Colombia as a country has so much to offer that it is hard to make a decision on where to go. No matter what kind of tourist you are, you’ll likely find something that will cater to your taste of travelling. Whether it be adventure, exploring city life, trekking, partying or all the above. So when we visited Colombia I had to fight hard to fit in a couple of days driving through Zona Cafetera since Nick has no interest in coffee. We did not regret it.
There is much to do here, besides visiting finca’s and getting the low-down on coffee, there are hot springs, volcanoes, trekking in Los Nevados National Park, hot air balloon flights, para gliding, driving in Willey’s (the iconic jeeps you see all around the area) and visiting charming mountain villages. You will not be bored.
Fun fact: Colombians are weirdly enough not keen coffee drinkers. Maybe that has something to do with the majority of coffee beans being exported. Over 80 precent of the coffee being drunk in the world is produced in Colombia.
The name gives it away really. This region high up in the mountains is all about coffee. What you will also find here are the tallest palm trees in the world. These proud wax palms in the Cocora valley are seriously impressive and definitely deserve a visit or even a detour if you are in the region.
Nick’s thoughts on Zona Cafetera: If you are into coffee you have to head over to Zona Cafetera. I don’t drink much coffee but what I did drink tasted great. Even if you’re like me the scenery alone is worth the trip. You need a car to get around but you will be spoiled with the views along the way. While it might not be the most liveliest of stops there is still fun to be had if you search for it.
Of course we did one. We went Don Elias Organic Farm, a small finca (farm) that produces their coffee organically. If there is one thing I’ve learned about visiting finca’s is to always wear clothing you are willing to through out afterwards (yes, I have tried washing the stains out but did not succeed). The hills are steep and the ground muddy. After the somewhat interesting tour of the farm where we were explained where the coffee grows, what it needs and how they process it I caught a glimpse of Don Elias and asked him for his portrait.
Time for Tejo!
The town of Salento is a popular tourist stop. Its colorful streets are home to numerous bars and restaurants. One bar you should definitely visit is Tejo Los Amigos, it’s here you can play the traditional Colombian sport of Tejo. The game involves alcohol and gunpowder, what can go wrong? Basically you have to throw metal projectiles at a pipe set in a clay pit, there are envelopes (called “mechas”) around the perimeter containing gunpowder that explode when hit. As the sign in the alley states, it’s mandatory to drink while playing! We were rubbish but had great fun challenging another couple… and losing! Note: the video shows us playing from about a third of the distance that the pros do.
San Alberto: Coffee with a view
By far the best tasting experience we had was visiting San Alberto. Their prize winning coffee was nice. And the barista’s here sure do know their stuff but the views were stunning. It was our last stop before heading back to Bogota and I had a cappuccino while Nick went for an iced latte (no judgement). It has been the best coffee experience I’ve ever had.