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Colombia - on hold

Road Trip + Contribution


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Barichara to the Lost City

A journey of adventure and contribution

Taking bookings for 2022

We are really excited to open up this program to Colombia again and help you venture into this amazing country to explore the awesome vibe of latino-caribbean culture, stunning architecture and delicious food, whilst learning Spanish and of course contributing to the communities you meet.

So, this is our plan - you will start your overland journey in the inland town of Barichara before heading across to the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada and then down to pristine Caribbean beaches.

Along the way you will help with our reforestation projects, restore rural homes before trekking the world’s second largest canyon and finding the famous Lost City.

This is an awesome combination of contribution and adventure. You will see all the lonely planet highlights and so much more as we get you off the beaten track to live and breathe real Colombian life.

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 and down to pristine Caribbean beaches.

Program Itinerary

Your journey will start in Barichara and end in the latino-caribbean town of Cartagena having experienced a fantastic mix of adventure and projects in the Andes and jungle.

The following is a sample itinerary.

Wk 1 & 2

Barichara Explore and Reforestation

You will fly into Bucaramanga airport and will be picked up by our team who will whisk you away to the little town of Barichara, tucked away in the heart of this stunning country to explore, learn Spanish and contribute to 3 different projects which are environmentally and community orientated.

Reforestation: Supporting the Barichara fire brigade who want us to help create, from start to finish, a fully functioning and fully stocked tree nursery. Reconstructing local houses: Working with experienced builders, to rebuild the damaged areas of the houses, due to flooding. School renovation: Repaint a sports field for a rural school near the community of Guane.

You will visit workshops involving local cigar and the tobacco trade, coffee production, ceramic, stone carving, culinary workshops such as open fire roasted goat and flying ants and basket weaving.

Experience trekking along the ancient 300-year-old colonial royal footpath known as ‘el camino real’, from Guane to Barichara and the Barichara to Cabrerra route which takes you to both sides of the Canyon Suarez

Monday to Friday there will be 2 x 45, minute Spanish lessons everyday, delivered by accredited and licensed teachers following a short test to establish your level.


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.

Wk 3

Chicamocha Canyon and Santa Marta Canyon Trekking

Now you'll start your road trip, travelling from the Andean inland heading north to the Caribbean coast. Starting with....

Chicamocha Canyon - Second biggest canyon in the world
Here you will experience two full days in the wilderness, traversing across the crest of the 120-million-year-old canyon, passing through isolated terrain and tobacco farms, before reaching the riverside camp for the night. This trek includes 8km of the ancient royal footpath, originally built by the Spanish crown, linking Santa Marta on the coast, with Bogota. Simply stunning.

Santa Marta
After the trek you will overnight bus to reach Santa Marta, where you will stay for a couple of days to relax and prepare for the final lost city challenge.

On one of the days, you’ll head to Palomino for a day of beach and tubing along the Palomino river. The gentle flowing fresh-water river, comes from the sacred Sierra Nevada mountain range (the mountains and its rivers are sacred to the indigenous people), and flows down the mountains to the Caribbean coast and into Palomino beach.


Camping on overnight trek. Family hostel in Palomino.


2 meals a day provided.

Wk 4

Lost City and Cartagena Trekking and Carribean

The grand finale....

Lost City Sierra Nevada Expedition
This famous trek takes 3 nights and 4 days and involves trekking along jungle trails passing rural and indigenous communities before going deep into the wilderness to find the ancient Lost City. You will reach the Teyrona City entrance on day 3, and start the climb of 1200 steps to reach the summit. Once here, you’ll be given an in-depth presentation about the archaeological site and the ancient ruins. You’ll learn all about the discovery of the site, the excavation and ongoing restoration.

Down time...The final few days will be spent in the hip and cool town of Cartagena – everyone’s favourite Caribbean chill out zone.
Known as the 'queen of the Caribbean coast', a UNESCO world heritage site and on everyone’s wish list. The city is historical, colorful and superbly preserved with an impressive 13km centuries old colonial stone wall. Here you will stroll across the walled city, visit historical points, and meet the colorful and happy people in the local market.

A prefect place to end the adventure before travelling on or heading home from Cartagena airport.


Family run hostel in the centre of old town.


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

Program Details & Costs

We have 4 departures for this 4-week program throughout the year: January, March, May and July, where you can do everything described in the itinerary.

Options and costs

Things are looking up in Colombia and we hope to be running our programs from March next year.

Whats included?


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


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

Beach Life

End your program on a Caribbean beach

Social Life

The program can accommodate up to 12 volunteers, who come from all over the world, so it's busy and fun.

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:

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

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.

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 program 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.

Leaper's Highlights

As this is a new program for 2022 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!

"Thank you again so much for providing such a wonderful gap year experience - we shall keep on recommending you!"

Just to say Harry is back home now having had an absolutely wonderful time in Ecuador, full of enthusiastic anecdotes and stories of his experiences in the last 10 weeks. I'd just like to say thank you to you and the team for your immaculate organisation of the whole trip and for your phone calls and emails keeping us fully informed of progress along the way.

We have really appreciated this attention to detail and suffice to say it has been as fabulous an experience for Harry as it was for his sister, Lucy three years ago, who still remembers her own trip to Ecuador with equal fondness. They are having fun comparing notes!

- Jane and Bob Caton

"Confidence and reassurance"

Thank you Milly and team for all you have done in giving Gemma the experience of a lifetime. I don't underestimate the complications and issues that you have overcome in getting the group onto this amazing programme during a global pandemic. The confidence you have give Gemma and the reassurance that we have received has been immense and we are recommending you to anyone who will listen!

- Suze Raby

"Thank you for the best month of my life and for all the memories I will cherish forever!​​"

I miss waking up at camp every morning surrounded by an incredibly special group of people, knowing that each day would start with a new adventure and end watching the insane Namibian sunset. Red and Dre are two of the most inspiring people and I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to learn so much from them, and help in a range of ways with their conservation work.

It is strange how quickly you adjust to bush life and nothing will compare once you leave. I cannot wait to visit Kum Kum in the future and see how much has changed.

- Freya

"I would say 100% I was able to make a positive contribution"

I was helping the community by making the beach cleaner and also helping protect the turtles from poachers and plastic in the ocean.

- Kit

"An unforgettable experience"

I received so much support and positive energy from the team at The Leap; nothing was too much trouble, and contact was maintained by e-mail while I was in Nepal. I started to teach within a couple of days of my arrival, supporting a member of staff. However, within a couple of days I was asked if I wanted to teach on my own. My core subjects were English and maths, but I taught basic hygiene too since there is a lack of understanding amongst the children about germs, hand washing and personal care.

If you want to give your time, skills and energy to a welcoming community, please contact The Leap and opt for a project in Nepal. Like me, you will have an unforgettable experience.

- Keith Donald

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