Witness the traditional, exuberant, Feria de las Flores (Festival of Flowers) in Medellin, accept the warm welcome of your hosts at a gorgeous Andean hacienda, engage Cartagena's abundant charms, and celebrate Colombia's transition to peace and stabillity. Engage the best of the nation's natural beauty and cultural heritage in the company of Colombians who are eager to welcome you.
There are many reasons to begin in Medellin in Colombia's vibrant department (or state) of Antioquia. The city is green and lovely and has a near perfect climate. It has a thriving urban cultural center and is surrounded by stunning, fertile countryside. Perhaps more than anywhere else in Colombia, Medellin stands as testament to the defeat of the narco lords and re-birth of security, confidence and international respect.
All of this is true at any time of year, but in August, there's more. The week-long Festival of Flowers -- Feria de las Flores -- celebrates the region's flower growing, which is among the most impressive in the world. The city explodes with floral displays and flower parades, showcasing the roses, orchids, gladiolas and carnations for which the department of Antioquia is known. This JOURNEYS trip is timed for the week's highlight, The Parade of the Silleteros, so named for the large flower-studded wood frames called "silletos", traditionally used by the campesinos to carry their flowers into town.
Next, immerse yourself in the Andean pueblo called Tamesis. A few hours from Medellin, nestled in the mountains, this is a friendly small village with an active central plaza. From your base at a charming family homestead on the outskirts of town, enjoy panoramic views of the Andes, home cooking, access to the "Petroglyph Trail" dotted with rock carvings left by pre-Columbian tribes, visits with coffee and orange farmers, horseback riding and other adventure activities.
On to Cartagena on the Caribbean coast -- a port city with a magnificent seawall, and a colorful, exquisitely preserved Old Town classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Learn the history, wander the cobblestone lanes, visit the museums, savor the food. Take a boat to Rosario Island for a day or extend for several days to visit Tayrona National Park further along the coast. It's easy to add Bogota before or after the tour.
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