Guide to Colombia's Coffee Region
The "Coffee Triangle" formed by the three departments of Quindio, Caldas and Risaralda is not only where most of Colombia's world-famous coffee is produced, but also one of the country's most beautiful destinations. As well as the chance to see some of Colombia's most interesting wildlife, the area's balmy climate makes it the perfect place to unwind and relax, while you sit back and enjoy the freshest coffee you'll ever taste...
Located to the west of Bogota, in the foothills of the Cordillera Central, the elevation and climate mean that some of the world's best coffee is produced here, and many people choose to spend at least part of their holidays in Colombia relaxing at one of the traditional haciendas at the heart of the region's coffee plantations. Many of them operate in a similar way to the vineyards of Argentina or Italy, welcoming visitors with beautifully-furnished rooms to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the perfect peace and tranquility.
These haciendas also make perfect bases for exploring the further-flung reaches of the Coffee Triangle, such as the beautiful Cocora Valley which lies between the towns of Pereira and Armenia. Part of the Los Nevados National Park, the Cocora valley is the best place to see Colombia's national tree, the slender and tall Quindio Wax Palm. Growing as tall as 60m high, the tree provides a habitat for the endangered native Yellow-Eared Parrot and is itself a protected species.
Wildlife in the Coffee Region
As well as the Yellow-Eared Parrot, the coffee region is one of the best places to see some of Colombia's other most reclusive species. Other birds include the black-billed mountain toucan and several endemic species of hummingbirds, while soaring high above them all, you can also hope to see the giant Andean condors which are one of South America's most iconic species.
A little closer to earth, the more isolated areas of the Coffee Triangle are home to pumas and spectacled bears, while you can also hope to see rarities like sloths and the woolly mountain tapir.
Transport: Getting to and from the Coffee Triangle
Although geographically close to Bogota, the roads linking the capital to the Coffee Region make things slow going - you're looking at around a 10-12 hour drive to go overland. With pretty cheap flights available to the main towns of Armenia, Manizales and Pereira, this is definitely the best way to get from Bogota to the Coffee Region.
However, from cities like Cali, Medellin or even Popayan, overland travel can make more sense, with much more reasonable transfer times, and it does mean you get to enjoy rather more of the Coffee Triangle's beautiful scenery...