"Experience Colombia through this unique community-based music tour along the Caribbean Coast. This journey will open the door for you to connect with authentic traditional musicians in “The Land of a Thousand Rhythms” while enjoying the local gastronomy, scenery, and a unique cultural richness."
Well, for starters, I can make a mean cup of Colombian coffee! But seriously, aside from being a musician and dedicating my career to working with Colombian music (and I won’t mention my credentials here, like that after graduating Berklee College of Music I’ve performed and recorded with many GRAMMY winners including Rubén Blades and Carlos Vives, sold-out shows at Jazz at Lincoln Center, served as Artist-in-Residence at Brown University and Dartmouth College, made the Billboard charts with my big band album “Cumbia Universal” and…oops…I guess I did mention a couple of things ;) I like to serve as a cultural bridge between Colombia and anyone who’s interested in my beautiful country.
Music is the key to a Culture as it serves as a bridge to meet and interact with people with whom you wouldn't otherwise meet. It allows us to discover new places and ways of life, It opens the door so that we can interact with different cultures, and allows us to learn about history and heritage way beyond sounds. Colombia, “The Land of a Thousand Rhythms”, has the perfect balance between having a flourishing culture and a growing infrastructure, while also being full of music and off-the-road hidden jewels that you’ll be able to experience. It’s a country of vast musical diversity with an enchanting atmosphere where Native, African, and European influences have met to create a lush cultural mosaic. By joining this community-based tour, you will be getting the experience of a lifetime, while at the same time, supporting and meeting more than 50 talented traditional musicians (and their communities*), and knowing 2 UNESCO world heritage sites and 2 UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.
Arrive in Cartagena, and start the adventure with a welcome cocktail and a wonderful rooftop workshop/ “parranda” that will introduce you to the music genres of the accordion.
In this no-stage experience you will be able to share, dance, and even play with the musicians of Carmelo Torres y Su Cumbia Sabanera; heirs of Andrés Landero - the king of Accordion Cumbia.
Learn straight from the experts about history, heritage, inspiration, and diversity of the music you’ll listen to. After, you will have dinner with the band members before resting at your hotel.
Departing early to Montes de María, you will arrive at San Juan to meet Fredis Arrieta, a Gaita Luthier, and Musician. He will guide you through the entire Gaita building process starting with a less than an hour excursion to forage the materials to make the instrument. You will walk in a rich ecosystem where you will see trees such as Corozo and Cardón from which gaitas are made, and see how the materials are transformed in the workshop.
While seeing the process, you can involve and contribute during the crafting, and in the end be introduced to the instrument, and its bird-inspired sounds.
After, you will enjoy a delicious home-made Sancocho for lunch before heading on a 30 min ride to San Jacinto. After your arrival, you can choose between having a free afternoon to rest or taking a heritage tour. In the evening you will have a group dinner where you will taste the typical Mote de Queso from Montes de María, and you will end the day with a Gaita performance where you can join in and play or enjoy the lively music.
After having your breakfast at San Jacinto, you will head in a 5-hour transfer to Santa Cruz de Mompox, a colorful colonial town that will give you a feeling of being in another time. Recognized as a heritage town, this place will charm you with its abundant history and impressive living culture. After your arrival, you will have a typical lunch by Magdalena River, one of Colombia’s most important rivers, and the one that once brought huge prosperity to Mompox. You will then have a hotel break before having a bike tour through Mompox where you will get to know its many churches, plazas, and charming streets, as well as having a visit to a filigree workshop where you will see amazing crafts and the talented jewel makers that keep alive the long tradition of famous Mompox’s filigree.
After the dinner, you will have a music experience of “Bailes Cantados” (sung dances) with Don Abundio, where you will have a behind the scenes entry to see the elements and masks of a carnival as well as having a complete explanation and demonstration of dances, drums, and singing.
You will have a free morning to relax by the pool, or do whatever you please before having a 6-hour transfer to San Basilio de Palenque, the first free town of America. This small town was founded by a group of 600 self-emancipated African Slaves led by Benkos Biohó in the late XVII century. This town was declared in 2005 as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, due to its enormous African heritage, living culture, and heritage that not only includes music and instruments but the only Spanish-based creole language in the Americas that is still spoken, sung and taught.
On this day you will have a Bullerengue workshop at the hotel, where you will perceive and understand the African influence in drums and dances, and an impressive dialogue between the drummer and the dancers. With talented musicians such as Janer Amarís and Guillo Valencia, you will learn straight from the experts and enjoy a rich experience.
In the morning you will tour San Basilio de Palenque and learn about its fascinating history and origin while visiting important places, monuments, and observing the colorful artwork displayed on many of the town’s walls.
After, you will have an Alegrías workshop. These Alegrías are typical delicious candies made from local fruits and a tradition that has been passed down from generations. You will then have a tasty typical lunch from San Basilio de Palenque served very differently from what you’re used to. After lunch, you will visit Rafael Cassiani, and Sexteto Tabalá, where you will listen and get involved with Palenquero music that was strongly influenced by Cuban rhythms and sounds. After this experience, you will head to Cartagena in a 1-hour ride to arrive at your hotel.
You will be departing early to Rosario Islands’ main island Isla Grande by speedboat through beautiful turquoise waters and you will arrive after 1 hour to an Eco Hotel from the community where you will be able to relax by the beach or embark on an extra adventure such as snorkeling or bike riding. You will then have a typical island lunch, and an immersion into another music genre called Champeta. This genre is created with a strong influence of African Sukus and Highlife from the ’70s plus a local adaptation. It is a reconnection to Africa through music and dance, but it also is a creation of an entire graphic aesthetic and sound system culture. With modified electronic components and sound equipment, a Pikó (sound system) is built, named uniquely and painted with vivid colors accordingly to its name to light up the party. After, you will have a nice dinner at the hotel.
On this day you will have some time in the morning to relax and then return to Cartagena by speedboat. After your arrival you will have lunch and a free afternoon before meeting at the hotel by 4 pm to have a Workshop/Concert of a genre called Porro. This genre could be the Caribbean’s equivalent of a New Orleans Big Band; with a 20 piece brass band with trumpets, clarinets, trombones, and drums this lively music from the Caribbean Savannah will give you the feel of a parade before ending the trip with a nice dinner.
Comfortable shoes and clothes
Hat or Cap
• You will be Joined by Gregorio Uribe, your expert musician guide. A representative of Sonidos Enraizados, in charge of bonding with communities and facilitating interaction with local musicians. An Impulse Travel Tour Leader, taking care of logistics and customer service.
• Musicians on the description are professional musicians which may be unavailable due to touring dates. However, other professional musicians will be booked for the activities in this case.
• Sounds of Colombia is powered by
- IMPULSE Travel
- Gregorio Uribe Your Expert Musician Guide
- Sonidos Enraizados A non-for-profit organization that for years has helped dozens of traditional musicians - many of them farmers and seniors citizens - preserve and develop their art by acting as a grass-roots music label, management and culture platform. They’ve taken many of these artists to tour Europe and the Americas including renown stages such as Lincoln Center.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
•Port, Fortresses and Group Monuments, Cartagena (cultural) (1984)
•Historic Centre of Santa Cruz de Mompox (cultural) ( 1995 )
UNESCO Intanglible Cultural Heritage
•Cultural space of Palenque de San Basilio ( 2008 )
•Traditional Vallenato music of the Greater Magdalena region (2015)
Changes on the tour may occur due to external factors. These changes will be notified to you with anticipation.