From the mangroves of Ciénaga Grande to the beaches of Tayrona National Park, Santa Marta offers a multitude of thrilling adventures. The oldest city in Colombia, it abounds with Spanish colonial charm, including one of the first basilicas built in Latin America, the Cathedral of Santa Marta. Explore the “Lost City,” believed to have been founded 650 years before Machu Picchu. Enjoy a multicultural array of flavors from African and Caribbean to European and Latin.
Most Active or Strenuous
Minimal Activity Required
Explore the landmarks of Colombia’s oldest city, delving into its storied history and alluring culture, which have helped fuel the rebirth of Santa Marta.
Depart from the pier and begin a leisurely drive through Santa Marta, a colonial city that the Spanish established as a base of conquest. Founded in 1525 at the foot of the world’s highest coastal mountain range, Santa Marta is considered the oldest, still-inhabited city in Colombia.
When the Spanish arrived, the indigenous people were skilled goldsmiths, and you will see the kinds of objects they made in the Gold Museum. An impressive model of the main city of their empire, Ciudad Perdida, is also on display, along with pre-Columbian pottery.
Continuing on, you will explore Santa Marta’s magnificent whitewashed cathedral, which is thought to be the oldest church in Colombia, although construction wasn’t finished until late in the 18th century. Its floor plan is in the shape of a Roman cross. Simon Bolivar was buried in the cathedral until 1839 when his remains were moved to Caracas, his birthplace.
You will discover more about the Great Liberator at Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, where Bolivar died. Now a museum, the butterscotch-yellow hacienda beautifully displays many of his personal objects and a large statue of the revered Bolivar lords over the grounds.
To delve deeper into Santa Marta’s cultural history, you will watch a folkloric performance and enjoy a beverage at the Santa Mar Resort before returning to the pier via the modern El Rodadero district.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 90-minutes of easy to moderate walking/standing. The tour is available to wheelchair guests who have a collapsible wheelchair, are able to make their own way on and off the coach and have an able-bodied companion to assist them. Those guests with mobility concerns are cautioned only to participate to the extent of their personal stamina and ability and may make arrangements with the guide to not participate in some of the guided walking portions of the tour. Weather appropriate clothing (knees and shoulders should be covered to enter the cathedral); sun cap; sunglasses; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. The order of the sites viewed or visited may vary. In the event the Town Hall Museum is not available, it will be replaced with a visit to the Sacred Art Museum.
Marvel at the unique ecology within the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park as you walk through the forest to its spectacular Quebrada Valencia waterfalls.
Depart from the pier and drive east toward the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park, a massive piece of land containing part of the world’s highest coastal mountain range. The mountains are the source of the Quebrada Valencia River and countless other streams that wind through the pristine countryside. The park is so revered for its ecosystem and cultural content that UNESCO declared it a Biosphere Reserve of Man and Humanity.
Upon arriving, you will begin a guided walk through the forest and over rocky terrain into a land still inhabited by several indigenous Indian tribes. Wildlife abounds, including Sierra parrots, tapirs and Paramo deer. A variety of exotic flora also flourishes, and you may pass in the shadow of towering wax palms and ceiba de leche trees.
It takes approximately a half hour to reach the waterfalls, and it’s well worth the effort. Emerging from the dense forest, the cascading waterfalls from the Quebrada Valencia River form a series of small, crystal-clear pools. The tropical setting couldn’t be lovelier or more serene. You will enjoy quite some time here to relax and wander about as you please, perhaps taking a quick dip in the refreshing waters. Tropical birds abound here so you may see some squawking in the treetops above. Afterwards, you will retrace your route back to the pier.
Please note: This tour includes approximately 1-hour of moderate to strenuous walking, plus any additional at the guests’ discretion during time at the waterfalls. There will be uneven and natural terrain to negotiate as well as some inclines and steps. Standing at the waterfalls will also be on uneven, natural surfaces and could be slippery if wet. If there has been significant rain, it will be necessary to cross running water that can be knee-deep. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests or those with mobility concerns. Participants should be in good physical condition. Light-weight clothing; swim suit worn under clothing for those who wish to swim at the waterfall; sun cap; sunglasses; a bottle of water and a towel from the ship; and flat, comfortable hiking/walking shoes with a non-slip sole that can get wet are recommended or aqua shoes. Those who choose to take part in any water activities do so at their own risk and responsibility.