Rail South America

Trains & Coffee in Colombia and Panama

Duration

15 Days

Tour Date

9 – 23 July 2020

Departure

Bogota, Colombia

Starting from

USD 5’502.–

Participants

Max. 18 Guests

Overview

You have not to be an expert in the history of Latin America to know that Colombia has not always been a country you would believe as a holiday destination. Fortunately, that changed during the last decade and Colombia is today a fascinating, but still little known travel destination.
Colombia had a rail network of over 3000km which mostly got abandoned during the 1990s in favor of road transportation. At present, large parts of the ancient railroad will be reactivated for cargo trains. We discover on this trip some of Colombia’s railroads, and travel therefore to exciting regions of the country. Enjoy rail journeys on regular trains, “brujitas” (motorbikes on rails) and autoferros (autobuses on tracks).

Near Pereira, we visit a Coffee Plantation where you are invited to do a profesional Coffee tasting under the guidance of a local Coffee Expert. Colombian Coffee is considered the best in the World.

We end the trip in Panama where we cruise through parts of the Panama Canal, travel on the Transoceanic Train from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean and explore the grandiose Miraflores and Aguas Claras Locks. In Panama City’s old town we end the trip.

Tour Highlights

  • We travel on the “Tren de la Sabana” from Bogota to Zipaquira. 
  • We make a trip on a carriage pulled my a motorbike on rails near Villeta on the Occidental Railroad. 
  • We use the electric metro train in Medellin crossing the whole city from South to North over 35 km. 
  • We are traveling with the Teleferico from Medellin up to the famous Comuna 13, one of the centers where the drug war took place. 
  • A Brujita will bring us on the Antioquia Railroad from Santiago through one of South America’s longest railway tunnels to Cisneros.
  • We travel over 100 km on a bus on rails from Puerto Berrio to Barrancabermeja, the petrol city of Colombia.
  • You are invited to Panama’s largest Rum Distillery to discover the secrets of the best Rum in the World.
  • In Panama, we travel on the Transoceanic train from the Pacific to the Caribbean Ocean.
  • We do a partial transit of the Panama Canal on a river cruise ship. 

Itinerary Trains & Coffee in Colombia and Panama

Considering the character of our trips, we may be making ongoing improvements to this itinerary. Below you find the day-by-day itinerary for the tour “Trains & Coffee in Colombia and Panama.” Unless otherwise specified, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. We do our maximum to comply to the scheduled tour program, but due to the travel style and regions we visit, we may deviate the journey slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, and culture.
Day 1: Arrival in Bogota

You arrive with your international flight in Bogota. Our driver welcomes you at the airport and brings you to the Hotel where you stay overnight.

Arrival with Avianca in Bogota
Day 2: City Tour in Bogota
Walk the cobblestoned streets of downtown Bogota discovering architecture, art, and culture of this fascinating city. Landmarks we visit are the Congress, the Cathedral, the Palace of Justice, the Mayor’s Office (Palacio Lievano) and the House of the 20th of July. You have free time in the afternoon. We leave the hotel in the late afternoon and travel up the Monserrate Hill with the funicular or aerial tramway to observe the sunset.
View from Monserrate Hill in Bogota
Day 3: Brujita Journey on the Occidental Railroad
We travel to the tropical village of Villeta which was a stop on the Occidental Railroad that connected Bogota with the Magdalena River. We tour on a carriage pulled by a Brujita (Motorbike on Rails) from Villeta to a lovely waterfall about 14 km away. You enjoy during the journey the lush green tropical forest of the region. We return to Villeta for lunch. In the afternoon, we return to Bogota, where you stay overnight.
Brujita en Villeta
Day 4: Tren de la Sabana & Nemocon Salt Mine
At the Sabana Railway Station, we board the “Tren de la Sabana”. Enjoy from the train Bogota’s Savannah Region during the 53 km journey to Zipaquira.  We visit the Salt Mine of Nemocon from Zipaquira. We have lunch in a local restaurant. In the afternoon, our driver brings us to the Airport in Bogota for our flight to Pereira. From Pereira transfer to Saltento where we stay overnight.
Cojiba Train Station Tren de la Sabana
Day 5: Discover one of the Best Coffees in the World

A speciality Coffee producer invites us for a walk through steep fields of coffee bushes to explore every detail that is needed to produce an excellent coffee. We have a close look at the post-harvest installation where coffee beans are cleaned, selected and roasted. Our visit ends in the laboratory with a professional coffee tasting session. In the afternoon, we return to our hotel where we stay overnight.

Coffee Tasting
Day 6: Flight Pereira - Medellin

In the morning, we visit the railway station and the church in Pereira. Before midday, we go to the airport for the flight to Medellin. In Medellin transfer-in to our hotel. The rest of the afternoon you have free time.

Estacion de Pereira
Day 7: City Tour in Medellin

We travel on the suburban train to the Acevedo Railway Station where we board the aerial cable car into the mountains. The breathtaking journey takes us from the city, through mountainous suburbs, to a nature reserve up in the hills. We visit the famous Comuna 13 after lunch. It was one of the most dangerous places in the city and is nowadays an example for social transformation. We return to the hotel in Medellin in the late afternoon.

Day 8: Guatape & Peñol Rock
We visit the Peñol-Guatapé reservoir which has a dam that was built at the end of the 1970s, flooding thousands of hectares. From the “Piedra del Peñol,” you have beautiful views over the lake and the surrounding forests. We have lunch and visit the picturesque town of Guatape. We return to Medellin in the afternoon where we stay overnight.
Peñol Rock
Day 9: Train from Puerto Berrio to Barrancabermeja
We travel early morning to Santiago, a station on the old Antioquia Railroad. From Santiago starts a special rail trip where we sit on a carriage being pulled by a motorbike on rails crossing the longest railway tunnel in South America. This journey is very scenic and fun. We continue our trip in the afternoon to the old railway junction of Puerto Berrio where we board the train to Barrancabermeja, following the Magdalena River downstream. We stay overnight in Barrancabermeja.
Tren Puerto Berrio
Day 10: Barrancabermeja - Panama City
We travel from Barrancabermeja via Bogota to Panama City. In Panama City transfer-in to our Hotel. The rest of the day you have free time.
Panama City
Day 11: Partial Panama Canal Transit
We get to know the so-called eighth wonder of the world on a boat trip from Panama City to Gamboa. In the morning, we make an approximately 4-hour trip through the legendary Panama Canal. We pass the Miraflores Locks, Miraflores Lake, the Pedro Miguel Locks, the Gaillard Cut (the narrowest point) to the Gatun Lake. We have our lunch onboard our ship. From the port in Gamboa, the bus takes you back to Panama City on the Pacific coast. The rest of the afternoon you have free time.
Panama Canal Transit
Day 12: Visit of the Abuelo Rum Distillery
A short flight brings us to Chitre, north-west of Panama City. After a short historical introduction about the distillation of rum, you will enjoy an oxcart ride through the sugar cane fields out of the Hacienda. We will tour the distillery discovering the steps that are necessary to produce liquor from sugar cane. We then go to the bodega where the rum ages in oak barrels. We have lunch near the distillery and fly back to Panama City in the afternoon.
Tour-del-Rum-Panama
Day 13: Trans Oceanic Railway and Panama Canal
We experience the historic train passage from Panama City to Colón in original railway cars. The train journey goes about 1 hour and will take us through the jungles along the Panama Canal. From Colon, we visit the Panama Canal Observation Center at Agua Clara, which explains how the new Panama Canal system works. The Aerial Tram at the Gamboa Rainforest will take us up a jungle mountain from where you have a beautiful view of the Gatun lake, the ships cruising the Panama Canal, and the surrounding rainforest. We have lunch on the way back to Panama City.
Panama Railway
Day 14: City Tour in Panama City

In the morning, we start our city tour of Panama’s capital. The captivating backdrop of skyscrapers, noble mansions, and green hills characterize this city. In the district is known as Casco Viejo, you will see many unique colonial buildings. The Casco Viejo is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has become a center for art, design, and cultural development. We visit the fish market where you can try Ceviche or a shrimp cocktail! Watch the spectacle of the barker. We end the tour with a rum tasting session and our Farewell Lunch.

Old Town Panama City
Day 15: Departure
At the agreed time, transfer to the Airport and flight to your home country.
Copa Flight over Panama City

Travel Insight

Read our travel notes and articules about the destinations we visit during this journey.
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