Cartagena to Quito on a Shoestring
Colombia is an underrated country for travellers, but with our safe, social, and budget-friendly group trips, we want to change that. After all, there’s so much culture and beauty to this region that it would be a shame to let it go unexplored – plus you can say you got here before everyone else. Over three weeks, you’ll go from Colombia to Ecuador, hiking to the Lost City of Teyuna, relaxing on warm beaches and camping under the stars in the Tatacoa Desert. You’re sure to find something you love in these countries.
Your G for Good Moment: Wiwa Community Visit & Lunch, Gotshezhy Village
Your First Night Out Moment: Connect With New Friends
Your Local Living Moment: Indigenous Community Homestay, San Clemente. Lost City of Teyuna trek (5 days). Guided tour of the Lost City. Tayrona NP Excursion (excluding February departures). Beach time in Taganga. Overnight desert excursion (Tatacoa). Visit to Otavalo Market. San Clemente homestay. Orientation walks in Medellín and Quito. Internal flights. All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
Trek to the Lost City of Teyuna, party in Colombian cities, discover the rich natural diversity of Tayrona National Park, camp under the stars in the desert, see how Medellín has revitalized into a safe and flourishing city, Explore the street art-filled Bogotá with free time in the capital, haggle at Otavalo market, Spend the night in the Ecuadorian Indigenous community of San Clemente with a homestay
The information in this trip details document has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. It may differ slightly to the one in the brochure. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. Please note that our brochure is usually released in November each year. If you have booked from the previous brochure you may find there have been some changes to the itinerary.
VERY IMPORTANT: Please ensure that you print a final copy of your Trip Details to review a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.
While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.
Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.
Please be aware there are long travel days on this itinerary between Days 11-21. See the “Full Itinerary” tab for more details.
Please note that this tour combines with other G Adventures tours. Some staff and travel companions may be continuing together on another G Adventures tour after your trip concludes.
Lost City Trek
Please Note: The Lost City Trek is closed for the month of September each year in order to preserve the trail and complete general maintenance and upkeep.
Hiking days are between 4-6 hours a day, and the highest altitude reached is 1,200 m (3,937 ft) at the Lost City itself. The humidity and the heat makes the trek challenging. Throughout the year the temperature is generally between 35-45 degrees, and there can be heavy rain and muddy conditions.
Along the trek, you will be required to carry your own gear. We recommend not carrying more than is necessary for the route. One or two changes of clothes is enough to give you a change for each day on the trek. Please bring a bag that is sufficient in size to carry what you might need. It is possible to hire a mule to carry equipment for the trek, at a cost of 40-50 USD per day.
Dry season (December – March), the trail can be dry and dusty. When the rains arrive (April – November), the trail can be muddy and slippery underfoot. This also affects the numerous river crossings, as the rainy season brings higher rivers. This can mean that river crossings can be as high as waist height, so we recommend that you bring a dry bag or a plastic bag to cover your daypack as you might need to carry this above your head to keep it out of the river.
As the majority of this trek is through the jungle, please be aware of the presence of mosquitos and other bugs. We highly recommend bringing some form of insect repellent. While the campsites have mosquito nets over the beds and hammocks, mosquitos can be unavoidable at times. A sleep sheet can help to prevent bug bites at night as well.
Group Leader Description
All G Adventures group trips are accompanied by one of our Chief Experience Officers (CEOs), a G Adventures representative, or an expedition team. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. They will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting- we think it’s the best of both worlds.
Group Size Notes
Max 16, avg 14.
16 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 4 dinners
Eating is a big part of traveling. Travelling with G Adventures you experience the vast array of wonderful food that is available out in the world. Generally meals are not included in the trip price when there is a choice of eating options, to give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat. It also gives you more budgeting flexibility, though generally food is cheap. Our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other’s company. There is no obligation to do this though. Your CEO will be able to suggest favourite restaurants during your trip. For all trips please refer to the meals included and budget information for included meals and meal budgets.
Local bus, 4×4, hiking, plane, minibus.
About our Transportation
This trip combines a variety of transportation types. At G Adventures, we believe that getting there is half the fun. When it comes to getting around, public transport is often the best and most colourful way to go. You’ll be using a combination of public buses, private vans, ferries, boats and taxis to get from here to there.
All local flights are included in the cost of your tour unless otherwise noted. It is important that we have your passport information at the time of booking in order to process these tickets. Internal flight tickets are issued locally and will be given to you prior to the flight departure.
We believe solo travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and solo travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.
Simple hotels (13 nts), hostel (2 nts multi-share), camping (4 nts in hammocks or rustic bunks), desert camping (1 nt).
My Own Room Exceptions
Nights 4-7: Lost City trek, Night 9: Tayrona National Park (hammocks).
Please note that hot water shortages and power outages can be fairly common in Latin America (even in upgraded hotels and private homes). We appreciate your patience and understanding that these occurrences are outside of our control.
Please note if you are a single traveller, you can expect to share accommodation with one or two other travelers of the same sex for the duration of your trip. Using multi-share accommodation when available helps us to keep our operating cost down, and these savings are passed onto you. If you are traveling with a friend or companion, we will attempt to keep your accommodation on a twin or double basis, however, ask you to be open to the idea of occasional multi-share rooms.
For details of your joining hotel please refer to your tour voucher, G Account, the G Adventures App or contact your travel agent.
To take a taxi to your destination, pick up a taxi voucher from the official stand in the baggage area before getting into a cab which will have the price printed on it depending on where you’re headed. The price to get to the old city or anywhere in the “Centro” area Zone 1 including hotels in Getsemani should not cost more than COP $18,000.
The supply of yellow taxis in Cartagena is abundant and cheap so if needed they are the preferred choice. This said, one does not need them within the boundaries of the old town so what is left are the so called Boca Grande development and Convento de la Popa /Castillo San Felipe direction. The first makes sense but the Convento is a bit awkward and the taxi drivers know it so tough negotiations are a prerequisite for not being gauged on the way. Airport rides are regulated and cost no more than 5USD.
Please note that Day 1 is an arrival day and no activities have been planned for that day other then your welcome meeting in the evening, so you can arrive at any time. Similarly the last day is a departure day during which no activities have been planned.
A G Adventures Representative will organize a short meeting soon after arrival, during which you will meet other tour participants and receive information about general and specific aspects of the trip. A welcome note will be left for you in the hotel so you have all the necessary information regarding the meeting time. If you arrive late, s/he will leave you a message detailing what time and where you should meet the next morning.
We don’t expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier and contact us as soon as possible. If you have a pre-booked transfer, and you have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the Starting Point hotel, following the Joining Instructions. Please apply to your travel agent on your return for a refund of the transfer cost if this occurs.
Should you need to contact us during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call either the G Adventures Representative (if one is listed below) or our G Adventures Local Office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.
EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
G Adventures Office Quito, Ecuador
During office hours (Weekdays 9am-6pm Local Time)
From outside Ecuador: +593 2250 6610
After hours Emergency number
From outside Ecuador: +593 999 506 000
If you are unable for any reason to contact our local office, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.
Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from UK: 0344 272 0000
Calls from Germany: 0800 365 1000
Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999
• Flight info (required) (Printouts of e-tickets may be required at the border)
• Insurance info (required) (With photocopies)
• Passport (required) (With photocopies)
• Required visas or vaccination certificates (required) (With photocopies)
• Vouchers and pre-departure information (required)
• Binoculars (optional)
• Camera (With extra memory cards and batteries)
• Cash, credit and debit cards
• Day pack (Used for daily excursions or short overnights)
• Ear plugs
• First-aid kit (should contain lip balm with sunscreen, sunscreen, whistle, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, bandaids/plasters, tape, anti-histamines, antibacterial gel/wipes, antiseptic cream, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, rehydration powder, water purification tablets or drops, insect repellent, sewing kit, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
• Flashlight/torch (Headlamps are ideal)
• Fleece top/sweater
• Locks for bags
• Long pants/jeans
• Outlet adapter
• Personal entertainment (Reading and writing materials, cards, music player, etc.)
• Reusable water bottle
• Small travel towel
• Toiletries (Preferably biodegradable)
• Watch and alarm clock
• Waterproof backpack cover
• Windproof rain jacket
Health & Safety:
• Face masks (required)
• Hand sanitizer (required)
• Pen (Please bring your own pen for filling out documents.)
• Rubber gloves
Lost City Trek:
• Day pack (Large enough to carry gear for the hiking days)
• Hiking boots/sturdy walking shoes
• Hiking pants (Convertible/Zip-off and quick dry recommended)
• Pack liners to waterproof bags
• Sleeping bag liner/sleep sheet
• Sport Sandals or Water Shoes (Suitable for water if you plan to do rapeling and/or rafting)
• Walking poles
• Waterproof footwear (For river crossings)
• Shorts/skirts (Longer shorts/skirts are recommended)
• Sun hat/bandana
Note: On the Lost City Trek you must carry the gear you require for the trek. Your main luggage will be stored at the hotel, so please bring a day pack (30-40L) to use during the trek.
Laundry availability is dependent on the location you’re in or the amount of time spent in that location.
We suggest packing enough clothing in case laundry is not available and/or packing laundry soap so you can wash things if needed.
Laundry is available on this trip in Cartagena (Day 1-2), Medellin (Day 11-12), Bogotá (Day 13-14) and Quito (Day 18-19).
Visas and Entry Requirements
All countries require a valid passport (with a minimum 6 months validity). Contact your local embassy, or consulate for the most up-to-date visa requirements, or see your travel agent. It is your responsibility to have the correct travel documentation.
PLEASE NOTE – Canadians must pay an entry fee (approx. CAD$95) to visit Colombia.
Exempted to pay this tax are Canadians:
- under 14 or over 79 years old
- travelling only to the archipelago of San Andrés, Santa Catalina and Providencia
- travelling to Cartagena’s Rafael Núñez International Airport via a charter flight from Canada
For all other points of entry, Canadians travellers must pay this tax to customs officials, in cash (Colombian pesos or U.S. dollars) or by credit or debit card. Use the separate immigration line designated for Canadians only.
Upon entering Colombia, officials will issue you a “platinum card” (tiquete platinum). You must keep this card and show it upon leaving Colombia.
- Please note that by February 2nd 2018, it will be mandatory for every traveler to show proof of insurance (covering medical, accident, death) to the immigration authority at the airport or border crossing into Ecuador. This insurance must cover the traveler for their entire length of stay in the country.
If you do not carry proof of insurance and/or an insurance assistance card that satisfies this requirement, it is possible that your entrance into Ecuador could be denied.
YELLOW FEVER: This trip visits Tayrona National Park. Some national parks in Colombia may deny entry to travellers who do not show proof of yellow fever vaccination. It is your responsibility to consult with your travel doctor for up to date medical travel information well before departure.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
Credit cards and debit cards are very useful for cash advances. Visa cards are the most widely accepted cards. While ATMs are widely available, there are no guarantees that your credit or debit cards will actually work in Latin America. Check with your bank.
You should be aware that to purchase products or services on a credit card a fee of 5%-10% usually applies.
Do not rely on credit or debit cards as your only source of money, a combination of US dollar cash and cards is best. Please bear in mind that cost of living in the southern cone countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile) is much higher than the rest of South America, and in the case of Argentina, more comparable with Europe. Always take more rather than less, as you don’t want to spoil the trip by constantly feeling short of funds.
We do not recommend bringing travellers cheques as they are very difficult to change in country.
CURRENCY EXCHANGE TIP: Please be advised that slightly torn notes, notes that have been heavily marked or are faded may be difficult to exchange. It is best to bring notes in fairly good condition, in denominations lower than 100USD (or equivalent).
As currency exchange rates can fluctuate often we ask that you refer to the following website for daily exchange rates: www.xe.com
Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an ‘emergency’ fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!
It is customary in Latin America to tip service providers such as waiters, at approximately 10%, depending on the service. Tipping is an expected – though not compulsory – component of your tour program and an expression of satisfaction with the persons who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. There are several times during the trip where there is opportunity to tip the local guides or drivers we use. Recommendations for tipping drivers and local guides would range from $5-10 USD per day depending on the quality and length of the service; ask your CEO for specific recommendations based on the circumstances and culture.
Also at the end of each trip if you felt your G Adventures CEO did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline $20-25 USD per person, per week can be used.
- Gold Museum Visit (7000COP per person)
- Palace of Inquisition (Museum) Visit (30000COP per person)
- Museum of Modern Art (Museo de Arte Moderno) Visit (5000COP per person)
- Naval Museum of the Caribbean Visit (6000COP per person)
- Cartagena City Tour
- Islas del Rosario National Park (165000COP per person)
- Night Exploration on Chiva (45000COP per person, 50000COP per group)
- Totumo Mud Volcano
- Gold Museum Santa Marta (Free)
- Quinta San Pedro Alejandrino (21000COP per person)
- Medellín City Tour (25USD per person)
- Paragliding (45-60USD per person)
- Explora Park (24500-37500COP per person)
- El Peñol Stone (La Piedra Del Peñol) Visit
- Modern Art Museum (10000COP per person)
- Nutibara Hill (Cerro Nutibara) Visit
Valle del Cocora
- Cocora Valley Hike
- Gold Museum Visit (4000COP per person)
- Monserrate Hill Cable Car (20000COP per person)
- Teleférico (8USD per person)
- Quito City Tour and Equator (50-60USD per person)
- Mindo Cloud Forest – Full Day Trip (70-100USD per person)
- Cotopaxi Volcano – Full Day Trip (70-100USD per person)
Please note inoculations may be required for the country visited. It is your responsibility to consult with your travel doctor for up to date medical travel information well before departure.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information well before departure. We recommend that you carry a First Aid kit and hand sanitizers / antibacterial wipes as well as any personal medical requirements. Please be aware that quite often we are in remote areas and away from medical facilities, and for legal reasons our leaders are prohibited from administering any type of drug including headache tablets, antibiotics, etc. When selecting your trip please carefully read the brochure and itinerary and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please refer to the Physical and Culture Shock ratings for trip specific information. G Adventures reserves the right to exclude any traveller from all or part of a trip without refund if in the reasonable opinion of our CEO they are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group.
Please note your trip travels to high altitude. This is medically defined as anything over 8,000 feet (2,440 meters). Most people can travel to 8,000 feet with minimal effects. However, everyone reacts to altitude differently and altitude sickness can on set with some people irrespective of fitness and age. For details on how to best prepare and what to do in the unlikely event you are effected on your Adventure, please consult your physician.
YELLOW FEVER: This trip visits Tayrona National Park. Some national parks in Colombia may deny entry to travellers who do not show proof of yellow fever vaccination. Please consult with your travel doctor for up to date information well before departure.
Safety and Security
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government’s advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers’ cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewelery at home – you won’t need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it deemed necessary, due to safety concerns. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy and explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.
Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards), have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).
Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk. Read more about travel safety for ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling.
A Couple of Rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of people in the sex trade is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our CEOs have the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they utilize the services of paid sex workers, in any capacity.
Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your leader, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy we require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency evacuation and repatriation. A minimum coverage of USD200,000 is required. G Adventures can provide you with the appropriate coverage. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. Some tours include adventure activities that require extra coverage (e.g. crampon use); please review your itinerary and make sure that you are covered for all included activities. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.
Planeterra Foundation - the non-profit partner of G Adventures
Planeterra International Foundation is a non-profit organization committed to turning travel into impact by helping local communities earn an income from tourism. Planeterra connects underserved local communities to the benefits of tourism by developing and supporting small community-owned businesses. These businesses support Indigenous people, empower women, grant youth access to employment opportunities, and protect the environment. Planeterra also works to ensure these businesses have a thriving customer base by integrating their projects into G Adventures’ itineraries globally.
G Adventures is Planeterra’s largest corporate donor, covering all operating costs, so 100% of your donation will bring opportunity to people in need.
G Adventures Dollar-a-day Program – Make Every Day Count – Turn your travel into impact with Planeterra Foundation.
Did you know? Most communities around the world do not benefit from tourism. Give back to the places you visit on your travels by creating opportunities for local people to earn an income, and protect the environment.
Make every day count by donating $1/day for the length of your trip, and join us in empowering the communities you will visit when you travel. 100% of your donation goes directly to Planeterra projects.
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Minimum age of 18 years for this trip.
Check-in times and baggage allowances/restrictions vary by airline and can change at any time. For the most up-to-date information for your flight, please contact your airline. We recommend checking in online in advance to avoid potential delays at the airport.
Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides.
PRODUCT_LINE: SMQS, ID: 23217