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 as 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.
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 colossal 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 feet tall. These enormous, 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.
You begin your experience in Salento with a transfer to the Finca Santa Ana, approximate duration of 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 reaping 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 an inferior coffee quality from excellent 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 created on coffee.
A short and beautiful path. The tour begins beside what is known 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, and moss to cover any surface, and on the other side with the milky farms, where one of the best milk is produced with daily, dedicated work. The destination of the trek is an impressive view to the Valley with an open landscape, among centenarian wax palms in front of the sacred mountains.
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!
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. Then you will be transported to Salento, where a city tour will show you all the nice places including the town’s squares, typical colorful balconies, handicraft shops and the viewpoint Cocora. Before starting your return trip, you will enjoy a delicious coffee or cappuccino.
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 relatively 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 inevitably will be advised that the best time for trekking is between December and February and June and September when the trails are less muddy.
Visitors to the Coffee Triangle will likely arrive at 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 advsise you on the best routes for your trip.
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 regarding 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.