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Colombia

Caribbean + Canyons + Community

Depart

Itinerary Options

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Looking for something more flexible? Get in touch and we'll chat through options more suited to you.

In all its glory

Welcome to Colombia

Having shaken off its "bad-boy" repuation, Colombia is now looking after its visitors. Going above and beyond, to give us a safe, thrillingly un-commercialised country which will provide a hefty mix of nail-biting adventures and community development for us to get stuck into.

From the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada to the pristine white-sand Caribbean beaches, surrounded by wild jungle. Colombia has the best environments all wrapped up in one. If that's not enough, their culture is incredible - what we will find is a unique combination of European architecture, the wildlife of Costa Rica and the beaches of Barbados. Sound good? We promise this place will deliver, it's utter heaven.

Now is the time to visit this gem, come on MidLifers...let's see what all the fuss is about and make a difference while we are there.


Let's venture to Colombia: to explore, challenge ourselves and contribute to community projects whilst being immersed in an ancient culture.


Program Itinerary

Our journey will start in Cartagena - Colombia's hip Caribbean city, before making our way inland to the small colonial town of San Gill - found in the mountainous heartland where canyons, rivers and rural communities will be waiting...

The following is a sample itinerary.

Day 1 + 2

Cartagena Arrive and Caribbean

Welcome to the hip town of Cartagena

We will be met at the airport and taken to our hip little hostel right in the heart of the old town of Cartagena where we will stay for the first 2 nights giving us time to explore the meandering streets and the groovy culture exploding out of this town.

The old town is a mix of Colombian and Latin Caribbean culture - lots of historial sites, markets and amazing restaurants to explore.


In the afternoon we will head to the beach to rest our weary bones, which is key as we need to be fighting fit for the next stage...

Accommodation

We will stay in a very simple hostel in Old Town.


Food

Breakfast and lunch included.
Supper will extra out in town.

Day 3

San Gil White water rafting

Heading into the heartland of Colombia to find waterfalls, canyons and culture.

We will take the morning flight from Cartagena to Bucaramanga and then start our jeep journey weaving our way through the spectacular Chicamocha desert canyon to find San Gil, a small colonial city nestled in the Andes of Colombia. San Gill is the adventure capital of Colombia so we will be very busy...

Here we will stay with our partners in their Waterfall Hostel, where we have time to rest and swim in the natural waterfall pools before our first big adventure - a team bonding experience some may call it as we throw ourselves down 9km of grade 3 river rafting on the River Fonce.

Accommodation

Waterfall Hostel

Food

Breakfast and lunch included.
Supper will extra out in town.

Day 4

San Gill Curutti Trek

Open Savannah Trek

We will begin the day with an 8km trek through rural Colombia, passing through coffee plantations and citrus farms heading in the direction of the colonial town of Curutti. This trek gives us the chance to experience the savannah landscape in this area.

We will then jump in a jeep for the last section which will take us up to Curutti where we meet local communities who still make the traditional ‘fique’ fabric which was used back in the colonial days.

After a little coffee and souvenir shopping pit stop, we will push on to reach ‘Pescaderito’ for a picnic lunch on the river, before heading back to the Waterfall Hostel.

Accommodation

Waterfall Hostel

Food

Breakfast and lunch included.
Supper will extra out in town.

Day 5

Barichara Community Volunteering

Community Day

The following morning we will head out to join a community volunteering project in Barichara. Here we will work with a group of Colombian volunteers who run a project which aims to improve the lives of rural families.

Working side-by-side the local team, we will help renovate a family house. Working gloves on...

Accommodation

Waterfall Camp.

Food

Breakfast and lunch included.
Supper will extra out in town.

Day 6 + 7

Chicamocha Canyon Canyon Trek

Second biggest canyon in the world

Our main challenge and one the best treks to do in Colombia, so our local sources tell us.

We will start the trek traversing across the crest of the 120 million year old canyon, stopping for breathtaking views and fruit stops along the way. It's about 4 km of canyon crest walking, before we reach our entry point for the descent. The climb down is shaded but can be a little technical at points, and takes us through single track and isolated terrain, passing through tobacco and goat farms on our way down.

Eventually we will reach more level terrain and stop at the 'jacuzzi'' for a picnic - a natural rock pool offering fresh flowing natural pools. By now we are only 45 mins from camp, so we can enjoy a rest before the final push.

The following morning its up early to ensure we get away before the canyon heats up. This time we will trek over a fixed stone footpath, one of Colombia's oldest roads / footpaths, originally built by the Spanish crown, linking Santa Marta on the coast, the original capital, with Bogota. A hugely significant road in Colombia's history. This is about a 4 hour trek up and out. Once at the summit, its a jeep pic-up for a celebratory local lunch in the old town, before heading back to the Waterfall Hostel for a rest.


Accommodation

We will stay at the River Bank Camp, which has an open dining area, large swimming pool and a dormitory style hut on the river bank with hammocks and beds, so we can choose.


Food

Breakfast, picnic lunches and dinner included in the River Camp.

Day 8

San Gill Reforestation Project

Environmental Day

Our second day of volunteering will involve helping a local volunteer foundation called San Gil ’Abrazos Abiertos, with the construction of a tree nursery.

The foundation was set up by leading environmentalists who are actively promoting and teaching the community about reforestation and care for the environment. The plan is to spend a day learning about what they do and to build a Leap nursery.

We will then have a free afternoon for downtime or more adventure if you fancy...such as paragliding :) or a gentle spot of market shopping.

Accommodation

Waterfall Hostel

Food

Breakfast and lunch included.
Supper will extra out in town.

Day 9

Return to Cartagena Travel Day home

Heading back home

We will get the early morning flight back to Cartagena and depending on our international flight either stay an extra night here or fly straight out. If we need to spend a night here the cost will be added to the balance of the program.

Food

Breakfast and lunch included.
Supper will extra.

Program Details & Costs

This is a new adventure for us, starting on 4 November - departing on the 12th.

Please note that the flights will probably depart on the 3rd, arrive home 13th.

Depart November

2020: 4 Nov

Costs



2020: £1956

Beach Life

Bliss. Experience the Latino Caribbean.

Social Life

A team of 10 midlifers - guaranteed to be like minded, so give it ago.

Adventure

From trekking to rafting, get ready for an adventure.

Contrast

Experience Caribbean coast and mountainous heartland.

Backpacker favourities:

  • Paragliding in San Gil
  • Yoga classes
  • Nights out to experience Latin music and culture

Jakera Waterfall Hostel

Our Colombia program is run by the dynamic Brendan Topp and his wife who moved here from Venezuela a few years ago.

They have created a new home in San Gill and organise volunteering adventures all over Colombia. They are passionate about development and will get us contributing to two of their favourite community projects.

The Colombian team are great fun...

Leaper's Highlights

As this is a new program for 2020 we don't have any diaries just yet BUT have a read of these from Costa Rica to get a feeling of Leap Team life.

Painting signs, recycling and turtles Lucy Dickens

Turtle hatcheries, surfing, yoga and more Emily Dinovo

Tyre garden, hot springs and reforestation Maya Sanden

"Reflect and Reset"

Although I had been promised true wilderness, it wasn’t until we finally arrived in camp that I properly understood that this was exactly what we were getting. Completely off grid, in beautiful surroundings, we were made incredibly welcome by Red and Dre, who then proceeded to put us to work!

What was so extraordinary about the trip was that not only did we feel that what we were doing, along with all the other volunteers, really would make a difference in helping to transform and rewild the landscape in this remote corner of Namibia, but also that by being there as individuals, with no other halves or children to worry about or manage, it was a chance to reflect and to reset. I came home a changed person and cannot recommend the experience highly enough. If you can, just do it!

- Lucy Walsh-Waring

"An extraordinary and memorable trip"

If you are feeling motivated to make a difference and looking for an off grid adventure, have a look at The Leap’s website.

If you enjoy a challenge and want to feel intrepid, you can join a group of like minded individuals for an extraordinary and memorable trip, organised for you by experts. I cannot recommend The Leap more highly.

- Penny Mountbatten

"The trip exceeded my expectations."

When I signed up I was a little apprehensive as I only knew one person and wasn’t sure how the dynamics of the group would work. As it turned out the group could not have gelled better. The trip exceeded my expectations. I felt we had the chance to give something to the local communities as well as have some fun.

I would highly recommend doing a MidLife Leap – super-duper organised, with attention to detail which meant we were all able to relax and enjoy every minute as we had nothing to think or worry about. It was the most fantastic amazing opportunity that I feel blessed to have experienced.

- Nicci Caswell

"Soul and mind rebooted and the most amazing group of new friends"

I wasn’t sure how I was going to cope with the sleeping arrangements and roughing it, especially as I’m a contact user and need clean hands and a mirror to get them in, but it wasn’t a problem and all the things I worried about before I left were forgotten once I was there.

I had to pinch myself that we actually swam with manta rays and whale sharks and saw the most perfect beaches and yet balanced this with making other peoples lives better on ‘work days’, when we painted a school and health clinic and made bricks for a school build project.

- Emma O'Grady

"Their passion and committment was infectious."

Being at Oana really was one of the happiest and best experiences of my life and I am going back in 2020.

The hands on conservation work included removing old fencing to enable wildlife migration, building a wildlife hide, putting out hay mangers and setting camera traps for wildlife monitoring - all of which was great fun. On our last day we visited the local village where we had a soup kitchen and had 90 children come along. The children were unforgettable, singing and dancing with huge smiles on their faces.

- Elaine Mackensie Yates

"The most rewarding and valuable trip of my life"

My trip to Namibia will be the platform for the rest of my life. It was vitally important for me to be challenged, tested and taken far away from home. The environment in Namibia is so far removed from the privileged life I lead in England and the enormous personal strain from family illnesses and teenage demands. Namibia was so utterly dramatic in its beauty and so humbling in its simplicity. To be ‘unplugged’ from my life was incredible. It made me ‘regroup’ amongst nature that is so pure - I felt honoured to be there.

Living in tents and being part of a group was fantastic fun. Getting to know myself in that environment was valuable and liberating. So many fears were dispelled by the whole experience.

Thank you for organising a fantastic trip with love and laughter! Thank you for letting me rest when I needed to and encouraging me to ‘push on’ when it mattered. Thank you for the most fabulous memories and happy times.

- Sara Koe

"Quality time with girlfriends, old and new. "

Having not been backpacking at the traditional backpacking age this MidLife Leapers' trip was an opportunity too good to pass up. It was a chance to leave the husband and kids behind, to experience a little bit of what kids do while travelling and to spend quality time with girlfriends, old and new.

I was initially attracted by the opportunity to help conserve the turtles and, despite being there in the turtle ‘low season’, we were exceptionally lucky to be involved in locating and moving a nest of recently laid eggs and to watch newly hatched turtles being released into the ocean. A totally unforgettable experience. At Cirenas we met some inspiring young Ticos and I would love to go back in a year or two to see where their vision and hard work has got them.

Thank you Milly, and Chris on the ground, for organising such a fabulous trip for us. We loved it all - the zip wire, the cloud forest, the baby sloths and the anteater, the turtles, the absolutely delicious food wherever we went, and the scary light aircraft to get us home. An amazing trip.

- LIza Curtis

"Meaningful adventure has been a wonderful experience"

Going on The Leap MidLife was a great decision for me: spending time with a very entertaining and engaging group of people in the amazing and ancient landscape of Namibia on a meaningful adventure has been a wonderful experience.

Oana is a very special conservation reserve, and the passion, vision and determination of the camp managers has inspired a long term make-a-difference approach in us all. Although I have left Namibia and am now back in England, the memories of a fantastic and happy community thrown together for a purpose under the African skies will stay with me for ever.

- Carrie Watson

"Incredible camaraderie and kindness"

During our time we slept in dorms, washed out of a bucket, painted a school, planted shrubs and trees for nesting turtles, swam with whale sharks and manta ray. What struck me through all of our incredible experiences was the camaraderie and kindness of everyone. No-one thought of themselves first. Mosquito spray was given to your pal before you used it yourself. And we're tough old birds! No whingeing at all which was quite something for a bunch of mums who have got used to a comfortable way of live back at home.

The Leap's people on the ground are vital to the smooth-running of anything so off-grid and they found the dream team who were largely locals and knew exactly how the islands ticked and what would work. I think it's brilliant to 'take the leap', venturing outside your comfort zone and realising that at 40/50/60 you've still got what it takes.

- Emma Cripwell

"Extraordinary and inspiring"

On arrival the trepidation and pre-match nerves soon disappeared and I realised it was the best decision I had ever made. The photos are amazing, but to be there is even better. Having never had a gap year, been camping, been away without family, been to Africa or known anyone on the trip beforehand I was taking a big Leap into the unknown…..and I LOVED every minute. It was a wonderful and unique experience.

I now miss waking up in camp every morning, chatting and laughing with a very special group of now lifelong friends, being inspired by the amazing Dre and Red, looking at the beautiful stars, trekking to the top of mountains to admire the never ending breathtaking views.

The white water rafting and camping on the side of the Orange River towards the end of the 9 days enhanced what had already become the most phenomenal trip. I feel everyone should now make that Midlife Leap and then truly understand why it is so extraordinary and inspiring….

- Alice Fisher

"How we laughed .. I felt reinvigorated"

It was all I had hoped for and with much more. I felt I had a glimpse of a gap year which was exactly what I had wanted. I loved staying in the hostel at Monteverde, testing my nerve on the zip wires and finding I could do it. A great mix of fun and learning.

Throughout we were looked after with kindness and thought. Gently pushing us out of our comfort zones from where I feel we all flew away from our cosy safe nests! In all this I think the Midlife Leap is very clever. We were able to experience a country, get under the skin of it and see it properly, feel comfortable without it seeming we were on a ‘holiday’. Which we weren’t . Volunteering and meeting locals and having Chris guiding us through it all made the ordinary extraordinary . Milly you are brilliant and cajoled and encouraged us keeping up any flagging spirit.

- Nicola Hussey

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