An immersion into the cultural and natural history of southern Colombia, complete with a visit with a Guambiano family, the paramo ecosystem of Purace National Park, one of Colombia’s oldest cities and  the impressive San Agustin archaeological park. 




Araucana Lodge – Silvia Guambiano Community – Popayan

Today we head to the city of Popayan, one of Colombia’s oldest cities and a living example of what colonial charm is. The drive affords incredible vistas of the western and central Andes ranges as the road bisects the narrowing Cauca Valley in search of the Colombian Massif. We make a stop in the village of Silvia, nestled in the fertile lands of the central Andean range. We arrange this tour so this day falls on a Tuesday, as this is market day in Silvia, a day when members of the Guambiano indigenous community in the nearby countryside descend on the small town to socialize, sell and trade a variety of goods. The market is held in a large warehouse, where the assortment of colors, aromas and the constant chatter of the welcoming Guambiano people haggling and catching up on the latest gossip is sure to entertain. The photographic opportunities are endless and the people-watching incredibly entertaining.

After lunch we will visit an authentic Guambiano family in their home to learn about their culture and way of life, and we will also have some time to explore the lush mountain scenery surrounding the town before a 1.5-hour drive to Popayan. Known as the “white city”, this colonial gem provides a different photographic opportunity every time you turn a corner and we will have the evening to explore and people-watch.

Lodging:  Hotel Dann Monasterio

DAY 2 

Purace National Park and Travel to San Agustin

The day is spent in Purace National Park, home to one of Colombia’s most active volcanoes, and it is here that you have the chance to have a very intimate moment with the largest flying bird on the planet. The local indigenous community has set up a feeding station for two magnificent specimens, and if the birds cooperate it can be a one in a lifetime experience to be able to photograph a Condor at such close range.

After lunch we explore the surreal paramo, a high-elevation ecosystem above tree line that is also referred to as Colombia’s water factory, as it is the birthplace of the county’s two largest rivers: Cauca and Magdalena. A visit to San Juan Hot Springs (unfortunately swimming in them is prohibited) to enjoy the scenery and for some landscape photography is a must. Surrounded by elfin forest, the hot springs are home to a large variety of mosses and lichens with a fascinating color palette. After a full day out we continue our way to the charming village of San Agustin. 

Lodging:  Hotel Estorake


San Agustin Archaelogical Park

A UNESCO world heritage since 1995, San Agustin presents the largest group of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America and also provides nice habitat for some great birdwatching. The archaeological landscape hosts sculptures that resemble human figures with threatening, smiling, or somber faces. But also rather divine creatures, warriors armed with clubs, round eyes or jaguars’ teeth of mythical heroes. Some seem to depict serenity and wisdom, others fear and darkness.

The Agustin culture dominated the area, but who these people were, where they came from, what the exact purpose of the gigantic sculptures was, and to what extent the culture was connected to other known cultures that lived in the area at the time, remains unknown. All day is spent at the park. 

Lodging:  Hotel Estorake

DAY 4 

San Agustin to Popayan

A relaxing morning exploring the streets of San Agustin is followed by a long drive to Popayan, which is the only city in Latin America to have been declared a City of Gastronomy by UNESCO. The idea is to arrive in time to visit a few of the local favorite eateries to indulge in what the city has to offer. Popayan cuisine has its origins in culinary traditions derived from pre-Colombian cultures, and influenced by African techniques and contributions of Spanish cuisine. After dinner we again have a chance to stroll through the streets of the welcoming city.

Lodging: Hotel Dann Monasterio

DAY 5 

Popayan City Tour

An entire day is devoted to the streets, churches, plazas, museums and vista points in Popayan.

Lodging:  Hotel Dann Monasterio


Depart From Cali

You will be taken to the airport in private transport to catch flights home. Cali airport is 3.5 hours from Popayan. 

You are probably wondering what is a Peace-of-Mind Tour? We know that many of you are itching to get out and explore the world, and at Colombia Photo Expeditions we believe leisure travel will return and can be done safely. For this reason, we have designed a set of “Peace of Mind” natural history, birdwatching and photography tours and day tours that we think are the safest way to get you back out there when international air travel resumes:We are strictly following the World Travel and Tourism Council and the Colombian government’s biosafety protocols at the Araucana Lodge and in the field. The lodge has very spacious rooms with open hallways and common areas, excellent ventilation, and is only operating at 40% capacity.

Our revised cancellation policy allows you to book with much flexibility and peace of mind.

Exclusive and private. A private guide means you will not share activities with others and you will always be transported in a private vehicle.

Flexibility in Daily Activities – This itinerary is merely a suggestion of activities; please contact us for more options.

Minimum Contact: Surely, we have designed the tours to visit sites where contact with other travelers will be minimal.  We understand that contact with the locals it what makes traveling an enriching experience, so this will happen only in open areas and outdoors where we can practice social distancing.

Our Peace-of Mind Trips Include*

  • All Lodging (Double Occupancy)
  • All Meals From Dinner on Day 1 to Breakfast on Day 8
  • Bottled Water Throughout the Trip
  • All Activities Listed in Itinerary
  • Bilingual Guide During Trip
  • Internal Terrestrial Transport From Airport Pickup to Airport Drop-off
  • Limited Health and Accident Insurance

    Trip Does Not Include
  • Tips
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Insurance
  • Airfare to Colombia
  • Laundry
  • Items of Personal Nature

    * Please check each particular departure, as some variations may occur depending on the destination.
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