JOIN FIVE-TIMES ‘TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR’ ROBERT HOLMES, ACCLAIMED PHOTOGRAPHER ANDRÉA JOHNSON, PLUS NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC AUTHOR, PHOTOGRAPHER AND COLOMBIA EXPERT CHRISTOPHER P. BAKER ON A BEST OF COLOMBIA PHOTO TOUR
Our ‘Best of Colombia’ tour truly captures all the iconic must-sees of Bogotá, the Zona Cafetal (coffee-country), Medellín and Cartagena. In Bogotá we’ll explore colonial-era Candelaria on foot, focusing our cameras particularly on the capital city’s renowned street heart. Our base in the Zona Cafetal will be in Salento, the region’s most colorful colonial town, within easy reach of the phenomenally scenic Valle de Cocora. Our visit to Medellín is timed to coincide with the annual flower festival: we’ll focus on photographing the flower farms and artesans crafting the silletas–the famous floral displays that will be carried on the backs of silleteros. And in the colorful Caribbean city of Cartagena, our photography highlights include a visit to Colombia’s most photogenic market, plus a private portraiture session with the city’s world-famous palenqueras–Afro-Colombian fruit-sellers dressed in colorful traditional costume.
Day 1, Saturday – Bogota
Meet at the Hotel La Opera, in the heart of the colonial quarter of La Candelaria. Chris will give a presentation about our exciting itinerary and Colombia. Then we’ll head for a dinner of traditional Colombian fare at the nearby atmospheric El Son de los Grillos.
O/N: Hotel La Opera
Day 3, Monday – Bogota
We’ll take the scenic elevated highway along the mountain fringe of Bogotá to the old town of Zipaquirá, where we’ll descend underground to marvel at—and photograph–the “Salt Cathedral.” This is challenging photography, made more enthralling by colorful floodlit niches and statues. We then enjoy a filling bandeja paisa—a platter of meats and other typical Colombia goodies!—at a horse-breeding center, where we’ll photograph the stables and a demonstration of paso fino gait riding. Returning to Bogota, we’ll have a brief rest and time to freshen up before taking the teleférico (mountain tram) up to the Monserrate monastery for sunset photography over the city. We’ll also dine here in the lovely Casa San Isidro before catching the last tram down the mountain.
O/N: Hotel La Opera
Day 4, Tuesday – Salento (Zona Cafetal)
The early bird catches the worm… or in our case, the best shots at the bustling Paloquemao flower market. About 85 percent of all cut flowers sold in the USA come from Colombia! We’ll also wander the narrow alleys of the interior section, with its fruit stalls, fish market, and pig’s heads, etc. We then continue to the airport for lunch (it has excellent options) before our flight to the Zona Cafetal—Coffee Country. We’ll head straight to Finca Ocaso (or an alternate coffee estate, such as Hacienda Bruselas or Hacienda San Alberto), enjoying a superb hilltop location for photographing a working coffee estate and learning about coffee growing and “cupping.” We then arrive in Salento, the most colorful and photogenic hill-town in the coffee country, and our base for the evening. Our hotel is just steps from the vibrant heart of this perfectly-preserved colonial hill-town, as well as a short walk from the hilltop mirador offering sensational views over town and its mountainside setting.
O/N Hotel Salento Real
Day 5, Wednesday – Salento (Zona Cafetal)
Salento is, with good reason, the coffee zone’s most popular colonial hill-town. You’ll delight in photographing its stunning colonial architecture, antique Willys Jeeps, and quintessential hill-town lifestyle. Although on weekends especially, its pedestrian-only main street–Calle Real–can seem mobbed by visitors, few of them overnight in town. Moreover, by being based here we’re able to explore this sensational village before and after the crowds depart, including during the peaceful “golden hour” of early morning and the “blue hour” after sundown. We’ll “escape” town when the day-trippers arrive: After breakfast, we head into the nearby, lime-green Valle de Cocora—a gorgeous montane valley renowned for the slender, towering wax palm (the world’s tallest palm) and ethereal mists. We’ll walk a path that offers splendid landscape photography, as well as invigorating exercise in the crystal-clear mountain air… perfect for building an appetite for a delicious lunch of fresh pink trout at one of Chris’ favorite restaurants. In 2019, Chris even photographed an Andean condor high overhead while hiking the Valle de Cocora. We’ll return to Salento, where the balance of the afternoon is at leisure for you to take a siesta before photographing the town at its best during the “golden hour” preceding sunset and the “blue hour” thereafter, when most of the day-trippers have departed.
O/N Hotel Salento Real
Day 6, Thursday – Medellín
This morning a special treat as we visit Luz A Salento, a music school serving disadvantaged children. We’ll enjoy a concert and hope to photograph the kids, including one on one portraiture. Today we’ll fly from Pereira or Armenia to Medellín, an architecturally stunning city cusped by mountains all around. The balance of the afternoon is free to relax or explore at will.
O/N Hotel Parque 10
Day 8, Saturday – Medellín
We’ll start today by taking the Metrocable up through the shantytowns to Parque Avri, a refreshing mountain park. We then drive to one or more flower farms in the mountains above Medellín to photograph the flower fields and the preparation of silletas (huge floral arrangements to be paraded in tomorrow’s Féria de Flores). We’ll return to Medellín, where the balance of the day is at leisure.
O/N Hotel Parque 10
Day 9, Sunday – Medellín
Today we’ll journey through the uplands to El Peñol, a sensational sugarloaf with vast views over lake country from its summit… reached by a 740-step exterior staircase! A short distance away, the remarkable cobblestone village of Guatapé awaits. It’s the most colorful town in Colombia, being adorned with zócalos. We’ll return to Medellín in early evening.
O/N Hotel Parque 10
Day 10, Monday – Cartagena
This morning we fly from Medellín to Cartagena, arriving in this lovely, laid-back Caribbean coastal city good time for lunch followed by a walking tour in the old walled colonial city, with its 17th-century fortresses and narrow streets. Rich in colorful street life and atmosphere, the photography here is sensational and is highlighted in late afternoon by a private shoot with one or more of the palenqueras—Afro-Colombian ladies dressed in traditional costume and looking like Carmen Miranda with their fruit bowls atop their head (yes, they actually sell the fruit). Our dinner is at one of Chris’ favorite restaurants: Santísima.
O/N Hotel Boveda
Day 11, Tuesday – Cartagena
We begin with a real stunner… the earthy Bazurto market, where we’re sure to be the only “out of towners.” Street photography doesn’t get better than this warren, with its pelicans hovering over the fish stalls waiting to plunge down on a tidbit… and its severed pigs’ heads and entrails… and steaming cauldrons of lunch in preparation over coals. Marvelous! Then we’ll take a brief walking tour through Getsemani, an up-and-coming outlier of the colonial city that has fabulous street murals, bohemian cafés, and fantastic architecture. The balance of the day is at leisure before we enjoy a farewell dinner at Club de Pesca.
Day 12, Wednesday – Depart for home
We transfer you to the airport for your individual flights home.
Trip cost: $TBF
Single supplement: $TBD
- Photograph the fantastic street murals of Bogotá's historic La Candelaria district.
- Witness how coffee is grown and processed at a traditional highland estate; photograph the fabulous street life of Salento, Coffee Country's most exquisite hill-town; and hike the sublimely photogenic Valle de Cocora, with its astonishing wax palms and ethereal mists.
- Photograph the flower farms, and preparation of silletas (floral displays) for Medellín's flower festival; plus explore the once dangerous, now welcoming, Comuna 13 shanty neighborhood.
- Revel in the delight of Cartagena's walled city, including a private photo session with the Afro-Caribbean palenqueras (fruit-sellers) and a made-for-the-camera Bazurato market.
Robert Holmes, founder of Lumaria Workshops, has the unique distinction of being the only person ever honored five times by the Society of American Travel Writers as the ‘Travel Photographer of the Year’.' His assignments have taken him from coverage of the 1975 British Everest Expedition for Paris Match to searching for snow leopards in the remote valleys of western Nepal for National Geographic. He has also worked for Geo, Saveur, Wine Spectator, Life, Time and hundreds of other major magazines, as well as illustrating more than 45 books. His stock catalog of over half-a-million images is represented by Getty.
After earning a B.A of Fine Arts in communication with a concentration in film, art, and journalism from Northwestern University, Andréa--co-founder of Lumaria Workshops--began her career as a photography producer for Nike, and in-house at several adventure sports and travel magazines, including Oregon Outdoors. She has since established herself as one of the world’s leading photographers specializing in the wine, agriculture, and adventure travel industries. Andréa has photographed four books, and regularly works on assignment for Wine Spectator, among other leading publications. She has received the prestigious Gold Award by the Society of American Travel Writers (2008, 2014, 2017) three times for photo essays in Vietnam, Canada, and Cuba.
CHRISTOPHER P BAKER
No-one knows Cuba as well as renowned travel journalist, National Geographic photographer, and Cuba expert Christopher P. Baker–the Lowell Thomas Award 2008 ‘Travel Journalist of the Year.’ Chris has authored and illustrated eight travel books on Cuba (including the National Geographic Traveler Cuba and Moon Cuba guidebooks, plus a coffee-table book Cuba Classics: A Celebration of Vintage American Automobiles), and has written about and photographed Cuba on behalf of entities from the BBC and CNN to National Geographic, New York Magazine, and Playboy during three decades of travel to Cuba. He has led photo tours of Cuba for Jim Cline Photo Tours, National Geographic Expeditions, and Santa Fe Photo Workshops.
We’ll be accompanied throughout by Alex, a professional tour guide and former policeman, and a fluent English speaker, with whom Chris has previously led several tours in Colombia.