Colombia is known for having some of the world’s best coffee. The unique area in which is has been traditionally grown is known as the Coffee Triangle or Eje Cafetero. Comprising 3 departamentos (states) there is so much to see and do in this beautiful part of Colombia. Risaralda, Quindío and Caldas each have their own picturesque landscapes and coffee-lined mountains filled with little towns, thermal hotsprings, and snow peaked volcanoes. And if you haven’t noticed yet we had a blast on our last trip, so I am giving you ALLLLL the reasons to visit fo’ yo’self. This is a 3-part Guide to The Eje Cafetero for each of the departments that make up the Coffee Axis!
CircaWanderlust Guide to The Eje Cafetero
HOW TO GET THERE
If you are flying internationally, you will most likely be making a connection in Bogota before heading to one of the 3 airports in the Eje: Aeropuerto El Edén en Armenia, Aeropuerto La Nubia de Manizales, or Aeropuerto Matecaña en Pereira. Armenia has direct flights from South Florida via Spirit Airlines. Flying in and out Colombia is actually really easy.
For those that are already in the country, cross-country buses are a great option for budget travel or you can always rent a car. There are things to keep in mind when renting a car internationally, and Colombia is no different.
HOW TO GET AROUND
Taxi – Getting a taxi for around town travel and going to/from from where you are staying will be your easiest and most convenient option. Though others are available, this tends to be the most user friendly.
Rent a Car – Renting a car ultimately gives you the most freedom when traveling across the country. Check out tips on renting a car in Colombia by Uncover Colombia here.
Buses: Are great for traveling from one city to another, but inside a city can be a little confusing if you aren’t use to the routes. If you ask though, people are more than happy to help you figure it out!
Of the 3 coffee axis departments, Risaralda probably has the greatest deal of natural wonders for you to explore. And there is something for just about anyone!
Coffee Farm Tour at Finca El Placer- Santa Rosa de Cabal
Cost: $30,000 Colombian Pesos
There are numerous coffee farms all over the Eje Cafetero that will show you their coffee lands and explain the process to you. But Finca El Placer goes above and beyond for a “soil to sip” experience you will never forget! You will see seedling coffee trees awaiting their maturity to meet the ground, beautiful mountains kiss the sky, and roast your own coffee for a tasting later in the day.
Termales – Santa Rosa De Cabal
Cost: Prices vary per season
One of the coolest ways to spend time while on vacation, hands down. What is there not to love about volcanic hot springs that come down giant slabs of rock into a pool that is toasty? Though the springs are open all day, we are BIG fans of going at night when you can see the steam rise from the water under a sky full of stars.
TIP: There are 2 hot springs in Santa Rosa, the public ones and the hotel ones. Going to the hotel ones is more expensive, but there are certainly quite a few less people!
Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados
One of the few places in the world you can experience a volcanic system, forests, snow peaks, and see wildlife you wont see anywhere else in the world. With 225 square miles composed of 3 volcanic peaks, the park is the heart of the Eje Cafetero not just in geography terms. As snows melt into rivers they water the growing coffeculture of the area. The parks geography also gives it some amazing and unique landscapes that are few and far between in the world. Fruiting trees, high altitude palms, and wildflowers pepper the landscape as you encounter long tailed weasels and over 255 different species of birds.
TIP: Because you we are talking about real volcanoes, it is advised that you call a day or two before your visit to be aware of any park area closures or restrictions.
Bioparque UKUMARÍ – Pereira
When completed the bioparque will be the largest in Latin America, but that doesn’t mean that in the mean time you can’t go and see the completed first phase. This bioparque is a collaboration between local and national governments, as well a private investor. The intention to change how mankind views the environment and its impact on the planet is quite apparent as you walk through a different type of park you haven’t quite seen before in Latin America.
Don’t forget to check out our travel guides of the other 2 Eje Cafetero departments! We’ve done all the hard work of exploring and seeing what is REALLY worth seeing while on your vacation so you don’t have it. Yeah, we love you that much.