“Chris was the perfect trip leader. His knowledge of the country and its history is vast and he enthusiastically wanted to share it with us along with his years of experience as a photographer… He’s talented, interesting, accessible, and fun to travel with. Plus, he really did seem to care about each of us — if we were okay, getting good images, too tired, too hot, etc. I would certainly travel with him again. He certainly kept up the high standards of a Jim Cline Photo Trip.” – Judy B., Colombia 2018

INCLUDING THE MEDELLÍN FLOWER FESTIVAL

Colombia is trending as a hot new travel destination now that peace prevails and the country has turned its back on past travails. There’s never been a better time to visit this scenically stunning, culturally diverse, and simply fascinating country. And few people know Colombia as well as trip leader Christopher P. Baker, who wrote and photographed the National Geographic Traveler Colombia guidebook.

We’ll begin in Bogotá, the vibrant capital, where we’ll explore the colonial-era and administrative heart of La Candelaria, plus the colorful Paloquemao fruit and flower market. Then we’ll we be wowed by a visit to a paso fino horse stable plus the world-famous Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá. A highlight will be our two full days in Coffee Country—the Zona Cafetera—where we base ourselves in an antique coffee hacienda. Here our photographic excursions will include the exquisite colonial village of Salento, plus a photographic hike in the Valle de Cocora, known for the world’s tallest palm trees..

We’ll venture off the traditional tourist route as we drive a scenic mountain route to Medellín via colorful colonial pueblos. Our time in exciting Medellín includes a visit to Comuna 13—until recently a dangerous no-go zone, this impoverished barrio is now visitor-friendly and offers sensational photographic opportunities. Plus, we’ll visit a flower farm in advance of the world-renowned Fería de Flores (Flower Festival). We end in Cartagena, where the boundless photo ops include colorfully-dressed palenqueras and colonial houses adorned with bougainvillea and tropical ice cream pastels, plus the earthy and über-photogenic Bazurto market.

TOUR DATES: AUGUST 3-14, 2019
PRICE: TBA
ITINERARY (SUBJECT TO CHANGE):

Day 1: Saturday
All participants arrive and settle into our hotel in Bogota. Meet with Christopher in the evening for orientation and dinner at El Son de Los Grillos.
Overnight: HOTEL LA OPERA

Day 2: Sunday
This morning begins with a tour of the historic and colorful market known as Paloquemao. Founded in 1947, the market offers one of the most authentic experiences you can have in Colombia. The photo opportunities are endless. Afterward, we will visit the Gold Museum and then walk through the historic neighborhood of La Candelaria to visit the Botero gallery, where we’ll lunch. This afternoon we’ll explore the political and artsy side of the city on a fascinating (and superbly photogenic) private guided “Graffiti Tour” of Bogotá’s street art. At sunset, we’ll visit Monserrate hill for photos. Afterward, we’ll enjoy a delicious three-course meal together at La Bruja.
Overnight: HOTEL LA OPERA

Day 3: Monday
Today we’ll visit the underground Roman Catholic church (unofficial) known as the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá. Considered one of the most notable achievements of Colombian architecture, the Cathedral lies within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 meters underground. We’ll see and photograph icons, ornaments and architectural details hand carved in the halite rock. Back above ground, we will photograph a show with Colombia’s unique Paso Fino horses, followed by lunch at the stables.
Overnight: HOTEL LA OPERA

Day 4: Tuesday
Today we’ll fly from Bogotá to Manizales, in the heart of Coffee Country. After lunch, we’ll tour the Hacienda Venecia coffee finca and learn the techniques of coffee-tasting while savoring samples and photographing the stupendous mountain vistas setting.
Overnight: HACIENDA VENECIA, Manizales

Day 5: Wednesday
This morning head to two colorful coffee-growing towns—Filandia and Salento—known for their traditional (and colorful) Colombian architecture and laid-back lifestyle. Another highlight will be our drive into the Cocora Valley, a scenic stunner renowned as the last refuge of the critically endangered yellow-eared parrot and the Colombian wax palm—the world’s tallest palm species.
Overnight: HACIENDA VENECIA, Manizales

Day 6: Thursday
Air schedules permitting, we fly from Manizales to Medellín, with time in the late afternoon for a guided tour of the highlight sites, including La Alpujarra and ending at Plaza Botero, studded with massive bronze statues.
Overnight: HOTEL PARK

Day 7: Friday
This morning will be free for you to explore and photograph Medellín at leisure. Then a true highlight this afternoon as we visit Comuna 13, a once-dangerous barrio and FARC (and, later, paramilitary) fiefdom brought back from the abyss by bold revitalization. We’ll engage with and photograph locals.
Overnight: HOTEL PARK

Day 8 : Saturday
We begin with a fun Metro-Cable tram ride over the Santo Domingo shantytown to Parque Avri, from where we’’ll drive into the hills south of town to visit a flower farm in Santa Elena. The region will be full of energy as Colombian visitors flock to see farmers putting the finishing touches to their silletas—flower arrangements—for tomorrow’s festival.
Overnight: HOTEL PARK

Day 9: Sunday 
The flower festival parade is sure to keep us (and our cameras) pleasantly occupied all day. The highlight will be the sillitero parade as the brilliant flower arrangements brought in from the countryside. Overnight in Medellin. This will be a long day as we take our seats early for the parade, but patience is richly rewarded once the astonishing parade begins.
Overnight: HOTEL PARK

Day 10: Monday
Our group will transfer to the airport to fly from Medellin to the coastal colonial city of Cartagena. After lunch, we will have a very brief optional “get-your-bearings” guided tour around the historic walled city, with its horse-drawn carriages and vibrant street life such as the colorful palenqueras—Afro-Colombia fruit-sellers dressed in rainbow-hued costumes. The rest of the afternoon is free for exploring at leisure.
Overnight: HOTEL BOVEDA

Day 11: Tuesday
This morning we’ll journey outside the walled city to visit the authentically untouristed and astonishing Bazurto open-air fruit and fish market. Superb photography here! We’ll make a short walking tour in Getsemani—a rapidly gentrifying historic district with vibrant street life. The balance of the afternoon is free for you to enjoy at your leisure. This evening we’ll close with a presentation of everyone’s favorite images, then enjoy a farewell dinner together.
Overnight: HOTEL BOVEDA

Day 12: Wednesday
This morning we’ll transfer participants to airport to connect with their flights home.