After the bustling city of Medellín we figured we’d go to the more relaxed Zona Cafetera, Colombia’s coffee region, known for pristine nature, lush valleys and, well, coffee. Zona Cafetera is a zone in the Colombian Andes where nearly half of Colombia’s coffee is harvested in just over 1% of the country’s total area.
Our main destination was Salento, but on the way south we stopped by Santa Rosa de Cabal to visit the San Vicente thermal baths. We spent a day relaxing in the (very) hot pools, enjoying the Turkish baths, peeling and mud treatments, high up in the valley. The water is heated by underground volcanoes and was at times almost scolding hot. We had a nice day at the pools and the town itself was also nice, with some good restaurants and cool bars/nightclubs.
Next stop was Salento, a lovely little town in between coffee fincas and an awe-inspiring landscape. The town was quite charming with colorful houses, the town plaza on a hill, a little “shopping street” and several local restaurants. Tuva got her American-food fix at a great little cafe called Brunch, which served great breakfast and lunch, and even (somewhat creepy) Mickey-Mouse shaped pancakes. We also enjoyed the local trucha (trout), the comida tipica for the region, at Camino Real, a restaurant in the tourist street.
One of the main goals for our visit was to hike in Valle de Cocora (waxpalm valley), where we walked in the beautiful landscape between 60 meter high wax palms for about 5 hours. 2 of those hours were in pouring rain. Luckily we borrowed rain boots from the hostel, so the only part that wasn’t wet in the end was our big toes. The 20-minute jeepride back to Salento, where we had to stand on the back of the jeep, didn’t help either, and made sure we got soaked all the way to the skin..!
Apart from the rain the trip was really nice. We hiked to a finca high up in the valley, where they had hot chocolate (or a cold soda) and a lot of humming birds. We were lucky enough to have two little dogs leading us all the way up. After the finca we hiked into the cloud forest, which had an almost magical (trolsk) feel, before the clouds subsided and revealed the mighty palms of the valley. We will probably never see the same landscape anywhere else.
The other goal of our visit was to visit a coffee farm. We went to Finca Don Elias, where we got to see and learn about the coffee berries, how to get the beans out of them, dry the beans, roast them and finally grind them to aromatic coffee. The
guide, Jose, was really nice and we learned a lot about coffee and how it’s produced.
More photos from the coffee region and the rest of our travels in Colombia can be found here.