The Coffee Axis is a region in the center of Colombia, located in the Andean zone between two mountain ranges, and it is composed of three departments: Quindio, Risaralda and Caldas, as well as some areas of Tolima and Valle del Cauca. This evergreen and intense zone breathes and lives coffee day by day, a drink that is also the economic sustenance of the country, as it is the most exported product. Experts say that the best and the softest coffee in the world is produced in this region. In 2011 it was declared an Unesco World Heritage Site.
Armenia, the capital of Quindío, is a city close to several of the most important tourist attractions of the Coffee Hub. Some of them are the Cocora Valley, home to the national tree of Colombia, the wax palm; The National Coffee Park, a theme park where you can have fun all day while learning the coffee culture; The “mariposario” in Calarcá; And the towns of Salento, Buenavista, Filandia, Pijao and Quimbayá, among others.
In Pereira you can visit the Botanical Garden of the local university, considered to be beautiful, natural and wild, and is recognized as one of the most important habitats for orchids in the world. While Risaralda has a traditional paisa town called Santuario, Manizales, on the other hand, is home to the Cathedral Basilica Nuestra Señora del Rosario, a Catholic temple that at 160 meters is the tallest in the country. This city is also visited by those who want to relax in its amazing hot springs.
Throughout the coffee region of Colombia it is possible to visit many coffee farms, where you can learn the art of producing premium quality coffee, from harvest to roasting. Additionally, the departments of the Coffee Axis share the natural national park, Los Nevados. It is a mountainous area in the central Andes, characterized by its snowy peaks, lagoons and fauna. For this reason, the Coffee Axis is a paradise for those who love nature and ecotourism, complete with endless coffee and banana plantations.
The famous Jeep Willys of World War II are widely used by tourists, and are the favorite means of transport next to horses. While undoubtedly the gastronomy is led by “bandeja paisa”, a traditional dish that has avocado, chorizo, egg and meat, amongst other ingredients, you can also taste other native delicacies, such as arepas and “caldense” beans!.
You can get to the Coffee Axis with a quick flight from Medellin or Bogotá.
The coffee region is formed by the departments of Quindio, Risaralda, Caldas and Valle del Cauca, and it is a political and cultural area that was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2011. Considered by many people as world class destination thanks to its historic richness, mountainous and green landscapes, its warm climate and the architecture of its houses.
Probably the most characteristic icon of culture in the coffee landscape is life on the farms, where you can personally experience rural tourism in Colombia. There, peasants and coffee entrepreneurs welcome visitors, who marvel at the colorful pre-Hispanic houses and the history behind Colombia’s most traditional drink, starting with the process of harvest and until discovery of the category and quality of grains and it is served in the table. One of the most interesting tours is made by Caficultur on a farm near Buenavista, in Quindío. There it is possible to know the history of Don Leonel Martínez, who carries out on his ranch all the processing of the coffee.
It had a strong indigenous presence before the conquest, and the beginning of the coffee culture was in the early twentieth century, when the coffee industry began to develop. Today, you can visit, among other things, the Hat Museum, the Temple of the Inmaculada Concepción and the Petroglyphs in Marmato.
It is one of the smallest departments, but it is, perhaps, one of the most attractive within coffee area. During a visit, you can go to the Coffee Park, which combines the traditions of the region with the adventure of the games of an amusement park, or visit the town of Pijao, preserved with traditional architecture of Antioquia colonization.
In addition to touring farms, a visit in this Colombian department will guide you to the Eliseo Bolivar Museum and the clay pottery of Mistrató.
From a hostel in the city of Armenia, to a ranch in the middle of the coffee landscape. The cordillera area of Colombia is a perfect combination of countryside, small towns and colonial architecture, and modernity of a city. Whatever the choice, the connections to the tourist destinations are within easy reach and are done in a simple way.
For example in Armenia, if you are looking for cheap, clean, cozy and with good attention accommodation, you have the option to choose Wanderlust Hostel Armenia, located in Carrera 14. In the same city you can also get something more luxurious, such as Victorias Park Hotel, European style and elegant, which accommodates 66 guests and spacious interior spaces.
If you are looking for something of an intermediate price, there is the alternative of boutique hotels, such as La Casa de Lola García Hotel, a house built in tapia, bahareque and lime, which has a central courtyard and beautiful corridors, as well as 7 Stylish rooms.
Although it is an area of mountains and hills, and that the Eje Cafetero has different floors terms, most cities and towns have a warm climate throughout the year, with an average temperature of 19 to 21 degrees Celsius.
For a visit, it is always recommended to wear comfortable and light clothing. Although the climate is warm, there are higher areas where temperatures can be low, and even snow, as in the national park Los Nevados.
The gastronomy in the Eje Cafetero comes from peasant origins and of great antioqueña influence. Much of it is made up of rice, potatoes, legumes and fish, and is internationally known as Paisa food.
In Quindío, one of the most classic dishes is trout. It is found in many places and with different preparations, but mainly it is recommended to consume it in the town of Salento, being very characteristic the trout to the iron or the garlic.
Another gastronomic alternative that you can taste in the coffee region is the mountain plate with beans and ajiaco, accompanied also with tamales, corn and lechona. You cannot miss the arepas as an accompaniment, a small tortilla that is prepared based on corn. The most requested options are arepas with cheese, with stew and with guacamole.
Traditional are the Sudados, which is a kind of stew that brings potatoes, cassava, bananas and some beef prey.
The activities you can do in the coffee region will depend on the budget and the time you want to spend on the destination. Many of the attractions are free, such as the entrance to some churches and monuments.
One of the activities most requested by tourists when they visit the department of Quindío is what the Colombians themselves call “pueblear”, which is just to walk slowly while visiting each of the small and colorful villages nearby. It is also known with the Architectural Route, where you can visit charming villages such as Salento, Quimbaya, Buenavista, Filandia and Circasia.
Tourists also love to travel in a Willy Jeep from Salento to the valley of Cócora, experiencing the cruise aboard a vehicle that was used in World War II.
For lovers of nature and trekking, it is recommended to go for one or more days to visit the Cocora Natural Park, where the national tree of Colombia, the Palm of Wax, is located. This site is the entrance to the National Park Los Nevados.
And without a doubt, those who come to the Eje Cafetero cannot miss a visit to a hacienda to observe and learn from the coffee production process, an example of tourism sustainability. There are several places that teach you how to harvest, thresh and roast the grain. After that, you can try a rich and aromatic coffee with the local families.
Other attractions in the region are: