DAY 8: MEDELLÍN
- This morning, we’ll take an early flight to Medellín, located deep in the fertile Aburrá Valley in the Andean highlands. Flying in to Medellín, we’ll see the heart-stopping beauty of the city, which is nestled among rolling, verdant mountains. Surrounding towns and villages perch atop sheer slopes—some wooded, others carpeted with steep meadows. The heart of Medellín dates back to 1616, when Spanish colonists built the region’s first houses in the El Poblado district in the southern part of the city. From there, the city spread north through the Aburrá Valley as it expanded. Historic buildings dot city center, including colonial gems like the La Veracuz, La Candelaria, and Saint Ignatius churches.
- Upon arrival, we’ll drive a short distance to Comuna 13, formerly Medellín’s most dangerous barrio. These days, Comuna 13 is an internationally renowned example of how innovative urban-regeneration projects can be used to transform and revitalize communities. Most recently, Medellín finished installing a series of outdoor escalators in the neighborhood to connect the hilly neighborhood with the rest of the city and provide safer, more efficient public transportation. Since the installation of the escalators, violence has practically vanished in this area due to a so-called “electric escalator” cease-fire between gangs in the area.
- We’ll learn how public transit has transformed the Santo Domingo neighborhood, a once-blighted area that has come alive, in part thanks to a new aerial tramway. We’ll transfer from the subway to the Metrocable at Acevedo station and admire the shiny black Biblioteca España along the way. We’ll then switch to a faster, longer gondola line at Santo Domingo, where we’ll soar over farms and eucalyptus and pine forests on the way to our destination, Parque Arví.
- After lunch, we’ll drive to the Botanical Garden—the city’s green lung. This 35-acre garden showcases Colombia’s fauna and flora, with hundreds of plant species grouped into themed spaces like tropical forest, vertical garden, and an “Orquideorama,” an architecturally dramatic space with over 400 orchid plants.
- On our drive to the hotel, we’ll stop to see more of the groundbreaking work being done in the city, including the eco-árbol, a tall, high-tech tree-like structure that purifies 22,000 cubic meters of air every hour by removing carbon dioxide and traffic toxins. The structure was built by the ConTreeBute company and developed with help from Italian engineers.
- We’ll then check into the NH Collection Royal Medellín hotel.
- We’ll enjoy a lovely dinner this evening at the Café Colombo.