Rhythms of Colombia

Rhythms of Colombia!

The Rhythms of Colombia: Pacific To Caribbean

In Partnership with Ethnomusicologist Jacob Edgar

Available on a Custom Basis

Trip Summary


Music is one of the most vibrant cultural expressions. And in Colombia, it is a defining cultural attribute. From the mesmerizing marimba rhythms of the Pacific Coast, the Gaiteros de San Jacinto, the Vallenato and the upbeat rhythms of the Caribbean (champeta and mapale), it is hard to sit still in this country! It is even said, that for a young man from Cali, he has a slim chance at finding a wife, if he does not dance salsa! Come with us on this journey to explore the vibrant, historic, traditional and contemporary sounds and rhythms of Colombia. We’ll go to Barranquilla, home of Shakira, and we’ll visit her pioneering foundation, “Fundacion Piez Descalzos”, dedicated to providing life changing education to young girls of Colombia. We’ll dance and ride bikes in this sea-side community, just as she and Carlos Vives did in the fantastically fun video “La Bicicleta”. Join us on this rhythmic journey and let your body and soul sway to the “Rhythms of Colombia”!



  • Travel from the Pacific to the Caribbean to learn about and sway to Colombia’s rhythms
  • Learn about how music is an integral cultural expression and historic legacy in Colombia
  • Enjoy gatherings with Colombia’s leading regional, national and international musicians
  • Hear the rhythmic sounds of the “Marimba de Palma Chonta” from Pacific Colombia
  • Hear the Grammy Award winning “Gaiteros de San Jacinto”
  • Learn some dance moves, including salsa, champeta and mapale
  • Visit San Basilio Palenque, a singular Afro-Caribbean Community near Cartagena
  • Visit Barranquilla, hometown of Shakira and Carlos Vives
  • Hear the rhythms of the classic and contemporary “Vallenato”
  • Travel to the Islands of San Andres and Providencia to hear Island and Reggae Music

Trip includes:

  • Accommodations
  • Expert Guides and/or Academics
  • Comfortable / Secure Transportation
  • Welcome and Farewell Dinners
  • Breakfasts
  • Meals according to itinerary
  • Water on Van/Coach
  • Airport Transfers
  • Entry Fees



Rhythms of Colombia: Itinerary at a glance

The Rhythms of Colombia: Pacific to Caribbean

Please arrive one day early!

Day One: Thursday,  Introduction to the History of Salsa Music in Cali (B, L)

 Today is dedicated to an orientation to Cali, and the vibrant tradition of Salsa Music in this Colombian city. We’ll begin with a walking tour to get our bearings, while we focus on the history and musical highlights of this tropical City, capital of the Valle de Cauca department (state). After learning some of the history and important protagonists of this musical genre, from Cuba, we’ll try some steps ourselves and some of Cali’s iconic dance clubs!

  • Breakfast
  • City orientation walking tour
  • Visit Museum Jairo Varela de Grupo Niche
  • Lunch Regional Cuisine
  • Visit Casa Latina of Gary Dominguez: History of Salsa Music in Cali
  • Return to Hotel to Rest, Relax
  • Evening of Salsa Music at the iconic salsa clubs. El Habanero, Saperoco
  • Return to Hotel


Day Two: Friday, Introduction: History Salsa Dancing in Cali (B, L)

Now that we know more about salsa music, today we will immerse in the topic of dancing and how and why Cali became the global epicenter for salsa dancing. Groups such as Swing Latino have put the “Caleno” style of salsa dancing on the global map. In Cali, these famed dance troupes move at a rapid-fire fast pace and steps, and we’ll learn why! We’ll also learn about how salsa dancing has helped the Cali youth emerge from the barrios, with a great new focus and passion. At night we will visit the wonderful musical and dance extravaganza called “Delirio” (delirium!). Overnight Cali.

  • Breakfast
  • Visit Famed Swing Latino Dance School
  • Salsa Dance Class!
  • Lunch of Regional Cusine
  • Visit Salsa Dance School from the “Barrio”, to see where the young Caleno kids begin their instruction.
  • Evening: History of Delirio and Deliro. Learn from Richard Yory, curator of this famed extravaganza that showcases the history of music in Cali. Live orchestra and dancing make for a memorable evening!


Day Three: Saturday,  Introduction to the Music of the Afro-Pacific and the Marimba de Palma Chonta (B, L)

 Today, we shift gears and begin our understanding and appreciation of the singular marimba music and style from Pacific Colombia. Here, the marimba de “palma chonta” reins. Palma chonta is a particular type of palm tree that produces a wood that is used to make the marimba. The sounds the wood and the musicians produces is mesmerizing and unlike any other marimba genre. We’ll learn about its history, among other instruments and rhythms of Pacific Colombia, and we’ll even enjoy our own hands-on percussion and marimba workshop! Other activities today include tasting the delicious Afro-Pacific cuisine (coconut milk, fresh coriander, sea food and fish), and we’ll also get an introduction to the craft traditions of Colombia. Our day will end with a special evening, musical event at the Casa de la Cultura!

  • Breakfast and visit to La Alameda Market Foods
  • Craft Store Visit
  • Talk/Presentation on the Afro-Pacific Music of Colombia: History, Instruments, Percussion, Marimba and Voice
  • Workshop: Percussion and Marimba
  • Lunch of Colombian Afro-Pacific Cuisine
  • Visit La Loma de la Cruz Craft Market or Return to Hotel to Hotel (Option)
  • Evening of Afro-Pacisic at the Casa de la Cultura, featuring the “Marimba de Palma Chonta”. Expect a gathering of Colombia’s best and famed “marimberos” who play the instrument often called, “The Piano of the Jungle”. 


Day Four: Sunday, Transfer to Buenaventura (B, L)

Immersing even deeper into the region, we’ll travel to the bustling port town of Buenaventura (good adventure!) We’ll be welcomed to the Coast, by one of the region’s famed marimba bands! We’ll then transfer by boat to Bahia Malaga, where we’ll enjoy a regional lunch, a light hike to visit the Wounaan indigenous people, before returning to our cabin for an evening of marimba de “palma chonta” and dinner by the ocean.

  • Early Breakfast at Hotel
  • Transfer to Buenaventura (2.5 hours)
  • Musical Welcome Event
  • Transfer by Boat to Bahia Malaga
  • Lunch at Cabanas Aguadulce at Ladrilleros
  • Visit from the indigenous Wounaan communities that live nearby
  • Evening of marimba / and “Chirimia” youth group and dinner by the ocean


Day Five: Monday,  Buenaventura – Barranquilla (B, L)

Awaking in our seaside cabins, we’ll enjoy the morning immersing in nature. This could be whale watching (seasonal), bird watching or swimming in the ocean. We’ll enjoy lunch and a final hurrah of our beloved marimba de palma chonta rhythms before we say goodbye to the Pacific and take our flights to the Caribbean Coast; Barranquilla.

  • Breakfast at Cabins
  • Whale Watching (From July to October) or Visit Island for Bird Watching
  • Lunch at Café Pacifico for regional cuisine and of course, marimba music!
  • Transfer to airport for flight to Barranquilla
  • Transfer to Hotel


Day Six: Tuesday, Barranquilla – Cartagena (B)

We’ll explore our new environment on the Caribbean Coast, Barranquilla, known for its famed Carnival, Shikira, Carlos Vives and the wonderful Museo del Caribe! We’ll learn about the “vallenato” rhythm and how world famous Carlos Vives went back to his traditional Colombian roots, and embraced the vallenato sounds, before making his own, unique footprint on the musical world. We’ll enjoy the upbeat song, “La Bicicleta” by Carlos Vives and Shakira, before we hop on our own bikes to ride along the “malecon” of Barranquilla. We’ll visit Shakira’s foundation, Pies Descalzos (Barefeet), dedicated to education for young girls of Colombia. We’ll transfer to Cartagena and enjoy a cocktail overlooking the Caribbean Ocean at Cafe del Mar.

  • Breakfast
  • Visit to Museo del Caribe
  • Visit to the “Casa del Carnaval”
  • Lunch
  • Introduction to the “Vallenato” rhythm, made famous by Carlos Vives
  • Visit the Foundation, “Pies Descalzos”, established by famed singer “Sharkira”, to provide an education to young girls of Colombia.
  • Transfer to Cartagena
  • Welcome cocktail overlooking the Caribbean Ocean at famed, Café del Mar


Day Seven: Wednesday,  Cartagena (B, L)

 Today we’ll explore Cartagena and its highlights. In the afternoon, we’ll have our first introduction to the multiple rhythms of Colombia’s Caribbean region. Our afternoon is at leisure, before heading out to dance on the town! the Cumbia, Champeta, Mapala rhythms will be pulsating at Cartagena’s famed dance clubs!

  • Breakfast at Hotel
  • City Tour, Gold Museum and other Highlights (Zenu Culture Past and Present)
  • Ceviche Lunch
  • Introduction to Rhythms of the Caribbean
  • Free time in Cartagena
  • Evening of Music and Dance Clubs: Cumbia, Champeta, Mapale


Day Eight, Thursday,  San Jacinto, Gaitero de San Jacinto (1.5) and San Basilio Palenque, Overnight Cartagena (B, L)

Just outside of Cartagena, we’ll travel to San Jacinto, to learn of the musical genre and Grammy Award winning,  Gaiteros de San Jacinto. We’ll enjoy lunch before visiting the singular community of San Basilio Palenque. We’ll learn of the history of this first cimarron town, founded by Benkos Biohio, who led African slaves to their freedom. They developed their own language and music.  Returning to Cartagena, our evening is at leisure.

  • Breakfast at Hotel
  • Visit the Grammy Award Winners “Gaiteros de San Jacinto”
  • Lunch
  • Spend time San Basilio Palenque, visit famed musicians of this singular community of Cimarron runaway slaves
  • Overnight Cartagena


Day Nine: Friday, Cartagena – San Andres – Reggae! (B, L)

The next two days will take on an entirely different “vibe”! By traveling to the two islands off the coast of Colombia: San Andres and Providencia, we’ll learn about and experience yet another dimension of Colombia’s musical heritage and expressions. On these islands, calypso and reggae music fill the air, and we’ll have special meetings with some of the top musicians here.


  • Breakfast and depart to airport for flight to San Andres (10:30 a.m.)
  • Lunch
  • Evening of Reggae music!
  • Dinner and Overnight


Day Ten: Saturday, San Andres to Providencia (B, L)

Our highlight today is to spend it with a leading recording artist, Elkin Robinson. His soft style and approachable ballads are reminiscent of a Jack Johnson style. We’ll want to sway with the rhythms and palm trees; maybe find a hammock and chill with the sounds of this English speaking island.

  • Early departure (7:30 a.m. to Providencia)
  • Day with Elkin Robinson, the region’s Jack Johnson!
  • Dinner and Overnight


Day Eleven: Sunday, Providencia – San Andres – Cartagena – Overnight Cartagena (B)


  • Breakfast
  • Flights back to Cartagena
  • Overnight


Day Twelve: Monday, Return Flights Home



4 Nights Cali

1 Nights Buenaventura

1 Night Barranquilla

3 Nights Cartagena

1 Night San Andres

1 Night Providencia

1 Cartagena


Total Nights: 12


Photos from this trip


















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