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Colombia Gap Year Programme

Adventure + Community + Spanish


Itinerary Options

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Be a trailblazer to experience off-grid gems and culture

By joining this unique 4-week Leap programme you will be shown the real Colombia through the eyes of our local team who will immerse you in authentic culture, teach you conversational Spanish, help you complete life changing community projects, before trekking through the jungle to reach the famous Lost City, chilling out on Caribbean beaches and white water rafting down the thundering rivers.

You'll start your journey in the rural town of Barichara which is based in the midst of the massive canyons, before heading across to the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada and to reach Santa Marta on pristine Caribbean beaches.

This adventure promises to delivers an experience of a life time, where you will encouraged to play football, rugby and cards with community teams, alongside a team of like minded gap year travellers, creating lasting friendship and memories.

This is a great combination of contribution and adventure, all organised for you, and a great location to add on phase of independent travelling.

Colombia's Programme Itinerary

Welcome to an exhilarating journey through Colombia to explore and contribute to this unique country. Starting in Barichara you'll then head north across the snow-capped peaks of the Andes, down to pristine Caribbean beaches, experiencing a fantastic mix of community projects and adrenaline infused challenges.

Phase 1

Barichara Adventure, volunteering + spanish

Your adventure will start in the central highlands, famous for dramatic canyon landscapes, roaring rivers, waterfalls, and a relaxed pace of life.

To reach this area you'll fly into Bucaramanga, where our team will pick you up and whisk you away to the pretty town of Barichara, which is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Throughout your first 2.5 weeks of the programme, you'll become part of the local community, exploring, learning Spanish, and contributing to a range of different projects which are environmentally and community orientated, before heading off to San Gill at the weekends, the adventure capital of Colombia, to embrace all sorts of adrenaline fuelled activities.


Local family run hostel in the town of Barichara.


2 meals a day provided. Dinner will be extra in one of the many cafes in town. Budget about $10 per meal.

Colombia Gap Year Programme

Volunteering Community and Reforestation

During you first your time in Barichara you'll get stuck into a mix of the following community projects:

Family Help
This is part of our social work programme for families who are struggling in the community. Every team will identify a family in need and help in all sorts of areas – from cleaning their home, painting and gardening.

School renovation and teaching
Here you'll work with the local foundation school called Funda Reserve, renovating their sports pitch, teaching English and rugby.

This project helps the Barichara fire brigade who want us to help manage their tree nursery, which is used to reforest community land. Every team helps with the planting out and sowing seeds.

Women's Foundation
This inspiring foundation helps create eco-farms for local ladies who have previously not been able to work. Each farm then sells produce at the local markets, which includes honey, essential oils, teas, vegetables, fruits, and more, bringing wealth, security, and freedom for the women of the foundation. They love to receive a helping hand from our leapers which provides an amazing cultural moment.

Colombia Gap Year Programme

Adventure Culture + Canyon

In Barichara and San Gill, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to adventure and exploring the authentic cultural experiences in the heart of the local community. So, interwoven into your time:

Learn how to roll your own cigar on one of the tobacco farms.

Canyon Hikes
Hike along the 300-year-old colonial footpaths known as ‘el camino real’. Think stunning vistas across the Canyon Suarez and the prettiest of towns.

Wilderness Camping
Spend 2 days exploring the Chicamocha Canyon, which is 120 million-years-old and utterly stunning. You'll start by traversing the crest, before hiking the 11km descent, meandering through tobacco and goat farms before cooling off in the river at the base, where you'll camp for the night.

Adrenaline Adventure
San Gill is only 30 mins away and offers all sorts of adrenaline activities to get stuck into, such as white water rafting and bungee jumping.

Colombia Gap Year Programme

Spanish Learning a language

These lessons are tailored to suit all levels from beginner to advanced, with specific design to help you interact with the local community and enjoy being in a Spanish speaking country. Especially helpful if you are travelling on after the program around South America.

During the first two weeks Monday to Friday there will be 2 x 45 minute Spanish lessons everyday (usually between 15:00-17:00 but subject to change), a total of 20 classes.

Tuition is delivered by accredited and licensed teachers following a short test to establish your level and objectives.

Colombia Gap Year Programme
Phase 2

Caribbean Coast The Lost City + Santa Marta + Cartagena

The second phase of your programme (1.5 weeks) takes you north to the Caribbean coast, where you have time for a spot of beach time and tubing down the river at Palomino whilst you prepare for the final challenge of the program which involves a 4-day (3 night) trek to reach the famous Lost City after which you will head to Cartagena to fly home.

The Lost City trek
This is one of those bucket list moments as it takes you through a hot and steamy jungle journey and across the Buritaca river (several times) to reach the famous Lost City of Teyrona, made up of 169 terraces built over 30 hectares.

On your journey you will trek for abut 5 kms a day, cool off in crystal clear rivers, shower under waterfalls, be blessed by the local Koki tribe and rock to sleep in hammocks.

Santa Marta and Cartagena
The final few days will be spent in the hip and cool towns of Santa Marta and Cartagena – everyone’s favorite Caribbean chill out zones.

These are groovy towns, where you'll want to whip out your dancing shoes and get involved with the impromptu salsa dances, order a few cocktails, haggle in the markets, and rest up on the beaches.

Prefect places to end the adventure before travelling on or heading home.


Family run hostels or campsites


2 meals a day provided. All meals on the trek.

Colombia Gap Year Programme
Colombia Gap Year Programme

Did you know?

Onward travel has never been so easy

Book a programme with us and you will receive a complimentary 12 month subscription to our Backpacking Advice Hub. This Hub is your one stop shop for all things travel advice, itineraries, handy insider hints and tips to really get the most from your travels. It is a must-have resource for independent travel post-Leap.

Our teams never want to come home post-programme and choose to add on a phase of independent travel with their new found friends - making the most of their gap year. Colombia is perfectly placed to add on a phase in Ecuador, Panama, and Peru. Call us and chat through your ideas.

The Leapers and community come together to help with the reforestation projects in Colombia on their gap year.
Views from the trek on the Colombia program.
Colombia Lost City trek.
Overnight camping on the canyon trek in Colombia.
Visiting the coast in Colombia on their gap year.

Colombia's Details & Costs

2024 dates and prices are in. Please note you need to be 18 years old or over at the time of travel.

Download Itinerary

Options and costs

Whats included?

Nurturing Teams

Expect smaller, more intimate teams of 6-12, with Brendan as your team leader who'll be with you throughout the entire trip.


From trekking to rafting, get ready to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new and exciting.


You'll be welcomed into the local community at Barichara with open arms. You'll be playing football and salsa dancing with the locals in no time.


Get hands-on with projects that will directly benefit the local community, from planting trees to teaching sport in the local school.

Monday to Friday

This is a whirl wind tour where you are going to be busy everyday but we promise you some down time to experience some backpacker favourites, such as:

  • White water rafting
  • Bungee jumping
  • Yoga
  • Nights out to experience Latin music and culture
  • Horse riding
Colombia Gap Year Programme

In Colombia we are focused on discovering and portraying the 'real’ Colombia, with its authentic traditions and its genuine people. We are focused on discovering its great outdoors, trekking its lands, camping in its wilderness and volunteering for its social and environmental needs.

The programme will take you across the country, where you will encounter an incredible variety of first hand cultural experiences including; pre-conquests indigenous peoples and rituals, colonial rein, to an independent and now modern-day, cool Colombia.

There is so much to see and do… hurry-on-over.

Colombia Gap Year Programme
Colombia Gap Year Programme

"They have the gap year formula spot on"

Speaking only for our experience with Costa Rica, The Leap know and understand the country so well. The team communicated brilliantly-they were always pro active and accessible, nothing felt like too much trouble and they never made you feel like your question or concern was a silly one.

They have the gap year formula spot on. All the reassurance that parents need whilst safely delivering the freedom and adventure that the volunteers want-and all through a Pandemic (!)

My daughter had the absolute time of her life with them and I’m sure has made friends for life, I wouldn’t hesitate in giving them the very highest recommendation possible.

- Frances (mum)

"Your support is very much appreciated"

We knew in choosing The Leap she was travelling with your ‘safety blanket’ and so it proved. Rachel at Trailfinders is also just the best. Very best wishes for continued success in such a challenging environment. The Leapers who are able to travel this year owe you and your team lots of gratitude for getting them away (and back!!).

- Anne ( mum )

"Five stars all the way"

Incredible service, five star all the way, informative, professional and friendly, highly recommend, second daughter that has travelled with them.

- Araminta

"We’re having an incredible time in Costa Rica "

I just want to quickly thank you very much for the amazing Leap trip. I honestly had the most unbelievable time and feel it is thanks to you for organising it, especially so last minute! I’ve been recommending it to all of my friends as I would do anything to do it all again. You were so kind and patient with both myself and Emma and we are truly grateful for all the help you gave us. We’re having an incredible time in Costa Rica at the moment and never want to leave!

- Clemmie

"The Leap is an awesome company who takes care of every aspect of your trip to make sure you can enjoy it to the fullest"

This trip was honestly amazing and I would highly recommend anyone to take the opportunity to do it.

I met amazing staff and locals over the 6 weeks and also amazing people who I still stay in contact with and I can’t wait to see during the rest of my travels.

The outreach was definitely a highlight as you get to explore more islands and do different activities. The locals are amazing and the sense of community and the appreciation for volunteers makes it so worth doing. I did forest conservation because I love animals and hiking but with The Leap your programme is flexible and if you prefer to teach you can switch over as well which you don’t get with other companies.

What you should know is GO THROUGH THE LEAP!

- Brooke


My Leaper is just having the BEST BEST BEST time. She was so anxious about going as it is the first time she has been abroad on her own. The lovely friends she has made and the fantastic team leaders that are there, combined with the incredible experiences that you are giving the team meant that worry very soon dissipated.

Everything sounds perfect, from the location of their "houses", the delicious food, the stimulating and varied activities, the fun evenings, in fact from dawn to dusk (and well beyond) is just so brilliant.

Thank you.

- Sara

"Safe, organised gap year travel"

What an amazing organisation. From the minute we first rang to enquire about projects to today (my daughter arriving home from Tanzania this morning) I just can't fault anybody. Emily has had the most amazing time in Tanzania and all the staff have been wonderful at keeping me informed when there were problems (nothing serious thankfully).

I would have no hesitation in recommending the company for safe, organised gap year travel. Emily will have wonderful memories for life and I'm so proud of her and grateful for the support given by The Leap. Thank you so much.

- Tracey Talbut

"Quite an extraordinary responsibility"

Thank you, Milly. You've been an absolute star - quite an extraordinary responsibility and you're doing it admirably. Great friend of ours, has signed up for Namibia in March after hearing about Skye's adventures ahead...

- Katie Turnbull

Colombia Gap Year Programme

"Easy Peasy with The Leap"

You guys always answered questions so fast! Zoe is outstanding!! Made travelling during a pandemic easy peasy

- Hanna

"I would highly recommend this trip."

This trip has left me with a group of life long friends from around the world, experiences that have plus will affect me forever, and skills to help me through life.

Everyday was a new adventure, from building hatcheries for turtle eggs to teaching English at a local school to playing volleyball with the Costa Rican Cost Guard to hearing stories from past poachers to watching a turtle lay eggs to have a sing-a-long with the group.

- Jessica

Need inspiration and direction?

Get in contact with the gap year travel specialists.

Here at The Leap we can help both team traveller through our programmes and/or the backpacker.

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