In the footsteps of Gabriel García Márquez

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As 2017 hails the 50th anniversary of Gabriel García Márquez’s most famous work, ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’, new boutique tour operator Amakuna is launching a literary pilgrimage through his beloved homeland, starting in January. The trip will explore the corners of Colombia most associated with his life and works, from his obscure birth town of Aracataca upon which the utopian city of Macondo is based, to the indigenous mystical cultures of Tayrona National Park which inspired the creation of his distinct ‘magical realism’ genre, offering a unique insight into the enchanting world which sparked some of the most elaborate works ever written and resulted in García Márquez becoming Colombia’s most celebrated author.

The journey begins in Bogotá, where a teenage García Márquez saw out much of his education and where guests will be treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of his former school and university before delving into the local Paloquemao food market and buzzing old town for an authentic taste of Colombian living. Head on to Barranquilla, home to the legendary group of writers and journalists known as the Barranquilla Group to visit their infamous hideout, La Cueva Bar, where a special video screening will provide a fascinating insight into the distinguished characters García Márquez rubbed shoulders with during his time as a member of this exclusive group.

After a pit stop at La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino to see the spot where Colombia’s liberator Simón Bolívar was shot dead, as depicted in García Márquez’s controversial ‘The General in his Labyrinth’, the trail winds on to Tayrona, famed for its palm-shaded coves, coastal lagoons and lush rainforests. Here dwell some of the richest mystical cultures in the world which inspired much of the daily life described in García Márquez’s novels, where guests will set off on a guided hike in search of the park’s elusive Kogi tribe, whose mystical ability to transform into jaguars and other animals at will is famed throughout Colombia.

Next comes the little-known colonial town of Aracataca, the birthplace of García Márquez and the metaphoric setting for the town of Macondo as featured in ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’. Here guests can fall in stride with a youthful García Márquez as they visit his grandparents’ house where he was born and raised, his school and the chapel where he was baptised. Next, journey deeper into Colombia’s interior to the town of Mompós, a colonial gem left frozen in time as the rivers that once made it a thriving port town silted up. Located on the banks of the Rio Magdalena, the town was a favourite of García Márquez’s and the home of his beloved wife, where he spent many days sailing its tributaries as highlighted in his memoirs ‘Living to Tell the Tale’. Captioned “the town that time forgot”, Mompós now boasts a perfectly preserved environment of crumbling colonial architecture, colourful buildings, winding streets and unique religious traditions.

The trip ends in the Colombian city of Cartagena, the metaphoric setting for García Márquez’s ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’, famed for its bougainvillea-laced balconies and mesmerising mix of heat, music and architecture. Here, a García Márquez expert will lead guests through its labyrinth of streets visiting over 45 of the spots associated with his life and works, while recapturing the essence of a Colombia gone by. Guests will check into the main suite of apartment 201 at Casa Pombo, where Javier Bardem stayed during the filming of the film adaption of ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ in 2007, as well as enjoying an exclusive private recital of García Márquez’s favourite genre of music, Vallenato, by a local street band – a spectacular finale to a very special journey.

Amakuna offers a 10-night ‘In the Footsteps of Gabriel García Márquez’ package from £3245 per person including two nights in Bogota at the Four Seasons Casa Medina, one night in Barranquilla at the GHL Collection, two nights at Gitana Del Mar in Tayrona including a visit to the nearby town of Aracataca, two nights at Casa La Concepcion in Mompós and three nights in Cartagena at Casa Pombo. The price also includes all activities outlined in the itinerary, private transfers and domestic flights.

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