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Coffee Triangle
Travel Guide


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Coffee Triangle at a glance

Colombia is known the world over for its rich coffee, and there is nowhere better in the world to try this full bodied blend than in the coffee region itself. Located in the upper western part of the country, Colombia’s coffee region is known The Coffee Triangle since it is spread over three different departments: Caldas, Risaralda and Quindio. The area, locally nicknamed the Zona Cafetera, is centered on the towns of Pereira, Salento and Armenia, and is thought to be one of the first rural areas in South America to open itself up to tourism. This explains why there are so many family-run coffee plantations, or fincas, that you can visit and even stay at, many of which boast picturesque colonial-style properties surrounded by stunning landscapes of lush green hills, cloud forests and unique vegetation.

Coffee Triangle Bucket List - What not to miss!

  • Explore Cocora in a Jeep Willys
  • Coffee Tour of Jesus Martin
  • Trekking through Cocora Valley
  • Coffee Tour & Tasting at Recuca
  • Willys Jeep to Salento and Cocora Valley

Experiences around Coffee Triangle

What not to miss

This seductive region of Colombia will wow you with its unusual topography, where rolling hills in a kaleidoscope of green are illuminated by rays of sun that burst through the clouds above, lighting up the plantations that dot the countryside. The aroma of coffee will follow you wherever you go, never letting you forget that you are in the mecca of the famous bean. One of the highlights of the Coffee Triangle is the Cocora Valley, a jagged depression which cuts through the Andes and is home to one of the defining features of this area, the impossibly tall wax palm tree, which rises 200ft (61m) into the air on a single, spindly trunk capped by palm fronds. The wax palms are a surreal sight, and one that is sure to have you rooted to the spot in awe, so be sure to bring your camera as this is one of the most unforgettable places in Colombia. The Coffee Triangle is also home to numerous bird sanctuaries such as Rio Blanco, Otun Quimbaya and Montezuma, hot springs and the Los Nevados National Park, perfect for hiking and trekking.

Explore Cocora in a Jeep Willys

In the streets of Salento and throughout the Coffee Region, you’ll notice colorful Willy Jeeps making their way along the picturesque roads. You’ll have a unique experience as you board a traditional Willy Jeep (hopefully in your favorite color) that will take you into the magnificent Cocora Valley. With its rolling green hills and huge Quindio wax palm trees, the scenery is like something out of a magical land in a Dr. Seuss book. The Cocora Valley is home to Colombia’s national tree, the Quindío wax palm tree, that can grow up to 190 ft. tall. These tall, thin trees stand like giants guarding the valley, the farmland, avocado plantations, wandering cattle and of course coffee plantations. While in the National Park, your guide will provide you with information on the surrounding flora and fauna before you take part in a wax palm tree ceremony. Already included in today’s trip is a donation towards helping to reforest the Quindio wax palm trees which, because of their limited geographic range, are unfortunately at risk of extinction. Here you’ll plant your own Quindio palm tree which you’ll be able to come and visit whenever you want. Boarding your Willy Jeep, you’ll head back to the town of Salento and your hotel.

Coffee Tour of Jesus Martin

You begin your experience in Salento with a transfer to the Finca Santa Ana, approximate duration 45 minutes. En route you will learn about the origin of the coffee plant and how it arrived in Colombia. Once at the farm you will meet the people behind the harvesting and about their day-to-day life. Then you will do a visual exercise to teach you about the whole sowing and harvesting of the grain. Then we head to the main house where we explain the three types of processes that contribute to premium coffees´ quality: natural honey and washing, fermentation processes and drying process. Again your senses will be stimulated by smells and sensations. Back in Salento you will visit the Factory, where we talk about the threshing process and selection by defects. You will carry out two additional activities where, with the help of your senses, your mind is opened to coffee’s sensations. Finally, coffee is roasted with the guide of the master toaster who explains the process step-by-step and the importance of handling the right roasting. Then you visit the main shop of Cafe Jesus Martin. A final exercise is carried out, teaching you to differentiate a second-rate coffee quality from a first-rate quality. Finally the learning ends with a cup of coffee, when a barista will make a demonstration of latte art by offering you a drink based on espresso with milk, and you can see how figures are made on coffee.

Trekking through Cocora Valley

A short and beautiful path. The tour begins beside what is know as the forest of Wax Palms, the same palm trees that wowed Von Humbolt, with a forest of two canopies where ancient giant palm trees rise majestically skyward above the morning and afternoon mists. Climbing up the mountain we can see at the left side the exuberant forest with orchids, bromelias and moss to cover any surface, and on the other side with the milky farms, where one of the best milks is produced with daily, dedicated work. The destination of the trek is an awesome viewpoint to the Valley with an open landscape, among centenarian wax palms in front of the sacred mountains.

Coffee Tour & Tasting at Recuca

You will be taken to Hacienda Recuca, where you will experience the whole coffee production process “from the grain to the cup.”.The tour is interactive and you will be able to participate in the production process. Our coffee expert will share his in-depth knowledge and will reveal some secrets of planting, harvesting, washing and drying the coffee. Enjoy the delicious aromas and taste one of the best coffees in the world…the Colombian one!

Willys Jeep to Salento and Cocora Valley

You will be picked up from your hotel by the guide and transported to the beautiful Cocora Valley in the Quindío department. You will be able to enjoy the beautiful landscapes on the way, and once you arrive in the Valley you will walk through the ´Misty Forest´ (Bosque de Niebla) and enjoy the diverse flora and fauna found there. The you will be transported to Salento, where a city tour will show you all the nice places including the town’s squares, colorful typical balconies, handicraft shops and the view point Cocora. Before starting your return trip, you will enjoy a delicious coffee or cappuccino.

Fast Facts on Coffee Triangle

USEFUL TRAVELER INFORMATION

This section is a quick overview to help in planning your trip to Coffee Triangle.

When to go

The Coffee Triangle’s climate is just another reason to visit this stunning region. The climatic conditions that make it perfect for growing coffee also make it an attractive destination for tourists, due to the consistently warm temperatures the area enjoys all year round. However, another ingredient for cultivating the perfect bean is humidity, and the Coffee Triangle’s tropical rainforest climate means that it is always humid and has ample amounts of rainfall every month. When planning your trip, keep in mind that March, April, May, September, October and November are the wettest months. Average temperatures are fairly consistent throughout the year, usually falling between 64 and 81°F (18 to 22°C). We will tell you what to pack for your trip, so don’t worry. The farms are most active during harvest season between April and May or October and December. If you plan on visiting the Cocora Valley, which you surely will, be advised that the best time for trekking is between December and February and June and September, when the trails are less muddy.

How to get there

Visitors to the Coffee Triangle will likely arrive to Pereira’s international Aeropuerto Matecaña, which is located 3.1 miles (5km) outside the city center. Aeropuerto Internacional El Edén is 11 miles (18km) southwest of Armenia near the town of La Tebaida and receives both national and international flights. The area is also serviced by the many buses that run to Armenia from Bogotá (8 hours), Medellin (5 hours) and Cali (3.5 hours). All of the internal flights and transfers will be arranged for you as part of your itinerary, and you can speak to our travel expert and for advice you on the best routes for your trip.

Infrastructure

The Coffee Triangle has long welcomed visitors and tourists, so there is a wealth of accommodation to choose from in this region. Unlike more urban destinations in Colombia, in the Coffee Triangle it is likely you will prefer to have a more rustic experience by staying in a traditional and authentic finca. This way, you can experience traditional Colombian hospitality as well as appreciate the stunning views of the green mountains and coffee aromas that surround the region’s fincas. The haciendas and fincas are also well equipped to cater to tourists’ desires in terms of activities, and many of them offer horseback riding, jeep tours and bird watching trips. Be sure and try the local “Bandeja Paisa” dish, a hearty plate that contains chorizo, ground beef, beans, rice, avocado, a fried egg, fried plantain and arepa. But be warned, Bandeja Paisa is not for the faint-hearted.

Tour Packages to Coffee Triangle

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