You are here:
Coffee Region is another name for the Coffee Axis region embedded right at the center of Colombian geography. A forceful culture that teaches about the wonderful coffee bean, as well as a great deal of tourist activities revolving around ever-present coffee traditions and their characters, is permanently developing.
Three departments, Caldas, Quindío, and Risaralda make up the coffee region. They are connected by a good road network and are only a short distance apart - a fact that may lead to confusion on the part of travelers: towns that are similar in their architecture, color, and the kindness of their people seem to blend, aided by the delicious, characteristic aroma of Colombian coffee.
The three departments that make up the Coffee Region are Caldas, Quindío, and Risaralda.
The routes of the Café Triangle offer various alternatives for touring the region, beginning either in capital cities or small towns. The stretches of the journeys are short and seem shorter due to the pleasure of immersing in coffee hacienda scenery and mountains covered by dense, light green vegetation whose shapes and colors seem to be tended by able gardeners.
Naturally, it is one thing to make a simple tour of the region. Another is to stop at each site to experience the Coffee Axis, with its gorgeous natural reserves, adventure sports, exquisite gastronomy, theme parks, the kindness of cordial, enterprising people and, of course, the tasting of the best coffee.
One way of guiding a first-time or returning visitor is to ask to visualize and draw a triangle on the map and play around with the name of the Coffee Region to identify destinations and establish the courses of journeys.
For example, one point of departure could be the municipality of Calarcá, in Quindío, with its lively trade, colorful and well-cared-for Willys jeeps - the region's emblematic vehicle – and the attractive botanical and butterfly gardens of Quindío, with paths that acquaint visitors with the regional flora and dozens of butterfly species..
From there, the next stop is Armenia, the miracle, capital city of Quindío. Strolls around Bolívar Plaza and along Carrera 14, and visits to the Parque de la Vida (Park of Life), the old railway station, and the Quimbaya Museums are especially pleasant, including, of course, stops for a cup of coffee, either a tinto (black) or a pintadito (with a dash of milk). Several places exhibit old, modern, and even exotic machines for brewing coffee.
From Armenia, the journey could continue to Salento, with its multi-colored, lively architecture – a heritage from the times of the Antioquenian colonization. This municipality is also the point of access to Los Nevados National Natural Park through the Valley of Cocora, where wax palms may be admired. The wax palm is the national tree, a unique palm that grows in cool climates.
From Salento to Filandia, a curved road in good condition winds through the Bremen and Barbas forests. Several historical houses should be visited in Filandia, as well as the imposing lookout made from mangle wood, which provides a wide panoramic view of nearby municipalities, among them, Pereira, the next destination.
The capital of the department of Risaralda appears immediately after crossing the emblematic toll booth made from guadua bamboo, on the Autopista del Café, or Coffee Highway. The city has evidenced important growth in recent years, with a modern transportation system, and interesting sites such as the Plaza de Bolívar, whose highlight is the statue of Simón Bolívar Naked, and the Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Pobreza.
The department of Risaralda also has destinations that bring into harmony ecological wealth and the work and creativity of its people. Among them:
Pereira also offers the Matecaña Zoo, the botanical garden of the Universidad Tecnológica, the César Gaviria Trujillo overpass, important shopping centers, and the city square that bears the name of Ciudad Victoria. The surroundings provide placid coffee landscapes on the way to the municipality of Marsella, haciendas along the road to Cerritos, and the crossing of the Cauca River at the town of La Virginia.
After Marsella, the next stop is Chinchiná, in the department of Caldas, the most important coffee production site, as well as the location of Cenicafé, Colombia´s coffee research center. Next is Villamaría, a town on the road that goes to the Ruiz Snow Peak, the most important one in Los Nevados Park.
Manizales, the capital of the department of Caldas, is the next stop on this random route across the Coffee Triangle. The city is characterized by steep streets, one of the most famous fairs on the continent, and an interesting theater festival. It is inevitable to visit the Bolívar Plaza and its imposing cathedral, the aerial tramway station, and Los Yarumos Eco-park.
Continuing towards the north of the Caldas region, visitors arrive at Neira and Salamina. The former is a town with a nostalgic guadua bamboo architecture; the latter, a surprise upon a mountain, with the rich aroma of coffee and landscapes suited for paragliding.
To get back to Quindío, thus closing the circle, there are several alternatives for discovering other marvelous spots. It is also possible to return to the destinations visited, bearing in mind that there is a road from Pereira to Quindío and its theme parks. The Panaca Park, in the municipality of Quimbaya, and the National Coffee Park, in Montenegro, are fantastic sites that bring together nature and the activities and games that represent this pretty, green, fertile region.
Upon taking off on a tour of the area, the traveler will find many activities and attractions: rivers for various types of rafting; forests for canopying and high-rope games, and ecological trails for walking or biking.
The Coffee Region is a splendid fusion of three Colombian departments, where Mother Nature herself made sure to give them many things in common: rivers, snow peaks, lakes, guadua bamboo forests, and scenic routes lined by coffee fields.