bustle of Bogota. Our guide, Andres, left us at this point having been with us for 5 great days. A great miss. A private transfer from Villa de Leyva took us over mountainous landscape to the quaint village of Barichara. This colonial town was very quiet which lent to its charm. It was a lovely place to walk around and seemingly get lost in a bygone world. For obvious reasons the settlement is used as a film set without the film makers having to do anything to make a film set. Our new guide, Eliana, took us on a morning walk to the small village of Guane which helped us to appreciate the landscape occupied by the indigenous groups when the Spanish arrived. An afternoon tour of Barrichara completed a memorable day. This day proved to be the beginning of the end with the impact of the global Coronavirus rearing its ugly head. We were increasingly aware that our trip was going to be shortened and we needed to return to Bogota to get back to the UK. Eliana escorted us to Giron/ Bucaramanga where we could catch a flight to Bogota. Our short time with Eliana was wonderful and fond farewells were made. We were met in Giron by John, our last guide for our holiday. We did an interesting morning tour of Giron but sites were beginning to close as the Colombian governement were preparing to lockdown. John was great in his care and attention to make sure we got back to Bogota which we did on the 10th day of our holiday. We last spoke to John on the phone from Bogota airport on the 12th day as we had our boarding passes in our hands. Bogota at this time was in complete lockdown with residents barred from leaving their homes. What a sad end to what had been a fantanstic holiday in a wonderful country with truly brilliant guides.
From the very start of our holiday planning Jose, the man behind TravelLocal's partner, was keen to ensure that a holiday was planned for what we wanted rather than what they wanted. Nothing was too much trouble if we wanted to change our itinerary in any way. When we were in Colombia we felt part of a unique and caring company especially when the trip had to be curtailed. They could not have been more concerned , helpful and professional in the way they dealt with us. What was good about the local team Everything
All our guides were very informative , spoke excellent English were a delight to be with and, with each one, we felt we had made good friends. Andres. Eliana and John helped to make our shortened holiday a truly memorable one.
Do your own research, listen to the advice of Jose at TravelLocal's local partner and build the trip of a lifetime.
The vibrancy of Bogota. Museo de Oro and numerous churches in Bogota The delightful colonial settlements. The walk along the Camino Royal from Barichara to Guane. Zipaquira Salt cathedral. Fossil museum, Archeological site of El Fosil and the Convento del Santo Ecce Homo near Villa de Leyva BBC for a good beer! Better than ITV !