7 Things to Do in the Coffee Zone of Colombia Uncover Colombia
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Colombia coffee region

7 THINGS TO DO IN THE COFFEE ZONE OF COLOMBIA

June 18, 2024, 10:14 am

Coffee Farm Tour

It wouldn’t be the coffee zone if you didn’t get to explore where Juan Valdez walked with his mule. Some of the most famous coffee tours are in Manizales and Pereira. Tours are typically for small groups, but private tours can be arranged as well. These tours normally include a step-by-step demonstration of how coffee is produced. They normally start or end with a delicious coffee tasting.

The average coffee tour may last two to four hours depending on the size of the operation and the interest of the visitor. They can be as relaxed or as intense as you want them to be. The biggest benefit to these tours are the views, the relaxation and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

Tip: Due to small tour sizes and demand, visitors should call several days in advance to reserve their coffee tour.

Hike to a Waterfall in Pereira

Pereira is a city of fun and adventure. Discover a botanical garden at the local university, take a tour at Jardin Exotico Kamala, an exotic garden with over 40,000 exotic imported plants, and experience the upbeat nightlife of Pereira.

Take a rustic Chiva bus from the city center, out to the nearby countryside in the early morning. Enjoy a pleasant hike to a pristine waterfall in a special protected area. Cascada de los Frailes, or Friars Waterfall, is a natural landmark in Pereira and carefully protected. Be sure to reserve ahead of time because only a limited number of people are allowed in per day.

The trip takes most of the morning, but you will be back in Pereira by the afternoon due to bus schedules. The hike takes about two hours in and out walking at a normal pace and resting at the waterfall. Visitors may opt to take a chilly dip in the small pool there.

Tip: Weekdays are the best times for taking this trip, as weekend space is limited and the trail is much more crowded by other hikers.

Casa Paisa in Marsella

Learn about traditional Colombian rural culture at the Casa Paisa in Marsella, only 45 minutes from Pereira, the Capital of the Coffee Axis. This is a very large, old, and well-preserved house which has been converted into a museum. One of the biggest museums in the Coffee Zone, you will discover photo collections, historical relics, cultural relics and fun hands on activities - like a giant chess set and ping-pong tables.

You may be surprised at how large the collection is once you arrive, definitely give yourself a few hours to wander through the four different floors of physical history about the village and region. This attraction is typically open on weekends and holidays due to its popularity. It’s closed on major holidays.

Hike to the Top of a Cathedral in Manizales

One of the most scenic experiences can be found when you witness the view in Manizales from the main cathedral in Plaza Bolivar. This two hour experience, will carefully take you to the highest point of the main cupola of the cathedral where you will learn about regional and religious history, plus enjoy spectacular 360-degree views from the top turret.

Be sure to drink some water or coffee before you start walking. It’s not a terribly difficult climb, but it will take awhile to get all the way up there so be prepared with proper shoes and physical fitness.

Colombian Artisans and Vistas in Filandia

Visitors go to Salento for the wax palms, and fall in love with Filandia for its pastoral tranquility.

Situated in the rolling green hills of Quindio, visitors will be treated to spectacular views of Pereira from the viewing tower on the edge of the village. This pueblo is known for its basket weavers and woven/knit ponchos. Wander streets and browse the shops of local artisans, or choose to dine in a variety of cafes and restaurants.

Due to rising popularity, you must now buy your return bus ticket upon arrival if you are only visiting for the day. The crowds are much smaller than Salento, yet you will find the same small beautiful pueblo feel. The weather is fair with a 50 percent chance of rain and sunshine. In fact, you will probably encounter both at some point on a typical day.

Visit a Swim Resort in La Virginia

Only 30 minutes to the west of Pereira lies the small pueblo of La Virginia.

This small town has a really nice swim resort called Farallones, which features a network of swimming areas with waterfalls, diving boards, caves, slides, tunnels and kiddie pools. Busses run regularly from El Centro Pereira to the entrance. Before you leave, stop off in the main plaza of the pueblo, eat at one of the many restaurants of Faroles Plaza and enjoy the ample green spaces. Walk across the old bridge where you can see the Rio Cauca, an important tributary and shipping lanes in this region.

Cocora Valley & Salento

The most famous attraction in this region, Salento, is the gateway to Cocora Valley, which is popular among backpackers and traveling musicians.  Experience a beautiful combination of both mountain and valley views, which are characterized by the famous wax palms. This species is also the national tree of Colombia.

The village of Salento is full of gourmet coffee shops, artisan/souvenir shops and various restaurants. In the streets, you will see that traveling musicians, backpackers, upscale travelers and expats all find their way here at some point during their visit to Colombia.

Tip: Enjoy open mic night at Kafe del Alma (at the end of Calle Real) every Sunday at 4 p.m. Due to the international feel of this small pueblo, you will see plenty of unexpected musical variety.

Conclusion

Of course, we are barely brushing the surface, as there are so many small pueblos with unique personalities, coffee farms with explosive vistas and urban scenes with vibrant nightlife.  With what is rumored to be some the best local infrastructure and road systems in Colombia, definitely include the Coffee Region in your next visit to Colombia.

Share with your traveller friends!

Erin Donaldson 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erin Donaldson 

Erin is a mother, a wife, a career woman, and a writer. She lives with her husband and son in the Coffee Axis of Colombia. She love horses, good chocolate and a nice wine. In her free time, she practices Tai Chi and Karate, cooks scrumptious recipes from Pinterest, plays the guitar, and travels every chance she gets. Follow her adventures via her personal blog www.openmindedtraveler.com

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