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Mar 03

The Coffee Triangle’s Big Helper: Willys Jeeps

We’ve written about Colombia’s spectacularly varied topography before. Here you can find yourself roaming through dense jungles, wading in turquoise seas or hiking in stunning mountain ranges all in one trek. Though good for the tourist, when roads began to be formed amongst these landscapes Colombians were faced with somewhat of a dilemma: where could they find a car that could navigate the extreme inclines that were an unavoidable part of the country’s new (muddy) road system?

A Willy, found in Salento

That’s where Willys came in. Willys have a distinct standing in Colombia, and especially in the coffee regions where farming is an integral part of life. After the end of World War 2, when the vehicles were extremely popular, the US had a surplus of vehicles that found a home in Colombia, where production on the vehicles had begun in tandem with these imports.

Willys are extremely practical vehicles for Colombians, and farmers are sure to take full advantage of their usefulness by loading the open trunks with more cargo than you would think is possible. These means massive bunches of bananas, huge bags of coffee, heaps of plantain, melons, and even TVs, all in one car-load. Not only can the Willy manage all this, but it can navigate those steep hills in Colombia with ease.

A Typical “Yipao” — Picture by

Every year in Armenia, Colombia, locals gather to celebrate this unique vehicle. The Yipao festival features a parade of Willys full to the brim (and sometimes over the brim) with goods, leaving the Willys at times almost elevated into a standing position with all the weight. It’s a great celebration of the local culture and of an iconic and timeless vehicle that has contributed greatly to the farming industry in Colombia.

Willys parked at Salento’s main Plaza






Gringos in a Willy : One of the funnest means of transportation in Colombia’s Coffee Region

In the Colombian Coffee Triangle, and particularly in Salento, you can take a ride on Willys in the form of a taxi, and it will take you (and many, many friends) to see the local area in a truly inimitable fashion.


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