The Coffee Region: Our highlights and itinerary ideas
The coffee region is nestled between the Western and Central Andean mountains in the Western Center of Colombia. This area – also known as the Coffee Triangle – includes three departments: Quindio, Risaralda, and Caldas.
The coffee region offers a broad diversity of outstanding landscapes and activities within a small zone. As you will notice, our different stops in this region are near to each other. It’s an important fact to keep in mind as it reduces the number of hours spent on public or private transportation. There are so many highlights to discover that you could create a 15-day itinerary in the Zona cafetera without being bored one day.
Above Cali, there is the department of Quindio, with Armenia as capital. While Armenia is of no interest for travelers, we fell head over heels in love for Buenavista, a tiny colonial town with a breath-taking view of the landscapes around. Besides, Buenavista is an off the beaten path destination with an authentic and friendly atmosphere. Don’t hesitate to book a paragliding experience so that you admire the colonial town and its coffee and fruit plantations from the sky. It’s fantastic!
Nearby, there is another town called Pijao, where some delicious coffee are produced. Pijao and Buenavista are two Colombian destinations in the Quindio you should discover now, while it’s still under the radar of other travelers.
Nowadays, 99% of visitors go to the Zona Cafetera to visit one place called … Salento. This colorful colonial town is famous for its coffee farms and the well-known Valle de Cocora – A national park with the highest Wax Palm trees in the world (40-60m high). Unfortunately, Salento is a victim of its own success, and the city is overcrowded most of the time. Fortunately, we have another -and better – option to offer you.
Filandia is another colonial town, less visited and situated 45 min away from Salento. Aside from Valle de Cocora, there are other activities like monkey watching, coffee farms, and the Bejuco museum. – Bejuco is a plant used by the inhabitants to create many handicrafts like the basket to collect coffee beans.
Risaralda is another department of the Coffee Region, with Pereira as capital. This city is a strategic option to explore the area. Indeed, there is an international airport nearby and qualified local travel agencies to explore the surroundings. By staying in Pereira, you will have the possibility to visit a coffee farm and chill in the thermal baths of San Vincente or Santa Rosa de Cabal. Also, don’t hesitate to book a multi-day trek to the National Park Los Nevados if you want to embrace nature. The sceneries of the paramos, lagoons, and glaciers as Tolima or Santa Isabel are mind-blowing!
And, for the ones who need their shot of adrenaline, you have the option to add some canyoning experiences in your Colombia tour.
Before leaving, I have got one last insider secret to give you. You can find the giant wax palm trees in other places than Valle de Cocora. In the department of Caldas, there is a cute colonial town – with sumptuous balconies – called Salamina. From there, you can reach San Felix and the Samaria Valley to discover more of these giant Wax Palm Trees. Moreover, the experience is even better than in Valle de Cocora as there are no tourists yet!
Examples of activities in the coffee region that you can add to your Colombia itinerary:
- Hike in the National Park Los Nevados for 1 – 5 days. All the diverse sceneries offer by these majestic mountains will seduce you in no time. Throughout one hiking day, visitors will discover 3 -4 different ecosystems! It’s a must-do you should add in your Colombia Itinerary if you plan to visit the coffee region.
- Contemplate the giant Wax Palm Trees: There are two main places to uncover this incredible scenery. First, you can travel to Salento and take a jeep from the main square. The park is beautiful but a bit too much touristy for our tastes. Otherwise, you can head to San Felix from Salamina and enjoy the same giant wax palm trees for yourself. Chut, it’s a secret 😉
- Find out a unique ecosystem: Los Paramos. If you’re in good shape and want to embrace nature, we encourage you to explore the Paramos. This ecosystem is vital for Colombia – the first supplier of freshwater in the country. The symbolic flower of the Paramos is called Frailejones.
- Book a coffee experience in a Finca: With more than 550 000 coffee grower families, coffee is essential for the Colombian economy. Take the opportunity to visit a coffee farm and learn about their daily life.
- Become a coffee taster: Like wine, people like to know how to make the difference between a bad and a good coffee. Book a tour to learn the different coffee methods and the characteristics of a “Cafe Especial”. Don’t hesitate to combine this tour with the visit of a coffee farm if you’re an aficionado.
- Visit beautiful colonial towns: Stroll among the colorful colonial alleys and admire the architecture of the buildings. There are many cute villages in the coffee region, choose well!
- Canyoning: Colombia is a paradise for Canyoning lovers. It’s still a “new” activity in Colombia, but there are more and more professional who offers their services. Besides, the topography in the country is excellent for practicing this extreme sport. Don’t hesitate to add this experience to your Colombia trip!
- Paragliding: Take a break from hiking and fly over the mountains in Buenavista. The view is breath-taking and 100% worth it.
- Chill into warm water: The thermal baths in Santa Rosa de Cabal are different from the ones in San Vincente. However, the result is the same: A chill day to rest the body and the mind. It’s the perfect option after a long multi-day hike.
- Play Tejo, a Colombian French Boules: You won’t find this local game everywhere in Colombia. Don’t forget to check this out if you pass by Filandia or Salento. It’s a fun experience to share with friends and family.
- Look for howler monkeys: There are not easy to spot, but it’s worth the money. Their deep howls are unique and impressive. It will be an excellent experience for you and your family.