Visit Columbia with Arlene Collins

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For the intrepid photographer, Colombia with its diverse cultural heritage and breathtaking views is a must visit destination just waiting to be discovered.

From its lush coffee growing region high in the rugged Andes, its cosmopolitan capital Bogota and colonial coastal city of Cartagena, to the secluded historic town of Mompos on the Magdalena River, it has a treasure trove of photographic possibilities.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Colombia’s Coffee Triangle District is high in the spectacular Andes Mountains. We’ll be photographing the traditional architecture of the coffee fincas (estate plantations), the striking scenery, and the campesinos as they work to harvest, dry, and roast their world-renowned coffee beans, getting them ready to transport to market.

From some of the last remaining snow-capped peaks in the tropics to cloud forests, glaciers, and volcanoes, Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados is considered one of the crown jewels of Colombia. We will be staying in the town of Manizales, in a lodge nestled in the Cocora Valley, the heart of the area, near coffee plantations and the Nevado del Ruiz volcano. We will tour the volcano observatory and learn how volcanologists are monitoring Nevado del Ruiz and the other volcanoes in the area.

In Bogota, the largest city of Colombia, we will photograph in its cultural epicenter, La Candelaria, where colorful colonial architecture, museums, churches, café society, parks, and outdoor markets define this modern and historic city. Mountains surround the city, which sits at 8,646 feet above sea level; we’ll ride a cable car to the top of Cerro de Montserrate to photograph this site of religious pilgrimage and natural beauty.  

Cartagena, known in colonial times as Cartagena de Indias, is a coastal Caribbean port city. Its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site because within its aged walled center are narrow cobblestoned streets, balconied colonial buildings, churches, and a vibrant nightlife.

Mompos is a town that time forgot! As we cruise down the Magdalena River passing tiny villages, we’ll see men in their dugout canoes and women washing their clothes by the river’s edge. Mompos is a sleepy and remote town untouched by signs of modern life such as cars; the only means of transportation here are rickshaws. This secluded and picturesque town is easy to fall in love with, for it’s slow pace, beautifully preserved colonial architecture, cobblestoned streets, and palatial riverside mansions built by wealthy merchants in a bygone era.

We’ll end your expedition in this tranquil town, perfect for street photographers, and to perfect your artistic and environmental portraiture.


These workshops are for the serious amateur who has a working knowledge of their camera and for the professional photographer or videographer, who wants to combine advancing their photography skills with an adventurous travel experience. Participants should be highly motivated, technically self-sufficient, physically fit, and capable of navigating in foreign cultures. Participants may work with still photography or video and are encouraged to explore on their own.

All workshops include on location instruction and offer unique opportunities to photograph diverse cultures, rich landscapes, and remarkable architecture. My groups are limited to 8 to 10 participants depending on the location, as this allows for a more personal photography and travel experience, and non-photographing companions are encouraged to attend.  

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Check out our itinerary here



All image credit ©Arlene Collins

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Instructor: Arlene Collins

Arlene Collins specializes in documenting remote cultures and changing civilizations around the world. She currently produces and leads international photography workshops, consults privately with a number of clients, and lectures in the United States and abroad. She has created several long-term photography essays, including Boxing in New York City, Moscow, and Bangkok, and essays on the Rodeo in New Jersey and Voodoo in Western Africa. In 2018 she was the American curator of The Silk Road Photography Biennial in Tianshui, China, where she also exhibited her photographs from her travels along the Silk Road and she participated in a number of panels with international photographers. She has photographed in more than 65 international locations including North Korea, Iran, Pakistan and Chernobyl, Ukraine. In addition, Arlene has led intensive workshops to Armenia, Argentina, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Cuba, Ethiopia, the Republic of Georgia, Greenland, Iran, India, Kamchatka in eastern Russia, Laos, Mali, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nunavik in the Canadian Arctic, Papua New Guinea, Turkey, Tibet, Vietnam, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.