Arriving first in Cartagena, I was plunged into his world of magic realism, the city’s picturesque streets and plazas showcasing vignettes that could have come straight from Love in the Time of Cholera and the haunting story Love and other Demons.
A six-hour journey through the northern wetlands then brought me to the forgotten and decaying colonial city of Mompox, on the banks of the Magdalena river and setting for Chronicle of a Death Foretold.
Following a brief interlude on the Caribbean islands of San Andres and Placencia, I continued eastwards to the Tayrona National Park where snow-capped mountains overlook dramatic beaches pounded by ocean waves, before heading south to one of the quintessential fincas at the heart of Colombia’s coffee growing region.
Márquez may have prepared me well, but I have to admit that Bogotá was a complete surprise. At odds with its rather negative image, I found a thriving, modern and affluent city blessed by a spectacular setting and an array of first class galleries, museums and restaurants.
Bogotá is also within striking distance of a number of colonial and pre-Colombian attractions, most notably the beautiful village of Villa del Leyva. Werner Herzog was my guide here and I had seen his film, Cobra Verde, so at least I was better prepared, but I was still dazzled by the glory of the main square - the most spectacular in all of South America.
Bogotá, Villa de Leyva, Pereira (coffee region), Cartagena and Tayrona can be easily included in a 15-day round trip from London. Costs start at £3,653 per person inclusive of flights.
Call our South America Team on 020 7386 4646.