Adventures / Adventure Tapas

100km Jungle Expedition into the Heart of Colombia

Trek through untouched rainforest in South America and raft one of the world’s last truly wild rivers

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Trip Ref #9948

Adventures / Adventure Tapas

100km Jungle Expedition into the Heart of Colombia

Trek through untouched rainforest in South America and raft one of the world’s last truly wild rivers

DURATION

7 nights

LOCATION

Colombia

ANNUAL LEAVE

5 days off work

SEASON

Dec-Mar, Jun-Aug

GROUP SIZE

Up to 12 people

MEETING POINT

Jose Maria Córdova Airport, Rio Negro

ACCOMMODATION

Hotel · Homestay · Wild camping

DIFFICULTY

Challenging

Battling through an untouched pocket of wild Colombia? It was always going to be a challenge, but you’ll love every minute.

Be one of the first intrepid explorers to trailblaze through an extraordinarily untouched corner of Colombia

Hike and raft through the untamed wilderness, supporting local communities and protecting free-flowing waterways lined with pristine rainforest

Get off-grid in one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet – teeming with life, if you’re lucky you might see tigrillos, tapirs or monkeys

What's it like?

    See the photos our community shared

    All our reviews are verified

    We only invite travellers to leave a review if they have booked this trip with Much Better Adventures.

    Olivia, August 2022

    What a trip! One of the best things I have ever done. The guides were truly fantastic and made everything we experienced so exciting and fun. A special thank you to Diana, Jonathan and Didier 😊 The landscape was breath-taking, I kept pinching myself and could hardly believe I was there. The rafting was unbelievably cool! One of the best things about it was getting to meet so many local people along the way too. It’s great to know our trip contributes in some way to keeping the area beautiful and providing sustainable livelihoods that don’t rely on deforestation. Oh my goodness and the food – it was hearty, wholesome and fresh and we got to try lots of interesting new things. Still dreaming about those pork ribs cooked on a bbq in the jungle. We were so lucky our trip coincided with a local fiesta so we saw a great band and latin American dancing in a tiny village in the mountains after 10h walking. I would agree with the other reviews that the trek is tough and definitely important to be prepared. A lot of my companions suffered from terrible blisters and as walking poles were not on the essential kit list, they didn’t have them which made it so much tougher. I would say walking poles are essential (unless you are a mountain goat), as are good socks that fit well, waterproof good quality hiking boots are too. I found the kit list confusing in places and a little incomplete. If they run the trip in the same way they ran ours, I found it useful to have a 30 litre dry bag and a smaller dry bag to take on the raft, and then a 30 litre backpack for the hike separately (we didn’t need to hike with our raft gear). Finally, I would recommend a medical kit with blister plasters, Imodium, insect bite cream and savlon.

    Katie, February 2020

    I couldn’t rate this trip more highly. MBA and hosts were absolutely fantastic, the guides were probably the best I’ve ever had on any adventure: experienced, knowledgeable and really hard-working (how they managed the behind the scenes logistics so well in such a remote area amazes me), as well as generally kind, supportive (and hilarious) human beings. The surroundings were absolutely beautiful, both the pristine jungle and the river, it felt like a privilege to be there. The links the company appeared to have with the local communities made me feel we were a part of something positive and special, rather than intruding, and people we met along the way were warm and welcoming. I loved wild camping in hammocks, washing in streams and eating and chatting around the campfire in the evening, under the starry sky. Being this close to nature, as well as having no phones or any idea (or cares) what we looked like for a week was a real tonic for the soul. A much-needed break from modern life and a reminder of the important things. I was also incredibly lucky to be part of an amazing group of people. We had a brilliant tour group, which is always such a big part of any experience. The terrain and conditions, particularly for the trekking, was quite challenging, so do train and prepare properly if you’re going and make sure you have the right kit. The trip is more than worth it :-). This really was an amazing life experience, thanks so much to all involved.

    Sophie, February 2020

    Love, love, loved it. If you're up for beautiful, remote landscapes, superb guides, great food, traveling light, sleeping in the open, and hard graft then this is the trip for you.

    Russell, February 2020

    This was an epic trip, a must for the adventurous among us. I have previous hiking experience and also have spent time in the Amazon, so I thought I was fully prepared....wrong! This was the toughest hike I have done. The heat and humidity was always going to be a challenge but the hike itself was on another level to anything I have previously done. I had spent time in the gym working on my cardio, time well spent! But I would also recommend a few good hikes in the weeks leading up to this trip. I made the mistake of not taking hiking poles, I’m not a big fan of them....or rather I wasn’t! They are an essential piece of kit for this hike. Our guides were excellent all the way through this trip, we surely tested their patience!

    Jim, February 2020

    What an experience! Tough days trekking through pristine jungle, rafting an untamed river, wholesome food cooked on an open fire, and sleeping under the stars. A true adventure in every sense.

    Joseph, February 2020

    Fantastic adventure that will test your grit and determination. Not for the faint of heart or mind but a lot of fun and amazing experiences to be had.

    Jana, February 2020

    Expect digital detox, challenging terrain, amazing views, extraordinary guides, bring loads of humour and stamina and you will have an adventure of a lifetime. This is not for faint-hearted, and I have done some epic hikes in my life i.e hiking across Iceland and Kilimanjaro climb.

    Rachel, February 2020

    This was a truly amazing experience. The guide team was exceptionally capable, and Colombia was spectacular - such a treat to explore such remote parts. The trekking was physically challenging, and a good level of both fitness and trekking experience is a must. I would not hesitate to do an expedition with Jules and his team again.

    Included

    Guides

    Local, expert, English-speaking guides

    Accommodation

    2 nights in Medellin, 4 nights wild camping and 1 night homestay with local campesinos

    Meals

    Enjoy traditional local cuisine and hearty energy-giving camping food throughout

    Transfers

    To and from the airport and everything in between

    Equipment

    All the camping and rafting equipment you need

    Not Included

    Flights to and from the meeting point

    Travel insurance

    Personal expenses

    Tips for your guides

    Some meals as described

    The Area

    map

    Logistics

    Starts

    Jose Maria Córdova International Airport, Rio Negro

    09:00 on Day 1

    Ends

    Jose Maria Córdova International Airport, Rio Negro

    17:00 on Day 8

    Transfers

    Aim to arrive by 08:30 on Day 1, your transfer will meet you at the airport at 09:00. You can arrange pre-tour accommodation and airport transfers if you would like to arrive at the hotel earlier than the morning of Day 1.

    Catch any flight departing after 19:00 on Day 8, you will be dropped at the airport at 17:00.

    If you would like to arrive early or extend your stay, your host can arrange private airport transfers - see the Optional Extras section for prices.

    Travel options

    There are regular flights to Jose Maria Córdova International Airport from major airports across the UK and Europe.

    Day 1

    Hotel · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 2

    Homestay · Twin or triple share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 3 – Day 6

    Wild camping · Hammock

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 7

    Hotel · Twin share

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 8

    Departure day

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    What is the food like?

    Meals will be largely based around locally grown products. Each day you’ll discover new fruits, nuts and other tasty local treats that all grow in the area, including cacao and of course, coffee. On the trek, you’ll also come across sugar cane plantations where the cane is processed into panela - blocks of raw crystallised sugar cane juice, the only sugar you will find around here. It has an incredible caramel taste and is still processed in the traditional way, with horses spinning the press.

    Meals vary, but will always be fresh and healthy to keep you fuelled for the adventure. Breakfast includes fruits, cereal, traditional arepa and eggs. For lunches, we like to keep it quick and easy - sandwiches, wraps or fiambre (a Colombian meal packed in banana leaves) is the standard. For dinner, there will be a campfire and a variety of meals served, from traditional Colombian fare of rice, meat, beans etc, to pasta and campfire food.

    Vegan and vegetarians can be catered for, just let your host know upon booking. Other dietary requirements are possible, but Kosher and Halal food can be difficult to source in Colombia. If you have specific requirements, please enquire with your host.

    What is the accommodation like?

    Medellin

    You’ll spend two nights pre- and post-expedition in a same-sex, twin share room at the Los Patios Boutique Hotel in El Poblado - a safe, pedestrianised area of town filled with local restaurants and bars.

    Start of trek

    You’ll stay in a community that still lives off the land in brightly coloured houses. If the group is more than six people, you will stay with two families to ensure that everyone shares in the experience.

    Jungle of the Samana

    You’ll wild camp in a hammock in the jungle, at a spot strategically located close to a water source and swimming holes or rivers. The jungle of the Samana is remarkably bug-free and the temperature at night is usually pleasant.

    Upgrades

    For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked only for the two nights in Medellin - see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability). For wild camping, you'll have your own hammock and tarp set up.

    Day 1

    Welcome to Medellin

    Drive through the lush Medellin valley and into one of Latin America’s most exciting cities. Explore the friendly, green spaces of the Manila district, then after a team briefing to prepare you for the expedition ahead, spend the night in a boutique hotel ln the heart of Medellin’s hippest neighbourhood, El Poblado.

    Day 2

    Into the wilderness

    Hiking

    7hrs · 22km · 200m up · 800m down

    Head into the Samana Watershed, a tropical paradise that few foreign eyes have ever seen. Push through the humid, jungle-covered mountains as you hike into the valley of the Rio Verde of Los Henados. Spend the night in a remote finca, where you’ll enjoy a home-cooked meal alongside a local family and hear fascinating stories about this hidden area of Colombia (it was once a stronghold of FARC, but is now entirely safe, so everyone has a story to share).

    Day 3

    Journey through the jungle

    Hiking

    7hrs · 23km · 700m up · 300m down

    Greet the day with some strong, local coffee or a hot chocolate, then return to the jungle. From now on, your group will be totally self-sufficient and see very few people. Follow the trail (or make one) and learn from your guide about the abundance of plants traditionally used in local culture and medicine. Keep an eye out for clouds of butterflies and families of otters along the water’s edge. After lunch, cross the river on a suspension bridge, set up camp and learn how to sling the perfect hammock between the trees.

    Day 4

    The big push

    Hiking

    6hrs · 18km · 600m up · 600m down

    Rafting

    3hrs · 5km

    Navigate through a chunk of pristine rainforest. If you’re lucky, you might even see a tigrillo, tapir or monkey. Push on to the Rio Verde where your raft will be waiting. Then, after a refreshing swim in the cool emerald waters, set off along the wild Samana River. In the evening, set up your hammock on the riverbank and fall asleep to the sound of the jungle orchestra.

    Day 5

    Raft to the Samana Bridge

    Rafting

    7hrs · 32km

    Wake yourself up with a morning dip in the river and then take a short hike through the jungle to a dramatic canyon. Return to the Rio Samana - a power-house of a river cloaked in dense jungle and constricted between low granite walls - stopping to explore the secluded beaches and swim in hidden waterfalls. Brace yourself for whitewater as you tackle some Class IV rapids, passing prospectors panning for gold on the calmer stretches. Rest and resupply in Puente Samana, then set up camp on a jungle-flanked beach.

    Day 6

    Through the Grand Gorge

    Rafting

    7hrs · 22km

    Descend some more Class IV+ rapids as you cross through a rainforest teeming with life, into a beautiful silver-blue canyon. Witness the rare birds, butterflies, and exotic plants that live in this lowland forest and camp close to a secluded lagoon and natural pool. Finish the day with a swim as you watch the sun set through the canopy.

    Day 7

    Paddle to the village of Narices

    Rafting

    4hrs · 16km

    Continue along the canyon and watch as cascading waterfalls drop from high mountain peaks into blue swimming pools only accessible from the river. Leave your raft in the little village of Narices and enjoy a final walk to a secret waterfall whilst lunch is being prepared. Say goodbye to the jungle and head back to Medellin for a final evening with your team.

    Day 8

    Goodbye Colombia

    Free day today to explore some more of Medellin. Or just relax, you've earned it! Your final transfer will leave in time to arrive at the airport at 17:00.

    15% Off Outdoor Gear

    In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

    Bags

    • 30 litre backpack
    • Small drybag for the raft
    • Sturdy hiking shoes, ideally waterproof and ankle-height
    • Lightweight sandals or flip flops for the evening
    • Hiking socks
    • Rain jacket
    • Lightweight trousers or shorts
    • 2 x long sleeved, lightweight, breathable shirts
    • Sunhat, sunglasses and suncream
    • 2 x refillable, 1 litre water bottles (purification tablets provided)
    • Insect repellent
    • Headtorch
    • Small personal first-aid kit
    • Sleeping bag liner
    • Clothes for pre- and post-expedition nights in Medellin

    What's included?

    • Lightweight hammock
    • Tarp
    • Blanket

    Please note
    Packing light is key as you will be carrying your own kit on this expedition. This includes your lightweight hammock, tarp and blanket as well as some food supplies between refill stops. The rafts only have minimal space for bags, so 30 litres is the maximum. You may wish to bring a change of clothes and these can be transported by mules (with the rafts) to the halfway point.

    Optional Solo Private Room Upgrade

    Payable Before Departure

    Optional Solo Private Room Upgrade

    Per Person

    Extra night Medellin (single/twin/double room)

    Payable Before Departure

    Extra night Medellin (single/twin/double room)

    Per Night

    Private transfer between Medellin airport and hostel

    Payable Before Departure

    Private transfer between Medellin airport and hostel

    We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

    What's the number?
    It works out on average at 118kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

    The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

    But what does the number mean?
    Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

    • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
    • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
    • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

    What are we doing about it?
    Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

    Want to know more?
    Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

    The rafting is entry-level, however, you will be spending long days paddling on the river so you should have reasonable upper body strength. The rapids involve bursts of energetic paddling, interspersed with gentle stretches of river where you can often sit back or take a dip ahead of the next batch of rapids.

    The trekking is tough going and a definite physical challenge. You'll be carrying your own pack over long distances in humid conditions, so you need to arrive physically prepared for this section of the adventure. The terrain is uneven at times, with tough downhill sections which will test your ankles and knees. Trekking poles and good waterproof ankle boots will help with the descents.

    Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

    There are plenty of safe options to fill up whilst in the jungle and fresh water is in abundance. Your host will provide water purification tablets for those who would like them although they are not really necessary.

    Sure thing! You will be able to leave anything you don’t need at the hotel in Medellin where it will be kept safe until your return post-expedition.

    Modern-day Colombia is not 1980s Narcos. For decades Colombia was in the international press for all the wrong reasons – drugs, kidnappings and civil war. Now with a peace agreement in place between the FARC and the government, Colombia is much safer and tourism has skyrocketed in the last ten years.

    Tips are not included in the trip cost. These are entirely at your discretion but there is an expectation to tip for good service. Your guide will help with advice, however we'd suggest $3-$5USD per person per day as a guideline, however, if you would like to bring a gift from the UK as a thank you, this will also go a long way!

    Of course, you are free to tip more or less, and the amount should be reflective of your perception of service and quality - a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

    We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

    For current advice about travelling in Colombia, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

    Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

    Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

    Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

    We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

    We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

    If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

    All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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