Road Trip through the Coffee Cultural Landscape
Colombian Coffee Axis
More than 100 years of knowledge and family tradition cover the mountains that transpire the best aroma in the world, and where the effort of several generations of peasants has led to the highest development of the cultural identity that the Coffee Triangle boasts of.
Although the northern part of the Cauca Valley and a small area of Tolima are also included in the Coffee Cultural Landscape, it is the departments of Quindío, Caldas and Risaralda where the coffee reaches its maximum expression, completely covering mountains slopes that hide within small and colorful little villages.
Today we want to take you to feel a small portion of this wonderful country, Colombia.
From south to north we travel to present ourselves before the “Daughter of the Andes”, Filandia; a tiny town where the begonias and chrysanthemums adorn the balconies of the houses that preserve an Antioquia architecture, which imprints an indelible stamp on this territory.
The surroundings of this town, the houses, the people, the colors, the hands of the artisans who work the basketry of liana (bejuco) and a sunset that concludes each day with a special light, are the sweetest invitation that a town can offer.
Every day, in the central park or Bolívar Park the Filandia natives gather along with the muleteers, the yipaos and us, the travelers, all surrounded by the houses of the first settlers and with the purpose of having a nice chat while savoring, of course, a cup of the greatest coffee.
Visits that without any doubt have left in us an unforgettable flavor of this place are; the artisan’s house, which holds a photographic archive of more than 2000 images, which takes you through the history of Filandia. And the majestic Barbas Bremen Reserve, which from the distance and under a dense vegetation welcome any visitor with the howling of the Howling Monkey. The reserve can only be accessed with an authorized guide. This can be hired at Check-in Tour Agency, located in Filandia main town square.
Salento, as the next destination on this time travel, awaits us only a few kilometers away. Here, in the Quindío, it is the Cócora Valley who opens the door to the stunning national park Los Nevados. Also here we are force to look up over the more than 60 meters that the national tree can reach, the Wax Palm. Many of those who come here to admire the landscape form by this tree over the mountains decide as well to include Santa Rosa del Cabal as their next destination. Here, a treat for our body can be obtained by walking into one of the many natural thermal pools, where water is expel by the mother earth at a temperature that can go as high as 60Cº
And what would it be but incomplete, the passage of a traveler through these lands without having been immersed in the purest coffee tradition? Between the mountains of Caldas, just a few kilometers from Manizales, Hacienda Venecia is a mandatory stop to feel and learn first-hand the process that not only grant coffee its flavor, but also a great sense of humanity.
Hacienda Venecia is a paradise on earth full with coffee plants, bamboo plants, bananas, flowers, yarumos, rivers and the incessant music of dozens of birds that perhaps, knowing about their beauty, pose on the tree branches to let us admire the wide variety of colors on their plumage.
The Hacienda offers a free guide map with many and well detailed paths of its surroundings that we can hike to enjoy all its nature and hidden corners. At the same time, the coffee tour is one of the main reasons why so many people come here. It is not just a tour but a lesson that makes you part of the experience by taking you through the whole coffee production process; from the harvesting of the fruit, the pulping, drying, roasting and finally, tasting. A feeling of peace can be easily sensed when we come to this place that gives us such a nice range of possibilities. All of it will lead us to spend a few days more than we thought exploring its confines. The innovative practices of natural resource management, together with the swimingpool, the homemade food, the ancestral architecture of guadua (bamboo) and once again, the charm of the Colombians, turn this hacienda into a very a special place.
But the trip along the Coffee Triangle doesn´t end here, if we really want to reach deeper in the history of these lands and we are willing to be one of the very few tourist walking among the less visited areas we should keep going north, making our way to Salamina and Aguadas. Crossing a landscape that will make us travel slowly and contemplating.
Salamina was named as a national monument and is known as the “city mother of the towns”, because it was a key point on how the Antioquia colonization was developed. Salamina was also the cradle of painters, artists and poets what granted the city with the name of “The city and light”, where Tangarife, a master of wood carving left an admirable legacy throughout the city.
Get closer to the people and let the Colombia Coffee Axis shows you the charms that overwhelm any visitor.
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