Overview

From religion, to government, to culture, to nature, your hosts in Bogotá will introduce bring you to all of the right places to get you acquainted to Colombian culture! Feel the rhythm as you learn new dances, grab your camera for stunning panoramic views, take a moment to stop and smell the roses (literally!), and put on your flippers to snorkel with sea lions on this adventure-filled Journey to Bogota, Colombia, Quito, Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands!

Home Hospitality

Home Hospitality provided by the Friendship Force club of Bogotá.

Live With a Local

  • Get to know the people from Colombia and their wonderful, warm hospitality during your homestay with FF Bogotá.
  • During welcome and farewell parties you will get to dance and see native dances of Colombia.

Sightseeing Highlights

  • The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 meters underground in a halite mountain in Cundinamarca, Colombia.
  • Visit a rose farm in Tocancipa. The rose farms are located in the incredibly fertile savannah of Bogotá, high in the Andes mountains of Colombia, where the weather is perfect for rose growing, with warm days and cool nights.
  • Take in the tremendous views from atop Monserrate Hill. The church up top is a major mecca for pilgrims.
  • See where Colombian troops won their independence from Spain at the Battle of Boyacá.
  • Stand in the northern and southern hemispheres simultaneously at the Intiñan Museum, geographically located at 0 degrees, 0 minutes and 0 seconds.
  • Stop in the city of Otavalo, known worldwide their famous handicraft Indian Market.
  • Tour the old city and countryside of Quito, Ecuador
  • Snorkel with sea lions, sharks, fish, and manta rays during a multi-day stay in the Galápagos Islands, home to countless types of fascinating wildlife.
Very gracious hostess - superb accommodations, food, conversations, sight-seeing agenda. The effort, time, energy and quality of the hospitality afforded by my hostess and the Bogotá Club as a whole was 'over-the-top' - truly an unforgettably pleasant and exciting event. - Previous ambassador

Bogotá, Colombia and Quito and the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

16 Days / 15 Nights Program and Itinerary:

April 26, 2019 – May 11, 2019
Coordinator: Bonnie Evans, FF Greater Atlanta
kbemje@bellsouth.net

All Friendship Force Itineraries are subject to change.

April 26, 2019

Arrival of the group at El Dorado airport.

Hosts will be at the airport to welcome you.

April 27, 2019

Visit to Ministry of Culture of Colombia – The Ministry of Culture, is the national executive ministry of the Government of Colombia charged with preserving, promoting, and encouraging the growth, free expression and understanding of the culture of Colombia in all its multi-ethnic forms.

Visit to museum.

Santa Clara, one of Bogotá’s most richly decorated churches and also its oldest, is now run by the government, by the Ministry of Culture as a museum. Built between 1629 and 1674, the single-nave construction features a barrel vault coated in golden floral motifs that look down over walls entirely covered by 148 paintings and sculptures of saints.

Lunch at home or downtown with your hosts who is taking you to the Ministry.

Welcome event –Dinner at a Colombian restaurant with dancing and music! Colombia is a country full of world champion dancers, so its no surprise that Colombians can move! It is not difficult for visitors to catch up, just learn the steps, feel the beat and set your hips in motion to dance salsa, merengue, cumbia, joropo, and valenato.

April 28, 2019

Visit to a rose farm in town of Tocancipa – located in the incredibly fertile savannah of Bogotá, high in the Andes mountains of Colombia, where the weather is perfect for rose growing with warm days and cool nights.

Visit to the Basilica Nuestra Señora de Fatima de la Orden de Los Caballeros de la Virgen (Heralds of the Gospel-Knights of the Virgen). There is a growing devotion of Colombians to the Virgin of Fatima, Msgr. João S. Clá Dias, Founder and Superior General, devised, encouraged, and guided with special care, to the finest details the construction of the church. He suggested that it should be a temple full of color and light that spoke of faith and hope to those who gathered in it to praise God and his Blessed Mother.

Lunch at Universidad de la Sabana in town of Chia. This is a Colombian private higher education institution founded in 1979. The university has been given the High Quality Institutional Accreditation by the National Ministry of Education.

Visit to Salt Cathedral in city of Zipaquira, an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 meters underground in a halite mountain. It is a very popular tourist destination and place of pilgrimage in the country. The temple at the bottom has three sections, representing the birth, life, and death of Jesus. The icons, ornaments, and architectural details are hand carved in the halite rock.

April 29, 2019

Climb to Monserrate Hill for impressive views. The church up top is a major mecca for pilgrims, due to the church’s statue of Fallen Christ (Señor Caído) to which many miracles have been attributed. It is 500 meters higher than Bogotá.

Down the station of Monserrate there is an emerald store, if you are not interested in buying, you are welcome just to visit. Colombia produces the largest percentage of the world’s emeralds.

Visit the Gold Museum, Bogotá’s most famous museum, containing more than 55,000 pieces of gold from all the major pre-Hispanic cultures in Colombia.

Lunch on your own.

Museo Botero, featuring paintings and sculptures of Colombia’s most famous artist, Fernando Botero. He donated these works.

Rest of the day is free.

April 30, 2019

Day trip to the state of Boyacá. The State or Department of Boyacá evokes a sense of patriotism among Colombians. It was here that Colombians troops won their independence from Spain at the Battle of Boyacá.

Stop at Boyacá Bridge, one of the most important battlefields of Colombia’s modern history. On August 7th, 1819, the armies of Simon Bolivar defeated Spanish troops sealing Colombia’s independence.

Villa de Leyva, one of the most beautiful colonial villages in Colombia, is a city frozen in time. Declared a national monument in 1954, it is known for museums and festivals. It has one of the largest town squares in the Americas.

Lunch in town.

Hosts will take you to the meeting point and will pick you up at night.

May 1, 2019

Free day to spend with your hosts.

You may consider a visit to Usaquen. Still living like a village, it features a quaint central plaza surrounded by stylish antique shops, chic bars, and fusion-style restaurants. Its best coming on Sunday for its flea market, Mass, malls, and downtown.

May 2, 2019

Enjoy a free morning with your hosts.

Farewell dinner.

May 3, 2019

Fly from Bogota to Quito.

Stay overnight in Hotel Patio Andaluz.

May 4, 2019

Tour guide will pick you up and transfer you to the viewpoint of the Pululahua Volcano, one of the two inhabited craters in the world! This volcanic complex consists of a main boiler, a central volcano with two craters and the remains of a third party, and several volcanic domes within the caldera located on the edge and outside of it.

Then we head to the Intiñan Museum, geographically located at 0 degrees, 0 minutes and 0 seconds, that marks the division between northern and southern hemisphere as established by French Geodesic Mission in the eighteenth century. We will see beautiful displays of different ethnic groups in Ecuador, plus the story of their lifestyles, explained by an specialist tour guide! This is an opportunity to be photographed with both of your feet on the northern and southern hemispheres at the same time!

On the way back to Quito, we will pass close by the equatorial monument.

Lunch on your own (not included).

In the afternoon we go to the historical centre of Quito, the first UNESCO World Heritage Site! During our walk, we will pass through the Independence Square, scene of many dramatic battles of revolution in the history of the Republic of Ecuador.

Opportunity to visit the Cathedral, the Archbishop’s palace, the Church of the Society of Jesus of Quito, summit of the Latin America Baroque, the charming neighborhood of La Ronda, and the Church and Convent of San Francisco, built in 1540!

We will be back in your hotel approximately at 15h00.

May 5, 2019

Otavalo is located in Imbabura province, 86 km north of Quito. Now one of the most important tourist destinations of Ecuador, Otavalo is surrounded by mountains, lakes, rivers, streams and springs, making this small city a paradise where you always return! The city of Otavalo is known worldwide for the famous handicraft Indian Market.

Take the Pan-American Highway, which takes you through spectacular mountain scenery, to enjoy views of people and their communities, while conducting their activities and daily life!

Our first stop will be at Guayllabamba where you can taste the “chirimoyas” – typical fruit of the region; also visit the viewpoint of Cayambe, to admire and photograph the beautiful valleys and snow-capped mountains surrounding this place!

Before going to Otavalo, we will visit the viewpoint of the Laguna San Pablo, at the foot of Imbabura volcano.

Arrive at the Otavalo market or Plaza de Ponchos showing varied handmade indigenous crafts!

It is also possible to visit the rural parish of Peguche, where we can learn more about the local culture and the weaving process of the tapestries!

After lunch we visit the Cotacachi village, known as the “music capital of Ecuador,” rich in the production of fine leather garments, which are displayed and sold in small shops along the centre of the city.

Then we will drive up to Cuicocha Crater Lake, located in the Cotacachi volcano (5,000 meters above sea level).

Return to Hotel Patio Andaluz.

May 6, 2019

Fly to Baltra on the Galápagos Islands.

Guide will accompany you to Santa Cruz Island, and from there you will have a private transport to your hotel in Puerto Ayora.

On the way to Puerto Ayora you will be visiting the Highlands of Santa Cruz on a private guided tour.

This visit includes three sites; first of all a farm where you will be able to observe giant tortoises in the wild, being as close as possible to them.

This is also the place where you will get an organic lunch menu as well as organic coffee produced by the same farm.

Then you will be exploring a lava tunnel before stopping by at the “Gemelos,” two large craters that were once underground magma chambers.

When arriving to Puerto Ayora, you will be getting your high-quality snorkel equipment as well as wetsuits which you can keep for the entire stay in order to be able to enjoy all snorkel activities in the following days to the fullest.

Then, on the way to your hotel, you will get a little “city tour” by car so that you will be able to find your way around at night when going out for dinner.

Dinner on your own.

May 7, 2019

After a comfortable navigation in a nice yacht to the north of the archipelago (departing from the Itabaca Canal), you will reach North Seymour island. This island is inhabited by colonies of frigate birds and blue-footed boobies, as well as yellow land iguanas resting under the ancient cactus trees next to sea lions of all ages.

You will spend about an hour on that island; enough time to take good photographs and to get to know this island with its inhabitants, accompanied by your naturalist guide who will be able to answer any questions you might have.

Back on board and after a short navigation, you will get a chance to experience the incredible underwater world around this place during a snorkel activity.

After lunch on board and another short navigation, you will disembark on the magnificent Bachas beach with coral sand, mangroves, and black lava inhabited by colorful crabs, marine iguanas, lizards and pelicans.

You can also go for a walk to a nearby lagoon where flamingos often can be spotted, do some snorkeling or simply relax a while on this beautiful beach.

Dinner on your own.

May 8, 2019

After breakfast, you will depart from the main pier in Puerto Ayora to Santa Fe Island.

After about 40 minutes of navigation you will reach the calm and gorgeous bay of Santa Fe Island with crystal-clear, turquoise water. This site offers an incredible underwater world, famous for being one of the best snorkeling spots in the entire archipelago. There are colonies of sea lions who love to play with people in the water, swarms of tropical fish, manta rays, sharks and sea turtles.

There will be a second opportunity to do some more snorkeling at another snorkel site, close to the rocks, before the freshly prepared lunch will be served on board.

Then there will be a disembarkation on “Hidden Beach,” a picturesque beach of the archipelago, which can only be reached by boat.

The boat returns to Puerto Ayora in the afternoon.

Dinner on your own.

May 9, 2019

Early in the morning a speedboat will take you to Isabela Island. John, our local guide on Isabela Island will welcome you at the pier on Isabela Island and after the hotel check-in, the “land tour,” which includes a visit to a Giant tortoises breeding centre, a flamingo lagoon as well as a walk through the wetlands, leading to a beautiful beach adorned by coconut palm trees.

After lunch at a local restaurant the “bay tour” will take place, exploring the beautiful bay around Isabela that is home to the famous Galapagos penguins.

Disembark on “Tintorera islet,” where many marine iguanas and white-tip sharks that can be observed resting in the warm water of the islet’s thin gorge (depending on the season).

Open water snorkel activity with sea turtles, sharks and manta rays and then return to Puerto Vilamil (Isablea Island), where the night will be spent.

Dinner on your own.

May 10, 2019

Boat tour to visit the spectacular marine lava tunnels, “Cabo Rosa.” This area is characterized by geological formations formed by lava collapsed into the water, depicting an unique landscape and an incomparable underwater world.

After a walk on those lava formations that are a famous nesting spot for blue-footed boobies, you will be able to discover the lava collapses and lava caves from underneath the water during two snorkel activities at the nearby Finado Bay. The underwater world at this site is one of the best places for observing the whitetipped reef sharks, sea turtles, penguins, golden rays, aguila rays, and seahorses.

You will get a small lunch on board before returing to Puerto Vilamil (Isabela Island).

John will pick you up from the pier and accompany you to get proper lunch at one of the local restaurants.

In the afternoon a speedboat will take you back to Santa Cruz Island, where our staff will welcome you back at the pier in Puerto Ayora and bring you to your hotel.

Dinner on your own.

May 11, 2019

Today after breakfast, you will get a private guided visit to Tortuga Bay, one of the most beautiful white sand beaches in the archipelago. On this beach you will find lots of marine iguanas and you can either relax on the beach, go for a walk to a second beach or do some snorkeling.

Also, you will get a guided kayak tour along the beach, exploring the surroundings, before we will be having a picnic on the beach.

Either of the two ways from Puerto Ayora to Tortuga Bay will be made by boat and the other one walking (a beautiful path through a cactus forest, about 45 minutes by foot).

Depending on the departure time of your flight, you will be picked up at your hotel in order to take you to the airport on Baltra Island.

OPTIONAL - May 12 to 17, 2019

Huaorani Amazonian Encounter

Find more detailed information and an itinerary in this packet, pages 42 to 47.

Rate:

$3695 USD

Price Includes: FFI fees and host fees, Quito Ecuador tour, and Galápagos land tour. International flights and internal flights are NOT included.
Optional post-Journey Amazon encounter not included in price. The cost of the extension is and additional $920 USD.

Availability:

Wait list only

Active

Know before you go

  • Journey number 15113
  • View a detailed booklet of information about this Journey.
  • Bogotá's altitude is 8,675 feet (2,644 meters) above sea level and is one of the highest in South America.
  • There is an optional, four-day/three-night post-Journey Huaorani Amazonian Encounter. We must have 4-15 people to do extension. The price of the optional add-on is $920 and includes a hotel near the airport before and after the encounter, making the total time of the post-Journey option 6 days and 5 nights.
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Our Mission

Friendship Force International provides opportunities to explore new countries and cultures from the inside by bringing people together at the personal level. Through the signature program of home hospitality, local hosts welcome international visitors into their culture, sharing with them meals, conversation, and the best sights and experiences of their region.
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