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Beyond Bogota

An American’s Take on Colombian Coffee Country

March 12, 2016

In recent years, coffee tourism has been blooming in Colombia.  Before the bloom, almost all of the coffee was exported and Colombians were left brewing dregs.  That was until several national coffee lovers began to campaign to raise the standard.  In result, new cafes began to open brewing only high quality Colombian coffee.

The most common of these cafes is Juan Valdez Cafe.  This is the main chain in the country.  Visitors can easily find Juan Valdez Cafe locations in all major cities throughout Colombia.  The best part about these places is the various brewing methods.  They use methods such as v-60, syphon and chemed to especially brew each type of coffee.  In Bogtota’s Zona G, you will find a three-story Juan Valdez Cafe that is gorgeous and always full of people.

The Coffee Triangle

Now the main focus of this article, the illustrious Coffee Triangle.  The triangle includes Zona Cafeteria, Coffee Axis and Eje Cafetero.  In order to enter these zones, visitors must use the following three points of entry:

  1. Armenia – Amenia is the capital of the Quindio department.
  2. Pereira - Pereira is the capital of Risaralda.
  3. Manizales – Manzales is the capital of Caldas

 

The total size of the three departments is 550 square miles.  This area is the UNESCO-designated Coffee Cultural Landscape and home to some of the most beautiful places to sip fresh coffee in the world.

Upon entering coffee country, you will feel like you are on a different planet.  Some of the highlights include the man-made terraces, historic towns, beautiful pastel colors, intense topography and Spanish Colonial style.  You will not find almost any Western influence.  For dedicated travelers, like me, that’s a dream come true.  One of the best parts about traveling is soaking up the local culture like a dry sponge trying to get wet.  Coffee country is the perfect spot to do just that.

Lodging and Safety in Coffee Country

The best places to find lodging in coffee county are the haciendas that have been converted into boutique hotels.  For a full immersive experience, I recommend the Hacienda Venecia.  There you will get to truly see what it’s like to work on a coffee farm.  Also, the property is a century old which gives it some great history.  Guests will experience breath-taking landscapes.  You will also here rivers dripping and birds chirping.  For anyone that enjoys birdwatching, it’s a dream come true.  There are almost 2,000 different bird species in Colombia.  Don’t forget your binoculars!

 Although Colombia is no longer considered dangerous for tourists, there are still a couple of basic safety tips you should follow.  When using cabs or taxis, download these two apps to use on your smartphone – Tappsi and EasyTaxi.  If you are not able to use those apps make sure your hotel calls you a taxi that gives you a confirmation number.  If you are using a taxi to fly domestically from Bogota make sure the driver takes you to terminal 2.  This can sometimes get confusing and you do not want to get ripped off.  The cheapest flights are through Avianca and Viva Colombia.

Should you decide to rent a car, you will find that the highways are well paved, but using a GPS is a little tricky.  I recommend taking advantage of cheap fares from Colombian drivers.  This way you can sit back and relax while taking in the gorgeous landscape.  Additionally, Colombian drivers are usually very friendly and will give you some helpful recommendations.  Although, take some recommendations with a grain of salt.  For example, when a driver is trying to aggressively sell you a special tour in his taxi use caution.

 By following this guide, you are already well on your way to planning an epic trip through Colombia’s coffee country.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  It was by far the freshest coffee I have ever tasted.

 

Written by: Pete, check him out here.

 

by AI_Bogota. Find out more about AI_Bogota here.