Join travel journalist and National Geographic expedition leader Christopher P. Bakerauthor & photographer of the National Geographic Traveler Cuba guidebookon this exciting Colombia photo tour & workshop focused on the indigenous and Afro-Caribbean cultures of northern Colombia

“Thanks for the master class in photography. I learned so very much from you, particularly about context, ambiance and milieu to create a riveting picture.
SARAH S., JIM CINE PHOTO TOURS, CUBA 2020
“Chris, you are a one of a kind. Really enjoyed you as a photographer, a guide, and of course as a fabulous story teller.
You have so much knowledge and I loved your positive energy
ASA M., JIM CLINE PHOTO TOURS, CUBA 2020
“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 Tour.”
JUDY B., COLOMBIA 2018

Chris will introduce you to sensational cultural highlights and photogenic off-the-beaten path venues!

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. 

Few people know Colombia as well as renowned travel journalist and National Geographic author, photographer and expedition leader Christopher P. Baker–the Lowell Thomas Award 2008 ‘Travel Journalist of the Year.’ Chris first visited Colombia on multiple magazine assignments (and Cartagena as a cruise-ship lecturer) several decades ago. He later spent five months on National Geographic assignment traveling to every corner of Colombia to research, write and illustrate the National Geographic Traveler Colombia guidebook. He has since written about and photographed Colombia on behalf of entities from BBC Travel and Caribbean Travel & Life to National Geographic Traveler, Virtuoso Travel and South China Morning Post. A geographer by training, with a broad knowledge of Colombia’s varied tropical ecosystems, Chris gave the keynote speech at the 2019 Colombia Nature Travel Mart and has spoken at venues throughout North America on behalf of the Colombia tourist promotion agency, ProColombia. A gifted photo instructor, he has led numerous tours to Colombia (as well as Cuba and Oman, among other destinations) for Jim Cline Photo Tours and National Geographic Expeditions.

Chris has designed a sensational itinerary themed to northern Colombia’s indigenous cultures and “magic realism”… the quintessential, surreal and allegorical Latin American literary style made famous by Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez (1927-2014). “Gabo,” as he was affectionately known, was born and grew up in the region, and used its real-life events, character, and quirky cities in his fantastical novels.

We’ll begin in Cartagena, the colorful city where Gabo lived and set such novels as Love in the Time of Cholera… and where the boundless photo ops include colorfully-dressed palenqueras, and centuries-old colonial houses adorned with bougainvillea and tropical ice cream pastels, plus the earthy and über-photogenic Bazurto market. We’ll visit landlocked time-warp city of Mompox… which served as inspiration for (and will transport you in your imagination to) Gabo’s mythical Mancodo–the setting of his seminal novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude.

In the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, we’ll visit the autonomous lands of the Arhuaco/Kogi people, as profiled in Christopher’s article for BBC Travel. Plus, we’ll photograph the related Wiwa indigenous people at the Corpus Christi “Dance of the Devil’s” festivities in Atanquez. Then we’ll venture into La Guajira desert at the tip of South America to spend time photographing the Wayúu indigenous peoples. Then, if you’re into nature and birding, you’ll thrill to two nights on the lushly forested Caribbean shores at Tayrona, where we’re spoiled for choice with superb scenic and nature photography. And birders will also love the opportunities as we take a boat ride across Colombia’s largest lagoon to photograph life in the palafito (stilt-house) fishing village of Nueva Venecia.

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Throughout this tour, Chris will provide tips, guidance and help in compositional and lighting techniques, proper camera settings, and use of natural light to stunning effect. Plus, he’ll offer critiques on request. However, we will not be using technical lighting, nor provide any intensive workflow/post-processing instruction. We’ll offer a happy medium for those photographers who want to grow and expand their creative vision, yet for whom the sheer enjoyment of street photography and the cultural and travel experience is an equal priority

We’ll be accompanied throughout by Alex, a professional tour guide and former policeman, and a fluent English speaker, with whom Chris has led several tours in Colombia for Jim Cline Photo Tours and National Geographic Expeditions.

TOUR DATES
June 9-22, 2023 (TENTATIVE)


PRICE
TBD


ITINERARY (SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

Day 1, FRI, JUNE 10 – ARRIVE CARTAGENA
Arrive Cartagena, memorably portrayed by Gabriel García Márquez as a place of “amethyst afternoons and nights of antic breezes.” Meet Christopher this evening for a welcome reception and dinner together at El Santísimo, one of the city’s best restaurants.
Overnight: HOTEL BOVEDA

Day 2, SAT, JUNE 11 – CARTAGENA
We’ take a leisurely walking tour of the historic walled city, pointing our cameras at the stunning architecture and down narrow meandering colonial streets teeming with a colorful street life that informed Gabo’s novels Of Love and Other Demons and Love in the Time of Cholera (based on the love affair of his parents). The afternoon is free for exploring at leisure (and/or a siesta) before our late afternoon private photo shoot with palenqueras–Cartagena’s quintessential Afro-Caribbean fruit-basket women dressed in traditional rainbow-hued costumes like Carmen Miranda. We’ll dine at the women’s prison, where inmates have created one of the city’s most sensational dining options: Restaurante Interno. In late evening, perhaps take an optional ride by horse-drawn carriage to photograph Cartagena floodlit and moonlit at night.
Overnight: HOTEL BOVEDA

Day 3, SUN, JUNE 12 – MOMPOX
Today journey to the bank of the mighty Río Magdalena, where we’ll cross the river via the new bridge and drive through the marshes to the previously landlocked bayou town of Santa Cruz de Mompox. We spend our afternoon and night in this once-thriving and wealthy river port where time seems to have stopped in the 19th century (after the river shifted course, it lost its import and fell into desuetude). Today, this UNESCO World Heritage City, founded in 1537, offers us sensational photo ops… not least of street-life straight out of a Márquez-novel. In fact, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist spent much of his youth in Mompox wooing his girlfriend, who lived there. The sleepy town, with its riches-to-rags backstory, became a model for the fictional riverside town of “Macondo”–isolated from the world for a hundred years–in his landmark 1967 magical realism novel, One Hundred Years Of Solitude… as well as appearing in his other masterpiece, Chronicles of a Death Foretold.
Overnight: BIOMA BOUTIQUE HOTEL

Day 4, MON, JUNE 13 – MOMPOX
We’ll rise with the dawn to photograph the riverside market and astounding colonial architecture and early street life during blue hour. Later, as the sun climbs, we’ll visit the silversmiths, goldsmiths and ironsmiths for which Mompox is renowned: The town boasts more than 170 filigree artists, including master goldsmiths Daniel Alfonso Garrido and Alejandro Villa Real–we hope to photograph them in their workshops as they manipulate fragile threads of gold to craft fine filigree jewelry, perpetuating an ancient Arabic art handed down through generations of Colombian goldsmiths. Who knows, we may even get to photograph “Miss Mompox” or another local beauty queen modeling the jewelry, which is gifted annually to contestants in the annual Concurso Nacional de Belleza (Miss Colombia pageant), held every November in Cartagena.
Overnight: BIOMA BOUTIQUE HOTEL

Day 5, TUE, JUNE 14 – PUEBLO BELLO 
We’ll journey east to the base of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The world’s tallest free-standing coastal mountain range is sacred to the local Arahuaco and Kogi indigenous people, with their remarkable dress and lifestyle based on their self-perception as guardians of Mother Earth. Arriving the small town of Pueblo Bello, we’ll visit with mamo (tribal leader) Luis Guillermo Izquierdo and his family, with plenty of opportunities for environmental portraiture, to include such traditional activities as preparation of fique fiber, weaving, and the use of a poporo to imbibe coca and lime. Luis will share with us his people’s unique cosmovision and explain the poporo and the Arhuaco’s use of hand-woven white robes and hats, symbolizing the perpetual snow of the Sierra Nevada’s highest peaks.
Overnight: CENTRO DE INTERPRETACIÓN DE LA CULTURAL ARHUACA, PUEBLO BELLO

Day 6, WED, JUNE 15 – PUEBLO BELLO & NABUSIMAKE
We hope to gain permission to venture by 4WD into the resuargo (autonomous indigenous territory) to the sacred village of Nabusimake, accompanied by Luis Guillermo Izquierdo. (The Arhuaco  have had to deal with overwhelming violence from early Spanish conquistadores and, more recently, left-wing guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries, and cocaine traffickers. Despite which, they have attempted to assiduously guard their terrain against all intruders. Only within the past decade have they opened their world, in part, to ethno-tourism.) The rugged mountain journey is richly rewarded by opportunities for superb photography of the Arhuaco on this all-day visit to the spiritual center of the Arhuaco resuargo. We’ll wander its cobbled alleys lined with thatched bahareque (wattle and daub) houses enclosed by a stone wall above the banks of the Río Fundación. We’ll end our day in the regional capital of Valledupar, with time to relax by the hotel swimming pool.
Overnight: HOTEL SONESTA OR HAMPTON BY HILTON  VALLEDUPAR

Day 7, THUR, JUNE 16 – ATANQUEZ “FESTIVAL OF CORPUS CHRISTI”
An early start this morning to drive to the small mountain community of Atanquez, inhabited by indigenous Kankuamos (or Wiwa), relatives of the Arhuaco and Kogi. Today the inhabitants celebrate the Corpus Christi festival with processions in colorful costumes through the ancient cobblestone streets, providing sensational photo ops, including of such events as the “Dance of the Devils.” We hope to also have a one-on-one portraiture session with Rafael Andres Carrillo, director of the dance group of la Danza de Negros del Corpus Christi, and with individual members of the troupe. Today we’ll be flexible with our program to account for “Latin time” in the celebrations. Time permitting, upon returning to Valledupar we’ll visit Mileto Acordeones and Casa Breto Murgas (Museo de Acordeones) to photograph artisans making and playing traditional accordions that are a mainstay of Colombia’s vallenato music. (Alternately, we’ll include this the following morning.)
Overnight: HOTEL SONESTA OR HAMPTON BY HILTON  VALLEDUPAR

Day 8, FRI, JUNE 17 – LA GUAJIRA
We continue east into the Guajira desert–home to the Wayúu indigenous peoples. This vast cactus-studded region at the tip of South America offers sublime photo ops. After lunch at our gorgeous hotel, we’ll venture to the crossroads market at Cuatro Caminos, with its livestock, caged chickens, scrawny goats, and Wayúu women in their colorful traditional garb and faces blackened to guard against wrinkles during their lifetime under a searing sun. In late afternoon, we’ll visit the Sainn Wayúu (or similar) ranchería to photograph such ceremonial dances as Yonna, plus face-painting, and their vibrant costumes and hammocks.
Overnight: HOTEL WAYA GUAJIRA

Day 9, SAT, JUNE 18 – LA GUAJIRA
We’ll venture through the heart of the rugged desert to the ramshackle beach resort of Cabo de la Vela–a stunningly beautiful and windswept swathe of white sands lined by humble ranchería restaurants and hostels. Here, we’ll meet with and photograph María Concepción Espina: A member of the Ipuana clan of Wayúu, she is renowned for the quality of her woven mochilas (bags) and chinchorros (hammocks) whose designs are imbued with sacred symbols. We’ll also visit the coastal Salinas de Manauré salt pans (time permitting), plus humble off-the-beaten-track rancherías and simple homesteads that offer opportunities for slice-of-life environmental portrait photography with the gracious and genteel Wayúu people.
Overnight: HOTEL WAYA GUAJIRA

Day 10, SUN, JUNE 19 – TAYRONA NATIONAL PARK
This morning journey west along the northern base of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and along the Caribbean shoreline. Arriving Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona, you’ll have the afternoon to relax at our boutique hotel on a forest-clad mountainside overlooking the teal waters of the Caribbean.
Overnight: HOTEL ECOHABS, TAYRONA; (OR) HOTEL VILLA MARÍA TAYRONA; (OR) VILLA PLAYA TAYRONA; (OR) PLAYA KORALIA

Day 11, MON, JUNE 20 – TAYRONA NATIONAL PARK
Today, Chris and our Colombia tour guide, Alex, will lead a coastal hike into the heart of lushly forested Tayrona National Park… a chance to photograph howler monkeys, sloths, parrots and other exotic wildlife species. Our destination is Cabo San Juan del Guia, where massive volcanic boulders frame a gorgeous white sand beach cusped in a magnificent turquoise bay. It’s a perfect spot for our picnic lunch. Expect to sweat profusely in the humid jungle and ocean air! Alternately, the day is yours to enjoy the Caribbean Sea and nature of the Tayrona coast at leisure. Optional activities include snorkeling, scuba diving, a river float, or nature hikes in Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona.
Overnight: HOTEL ECOHABS, TAYRONA; (OR) HOTEL VILLA MARÍA TAYRONA; (OR) VILLA PLAYA TAYRONA; (OR) PLAYA KORALIA

Day 12, TUE, JUNE 21 – ARACATACA OR NUEVA VENECIA 
Today we’ll make an early start and journey via Santa Marta to Aracataca, the somnolent little town where Latin America’s literary colossus Gabriel García Márquez was born and raised. We’ll explore this mini-Macondo in the heart of the steamy banana belt, and afflicted (as was Macondo) by a charming trapped-in-time drowsiness. Ground zero is Casa Museo Gabriel García Márquez, plus the Museo Telégrafo, stuffed with dusty period miscellany (they were integral elements in Gabo’s novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude). We’ll lunch here before our all-afternoon drive via Barranquilla to Cartagena. We’ll arrive in the early evening, with tonight free for you to dine at leisure.
OR
Today we’ll make an early start and journey via Santa Marta to the fishing village of Tasajera. From here, we’ll take a two-hour boat trip across the Cienaga Grande lagoon to the remarkable stilt-village of Nueva Venecia, rising from the center of the lagoon. The photo ops among this fisher community of around 300 palofitos (wooden houses on stilts) are off the charts! Plus, our boat journey offers sensational birding: roseate spoonbills, herons, and flamingos are among the resident species. We’ll lunch in Nueva Venecia before returning to Tasajera for our drive via Barranquilla to Cartagena. We’ll arrive in the early evening, with tonight free for you to dine at leisure.
Overnight: HOTEL BOVEDA, CARTAGENA

Day 13, WED, JUNE 22 – CARTAGENA
This morning we’ll journey outside the walled city to visit the authentically untouristed Bazurto open-air fruit, meat and fish market. Superb photography here! We’ll then make a short walking tour in Getsemani—a rapidly gentrifying historic district with vibrant street life. The afternoon is at your leisure before enjoying a slide show of everyone’s favorite images, followed by a farewell dinner at Club de Pesa.
Overnight: HOTEL BOVEDA

Day 14, THUR, JUNE 23 – DEPART
This morning we’ll transfer participants to the airport to connect with their flights home.

ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT © CHRISTOPHER P. BAKER AND MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT PERMISSION