At this moment Colombia contains 6 UNESCO Cultural Heritage sites; one of those is the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia, which was declared a World Heritage site in 2011. UNESCO describes it as “an exceptional example of a sustainable and productive cultural landscape that is unique and representative of a tradition that is a strong symbol for coffee growing areas worldwide.” I couldn’t have put it better myself…
Traditionally encompassing the departments of Quindio, Caldas and Risaralda (UNESCO include Valle del Cauca in their definition), the Colombian Coffee Triangle is a popular destination for visitors on account of it’s stunning countryside, fascinating cultural heritage and, of course, top-notch coffee. Traveling through this landscape can leave you feeling as if you’ve stepped into a different time; there is a sleepy, traditional atmosphere to many of the small towns which makes the Coffee Triangle a Colombian highlight for many of the people who visit it.
The highlight is, of course, coffee. Visitors to the Coffee Triangle can spend time on working coffee plantations and learn all about the process and the conditions that make Colombian coffee arguably the best in the world. These coffee haciendas are normally beautiful places, set in the rolling green hills of the Andean countryside, surrounded by fields and rivers, and coffee naturally. Guests can be involved in the whole process; from picking the beans, selecting the best ones, grinding, roasting…all the way through to tasting a delicious hot cup of Colombia’s finest product.
If you come for the coffee, however, you’ll stay for the landscape! This region encompasses some of Colombia’s most naturally diverse and beautiful areas. The Los Nevados National Park near Manizales in Caldas department is a particular highlight: gorgeous, snow-capped volcanos, unique Andean wildlife, and wonderful hiking make this national park one of Colombia’s most popular.
Or how about the Cocora Valley, near to pretty little town of Salento in Quindio? This valley is home to thousands of Quindio Wax Palms, Colombia’s national tree. A hike through this amazing area is a remarkable natural experience, and, for my money, a must-do activity on any visit to Colombia.
Then there’s the Andean rainforest and howler monkeys of the Otun Quimbaya Natural Park near Pereira in Risaralda department. This natural park is unlike anything else in the region, as a visitor can feel like they’re in the Amazon one minute and the Andes the next, as howler monkeys, tapir and spectacled bears rub shoulders with pine trees and giant Andean peaks. It sums up what is so unique about this region, and Colombia in general, the diversity contained within such a small area.
A trip to the Coffee Triangle allows a visitor to Colombia to enjoy the best of the country in a short amount of time: beautiful urban areas, kind-hearted people, stunning landscapes and natural diversity, and the best cup of coffee in the world!