My name is Frank and I run a travel agency based in Bogota, Colombia. If you have any feedback or suggestions, please write them in our comments section. Thank you and have a great trip to Colombia!
Driving from Cali to Armenia in the Colombian Coffee Triangle
During my travels through the south of the country on my way from Cali to Armenia -the capital of the department of Quindío-, I made a short stop at Lake Calima to visit a Swiss friend of mine, Markus, who had settled there a few years ago. I was astonished when I drove up his driveway, as it was covered in beautiful flowers. He seemed to really like orchids, and his were truly remarkable. in general, his finca reminded me of the Garden of Eden. I’ll have to consider his place for my next holiday.
In Armenia I had an appointment with Angie. I met the young and beautiful Paisa (that’s how the inhabitants of the region are called) almost 2 years ago on a hike near Salento. We went to Filandia for dinner, one of the most beautiful communities in the whole area. The village is extremely pretty and well preserved, and it offers you an insight into real village life during the week. Moreover, it has not been overrun by tourism yet. You can walk around comfortably and enjoy the beautiful buildings. In addition, we found a viewing platform in the middle of the village, which belongs to a coffee bar. However, you have to climb 4 floors, but the spectacular view is a good reward.
After 4 days I met up with Sebastian again, as he had taken a few days break with his girlfriend. This was good break for us, as we were both quite exhausted after 3 weeks on the road.
Our next adventure was Pereira and the related Department Risaralda, where we stopped by Manizales and the corresponding region of Caldas. During discussions with authorities, we learned that coffee production in the whole zone has declined sharply in recent decades and that more coffee is now being produced in other regions of Colombia. Nevertheless, we found some incredibly beautiful fincas where coffee is still produced, and tours are possible. There are also some spectacular places to stay in the area.
For more detailed information about all the activities in the Coffee Triangle feel free to check my Travel Guide Coffee Triangle Colombia.
Visiting Salento Colombia
Of course, we also visited Salento and as on my last visit, there were many backpackers. We learned that many of the properties in Salento have been bought by foreigners in recent years. A slow loss of culture and authenticity is already a reality here. At the same time, prices have risen enormously, making it increasingly inaccessible for Colombian residents. We were not extremely impressed with Salento, but there are still some interesting places, such as the Center for Arts and Crafts (Plaza de los Artesanos) where they still produce handmade products so you can bring some authentic Colombian products back with you. Apart from us, there were no other visitors. Nevertheless, Salento is the entrance point to the nearby Valle de Cocora that houses huge wax palms and hiking trails.
Near Manizales, we made a pleasing discovery. Far away from the crowds and only a 2-hour drive lies Salamina. However, if you want to go there, you must know that the route consists almost entirely of turns. The village has been preserved and probably has not changed much in the last 50 years. We could not make out any other tourists. Salamina is also one of the 17 cataloged national cultural assets in Colombia and thus certainly one of the top things to do in Colombia if you are looking to avoid some of the more touristy areas.
After another two-hour drive, we reached a spectacular vantage point, from which you can admire a myriad of wax palms. It is certainly a good alternative to the Valle de Cocora that remains untouched by tourists.
We also wanted to visit the national park of Los Nevados, as we had heard great things about it, but unfortunately, we ran out of time and had to head back to Bogota.
The coffee zone is certainly one of the most beautiful areas in Colombia and offers a unique show of culture and history. On a trip to the region, you should plan a few extra days to learn more about coffee production. Be sure to also get a tasting in! In addition, the mild climate and the breathtaking landscape makes the area a perfect place to visit and relax.
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