Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

We had a lot of requirements for our family’s (kids 17 & 19 yrs old) winter vacation: warm weather, adventure, culture, food!, direct flight and small, if any, time change because my husband had to leave early due to work commitments. Amazingly, we found all those things on our trip to Colombia, a beautiful, colorful, and culturally and geographically diverse country!

Wendy’s team put us in touch with Boris, who put together a trip that covered all the bases with stops in Cartagena, Medellin and Bogota. Our activities and guides were top-notch, but there were several highlights including a private rum, chocolate, and Colombian fruit tasting – what’s not to like? Oscar walked us through how chocolate and rum are made and how to pair them with each other, as well as the fruit. The entire experience was a real treat (pun intended)!

Our time in Medellin was packed with varied and fascinating experiences ranging from culture to farms. Casa de la Memoria Museum in Medellin is not to be missed, as it details the conflict and history of when the drug cartels plagued the city. These events are so recent that people have first-hand memories. The same is true for Comuna 13, a maze of alleys built into the hillside (like most on Medellin), where the graffiti tells the story of the people and events of the district. Our guide explained the backstory of the graffiti and we even had a try at making our own tags! It is worth navigating the crowds to visit this area to understand the culture of this city.

But the city has undergone an amazing renaissance and is now vibrant and lively. We visited at Christmas and were lucky to see the “Alumbrados de Medellin,” an annual installation of festive lights located on the river, which only happens during the holidays. Paragliding over the hills of the city was good fun. And, of course, we visited a beautiful coffee farm where we picked coffee beans, did a coffee tasting, and had a delicious farm-to-table lunch.

One big surprise was our visit to an orchid farm, which has the largest variety of orchids in the world. The climate in Colombia is perfect for growing these beautiful flowers. We were guided through the greenhouse by one of the scientists, who himself had discovered 3 types of orchids. I thought our teens would be bored at this stop, but we all loved it!

We had asked for a mix of activity and relaxation and, amazingly, we could have used more of both! There is so much to see and do that we weren’t able to do it all, but that’s a good problem to have on vacation.

My wife and I traveled to Colombia from January 25 to February 5, 2024. Boris’ office planned and executed the trip, and we could not be more pleased. We had 4 primary destinations: Bogota, Villa de Leyva, the coffee region and Medellín. We skipped Cartagena because we had been there before. Boris and his team did a terrific job in planning the trip with us. We had several unique experiences, my favorite being lunch and a tour of a private collection containing every one of the hundreds of Colombian orchid varieties. Boris also found wonderful ways to accommodate us when we had different interests—for example, while I was touring a coffee plantation my wife was with a charming local woman cooking our Colombian lunch at her home. The four hotels chosen were all exceptionally lovely. The 3 guides we had were among the very best we have had in our travels to over 90 countries. The destination offers a virtually unlimited range of experiences to suit anyone, and Boris clearly is expert at marshalling them. In summary, a fantastically executed visit to a fascinating and diverse country.

Lynn Herrick's sons enjoy fresh coconuts.

Lynn Herrick’s sons enjoy fresh coconuts. Photo: Traveler Lynn Herrick

We have been fortunate to take many Wendy Perrin-approved trips, and worked with many excellent trip planners. However, Boris and his team are the best. From our first call with Boris, where we were just exploring the idea of visiting Colombia, to our final itinerary, the team did an incredible job. They even sent us music, reading material and other media suggestions to help us prepare for Colombia. This was a family trip with my three college-aged kids and my husband. So, we wanted a bit of history, a bit of adventure, a bit of culture and a lot of fun. Our trip started in Cartagena with the best tour guide ever, Will. Not only was Will’s dad the mayor of Cartagena, so we got to visit town hall, but he quickly got to know each of us and tailored our tours to our personalities. The kids even scheduled a secret outing with him to surprise me with emerald earrings for my birthday! In Cartagena we ate street food we would have never tried, learned salsa dancing, took a cooking class with a cantankerous French chef and made the best ceviche ever, went canoeing in the mangroves, learned to drum with a local group, and participated in a rum and cacao tasting. We also fell in love with this hot, romantic, beautiful Caribbean town.

Next on the itinerary was the coffee region. We visited the Wax Palm trees, zip lined, rafted and spent a special morning at a coffee plantation. We all loved learning about the coffee industry in Colombia, enjoyed the delicious lunch that was served, and agreed the organic coffee was special. We spent our last three nights in Medellin. While we learned about Colombia’s violent history throughout the trip, this was our opportunity to visit the countryside and hear from farmers how both the left-wing guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries imposed themselves on the farming communities and how many fled to Medellin during this time. The next day in Medellin, we took the cable cars to visit the barrio and see how those who escaped the civil war in the countryside built homes into the hills and created new communities. On our final day, we visited the memorial museum and then the very vibrant, and exciting, Comuna 13 where urban art and music are thriving. Throughout Colombia we ate the most delicious food, fruits and drinks. We will be craving coconut lemonade for a long time!

Sunset at Bombusa Farm in Colombia's coffee region

Sunset over a field of young yucca plants in Colombia’s coffee region. Photo: Traveler William Charschan

We recently returned from our Colombia trip and had a terrific time. Wendy Perrin’s site had recommended Boris’ team, who put together our 10-day itinerary. Our original intention was to visit three cities including Cartagena, however their suggestion that we include the coffee regions was spot-on. The coffee regions actually was our favorite part of the trip.

We flew direct from Newark to Bogota, the nation’s capital, and were met by our guide, Juan Fernando Rodriguez, who stayed with us and took us through the old parts of the city, a national park that had a map of the country, the gold museum and the part we loved the most, the food market, which is enormous. Our guide had us taste many of the breads and food there including fruits we don’t have where we live. Our last full day we spent doing some shopping and walked a mile back to the hotel to get a feel for the city on our own.

We then took our short flight to the coffee regions and were taken by our second guide, Guillermo Cardona, to a family-owned coffee farm. They served us lunch and gave us a tour showing us how coffee is grown and harvested. The property also had all sorts of flowers and fruit trees. This was a wonderful way to start our visit to this area. We then arrived in Bambusa, a bed and breakfast on a large farm with magnificent views of the mountains. The next day the guide took us to Corcora which we hiked up the path with our guide. Afterward, we drove to this town in Finlandia and eventually had lunch in Helena Adentro, a local restaurant with great views of the valley. We topped this off with some ice cream at a local place and then headed back to Bambusa. The last day included a rafting trip which we liked but upon returning to Bambusa, was met by a local biologist for a hike and tour on the plantation to see the process of picking cacao plants and how chocolate is made. We tasted the fruit which was very nice and then he led us to a person’s home where we had some fruit and juice and then made hot cocoa back at Bambusa; the farm tour was awesome.

The next day we were off to Cartagena and were met by Oscar Romero, our third guide. He led us through the history of the town and dropped us off at our hotel. An hour later, we had walked to another hotel for a rum and chocolate tasting. This was fun and a great experience. The following day we did some touring of the city and its monasteries and forts after a morning cooking class at the restaurant Carmen, which we loved. The last full day we visited Palenque, an African village, and then spent the evening back in town. We flew out the next day.

Thanks for an awesome trip and some great experiences.

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