The Coffee Triangle
Introduction to the Coffee Triangle
Known worldwide for its rich, full-bodied coffee, the Zona Cafetera is found in the middle of the country, centered on the towns of Pereira and Armenia. The departments of Caldas, Quindío and Risaralda make up the Coffee Triangle, which gets its namesake from being home to the world’s best coffee.
Characterized by its unique and colorful scenery, picturesque architecture and prosperous coffee farms (fincas), coffee aromas and breathtaking landscapes. Exploring family-run coffee plantations, staying at gorgeous colonial-style fincas and relaxing surrounded by the region’s lush rolling hills makes Colombia’s Coffee Triangle a highlight destination in South America. The region will easily seduce you with its visually stunning and expansive views of plantations and rolling hillsides.
This region is also much more than just coffee farms and you will be left glued to the spot in admiration as you stare out across the green patchwork for as far as the eye can see in the Valle de Cocora. Tucked between the rugged Andean peaks, the Cocora Valley is like a scene from a Dr. Seuss book with the ever-present Wax Palms rising 200ft. (61m) up into the air adding to the already surreal landscape.
The region is considered to be the first true rural destination open to tourism in Latin America, due to the traditional fincas opening their doors for tours and visits as well as accommodation. Colombia’s Coffee Triangle will give you an authentic and heartwarming travel experience.
What not to miss in the Coffee Triangle
Visit a Coffee Hacienda
Learn more about the different elements that give Colombian coffee its world-renowned taste and aroma. Walk around coffee plantations where you will learn the secrets of planting, harvesting, washing and drying the coffee beans.
Located 15 miles (24km) from Armenia is the small traditional village of Salento. With colorful balconies, typical colonial architecture and handicrafts shops you can walk along the Calle Real (Royal Road) leading to a stunning view over the Cocora Valley.
Cocora National Park
This National Park is home to Colombia’s national tree, the Quindío Wax Palm which is also the tallest palm species in the world reaching heights of up to 200 ft. (61m) tall! Within the spectacular Cocora Valley you can enjoy hiking through the Bosque de Niebla (Misty Forest) and exploring the surrounding flora and fauna.
Butterfly Park & Botanical Garden
Located close to Armenia, this park offers a spectacular Mariposario (Butterfly Park) and also a natural forest. The forest stretches over 13 hectares and is filled with enormous diversity including more than 600 species of plants, over 70 species of birds and more than 2,000 species of butterflies.
What you need to know
When to go
Along with the rich and fertile volcanic soil of the Coffee Triangle, one of the main reasons for the success of coffee production in the area is down to its climate. The consistently warm temperatures and precipitation throughout the year make for perfect conditions to cultivate coffee plants. Colombia’s Coffee Region has a very humid climate and it rains almost every month due to its tropical rainforest climate. The quantity of rain varies with March, April, May, September, October and November being the wettest months.
Average temperatures vary little throughout the year (64-81°F / 18-22°C) making deciding what to pack when traveling to the Coffee Region that much easier. We recommend light clothing that will help you deal with the high humidity levels as well as a sweater and light jacket for the cooler evenings. To save on suitcase space, and depending on your other travel destinations an umbrella rather than a rain jacket may come in use as well as ensuring you are comfortable with the average humidity levels of 81%. If you are looking to avoid the refreshing and short downpours, July is the driest and warmest month to travel to the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia.
How to get there
Pereira’s international Aeropuerto Matecaña is 3.1 miles (5km) west of the city center. The bus terminal is less than 1 mile (1.5km) south of the city center with regular departures from Bogotá (9 hours) and a number of buses from Medellin (6 hours) and Cali (4 hours). Pereira’s Megabus system runs cross-town and is similar to Bogotá’s TransMilenio, but on a smaller scale.
Aeropuerto Internacional El Edén is 11 miles (18km) southwest of Armenia near the town of La Tebaida and serves both national and international flights with direct flights arriving from Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the United States. Armenia’s bus terminal is less than 1 mile (1.5km) southwest of the center and can be reached by frequent city buses. There are plenty of buses that run to Armenia from Bogotá (8 hours), Medellin (5 hours) and Cali (3.5 hours).
Where to stay
There’s a wealth of accommodation to choose from in this region. Staying in the Coffee Triangle is a unique experience as you swap traditional hotels for a traditional and authentic finca. This allows you to not only experience the true beauty of Colombian tradition but also the stunning views of the green mountains and coffee aromas that typically surround Colombian fincas.
Taxis are cheap, safer, and a preferable mode of transport within the city – private taxis should be called by telephone as they are more trustworthy.