My first adventure of 2023, a visit to Panama and Colombia, is just over a week away.
I had planned to visit Colombia as part of my trip to Machu Picchu and the Galápagos last year. Overseas Adventure Travel had an optional post-trip extension to Colombia for that tour, and I signed up for it. But they canceled the extension. So I started looking for an opportunity to visit Colombia on my own. And now it’s about to happen!
I decided I really didn’t want to do Colombia independently. I figured it would be easier and more efficient to travel on a small group tour. So I did some research, and settled on this tour with Explore!. I like the itinerary, and I also like the company’s philosophy and approach to travel:
On our trips you’ll see a mix of famous sights and hidden gems that others miss, or don’t even know about. As travellers, we want to experience a country, not merely observe it. We’ll take you closer to the country, its culture and people, often in unscripted, spontaneous, impossible-to-replicate ways. You’ll come home having seen and experienced the country in a way that other travellers might never have.https://www.explore.co.uk/about
In addition, their group size averages about 12 travelers. I don’t know yet how many people will be on my tour to Colombia, nor anything about them. But I think 12 is the perfect size for a tour group. It’s enough so that you don’t feel stuck with the same people all the time, but not so many that the tours feel like you’re in a herd of cattle.
When I started looking for airfares, I discovered Copa Airlines. They are based in Panama, and they offer a free Panama stopover on all itineraries. And they fly out of Guadalajara. So I decided to add a few days in Panama at the beginning of my trip.
Unfortunately, Copa doesn’t seem like the best of airlines. They have some pretty poor reviews. Their website is difficult to navigate, and a lot of functionality doesn’t seem to work properly. There doesn’t seem to be any way to book anything but basic economy. I called to ask about upgrading, but the cost was excessive. I was able to submit bids for upgrades, so we’ll see how that turns out.
Panama Road Trip Adventures
I’m going to stay in Panama City for four nights, but I don’t want to spend all my days there. So I did some more searching to find some tours outside the city.
I settled on a three-day tour package from Panama Road Trip Adventures. Although they do small group tours, they don’t have anyone else booked for the days I am going, so I had to pay a little more to do their tours as a solo traveler. But they have superb reviews, so I am hoping it turns out to be worth it.
|Day One||Depart GDL 12:58 am|
Arrive PTY 6:12 am
Free day in Panama City
|La Concordia Boutique Hotel Casco Viejo|
|Day Two||Panama City and canal tour||La Concordia Boutique Hotel|
|Day Three||Emberá Community visit|
Chagres National Park
|La Concordia Boutique Hotel|
|Day Four||Rainforest boat tour and jungle walk||La Concordia Boutique Hotel|
|Day Five||Depart PTY 11:55 am|
Arrive BOG 1:34 pm
|Hotel Casa Deco|
|Day Six||Bogotá city tour|
Plaza de Mercado Paloquemao
Cerro de Monserrate
|Hotel Casa Deco|
|Day Seven||Fly BOG to AXM|
|Day Eight||Corcora Valley|
|Day Nine||Cooking class with a Colombian chef|
Coffee plantation visit
|Day Ten||Fly AXM to MDE|
Medellín city tour on foot and cable car
|Hotel Poblado Plaza|
|Day Eleven||Free day in Medellín||Hotel Poblado Plaza|
|Day Twelve||Drive to Guatapé|
Hike up La Piedra del Peñón
Yate Majestic dinner cruise
|Day Thirteen||Fly MDE to SMR|
Free time in Santa Marta
|Hotel Hukuméizi Palomino|
|Day Fourteen||Tayrona National Park||Hotel Hukuméizi|
|Day Fifteen||Drive to Cartagena|
|Hotel 3 Banderas|
|Day Sixteen||Walking tour of Cartagena||Hotel 3 Banderas|
|Day Seventeen||Depart CTG 4:15 pm|
Arrive PTY 5:39 pm
Depart PTY 6:40 pm
Arrive GDL 10:15 pm