Colombia: Civil War and Narcos Tour (November 2019)
This tour takes place in November 2019. If that doesn’t suit your plans, see our similar tours in May 2019, May 2020 and November 2020 or contact us to ask about a private tour to suit your time, interests and budget!
In October 2016 the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, more commonly known as the FARC, signed a historic peace agreement partially ending the longest-running civil war in South America, and one of the oldest ones in the world.
Join YPT for our specialist FARC tour of Colombia that takes us through the capital Bogotá, beautiful Parque Tayrona reserve, historic Santa Marta, the colonial town of Cartagena, and finally the former cocaine capital of Medellín, with us checking out a whole host of FARC related stuff, indigenous peoples, and stunning nature along this 9 day adventure.
It might have had a chequered past, with landmines, and the remnants of the civil war and organised crime still very much omnipresent, but Colombia is slowly waking from its past and hitting the challenges of reform head on.
Join our adventure before the country is changed forever!
And if this tour is not enough, then it can be combined with the Che Guevara Revolutionary Tour in Cuba, discounts for booking both tours apply and of course there are discounts for all return Pioneers!
Arrival at your own leisure, and transfer to our hotel situated in the La Candelaria historical district of Bogotá. YPT can arrange an airport pickup for you.
For early arrivers, we offer an optional (extra charge) trip to a shooting range, where you can fire an AK47 amongst other weapons.
The group convene at 6 pm in the lobby to go through the itinerary for the week, and head out for dinner in the old town.
Ceviche, or raw fish cooked in lime juice is a very South American, and Colombian thing, so we head to a restaurant to try this delicacy. For non-fish lovers, there will be other options.
Beer and explosives go together like peas and carrots, so we finish our first night in Bogotá by playing the local traditional sport of tejo, which is literally throwing iron balls at explosives while drinking beer. Great stuff!
Overnight in Bogotá.
Friday 15th November 2019 – Bogotá
Breakfast in the hotel.
Walking tour of La Candelaria. This is where Símon Bolívar – El Libertador, the original Latin American revolutionary – was almost caught, and where various figures of Colombian history met their fate.
Head to the Military Museum where we even learn about the not commonly known role of Colombia in the Korean War!
Bogotá is famous in Colombia, and beyond for its fabulous street food, so we take a staggered street food lunch trying almost everything they have on offer, including Mick Jagger’s favourite “oblea”.
Stop by the Congress and Supreme Court, which was seized by the M19 Marxist guerillas, allegedly on the orders of Pablo Escobar.
We visit the Colón Theatre, which played an essential part in the peace process between the government and FARC and get a detailed explanation from our local guide about what achievements and failures have followed the peace process.
Colombia’s capital has now shaken off its image of danger, and is a vibrant place for a night out, so we head to one of the many bars for dinner and drinks.
Overnight in Bogotá.
Saturday 16th November 2019 – Sierra Nevada National Park
We get up early for the 90-minute 9 am flight to Santa Marta
On arrival, we transfer directly to the Tayrona national park, part of the Sierra Nevada range, which is home to many of the indigenous peoples of Colombia as well as its most diverse biosphere.
Lunch in Sierra Nevada.
Hiking time! We head out for a hike around the national park, where we can spend some time on a deserted beach, as well as see how the indigenous Wiwa people live.
Following a full day of hiking and relaxing on the beach, we head to our eco-resort, surrounded by fresh fruit trees, and a swimming pool for us to relax in.
For dinner, our hosts will cook us a traditional Colombian meal to your liking, with the rest of the night spent enjoying our serene surroundings
Overnight at eco-resort.
Sunday 17th November 2019 – Sierra Nevada National Park
We take a relaxed start to the day with breakfast at the resort and time to enjoy the pool before we leave for the next part of the trip.
We take the scenic drive from Tayrona to Santa Marta city, which takes about an hour, with us stopping for some great views of the bay.
We visit the gold museum, to learn about how gold has been mined from indigenous times to present.
For lunch, we head to one of our favourite restaurants in Colombia, Radio Burger, for a full lunch!
Our last stop before leaving Santa Marta is the Quinta de San Pedro, which was where Simón Bolívar, the liberator of the Americas, died and was initially buried. We also visit the surrounding gardens for a quick look at the large (but friendly) cat-sized lizards that live there!
We board our air-conditioned luxury bus for the 4-hour drive from Santa Marta to Cartagena. The journey itself is a fascinating look into contemporary Colombian life, with us passing through the numerous barrios, before hitting the affluent parts of the city.
On arrival in Cartagena, we transfer to our hotel situated near the old city
Cartagena is a street food heaven, particularly if you like meat, so we head for street food dinner and drinks in the city.
Overnight in Cartagena.
Monday 18th November 2019 – Cartagena
Cartagena is an old colonial city, so we spend the day touring around this historical city.
We check out the old colonial walled city, as well as its 500-year-old coral stone forts from the Spanish era.
We head to the female prison, where it may be possible to go inside, meet the prisoners, and speak to them about their lives in this semi-open facility.
Lunch at Interno, a restaurant located inside the women’s prison, which is staffed by inmates as a way of integrating them back into society.
Climb La Popa Hill for a great view of the area and visit the 17th century Santa Cruz monastery.
Check out the Spanish Inquisition Palace, where people were tortured and executed for crimes against Catholicism.
Following a hot day of touring the old city we head to one of the bars on the wall to witness the beautiful sunset of Cartagena.
Dinner in the old city before we head for drinks at the legendary KGB bar, which is full of the kind of old Soviet stuff YPT just love!
Overnight in Cartagena.
Tuesday 19th November 2019 – El Peñol
Take a 10am flight to Medellin, Colombia’s second city and home to the infamous drug-lord Pablo Escobar.
We head for a traditional and hearty Medellin lunch consisting of rice, soup, plantains, salad and the meat of your choice.
#TRIP HIGHLIGHT# We take the 90-minute drive through the ranches of Medellin to the La Manuela estate, and former home of notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar for some serious Narco-tourism. To get to the estate we need to take a boat, which offers some great photo opportunities, before we spend a few hours exploring the lavish estate that was largely destroyed during the Medellin-Cali drug cartel wars.
La Manuela is now owned by Escobar’s former butler, who has embraced tourism in a big way, and part of the estate is now set up for paintball! So, we offer this! (Optional, extra cost). For those not inclined there is a bar.
After Ayers Rock in Australia, El Peñol offers the second biggest rock in the world (there used to be a nightclub at the top), which we shall climb!
At night, we head to our ranch hotel in the countryside to enjoy dinner, and drinks in a relaxed atmosphere.
Overnight in El Peñol.
Wednesday 20th November 2019 – Medellín
Breakfast at the ranch before we head off for the next Pablo Escobar part of the tour.
We drive for three hours to get to the notorious Hacienda Nápoles ranch, where Pablo Escobar created his own zoo, complete with the infamous hippos that have been a menace to the local farmers. The site is now government-owned and boasts, aside from the wildlife, the Pablo Escobar museum, as well as his former private aircraft runway.
Lunch at the park.
Aside from the animal park, and museums there is also a huge water park, so we take a rest from museums and city tours with a few hours at the water park.
We now embark on the 3.5-hour drive back to the cloud city of Medellín, where if we are lucky we will get to stop and witness one of their famous sunsets.
Dinner at a roadside restaurant serving traditional Medellín fare.
On arrival in Medellin we check into our hotel in the hipster district of El Poblado, which is full of great bars and restaurants.
Overnight in Medellín.
Thursday 21st November 2019 – Medellín
#TRIP HIGHLIGHT# We get up early to take part in the legendary Pablo Escobar tour, which was set up by his trusted lieutenant “Popeye”, who fans of Narcos might remember. The tour is led by one of his former drug mules, who is very open to answering questions about his time working for the notorious drug lord.
Our first stop is the “Monaco” building where Pablo Escobar formerly lived, and which was blown up by the Cali cartel.
We now head to the notorious La Catedral prison, that Pablo Escobar built and paid for himself in 1991, to serve his agreed 5-year sentence in luxury. The site is now an old peoples’ home run by monks, but there are still signs of what it used to be such as the watchtower, and his personal helipad, which offer some of the most amazing views of Medellín.
We finish the Pablo Escobar tour by visiting his grave and final resting place, where our local guide, and former henchman of Pablo will regale us with stories about his time working for the cartel.
Lunch in Medellín.
After lunch, we head for a city tour of Medellín, with our first stop being riding the legendary cable-metro, which again offer great views of the city, particularly the poorer parts of it.
Our next stop is Cerro Nutibara, which offers excellent ice-cream as well as views across the bustling city.
We finish our tour in the old town, where we will get a chance to try some coca tea, before heading back to our hotel.
We head for a farewell dinner and drinks in the trendy area around our hotel for our last night in Medellín, and Colombia.
Overnight in Medellin.
Friday 22nd November 2019 – Departure
We get up early for our morning flight to Bogotá, where the tour ends, with YPT being able to arrange ongoing transport or accommodation for those that need it.
Alternatively continue your tour with our extension to Cali where you can find out about Pablo’s mortal enemies, the Cali cartel, and find out how Kim Il-Sung was responsible for the invention of salsa dancing!