A trip to the departments Quindio, Risaralda and Caldas, the centers of the coffee zone. By ground-based transport it is possible to get from Bogota to the cities of Armenia (6 hours), Pereira (8 hours), or Manisales (6-8 hours), or by plane from Bogota, approximately 1 hour to each city. This is a trip for 4-5 days.
Quindio is the heart of the coffee zone. This department is characterized by an excellent mild climate (mean temperature of 20-25 degrees Celsius) and splendid views, which harmoniously combine dark green coffee plantations, bamboo groves, banana plantations and a bright variety of gelikonies.
Armenia city, founded in 1889, survived the coffee boom of the beginning of the 20's of the past century. It is famous for the museum of Kimbayya culture, which has a rich collection of gold and ceramics. But the special charm and popularity of Quindio are the numerous coffee estates converted into the hotels. These are out-of-town hasiendas in the Spanish colonial style with a small quantity of comfortable rooms, a restaurant, a pond and the adjacent coffee plantations. You will dip into the unique atmosphere of rural Colombia. Most frequently in these estates it is possible to hire a horse, either to fish in the lake or to take hikes. From all of these estates it is possible to make trips to the basic park zones - the park of coffee, the centre of bamboo processing, the park of fishing, the centre of the coffee culture Rikuka, and also into the numerous natural preserves, where it is possible to see rare birds and “whistling” monkeys.
The National Coffee Park
It is located 16 kilometers from Armenia and occupies 60 acres. This is the largest theme park of the country, which combines a splendid view, a museum under the open sky, dedication to the culture of coffee cultivation, and an amusement park. A visit to the park will take one whole day.
The National Park of Agricultural Culture PANAKA
It is 27 km from Armenia and attracts numerous local and foreign tourists. It has more than 22 species of domestic animals, with which it is possible to meet. Both children and adults will enjoy feeding suckling-pigs from nipples, feeding horses, stroking lambs, milking cows and drinking this milk. You can also see how “panela” - evaporated juice from sugar cane - is made. It is possible to enjoy sweets made from coffee, drink freshly squeezed sugar cane juice, or watch the numerous horse, bull, dog, etc. shows. The original idea of the park's creators proved to be so successful that it exceeded the limits of the country. Analogous parks under the name of Panaka have been created now in Spain, Cuba, Venezuela, and the USA. A visit to the park occupies the whole day.
This municipality is famous for its unique views. From the viewing ground of 'Mirador,' you will be able to see the valley of Cocora, the home of the wax palm, the national tree of Colombia and the tallest tree in the world, which reaches to 60 meters. The valley is also the part of the national park of Los Nevados - an enormous perserved territory of 58350 acres with snow-covered volcanoes and rich fauna.
Pereira Pereira city is the capital of the department Risaralda, also situated in the coffee zone. Here there is a zoo, Matekanya - one of the richest zoos by quantity of animals in Colombia. The animals from Hasienda Napoles, which belonged to Pablo Escobar, were moved here. There are thermal ponds and an aquapark in the city. The city is small, but very comfortable. It should be mentioned that the excellent views of the coffee zone surround it.
Manisales is the capital of the department of Caldas. It stretches in picturesque valleys, full of unpredictable and unexpectedly beautiful places. Manisales attracts toursts for its colonial streets, cathedrals and monuments, the most significant of which is a monument to Bolivar in the form of condor.
From Manisales you can make an excursion into the national park of Los Nevados, rising 5400 meters above sea level to the snowy boundary of the volcano Ruiz, and can bathe in the thermal ponds at its foot, and get to know the unique alpine ecosystem - paramo (Andes high mountain region).