Songlines Music Travel, in association with Imaginative Traveller, invites music lovers and travellers alike on this wonderful trip to explore the rich, diverse sounds and culture of Colombia: “the land of a thousand rhythms”. For many lovers of Latin music, Colombia has the most interesting and vibrant music scene in South America at the moment.
Accompanied by our experienced Songlines Travel Leader Russ Slater, you will gain unique access to the artists and musicians and share intimate knowledge of the places you will visit.
13 x Breakfasts
13 nights hotel on a twin share basis
• Experience the very best live music across Bogotá, Cali, Medellín, Baranquilla and Cartagena
• Get to know what life was like in Medellín during Pablo Escobar’s time
• Immerse yourself in the rhythms and atmosphere of the Petronio Alvarez Festival
• Visit San Basilio de Palenque and its traditional communities
• Explore Colombia’s alternative hip hop scene as well as more traditional music genres
Single supplement £670
Welcome to Colombia! Your tour begins with a welcome meeting with your Songlines Music Tour Leader. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. After the meeting and having met your fellow travellers, make your way into the city for a welcome dinner.
This morning you will head out on to the streets of Bogotá for a tour of the city. You will take in highlights such as the Gold Museum which houses over 55,000 pieces of gold, all from the major pre-Hispanic cultures based in Colombia. You will also visit Monserrate Hilltop. The 17th century church perched on top of the hill is a popular pilgrim destination. In the afternoon, there will be a short drive to Matik Matik, an independent cultural centre based in Bogotá that showcases jazz, avant-garde, experimental and contemporary music live shows. Here you will have the chance to meet with Mario Galeano, leader of the bands Frente Cumbiero and Ondatropica. Mario is something of an authority on Colombian music and this interaction will provide you with a fantastic opportunity to find out more about the country’s many different styles of music. This will be followed by live music at the venue in the evening.
Prepare to fill your stomach this morning as you embark on a Food by Foot tour of Bogotá, sampling local foods as you taste the five flavours of Colombia. Afterwards, visit the Museo Botero in Bogotá’s historic La Candelaria district. This museum houses one of Latin America’s most important international art collections, featuring artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Dali. Later that day, take the weight off your feet over dinner and live music in the evening.
This morning you will catch a flight as you head southwest to Cali, the salsa capital of Latin America! The flight itself should take a little over an hour. Upon arrival, check into your hotel. Spend the remainder of your morning resting until you undertake an orientation tour of Cali that afternoon. On this tour, you will take in Cali’s colourful Artisan Market, offering a range of local handicrafts, food and drink. See the Cali River, a hotspot among locals for wild swimming, so much so that the riverbanks have a tendency to get crowded on weekends. After this, the evening will be spent soaking up the sounds and atmosphere of the Petronio Alvarez Festival. This annual event celebrates the region of western Colombia and is named in honour of an important musician. The festival attracts local and international bands that play Pacific indigenous music. Here, at the world’s largest Afro-Latino Festival, musicians compete for titles such as Best Folkloric Act, Best Experimental Act and Best Marimbero.
Today will be a full day of exploration within Cali. Head out into the pioneering neighbourhood of Barrio Obrero for a salsa tour. Barrio Obrero is at the very heart of the salsa movement, home to renowned salsa academies and numerous salsa world champions. Cali truly is the world capital for salsa music, you’ll find salsa clubs across the city packed out even on Sunday afternoons, a popular day for the city’s residents to go out dancing! Having explored the city, this evening will be another chance to return to the Afro-Colombian Petronio Alvarez Festival, as this vibrant city celebrates Colombia’s African heritage. The pacific coast in this area is one of the least-visited regions in Colombia and is largely populated by Afro-Colombian communities. The festival was devised to bring recognition to these people and their infectious music. After dancing the night away, head back to your hotel for some well-deserved rest.
This morning will be at your leisure to relax and refresh yourselves. That afternoon, you will catch a flight north to Medellín, the ‘City of Eternal Spring’. Upon arrival you will be transferred to your hotel. In the evening, head into the city for dinner. See the high-rise apartments and office buildings that pierce the sky, all set against a backdrop of imposing jagged peaks. Once the ‘most dangerous city on earth’, Medellín is now a hotbed for creativity as one of Colombia’s most happening cities.
Today is your chance to discover the unique city of Medellín. On a tour of the city you will see the Parque de los Pies Descalzos, a zen-inspired public park whose name translates to ‘Barefoot Park’. Follow this with a trip to the sculpture park, the Parque de las Esculturas, sat at the foot of the Nutibara Hill. Finally, see the Parque de los Deseos, the ‘Park of Wishes’. All these parks are unique and illustrate perfectly the city’s rejuvenation and commitment to learning. Afterwards, see the Pueblito Paisa ‘Little Town’, a colourful replica of a traditional turn of the century Antioquia town. In the afternoon, you will pay a visit to Merlin Producciones, a record label whose headquarters are based in Medellín to learn all about their music projects. Merlin Producciones is home to the Puerto Candelaria collective, an innovative group of musicians who are central to the city’s current independent scene.
This morning is for you to do as you please. In the afternoon, prepare to embark on a graffiti and hip hop tour where you will visit the local hip hop communities of Crew Peligrosos and Son Batá. Here you will hear about the legendary Argentine Carlos Gardel and gain an insight into what life was like in the times of Pablo Escobar. In the evening, you will venture out to discover some new live music venues where you will hopefully get a flavour of Medellin’s eclectic music scene.
Early this morning you will catch a flight to Barranquilla, after which you will transfer to your hotel. Here, you will be able to sample some authentic Cumbia, a unique fusion of indigenous, African and European influences which was adopted by the Colombians and later exported to Panama. On an afternoon tour of the city, take in the El Prado Quarter, Founders Park, Carnival House and the Caribbean Museum. In the evening, sample Cumbia for yourself as you visit some of the city’s best music bars.
This morning you will drive a couple of hours south from Barranquilla to Cartagena, a port city on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. On a tour that afternoon, explore the cobbled streets of this unique place. The old town is a beautiful mixture of leafy plazas, massive churches and a walled historical centre. The city pulsates with the sounds of salsa, accordion-led vallenato and Champeta, which mixes African styles with local sounds. On your tour, take in the Ciudad Amurallada (Walled City) and see the Castillo San Felipe, a fortress strategically located on a hilltop, dominating approaches to Cartagena by both land and sea. Before stopping to listen to some local musicians in the squares, see the Bocagrande, the city’s longest beach set against a nostalgic Miami Vice backdrop. This evening you will head to the legendary Café Havana to enjoy some live salsa.
Today you will take a day trip out to San Basilio de Palenque, one of Cartagena’s iconic palenqueras and the first freed slave settlement in the Americas. This is one of the original walled communities that were founded by escaped African slaves in the 17th century. To this day, the community has retained most of its oral and musical traditions as well as its Palenquero language. The heritage of the San Basilio de Palenque has been officially recognised by UNESCO. You will explore the site with a local guide and get a chance to see some live performances from local musicians. You are in for a treat this evening as you set to attend a Champeta party. Champeta is a culture born from the sound-systems of Afro-Colombia. For decades this music was condemned by conservative politicians as violent and corrupting, but now this powerful African-Latino fusion is breaking its way into the mainstream. Cartagena is the birthplace of this percussion-heavy sound which you will experience in its truest form.
Live music in Colombia tends to get underway very late in the evening and continue into the small hours. With this in mind we have intentionally left today free so that you may explore at your own pace and in your own time. Why not relax on one of Cartagena’s beaches or visit the city’s Bird Sanctuary. Your Songlines Tour Leader will be happy to offer suggestions for day tours in and around Cartagena. Tonight the group will enjoy dinner at Oh La La restaurant and drinks over the bay.
This morning fly south back to Bogotá and check into your hotel. Take a trip away from the capital that afternoon to visit the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, a truly unmissable spectacle. This is an underground Roman Catholic Church, built within the tunnels of a salt mine some 200 metres underground. You reach this hidden treasure after a mile long walk through a mine shaft, deep in the bowels of this mountain of salt. The salt, (which has in places been licked by the many pilgrims that visit here!) is a relic of the vast Tethys Ocean that once covered this area. For your final evening in Colombia, explore more of the clubs and venues that Bogotá has to offer, all at the recommendation of your experienced Songlines Tour Leader.
There are no activities planned for today and you are able to depart at any time.
GROUP TOUR from £3490 for 12 days
GROUP TOUR from £1895 for 10 days
GROUP TOUR from £1360 for 9 days