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Cartagena to Lima
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Overlanding is the best way to see South America by far! Dragoman have been leading the way in South American overland expeditions since 1990, so take advantage of our years of experience and come with us as we include all the must-see attractions as well as heading to some unique hidden gems, well away from the usual tourist trail. Starting at the incredible colonial town of Cartagena on the Caribbean coast, we explore some of Colombia's best highlights, such as the beautiful beaches of Tayrona National Park, the adventure capital of San Gil and the stunning historic town of Villa de Leyva, before crossing into Ecuador and arriving at its buzzing capital of Quito. From Quito we explore the stunning jungles, hills and towns of Ecuador and then head down to the coast and the idyllic beaches of Punta Sal in northern Peru. We then head south through Peru's deserts to the ruined Moche city of Chan Chan, then climb up to the spectacular Andean town of Huaraz, before heading to the chaotic capital of Lima. Join Dragoman for this wonderful and unforgettable trip!

Latin America

Duration: 38 Days Guaranteed Departure: Yes
For lovers of: Physical rating: Average
Accommodation standard:   Budget% Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
Your Guide: English speaking Tour code: 158106
Starts: Cartagena, Colombia Finishes: Lima, Peru
You will visit
  • Cartagena
  • Tayrona National Park
  • Mompós
  • Aguachica
  • San Gil
  • Villa de Leyva
  • Honda
  • Manizales
  • Salento
  • Popayán
  • Ipiales
  • Otavalo
  • Quito
  • Ecuadorian Amazon
  • Rio Verde
  • Baños
  • Chugchilan
  • Lake Quilotoa
  • Cuenca
  • Punta Sal
  • Huanchaco
  • Lambayeque
  • Huaraz
  • Lima

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Cartagena

Border Information: if joining in Cartagena, you will most likely enter Colombia at Cartagena Rafael Núñez International Airport (IATA code: CTG).

There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm at the joining hotel - please look out at the hotel reception for a note from your leader with more details about this important meeting.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Cartagena before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Cartagena.

In Cartagena we stay in a comfortable hotel just outside the historical centre.

If you are continuing on from Panama, then your leader will have assisted you with airport transfers for your included flight to arrive in time for the joining meeting.

02

Day 2: Cartagena

Today we will have a full day in the beautiful coastal colonial city of Cartagena.

In the morning we will have an included walking tour of the city, and then the afternoon will be free to explore the city further, enjoy the many optional activities on offer, or simply relax on the beach.

03

Days 3-4: Tayrona National Park

Today we have a short drive to Tayrona, one of the most popular national parks in Colombia. Leaving our main luggage stored on the truck, we take a day-pack/night-bag and go on a moderate walk in to the park to where we will stay. Mules to carry your luggage can be hired at an extra cost.

Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

The following day is a free day to explore this stunning coastal park. We have the opportunity to trek to El Pueblito, a pre-Hispanic settlement of the Tayrona people, do some snorkelling, or just relax on the beautiful beaches.  

In Tayrona National Park we will stay in rented hammocks. The hammocks are equipped with mosquito nets but please note that the nets are not treated with Permethrin or similar pesticides.

There is also an option to bring tents if you prefer to stay in a tent rather than a hammock, but please note that mules will have to ber hired to carry your tent, at an extra cost.

04

Days 5-6: Mompós

Today we will have an early morning start to walk back to the park entrance, rejoin our truck, and drive to the peaceful and rarely-visited colonial town of Mompós, where we will stay 2 nights. 

Estimated Drive Time - 9 hours.

The following day we go on an included short boat trip down Rio Magdalena to observe the riverside life and do some wildlife spotting. There will also be plenty of free time to explore this historical colonial town, the first town in Colombia to declare independence from Spain, wander the beautiful streets and soak up the atmosphere of the architecture.

In Mompós we stay in a lovely local hotel.

05

Day 7: Aguachica

Today we will drive south, stopping for the night in the town of Aguachica.

In Aguachica we stay in a hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 9 hours.

06

Days 8-9: San Gil

Today we will drive to San Gil, the outdoor capital of Colombia and a mecca for extreme-sports enthusiasts! Tonight we will enjoy a vegetarian Indian buffet from the campsite's in-house restaurant.

Estimated Drive Time - 7 hours.

The following day is free to enjoy some of the myriad of adrenaline activities on offer in the area, or to spend the day relaxing on the farm.

In San Gil we camp in a coffee and cattle farm outside town.

07

Day 10: Villa de Leyva

This morning we will continue our journey with a drive to Villa de Leyva, one of the country's most beautiful colonial villages. Nestled high in the arid semi-desert away from any trade routes, the town has escaped development and modernisation for centuries and is one of the most authentic old-towns in South America. We will take an included walking tour of the main sights of the city in the afternoon.

In Villa de Leyva we will camp in the grounds of a hacienda.

Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours.

08

Day 11: Honda

Today we will drive south to Honda, a historic river town where we meet the Rio Magdalena again.

In Honda we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 8 hours.

09

Days 12-13: Manizales

Today we will head to the town of Manizales, where we stay for 2 nights on a coffee plantation.

Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours.

During our time in Manizales we will enjoy a night of traditional music and dancing, take a fascinating tour of the coffee plantations, and visit the Sagrada Familia charity - a local Dragoman-supported charity that provides education, nutrition, and psychological support to poor children in the area.

In Manizales we will camp with facilities within the grounds of the finca.

10

Day 14: Salento

This morning we have a short drive to the small town of Salento, the gateway to the spectacular Valle de Cocora. In the afternoon we will have an included guided trek through the Cocora Valley to see the Quindio wax palm trees, the largest palms in the world and the national tree of Colombia.

In Salento we will camp in a well-equipped campsite, 15 minutes drive out of town.

Estimated Drive Time - 3 hours.

11

Day 15: Popayán

Today we will drive to the beautiful town and former colonial capital of Popayán.

In Popayán we stay in dormitory accommodation in a local hostel.

Estimated Drive Time - 8 hours.

12

Day 16: Ipiales

Today we will have a full day drive to the border town of Ipiales.

In Ipiales we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 9 hours.

13

Day 17: Otavalo

Border information: Exit Colombia at Ipiales, enter Ecuador at Ipiales.

Today we will have an early start to visit the famous Santuario de las Lajas church outside of Ipiales. We will then head south and cross the border into Ecuador and to the market town of Otavalo.

In Otavalo we will camp in the grounds of a rural guesthouse overlooking the town.

Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours.

14

Day 18: Quito

Today we will stop quickly at the markets of Otavalo (if time allows) before driving to Mitad del Mundo, the monument that marks the Equator. After this we will complete our drive to the Ecuadorian capital of Quito.

In Quito we will stay in a friendly local hotel in the 'New Town'.

Estimated Drive Time - 5 hours.

15

Day 19: Quito

Border Information: if joining in Quito, you will most likely enter Ecuador at Quito Mariscal Sucre International Airport.

There will be an important group meeting at 6:00pm at the joining hotel - please look out at the hotel reception for a note from your leader with more details about this important meeting.

In Quito we will stay in a friendly local hotel in the 'New Town'.

16

Day 20: Ecuadorian Amazon

Today our journey begins with a drive to the edge of the Amazon basin near the town of Tena, where we head to our jungle lodge for an incredible 3-night stay.

In the Amazon Jungle we will stay in a comfortable rainforest lodge with meals included.

Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours

17

Days 21-22: Ecuadorian Amazon

Over the next two days we will head into the Amazon jungle, enjoying rainforest treks exploring the nearby waterfalls and caves, and trips down the Napo River in motorised dugout canoes, hopefully spotting plenty of wildlife on the way. We will also see some ancient fossils and petroglyphs, and visit a local Quichua community. 

18

Day 23: Rio Verde

Today we will drive back into the highlands of Ecuador, arriving in Rio Verde near the famous Tungurahua volcano.

In Rio Verde we will stay at a well-equipped campsite with great facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours

19

Days 24-25: Rio Verde

We will have two full days of free time for a range of activities in Rio Verde, such as white-water rafting, trekking, canyoning, cycling, and other options. We will also have the opportuinty to visit the nearby town of Banos and its popular volcanic thermal springs.

20

Day 26: Chugchilan

Today we will drive to the remote village of Chugchilán, via the spectacular highland scenery along the road of the 'Quilotoa Loop'.

In Chugchilán we will stay in a fantastic local hostel where breakfast and dinner are included, giving you a chance to enjoy traditional Ecuadorian food.

Estimated Drive Time - 7 hours.

21

Day 27: Lake Quilotoa

Today we will transfer to the village of Quilotoa to see its stunning crater lake, and take an included day trek back to Chugchilán through the local villages, canyons, and beautiful scenery. This walk is widely considered one of the best day treks in Ecuador! 

The mostly-downhill usually takes between 4-6 hours, but please be aware that there is a section towards the end of the trek with a steep incline which you will need to be physically fit for - although we thoroughly recommend the trek, it can be skipped by anyone if they prefer.

22

Day 28: Cuenca

Today we will drive along the remainder of the Quilotoa Loop and then head south to the beautiful colonial town of Cuenca. We will pass through the stunning landscape of the Cajas National Park en route.

In Cuenca we will stay in a centrally-located hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 7 hours.

23

Day 29: Cuenca

Today we will have a free day to explore the colonial city of Cuenca. The town is the birthplace of the famous Panama Hat, and we will have the opportunity today to visit one of the factories to learn about the manufacturing process.

24

Day 30: Punta Sal

Border information: Exit Ecuador at Huaquillas, enter Peru at Tumbes.

Today we will have a long drive day south, crossing the border into northern Peru.

We will stay at a friendly local campsite just outside of Punta Sal, on a beautiful and serene beach on the shore of the Pacific Ocean.

Estimated Drive Time - 10-11 hours.

25

Day 31: Punta Sal

Today we have a full day to relax on the beach and enjoy some activities in and around the stunning coastal area of Punta Sal.

26

Day 32: Huanchaco

Today we will have a full day's drive to Huanchaco, near the city of Trujillo. We will have an included visit to the phenomenal Lord of Sipan museum in Lambayeque, home of an incredible collection of Chimu-era treasures (please note that this museum is closed on Mondays, so we will be unable to visit if your trip passes through on a Monday).

In Huanchaco we will camp in the grounds of a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 10 hours (including approximately 1 hour 30 minutes at the Lord of Sipan museum). 

27

Day 33: Huanchaco

Today we will have an included guided trip to explore the enormous adobe ruins of Chan Chan and the world-famous Moche archaeological site of Huaca de la Luna (Pyramid of the Moon).

28

Day 34: Huaraz

Today we will have a spectacular drive up the winding roads of the 'Casma Route' into the Cordillera Blanca section of the high Andes, reaching the mountain town of Huaraz.

In Huaraz we will stay in a local hostel in either dorm accommodation or private rooms depending on availability.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.

29

Days 35-36: Huaraz

We have two days in the spectacular area of the Cordillera Blanca for exploration and optional activities such as visiting the incredible pre-Inca ruins of Chavín de Huantar or trekking and climbing to the nearby lakes and glaciers.

30

Day 37: Lima

Today we will have another full day's drive back to the coast via the 'Paramonga Route' and then on to the enormous Peruvian capital of Lima.

In Lima we will stay in a comfortable hotel in the city's historical centre.

Estimated Drive Time - 10 hours.

31

Day 38: Lima

Border information: if you are finishing in Lima, you will most likely exit Peru at Lima Jorge Chavez International Airport.

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Lima, and a free day to explore the city. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Freely explore the fascinating colonial city of Cartagena or learn all about its incredible history on a guided walking tour
    • Explore the area of Mompós by boat, on a beautiful short trip out on the Magdelena River
    • Discover the delightful Spanish colonial town of Villa de Leyva on a guided walking tour, and explore its cobblestoned streets, huge original plaza, and 16th-Century buildings
    • Enjoy a night of traditional live Colombian music with a delicious BBQ dinner at our coffee finca nea Manizales
    • Stay for 2 nights on a coffee finca near Manizales, and learn all about coffee production on an informative tour of the plantations
    • Visit the Dragoman-supported Sagrada Familia project in Manizales, who work to provide education, nutrition, and psychological support to young children from poor backgrounds in the area
    • Head out on a half-day guided trek through the spectacular Cocora Valley, and see the incredible 50m-tall Quindio wax palms, the tallest plam trees in the world!
    • Visit the jaw-dropping church of Santuario de las Lajas on the outskirts of Ipiales, built on a bridge spanning a 45m-deep river gorge
    • Visit the monument to mark the Equator at Mitad del Mundo
    Tour Staff
    • 2 crew, local guides as necessary
    Accomodation
    • 45% Camping - 55% Hotels
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