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Colombia

Adventure + Conservation + 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.

Back on the map

The perfect back drop for adventure

From the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada to pristine Caribbean beaches, and lush jungle... drum roll please...

Visually Colombia is simply awesome - think European architecture combined with the exploration of Costa Rica and the beaches of Barbados. Sound good? We promise this place will deliver.

Having shaken off its "bad-boy" reputation of old, Colombia is now looking after it's visitors, going above and beyond, to give you a safe, thrillingly un-commercialised country, boasting a menu of adventure to keep you on your toes.

Now is the time to visit this rediscovered gem before the masses pile in.


Venture out to Colombia to explore, protect and adventure whilst being immersed in stunning surroundings with the friendlest of people.


Program Itinerary

Your journey will start in Colombia's adventure capital of San Gil before heading north through the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta to the Caribbean coast, experiencing a mix of adventure, community and environmental projects along the way.

The following is a sample itinerary.

Weeks 1 - 2

San Gil Overview

Welcome to Colombia's adventure capital

Your first couple of weeks will be based in and around San Gil, the centre for adventure, high up in the Andes.

This lively Colombian town offers an abundance of traditional cultural experiences, as well as breath-taking outdoor adventures - so get your walking boots ready.

Monday to Friday you’ll be busy in the great outdoors getting stuck into a mix of trekking and white water adventures interwoven with bite sized community volunteer projects.

Accommodation

You will stay in a hostel right on the banks of the River Fonce, where kayakers and white-water rafters regularly drift by. It’s a hip hostel, where travellers and backpackers from all corners of the globe come to experience the great outdoors .

Expect dormitory style accommodation with shared toilets and showers.

Food

Breakfast and lunch provided during the week.
Brunch only at the weekends.
For supper most volunteers eat in one of the local restaurants or cook in the hostel's shared kitchen.

Adventure

Exploring Rafting + Mountain Biking

Tackle a mix of adventure

Through out the first 2 weeks you will experience the following adventures:

Trekking
You’ll head out on a variety of treks into the surrounding canyons, mountains, waterfalls and tropical forests where you will be able to explore old coffee haciendas, historical colonial towns and indigenous settlements.

Whitewater Rafting
Nothing like a touch of adrenaline – a day out on the river, through the gorges, to tackle rapids up to grade 3.

Overnight Canyon Expedition
Up and down the stunning Chicamocha canyon where you will camp on the banks of the river, sleep in hammocks and cook around a camp fire.

Mountain Biking
This adventure begins with an early jeep drive to the surrounding hills of the Suarez canyon. From here the rest of the day will be on your bike to cover the 23km route down to the very bottom stopping off at stunning viewpoints and picnicing river side.

Accommodation

Camping on overnight trek.

Volunteer

Conservation Reforestation + Community

Make a difference

National park environmental days
Interwoven into the first 2 weeks will be a couple of environmental days run by the National Parks office, focusing on reforestation.

Here you will help develop their tree nurseries in the National Parks HQ before planting out the saplings and maintaining the young trees in designated areas.

Community kids clubs
Our community project comes under the ‘Kids Club’ umbrella, where you will work with disadvantaged children, organising and hosting a wide range of activities in the classroom or on the sports pitch.

Weeks 3 - 4

Sierra Navada de Santa Marta Overview

Enter the Sacred Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

Next up it’s time to head North to the beaches of the Sierra Nevada foothills.

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range is considered sacred by the four indigenous groups that live here; Kogi, Wiwa, Arhuaco and Kankuamo.

They all believe the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is the beating heart of the world: what happens here happens everywhere, and when it’s rivers run dry, it’s ice caps melt and it’s endemic species disappear, so do the rest of the world’s. They maintain their deep commitment to restoring equilibrium to the Earth through daily meditations, ritual practices and mental discipline. It is an amazing place to visit.

Accommodation

You will base yourself at our beach camp, on a private surf beach, between Santa Marta and Palomino, on the outskirts of the Tyrona National Park. The camp has an all-day restaurant, surf school, cocktail bar (!), beach volleyball and large shaded chill out zones.

Your 'hammock hut' is literally meters from the sea, so expect meditative sleep to the sound of waves. Utter heaven.

Food

Breakfast and lunch provided during the week.
Breakfast only at weekends.
Most volunteers either eat in one of the local restaurants or cook in the shared kitchen.

Adventure

Tayrona National Park Lost City + Waterfalls

Adventure on your door step

Tayrona National Park
You will spend a couple of days exploring this stunning national park by foot, winding your through lush tropical forest to emerge on stunning beaches.

Lost City Trek
This is guaranteed to be one of the highlights - a 4 day expedition through the sacred Sierra Nevada valley to reach the Lost City - you'll trek through the ‘holy’ terrain of the indigenous people who populate the area to learn about their customs. The ancient lost city is both awe inspiring and spectacular.

Waterfall Trek
A short and relaxing half-day trek which will take you away from the sea into the jungle to find the gushing waterfall of Valencia for a cool down.

Accommodation

Camping when out on a trek.

Volunteer

Beach Conservation Environment + Community

Interwoven into the adventure

Environmental clean ups
Interspersed into your time here will be a few days helping our hosts raise the awareness of litter damage amongst the local communities and instigating beach clean ups.

As garbage becomes more common across the world, so do its affects and damage. Garbage left on the beaches eventually make their way into the water where greater damage is done to the marine life, disrupting the eco-systems within.

Community kids clubs
With Kids Club experience already under your belt, you will find it easy to engage the kids here in fun, environmentally conscious activities.

Accommodation

Beach camp.

Program Details & Costs

We have four departures for this 4-week program throughout the year: January, May, July and October, where you can do everything described in the itinerary. If you want to go for less time anything is possible, just get in touch for more details.

Depart Jan, May & Oct

2019: 4 Jan, 17 May, 18 Oct

Costs

4 Weeks
2 weeks San Gil + 2 weeks Santa Marta
2018: £21622019: £2162

Depart July

2019: 17 Jul

Costs

4 Weeks
2 weeks San Gil + 2 weeks Santa Marta
2018: £21622019: £2162

Your food

Please note that we only provide breakfast and lunch during the week and brunch at weekends.

Aventure

From trekking to mountain biking and rafting, get ready for an adventure.

Contrast

Two weeks spent in the mountains before heading down for two weeks on the Caribbean coast.

Beach Life

Bliss. For two weeks you will be living right on the beach, sleeping in hammocks, sipping cocktails as the sun goes down.

Social Life

The program can accommodate up to 15 volunteers, who come from all over the world, so it's busy and fun.

Monday to Friday

Expect to be busy with your projects 5 days per week.

Weekends

Weekends will generally be free time. You’re welcome to stay and chill at the base or head off for a change of scene.

Backpacker favourites:

  • Paragliding in San Gil
  • Yoga classes
  • Learning Spanish
  • Nights out to experince Latin music and culture
  • Surfing and scuba diving in Santa Marta
  • Exploring San Gil and Santa Marta cities

It's time to reveal Colombia's hidden wonders

Colombia is free and celebrating again, and now is the time to come see its secrets first hand.

At Leap 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 programs takes us across the country, where we 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.

Leaper's Highlights

As this is a new program for 2019 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

So the first week of our stay in Costa Rica at Jakera is done. In my opinion I feel it has gone slowly but for others it’s gone quite fast. Our first day was just travelling from the airport to Jakera. It was a LONG journey, mini bus then a ferry and then a mini bus again. But the next day was great it was a free day but most of us all went out to watch the sunset and for dinner. The sunset here is so beautiful!

A lot of us have tried various restaurants and some have been amazing and some not so much. But while we’re here why not try something new and not order a burger?

Spanish lessons. I’ve started to really enjoy our Spanish it’s so nice to be able learn the language whilst we are here. We have different groups based on your level of understanding but we all have them in the morning.

One of the projects we have been doing is creating signs for the beach on littering, recycling, no vehicles on the beach and rocky areas. To finish them it took us maybe 3 days as we had to let the paint dry so we could go over to outline it.

Our turtle watches. I’m afraid to say we have not seen any baby turtles yet as they haven’t hatched. We hope they will in the next day or two. We all take 3 hour shifts everyday from 6am till 12pm. The shifts were uneventful and slightly painful sitting for 3 hours with no turtles. But hey they will come some day!

We also have had a trip to another beach to teach some kids how to surf. When I say the word teach I use it loosely, we took them out spun them around and then pushed them when a wave came. It was a lot of fun being able to help them out and play with them though.

Hopefully we will see turtles next at Montezuma. Until then it was lovely chatting with you!

Turtle hatcheries, surfing, yoga and more Emily Dinovo

We began building our own turtle hatchery at Banana Beach in Santa Teresa on Monday. Jakera decided they would like to take on the mission of helping out the turtles themselves. With our shovels and rakes we cleared out an area and began digging as well as made signs for the new hatchery. We spent a couple of our mornings this week surfing. With the help of Chris, we rented a couple of surf boards, got up early in the morning and headed down to the beach. Since Henry surfs almost daily back home in California, he acted as our surf instructor and helped us attempt to catch a couple of waves. Also, this week Kat and I attended another yoga class. This one was also at sunset. The yoga classes always make us feel very relaxed and, while some of the stretches may be strange or difficult, it’s very enjoyable.

On Friday, as a group, we decided to take a short weekend trip to a town called Tamarindo. I was impressed to see paved roads and sidewalks. The first day we arrived, we didn’t waste any time finding a place to eat lunch. As we explored the new town and the new night life, we started the night off with a toast to our friends that couldn’t be there with us and to the ones that have already made their way back home. Saturday was spent relaxing at the beach and visiting the shops in town.

Sunday, we booked a boat tour on the river. Tamarindo is known for its crocodiles and we saw a few, we also were able to see monkeys, different types of birds and iguanas. To see the monkeys our guide had us get off the boat and walk through the jungle. We also discovered a new kind of insect this weekend. Our time in Tamarindo was a great way to spend the weekend and I felt that we were able to bond in a different kind of way than before. The next day would be spent going back to Santa Teresa for a final week before we all head our separate ways back home.

Tyre garden, hot springs and reforestation Maya Sanden

Monteverde has been a very different experience, since we got to work in a variety of places!

For the first week, we helped out at a local school with their gardening project. There were multiple different beds that needed work, as well as a cute car tyre garden that we created! The best part of that week was working together. The tyre garden came together from nothing with everyone helping in different ways. It was nice to have a project to work on from start to finish, and at the end, we left our mark, with everyone painting their hands and leaving handprints! We had lots of fun and did lots of work! The kids at this school were just as welcoming as the last school, and we played games with them during free time. The kids were always willing to help, and insisted on grabbing our shovels and paint brushes and being a part of the team!

In our free time, we got to explore the Monteverde Reserve, discovering beautiful overlooks and an amazing suspension bridge! It was wonderful to be able to actually get to know the trails that we worked on, and we loved the forests so much we went back for more, doing hikes over and over again and making sure everyone in the group got to see it.

Last weekend, we found out about some natural hot springs nearby and a group of us braved the long, slippery walk down to relax in them! It was definitely worth the hike- the view of the hills was incredible, and the hot springs were two levels high and right next to a beautiful waterfall. We spent the entire afternoon there, leaving right as it started to rain.

We’re very excited for our reforestation work next week, look out for more info and pics on it soon!
When we aren’t working, we’ve been exploring Santa Elena, finding great restaurants and ice cream shops! The area is beautiful, but walking the hills every day wears us out, so we’ve had early bedtimes here. The host families we’re staying with have been incredibly welcoming and accommodating, and we’re trying to practice our Spanish more with them!

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