COLOMBIA PHOTOGRAPHY HOLIDAY |  MAY 2022 ** AVAILABLE **  | £3200

COLOMBIA PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR

Colombia is without a doubt one of the best places to visit right now and relatively new to the outside world. A “megadiverse” country, ranking as the 2nd most biodiverse in the world boasting lush green coffee plantations, snow-topped mountains, the largest tropical rainforest national park in the world and of course beaches make this a photographers paradise. 

Of course, It’s also a lot of fun with its heady mix of Latin and Caribbean influences, 87 ethnic groups and 65 different languages. This rich mix and its generous people make Colombia a fantastic destination to explore and we have curated authentic local experiences to really help you get under the skin of this incredible country. 

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“Creative Escapes takes everyday travel experiences to an inspiring new level. You’ll learn new creative skills, meet like-minded folk and traipse off the beaten path for a holiday to remember. The experienced guides are photography gurus and passionate travellers, who will lead you to the hippest hotels and the prettiest locations on the quirkiest of adventures. Fun is foremost so there is never a dull moment”

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Highlights.

With its Caribbean beaches, snow-capped Andean mountain peaks, rainforests, and national parks, Colombia offers something for everyone. Its astonishing variety of climates, landscapes and the friendliness of its people turn every trip into an unforgettable experience.

Colombia has not been open to the world for that long after a very public and troubled period but it has put all that behind it and is flourishing artistically and financially.

This latest tour takes in some of the must-see locations and gets you up close to the lives that have made it so much of a great destination.

On our Colombia Photography Tour, you’ll learn to: Think like a street photographer in the vibrant La Candelaria and its thriving cultural scene. We will slow things down and learn to take in the intricacies of a portrait. these skills are essential in bringing your images to life and telling stories. It is after all the hardest thing to do in photography. we will also shoot forest waterfalls or monkeys in  San Rafael and capture the majestic UNESCO world heritage site of Cartagena before the tourists arrive.

Itinerary.

Creative Escapes will as always be waiting for you at El Dorado (fabulous riches) International Airport in order to take you to your beautifully renovated hotel in the heart of La Candelaria, the 17th locality of Bogota. A historic neighbourhood in the city’s downtown, it is the equivalent to the Old City in other cities. The architecture of the old houses, churches and buildings has Spanish Colonial, Baroque and Art Deco styles. It houses several universities, libraries and museums and just happens to be the coolest end of town.

Once bags are dropped and you have had a chance to freshen up we will head out for a leisurely dinner in a local favourite where you will be able to unwind as our tutor gives you the lowdown on the next 10 days of your amazing trip.

The following morning It’s time to get the cameras out, clean your lenses and make sure memory cards are freshly formatted. This morning we get you up to speed, whether that’s just looking for opportunities or honing your killer eye we do this by starting you off at the farmers market. With so many climates and regions in the country, you will see all manner of foods, exotic fruits and vegetables piled up high. Warmed up and shutters twitching we then head over to the beautiful flower market with its wonderfully lively atmosphere it is bound to get your camera going! All that food will have you hungry to try out some local cuisine. The break is also a great way to assess how you’re getting on and start to get a feel for what you are hoping to get out of this trip. The afternoon will be spent wandering the cobbled streets of La Candelaria, it’s where we are staying and an amazing backdrop of graffiti, cafes and music-filled courtyards.

We have a classic Bogota evening planned at the famous San Anders, so it’s back to the hotel to freshen up, relax and enjoy a sundowner before the pickup.

Today we get straight into the thick of it. In the hills behind our hotel lie what used to be the real Badlands. No one would ever dare go there and expect to come out in one piece. It’s still not on the tourist trail and that’s why this is special. We will have Juan “Calabazo” as a guide, he spent eight years in prison whilst he was a member of the famous 10M gang. His story is fascinating as he didn’t want the same fate for his children so instead when he came out he began to use tourism as a force of good. At Creative Escapes we try to use our spending power to support projects that empower and advance the people we meet, so we are very happy that he is our exclusive guide. It will be an amazing opportunity for some real-life adventure and killer portraits. 

We leave One amazing story and prepare for the next by way of a cycle cafe, Columbians have a growing scene and apart from being cool, this will again be an opportunity for you and your expert tutor to see how you are doing and how you can grow your photography.

And now for something completely different.… 

This afternoon we’re going to hang at the foundation ‘La Familia Ayara’. These guys are using hip-hop to change their world. Inspired by the New York hip hop movement in the 80s they have created the first garment micro business for hip-hop in Columbia and it’s been a fantastic success. 

For our last night in Bogotá, we head to a small bohemian restaurant in the eclectic neighbourhood of Macarena Ella that features live flamenco and is one of the best spots in the city. 

We are leaving the capital to head to Villa de Leyva, founded in 1572 and named after the President of Nueva Granada, Andrés Díaz Venero de Leyva. It is the perfect example of a colonial town in Colombia. It’s located 110 miles Northeast of Bogotá. En route and out of Bogota is an amazing salt mine cathedral that is popular but a bit of a must as we are passing.

Our hotel is a beautifully renovated old house, located in the historic centre it is charming and oozing with character, frankly, it’s gorgeous. We will set up for lunch in the garden and use the time to take stock and give 1 on 1 tuition. The rest of the afternoon is for exploring the local area and take in the unique terracotta house or simply relax.

In the evening We are booked into a premier dinner spot in the gardens of another old colonial house where the chef resurrects ancient cooking techniques. Famed for the deep underground wood-burning barbecues that renders meat so tender it slides effortlessly off the bone. But if meat is not your thing don’t worry there are plenty of interesting veg options, like the risotto which is made from locally grown rice and fresh palm hearts.

The next day we are staying local. Every Saturday morning there is a lively local market where our local guide will give us unique access to the farmers who sell their goods and of course their stories. It’s a very special opportunity to get up close to some fantastic characters who are very strong and proud of being Colombian and your chance to explore portraits, stories or whatever takes your fancy. We will then continue to capture the essence of this town with our ‘inspiration’ project which gives you space to shoot on your own or if you are done, head back to enjoy the hotel and what it has to offer.

We’re on the move with a short flight to the city of Medellin, known historically for a very famous inhabitant but this place has reinvented itself in some very novel ways which are proving very successful and at Creative Escapes we are keen to help them look to the future.

First off you need to get a bit of a feel for the city so we have arranged for our ground staff to take us to some of the city’s interesting architectural highlights, including the Botero Park, where plump sculptures by Colombia’s most famous artist are on display, and as the sun sets the Lights Park, a unique series of light sculptures in a once no-go public space. 

Dinner is a local favourite.

Today we go deeper. This is another chance to see real lives and be close to stories that have changed lives. We start by learning a bit about initiatives and people that made great things happen in  Communa 13. This was a really dangerous place not so long ago and the human scars are deep but don’t let that put you off. On the contrary, this will throw up photographic opportunities at every turn. The streets are narrow and winding, bustling and the art speaks volumes. Talking of artists, we have arranged special access to meet some of the most influential street artists in Comuna 13 and they have agreed to let us take some portraits. This is another exclusive that will be very cool to experience.

There is also a metro cable car that glides above it all and takes you to the barefoot park botanical gardens. This city has an incredible flower festival every year that takes over the entire centre. These flowers are found outside the city in the hills that surround it. This afternoon we are going to go and visit a flower farm and an opportunity to see a riot of colour and the people that make it happen.

With so much already in the bag, we need another slideshow over dinner.

Today we’re off to visit the unique and bizarre sight of El Peñon, a giant rock that sticks up overlooking thousands of mini islands where the rich and famous have their holiday homes. This is next to Guatape, a little town where the Cowboys hang out playing pool and tourists wander the brightly painted streets. You would be mistaken to think you were on the set of a kids tv show. climbing the 600 steps to the top of the 220-meter high rock will reward you with…a bar! Oh and experience 360 degrees of breathtaking views of the surrounding areas. If that’s a bit much then the town has plenty to keep you occupied with its heady mix of colour and life, we have organised to meet some locals and to get away from the usual trail. 

After enjoying a traditional Antioqueño lunch, we will transport you to San Rafael for a bit of a wind-down, another traditional, yet less visited pueblo only an hour’s drive down the mountain from Guatape. With several picturesque waterfalls to enjoy, as well as wild monkeys in the surrounding forests, San Rafael is great for a bit of nature and most importantly it’s off the beaten track. 

It’s also our last night in Medellin so we take in some nightlife.

A quick flight to the magnificent Cartagena de Indias, the undisputed queen of the Caribbean coast, a fairy-tale city of romance, legends and superbly preserved beauty lying within an impressive 13km of centuries-old colonial stone walls. The old town is a Unesco World Heritage site and a maze of cobbled alleys, balconies covered in bougainvillaea, and massive churches that cast their shadows across the plazas. This place screams street photography as you will want to stroll through the old town day and night. 

Lunch will be light but out of the hard midday light and a nice prep for the afternoon. We are again supporting good causes by incorporating amazing work in our itinerary. Meet Alex Rocha, he opened the Alex Rocha Young Center. It’s a community school located in a disadvantaged part of Cartagena that teaches English, art, and moral values to children, teenagers, and adults as well as offering recreational activities. The centre provides a safe haven for children who may be exposed to crime and violence, as well as helping children who come from dysfunctional families. This is not just a pop-in but you are here to work! There is a live brief to shoot pictures they can use to help spread their work. 

Dinner is rather special. Hey, you earned it.

You have been working hard and we know you need a break, so what’s a visit to the Caribbean without a fun day at the beach? A 30-minute boat trip will jumpstart your morning as it takes you to Tierra Bomba, in the Rosario Islands where you will spend the day relaxing in a picture-perfect beach chair with turquoise waters at your feet. The location of this tropical bliss, is the idyllic Blue Apple Beach House, an exclusive private beach club. It also features an excellent restaurant that serves fresh, local seafood dishes to tantalise your palate.

 

Lounge by the pool in a hammock, sample some cocktails at the bar, or enjoy a rejuvenating beachside massage. You can even take a dip in the blue Caribbean waters: the choice is yours.

We head back around either 4 or 5:30 pm and soak up the relaxed atmosphere as we watch the sun begin to sink into the horizon.

Today we head to Palenque de San Basilio, which is located 60 km from Cartagena and is a community of descendants from the 17th century African Maroons. Since 1603, escaped slaves from the city of Cartagena and its surroundings left with tools and firearms and founded towns in the inaccessible swamps of the region. This is The Americas first free town and the culture is immense here from boxing champs to actors and dance moves. The women in bright coloured costumes that you will have seen in Cartagena also come from this town. It’s got a lot going on but few ever get this far. This is our final day to capture yet another side of this country so we have arranged yet more experiences to make your cameras smile. Through our ground staff and local expertise, we have a host of people for you to meet. From farms to award-winning hairdressers. This is your last chance to tell some unique stories, experience a different life and cook some ‘Palenquera’, for a late lunch, followed by a bit of dessert and then beers in town before heading back to Cartagena. 

This is your last night so we have our traditional slideshow and wrap party.

Your final morning is another opportunity to catch the amazing city as it wakes, our final chance to have a 1 on 1 session with your tutor as a wrap up of our amazing adventure. Of course, you could also do some last-minute shopping or grab a massage before we say goodbye and head off in all of our different directions.

Until next time.

BOGOTA

Details : Colombia Photography Tour

11 – 22 May, 2022
Available

11 days. 10 nights. Starts in Bogota and ends in Cartagena.

£2750 / £450 single supplement

Price includes
11 nights boutique accommodation at listed hotels, including breakfast
10 full days tuition from our UK-based professional photographer
Group transfers to and from the airport
All transportation between shooting locations
All entrance passes to National Parks
Multiple 1-on-1 tuition sessions

Price excludes flights, lunch and dinner.

 

At the time of posting, flights are still limited but improving fast. There are direct flights to Bogota from the UK, serviced by Avianca. Prices start from £750. As the trip ends in Catagena, you can either fly back home from there or take a quick flight back to Bogota (recommended) which is around £90.

"Fabulous locations, amazing hotels & great memories. Thanks to Creative Escapes I have moved from taking a gazillion bland photographs to images I am really proud of. Already thinking about my next trip!"


Lorraine Byrne, Dublin