Day 1: Arrival in Cartagena
Today is set aside for an arrival day in Cartagena, where you be greeted upon your arrival at airport and transferred to your hotel. Later this evening, we will get together to discuss the tour in more detail. Few cities on earth are as beautiful as Cartagena. Found on the sunny Caribbean coast of Colombia, it is easy to why Cartagena has righteously earned a designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded in 1533, it retains its colonial charm, with colourful balconies overlooking cobblestone streets and quaint plazas that pull you into impressive churches.
The city was one of the main ports in the Americas during the Spanish Conquest, resulting in numerous pirate attacks that eventually led to the fortification of the city with 13km of stone walls
Days 2: Cartagena Historic Center and Magical Realism
The first morning of our tour will be devoted to photographing within the walled city, where there is something that will suit all tastes. From beautiful architecture, to warm and friendly people and striking monuments, there will be plenty of inspiring photographic opportunities to be had.
Ahead of an afternoon photo shoot on the walls surrounding the city, a local expert will explain Magical Realism, a literary style whose defining author is Colombia’s own Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A nice parallel can be drawn between his style and what visitors can experience in Colombia!
Overnight Hotel Allure
Day 3: Bazurto Market, Convento de la Popa, Getsemani
Following our visit to the market, we will drive to the highest point in Cartagena, Convento de la Popa, which offers a panoramic view of the city.
Lunch will be at Case De Pepina, which one of the last remaining 100% authentic eateries in town, followed by some down time at the hotel to escape the heat or unwind while it cools off enough in time to stroll around Getsemani for an afternoon excursion. Just outside the hotel, this very authentic and colourful neighborhood offers a glimpse into everyday life in Cartagena: local food vendors, graffiti art, galleries, public plazas and narrow streets alley ways of colonial architecture.
Day 4: Cartagena - Galapa Mask Workshops – Barranquilla
This morning we will drive to Barranquilla, which will take approximately 3 hours and will give us a chance to visit several craft workshops in the Galapa neighborhood just outside the city. There are several shops in town that allow access to the areas where masks are hand-carved, painted and polished before hitting the market, giving us an opportunity to buy masks directly form the artists themselves.
Our visit here includes meeting with some Carnival dancers, and learning more about the history of Barranquilla and the origins of the world-renowned Barranquilla Carnival. The carnival slogan is “Those who live it are those who enjoy it.”
The carnival originates from a combination of pagan ceremonies, Catholic beliefs, ethnic diversity, and is a mixture of the European, African and Indian traditions, dances and music. It was also the first a holiday for slaves and grew to be a celebration of the region.
Overnight Hotel Movich
Day 5: Barranquilla – Santa Marta – Barlovento
We will depart Barranquilla this morning and drive to Barlovento Beach, which is adjacent to Tayrona National Park. We will stop en-route in Santa Marta, which is South America's oldest European-founded town and the second-most-important colonial city on Colombia's Caribbean coast. We will visit the San Pedro de Alejandrino museum, the final resting place of Simon Bolivar, a Venezuelan military and political leader who was instrumental in helping certain Latin American countries achieve independence from the Spanish Empire, including Colombia. The grounds and hacienda provide for nice photographic opportunities and there will also be some street photography opportunities in the city surrounds. After lunch, we will head to Barlovento Beach and check in to our beachside hotel, with time to photograph the amazing landscapes and hopefully a gorgeous sunset.
Overnight Hotel Barlovento
Day 6: Wayuu Community and travel to Valledupar
After saying goodbye to Barlovento, we will embark on a 2-hour drive to the Guajira peninsula for a visit with the Wayuu community, known as “The people of the sun, sand and wind.” They live in a very harsh, deserted environment in huts called “rancherías”, made from cactus or palm-leaf-thatched roofs, and yotojoro (mud, hay or dried cane) siding.
We will meet with a large family in a communal area called an “enramada” and see them working on their handcrafts before setting out to the flats to witness their traditional wind dance. After lunch, we will begin the 3-hour drive to the city of Valledupar, where we will overnight.
Overnight Hampton by Hilton
Day 7: Atanquez Chorpus Christi Celebration
Today we will witness the colourful celebration of the Christian feast of Corpus Christi. Held yearly, “The Dance of the Devils” is an ancient tradition kept for centuries in few communities on the Colombia's Caribbean coast. This Christian event usually coincides with the summer solstice, which has always been the key point for the native cultures and for the black African slaves. Due to this confluence, the Kankuamo myths and the African animistic rites have blended with the Spanish Catholic festival. The pagan Demon characters, the Indian sacred places and other Pre-Columbian features were incorporated into the Corpus Christi event, often with catholic-friendly significations. Although the ritual celebration of the natural powers and spirits was twisted into an allegorical fight between God and the Devil (the Good and the Evil), it remains a lively, joyful spectacle.
Overnight Hampton by Hilton
Day 8: Nabusimake Village to meet Kogi Community
Our journey continues as we visit a village called Nabusimake, which is inhabited by the Kogi people. The Kogi are descendants of the Tairona culture, and are a culturally intact as they’ve lived in seclusion since the Spanish conquest 500 years ago. Highly attuned to nature, the Kogi believe they exist to care for the world – a world they fear we are destroying. At the heart of the tribe’s belief system is “Aluna”, or “The Great Mother,” their creator figure, who they believe is the force behind nature.
The Kogi understand the Earth to be a living being, and see humanity as its “children.” They say that our actions of exploitation, devastation, and plundering for resources is weakening “The Great Mother” and leading to our destruction.
We will learn more about this fascinating tribe as we spend time with them, documenting images as we go.
At the end of the day we will drive 90 minutes to Pueblo Bello, where we will overnight.
Overnight Pueblo Bello
Day 9: Nabusimake to Valledupar
We will spend one more morning with the Kogi people before departing by road to the city of Valledupar, where we will overnight.
Overnight Hampton by Hilton
Day 10: Fire Breather Harlequins Festival and flight to Bogota
Valledupar, in northern Colombia is encompassed by the snowy Sierra peaks and is known as the capital of vallenato music. “Vallenato” means “native of the valley”, which is why it’s a representative of Colombian culture.
During our time here, we will endeavor to capture the mystery and essence of the Valledupar Devils.
This cultural event is performed by the oldest known dance group in the neighbourhood of Cañaguate, where the Galindo family has played a central role to keep alive this tradition that dates back to at least the nineteenth century. If time permits, we will also explore the Museum of the Accordion, to hear the fascinating stories of Beto Murgas, and photograph some unique instruments.
Later in the day we will take our scheduled flight to Bogota. Our last night together in Colombia will finish off with a dinner as we reflect back on our time together.
Overnight Habitel Hotel
Today we sadly say farewell as we depart Colombia after a marvelous adventure together!