On Location
International Expeditions

Colombia: Colonial Cartagena and Carnival de Barranquilla

with Kike Calvo

February 22 – March 3, 2025

  • Package Price $7500.00
  • International Deposit $1500.00

Course Description

Colombia has undergone a very positive transformation in the past decade, and with the recent signing of a historic peace treaty, the country is now regarded as one of the safest countries for tourists in the Latin world. For many years, Colombia has remained a mystery for travelers and photographers from around the globe, but Colombians are now welcoming visitors with open arms.

Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet and is equally diverse in terms of culture. It is a country of many distinct, varied regions, each with its own unique customs, dances, traditions, accents, social patterns, and cultural adaptations. An added benefit is the food! Along with other cultural expressions of national identity, Colombian cuisine varies among its many different regions and is as diverse as its climate, landscapes, and people.

This photographic journey led by Kike Calvo is designed to highlight Colombia’s astounding history and cultural diversity. It strikes a perfect balance with an itinerary planned for photographic opportunities from exploring the streets rich in history of colonial Cartagena, to learning about Gabriel Garcia’s Magical Realism, to the folkloric celebrations of the second biggest carnival in the world in Barranquilla. With special media access to the Carnaval de Barranquilla, this trip is a rare opportunity to get up close and personal to enjoy a carnival that is of mythical proportions. Join Kike in a land and culture he knows well and is happy to share it with fellow photographers.

Our travelers are greeted at the Cartagena airport upon arrival on Saturday, February 22, for a private transfer to the Hotel Movich Cartagena. This evening there is a group meeting with Kike and staff for group introductions and to review the itinerary as you begin this remarkable journey together.

Few cities are as beautiful as Cartagena. On the sunny Caribbean coast, Cartagena de Indias has righteously earned a designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And it is easy to see why. Founded in 1533, Cartagena still retains its colonial charm, with colorful balconies overlooking cobblestone streets and quaint plazas that pull you into impressive churches. This morning is devoted to photographing within the walled city, where there is something to suit all tastes from beautiful architecture to warm and friendly people. After lunch, Kike leads a photo review of participant’s portfolios, then a late afternoon photo session on top of the walls surrounding the city. We learn about Magical Realism, a literary style whose defining author is Colombia’s own Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A nice parallel can be drawn between his style and what visitors can experience in Colombia.

Early the next morning we photograph the Bazutro market, an opportunity to travel out of the old city and experience local life in Cartagena. A tour through the rowdy, frenetic, vibrant, and labyrinthine market is guaranteed to provide a taste of sensory overload, even to the most experienced travelers. Our visit to the market is followed by lunch at Casa de Pepina, one of the last remaining authentic eateries in town. After lunch, a short siesta is in order before departing to photograph late light in the colorful Getsemani neighborhood.

Rising for the lovely early light, today you have the opportunity to make new images as the streets of Cartagena come alive while Kike schedules one-on-one time with each traveler for a personal photo review. After lunch in Cartagena, we depart by private van on a 3-hour drive to Barranquilla. After checking into the Hotel Movich Buro 51, there is time to get our bearings in this new place by making a few images, followed by dinner at the hotel.

On day five we learn about the rich history of Barranquilla and its world-famous carnival from a local expert. This prepares us well for the intense festivities to come in the days ahead. After lunch, we visit several mask-making studios/workshops in the Galapa neighborhood just outside the city.

The next day we enjoy the benefits of exclusive access to the studio/workshops where the carnival’s floats are crafted and assembled for the upcoming parades and festivities. Following lunch, we visit the Casa de Carnaval to collect our press badges and gain deeper insights into the carnival from the event organizers. Then we photograph on the streets of Barranquilla as the city gears up for the activities just ahead.

It’s Friday and a day to relax a bit and prepare for the intense Carnival activities ahead. A morning activity prepares us visually, and after lunch a visit to Todo Momo, an art gallery with an impressive display of Carnival masks, readies us from a historical perspective. Then it’s back to the hotel for an image review by Kike before dinner at the popular La Cueva restaurant.

On Saturday we rise early to be in position to photograph the “Battle of Flowers—one of the most significant events of the Barranquilla de Carnival. A vibrant parade where locals, adorned in elaborate costumes and floats adorned with flowers, march through the streets of Barranquilla. We move with the parade to make images. This event is a celebration of color, music, and culture, and it is one of the most iconic and anticipated parts of Carnival.

On day nine we gather to photograph another of the key events of Carnival—the “Folklore and Tradition Parade.” It showcases the rich cultural heritage of the region, featuring vibrant costumes, traditional music, dance, and folklore. This parade is a colorful and lively celebration and features over 300 dancing groups. This closing parade offers a unique glimpse into the cultural identity of Barranquilla and its people.

Tired but invigorated by the trip’s endless photographic opportunities and memorable experiences, we say our farewells at breakfast on Monday, March 3, and depart for the international airport in Barranquilla for your departing flight home.

Additional Information


This program is open to all photographers at all levels who are passionate about travel and improving their image making.

What You Should Know:

Participants should be technically self-sufficient, as this is not a program to learn how to use your gear or editing software. This a photographic tour, not a photography workshop and there isn’t structured classroom time. There will be group image review sessions with Kike, as well as help with photographic ideas and techniques on-location.

Special Notes:

Participants make their own air travel arrangements to Cartagena (CTG) to arrive in time for the first group meeting and welcome dinner on Saturday, February 22, at 6:00 pm. NOTE: Departure at the end of the trip is from the airport in Barranquilla (BAQ).

It is required that you purchase trip cancellation/travel insurance for this trip. Once the trip is confirmed, additional information and travel details will be provided. Enrollment is limited to 12 participants.

Activity Level:

To get the most from this international experience, participants should be in good physical (mobility, stamina) and mental health. In general, arrive prepared for long days and seasonal weather including variable temperatures. You must be able to carry your own photographic and personal gear at all times. You are responsible for being open and honest about your physical fitness, and we reserve the right to remove you from the workshop if we find your fitness to be less than that which you have described.


View Payment, Refund, Withdrawal, and Transfer Policies for this International Program.

Package Price INFO:

$7,500 includes double accommodations for nine nights (ideal for couples and friends traveling together; single supplement available for an additional $950); all breakfasts, eight lunches, and nine dinners; bottled water and snacks; all transportation in Colombia; airport transfers; local guides; and all entrance fees. Airfare as well as required travel insurance, alcoholic beverages, gratuities, laundry services, and passport/visa fees are not included.

Nature & Landscape, Portraiture, Storytelling, Street Photography, Travel Photography
Kike Calvo

Kike Calvo is a photographer, journalist, and author specializing in culture and environment. He has been on assignment in dozens of countries, working on stories ranging from belugas in the Arctic to traditional Hmong costumes in Laos. Kike’s images have been published in National Geographic MagazineThe New York TimesTimeThe Wall Street JournalThe Washington PostNew York MagazineRolling Stone, and Vanity Fair, among others. A National Geographic Certified Educator and a former contributor to National Geographic’s Voices blog, his images are represented by AP Images, Redux Pictures, and the National Geographic Image Collection.

Kike has been part of scientific river expeditions in Colombia, Brazil, and Peru. Over the years, Kike has joined numerous National Geographic Expeditions, from Spain and Patagonia to Costa Rica and the Amazon. He also enjoys teaching photography workshops and has been a guest lecturer at leading institutions like the School of Visual Arts and Yale University. Kike is the recipient of the 2020, 2021, and 2022 Safina Center Fellowship.

Kike is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of Little Explorer, Big World, a project with the mission to create bilingual books that will increase children’s awareness of global environmental issues and foster multi-lingual literacy. Partnering with local NGOs, and adding the support of companies and readers, to date, thousands of free bilingual books have been given to kids living in remote communities around the world.

Kike is pioneering in using small unmanned aerial systems to produce aerial photography as art, and as a tool for research and conservation. His early work with drones was profiled as a genius in the 2019 National Geographic Almanac. He is also known for his iconic photographic project, World of Dances, on the intersection of dance, nature, and architecture. He has authored fifteen books, including Drones for ConservationStaten Island: A Visual Journey to the Lighthouse at the End of the WorldHabitats, with forewords by David Doubilet, and Jean-Michel Cousteau; and Corpus Christi in Atánquez. Professor of Anthropology and author Wade Davis has described Kike as a “worldly and seasoned photographer, and a fresh voice in the world of (visual) anthropology.”

Website: kikecalvo.com

Instagram: @kikeo

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