For as long as I have been traveling in Colombia, I have been impressed by the coffee region. The rural atmosphere, its friendly people, views of miles of coffee plantations, idyllic farms, flowers, beautiful birds and lovely villages. When I heard about a new road trip by Secretos de Colombia, through this coffee triangle, also known es el Eje Cafetero, my heart immediately started beating faster. A few days on the road with a car, visiting villages, cocoa and coffee plantations, enjoying good food and drinks and staying overnight in three high-end boutique hotels. In this article I’ll tell you more about my itinerary through the coffee region in Colombia, including things to do, hotels, excursions + useful tips.
- What is the coffee triangle of Colombia?
- Day 1: Itinerary through the coffee region in Colombia
- Day 2: Itinerary through the coffee region in Colombia
- Day 3: Itinerary through the coffee region in Colombia
- Day 4 – End of itinerary through the coffee region in Colombia
- What does the road trip through the coffee region in Colombia entail?
- Hotels in the coffee region in Colombia
- More about a road trip – coffee region in Colombia
- More about Colombia
What is the coffee triangle of Colombia?
Beautiful green valleys and tall palms, with the Cordillera Central mountain range in the distance, dominate the views in the coffee triangle in Colombia. The coffee triangle in Colombia is the region between the cities Manizales, Pereira and Armenia in the provinces of Risaralda, Caldas and Quindío, located in the south of Medellin in Antioquia. And as the name suggests, here you will find many fertile valleys and endless coffee plantations.
The pleasant climate, which varies between 8 and 24 degrees, is ideal for growing coffee. But not only nature is beautiful, the coffee region in Colombia is also known for its quaint villages with their typical wooden haciendas containing bright colors and coffee culture. In 2011, the coffee region in Colombia was even added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage. In the coffee triangle are large cities, small villages and countryside not far from each other. It is therefore a perfect area to discover by car. In this article you will find the best itinerary for a road trip along the highlights of the coffee region in Colombia.
Day 1: Itinerary through the coffee region in Colombia
Today it is important to leave early! You are going to one of the most beautiful places in Colombia, which you want to enjoy to the fullest. El Nido del Condor is an ecolodge, situated on the top of a mountain, between two gorges. And only accessible by cable car! This unique place is known for its location and condor nest (which is also the name of the hotel). At the bottom of the mountain lives a condor couple. And chances are very high that you will get to see them during your stay.
From the village of Villamaria, near Manizales, you drive via La Ruta del Condor towards Los Nevados National Park. It is a 17-kilometer-long dirt road, so quite a drive. But with the detailed description the company is providing you with, it is easy to find. Just make sure to download the map and details, as there is no coverage along the road. You will pass small farms, stop for a cup of coffee and take a picture of a large waterfall Cascada La India.
The cable car
After about 1.5 hours of driving (depending on the type of car you have) you will find the place where you can park your car. Here you enter a small gondola, which takes you to the other side of the mountain within 12 minutes. And on the way you will enjoy the first breathtaking views of the surroundings of El Nido del Condor!
El Nido del Condor – an island in the mountains
Upon arrival at El Nido del Condor you are first of all speechless. The location is so incredible. El Nido del Condor is an area of 12 hectares, consisting of a large avocado plantation with no less than 1800 avocado trees. Several hiking trails surrounded by flowers and greenery, connect the 5 exclusive rooms with the main trail and the restaurant.
You can see from everything that the owner, Jaime Botero, is an architect. The room, in the shape of a tent, is decorated with quality materials and soothing colors. There is a large bed, from which you have a view of the gorge. On the idyllic balcony you take a seat and look out over the surroundings. And also the bathroom is an experience in itself. While you shower you look out over the valley through the open window.
After you have settled in, you have time to explore the surroundings. There are several viewpoints and benches between the avocado trees where you can take a seat and make a first attempt to spot the condor.
All rooms have a small stove. But do bring warm clothes with you. Because you are at almost 2300 meters altitude, it can be quite cool at the end of the day.
In the evening, the team of chefs at El Nido del Condor serves a three-course dinner (included with your stay). And the food is delicious! After dinner, you can take a seat att the campfire before you head out for a wonderful night.
El Nido del Condor is located near Villamaria and Manizales, the capital of Risaralda in Colombia. Would you like to read more about El Nido del Condor? You’ll find a detailed review, including directions and tips, in the following article.
Day 2: Itinerary through the coffee region in Colombia
This morning you want to get up early, to get the maximum out of your day. But first, sit on your balcony and take in thee views.
After breakfast, take a 30-minute walk to Don Pedro’s farm, located at the bottom of the mountain in the valley. The most idyllic farm you have ever seen. Here you’ll meet the family and drink typical Colombian coffee.
Along the way the guide tells you more about the environment and of course the condor nest. Chances are very good that you will see them fly. And seeing this immense bird of prey is an indescribable feeling.
Because of the travel distances today and the different stops you want to make, it is important to leave at El Nido del Condor no later than 11 am. With the cable car you travel within 12 minutes back to the place where your car is parked. And from here you continue your road trip through the coffee triangle in Colombia towards your next destination: Sazagua Boutique Hotel.
El Nido del Condor – Villamaria: 17 km on dirt road – 1/1.5 hours (depending on your car)
Villamaria – Sazagua Boutique Hotel: 70 km, 1.5 hours
Alto de La Paz
A place you absolutely cannot miss during your visit to the coffee region in Colombia, is El Alto de La Paz. Here you have 360 degree views over coffee plantations. You can park your car along the road and go for a walk around the plantation. This is the place to make beautiful pictures. Do you know the scenes from the Colombian Netflix series Café con aroma de mujer? According to many, these were shot here.
You can have lunch at Ranchero Paisa. There are good fish dishes (the trout), which makes me very happy. But you can also try traditional dishes like the Bandeja Paisa. Bandeja Paisa is a typical dish from Antioquia (Medellín) and the coffee triangle, which consists of avocado, beans, rice, ice cream, fried banana and all kinds of meat. A heavy meal but if you like this, highly recommended!
Artesanal ice creams
Near the entrance to the town of Chinchiná you will find the best artesanal ice creams in the region. At Helados Los Pavos there is almost always a line. But it is worth the wait. The ice creams made of tropical fruits and arequipe (dulce de leche) are really delicious!
Coffee plantation and farm
If you are in the coffee region, you have to visit a coffee plantation. It is therefore so nice that this visit is included in your package from Secretos de Colombia. Sazagua Boutique Hotel, your new accommodation, works together with several farms that show you the entire coffee process: From seed to cup. I myself got to visit Finca Cafe Don Manolo, located just outside Pereira, with a nice view of the city.
During a visit you get a tour of the plantation and taste, among other things, that the coffee bean is sweet. This is followed by several demonstrations of all the steps involved in the coffee production process. From picking, weighing, drying, to hulling and grinding. You’ll also learn how small-scale farms work and why most good coffee doesn’t stay in Colombia but is for export. Don’t Colombians love quality coffee? You can hardly imagine it!
It is interesting to see how the fincas approach coffee like wine. A small difference in the coffee process creates a completely new taste. Afterwards you will experience an extensive coffee tasting, where the owners prepare the coffee in different ways. This is so you can actually taste the differences. And even I, as a non-coffee drinker, found the flavors surprisingly delicious. Not only is the explanation interesting, but also the atmosphere and the surroundings make Cafe Don Manolo a must-visit.
Depending on the location and duration of your visit to the coffee farm, you can make another photo stop at the church of Santa Bárbara, one of 3 colonial Byzantine churches that exist in the world. And in Santa Rosa for a glass of wine or cup of coffee at Café Bar Don Pascual. Keep an eye on the time though, because you don’t want to arrive late at Sazagua Boutique Hotel.
Sazagua Boutique Hotel
Sazagua Boutique Hotel is located in a tropical garden, with flowers and hummingbirds, less than 5 minutes from Pereira. The former finca has been transformed into a boutique hotel with 18 unique rooms, designed by Colombian architect Marcelo Villegas, who is known for his designs with guadua (a species of bamboo). All the rooms in Sazagua are beautiful, but the very best in my opinion is the Masinga Lodge (meaning sacred place in the Quimbaya indigenous language). And for one night it was all mine!
As soon as you walk in thhe Masinga Lodge, you find yourself in paradise. Masinga Lodge consists of several cottages: A bedroom, a living room, a Turkish bath and an entrance with two bathrooms. All are made of bamboo and other natural materials. The lodge is surrounded by mighty jungle trees and water with carp in it. The highlight is the private jacuzzi, which is also illuminated in the evening. You never want to leave this room anymore!
In the evening a romantic dinner in the Sazagua restaurant Tributo is planned (included with your stay). You can choose from meat and fish dishes, fresh pastas, quality burgers and fine wines. The grounds are fairily lit and you will have a wonderful night, after all the impressions of the day.
Sazagua Boutique Hotel is located in the heart of the Risaralda Valley, a 5-minute drive from Pereira. Here you can completely unwind in your own little paradise and be at the most beautiful places in the region in no time. In the next article I’ll tell you more about Sazagua Boutique Hotel.
Day 3: Itinerary through the coffee region in Colombia
The next day, of course, you don’t want to leave. But, make sure you get up early. There is a breakfast waiting for you. I recommend to having your breakfast delivered to your own little living room. That way you can enjoy your room to the fullest.
A coffee massage
Have you ever heard of a coffee spa treatment? In the spa of Sazagua, a coffee massage is simply not to be missed. What a treat this is! First you get a relaxing massage, with oil made from coffee. Followed by an extensive scrubbing session. My skin had never felt so soft and the coffee aroma lingered around me for the rest of the day.
Since there are again numerous beautiful stops and activities scheduled today, it is recommended to leave around 10 am, as you are expected at your new destination: Hacienda Bambusa, around 15H. Here you will have a two-hour tour along the cocoa plantations.
Sazagua Boutique Hotel – Hacienda Bambusa: 80 km +/1 2 hours
Today you want to take time to visit Filandia. Filanda is one of the nicest coffee villages of the region and slightly less crowded than Salento. In Filandia there are streets with colored houses, boutique stores and many cozy coffee shops with the best coffee.
Have a look in the Centro de cestería, “Bejuco Al Canasto” (the museum of the coffee baskets). It is very small but gives a nice impression of the local customs. For a tasty and trendy lunch you should be at Helena Adentro with lovely views of the surroundings.
In addition, take plenty of time to enjoy the many local dishes and specialties. Think of ice cream made from tropical fruits like guanábana and chirimoya, traditional empanadas (filled dough rolls) at Lechona Pues y Empanadas de Lechona and the obleas, delicious waffles, which you’ll find everywhere in the plaza and along the road. And be sure to walk into one of the local bars for a game of billiards and a glass of aguardiente, a liqueur made from sugar cane.
Want to know more about Filandia? You can read my tips for Filandia in Colombia in the following article.
Hacienda Bambusa is a place straight out of a Colombian soap opera and your accommodation for tonight! This traditional finca, beautifully situated on a large cocoa plantation surrounded by mountains, has been transformed into a luxury boutique hotel.
Hacienda Bambusa has 8 rooms. They differ in size and location, but all have comfortable beds and a nice balcony or terrace, overlooking the pool or the plantation. I stayed at the back of the hacienda, with a private garden. As soon as I opened the door I looked into the vast fields. So nice!
Cocoa tour at Hacienda Bambusa
During a two-hour tour, you’ll head out by bike or foot with a local guide and learn all about the area and the cocoa fruit. It is wonderful to be immersed in rural life. You visit the cocoa plantations and then see some of the steps of the cocoa process. And then there is the impressive bamboo forest, almost fairytale-like, where at the very back a large picnic table awaits you with fresh juices.
In the evening the pool is turned into a romantic dinner spot where you can enjoy fresh dishes, fine wines and great service..
Hacienda Bambusa is located on a large cocoa plantation in the coffee triangle in Colombia. In this article you can read more about Hacienda Bambusa and I give you several tips for things to do in the area.
Day 4 – End of itinerary through the coffee region in Colombia
And then your road trip comes almost to an end. Today is your last day of your road trip through the coffee triangle in Colombia. But not before you enjoy a breakfast, while listening to the numerous birds around you. At the back of Hacienda Bambusa you have a terrace with views of the surroundings.
It is not until 12H that you have to leave the room and check out. So make sure to take a dip in the pool or go for a walk in the area before you leave.
I am sad this road trip ended. I could have stayed in the coffee region in Colombia forever. There is so much to see and to do, making me want to come back soon and discover even more hidden gems.
What does the road trip through the coffee region in Colombia entail?
This road trip through the coffee region in Colombia is a concept of Secretos de Colombia. How does it work? First of all, you have to think about whether you want to stay 3, 6 or 9 nights. Secretos de Colombia will then create a custom made itinerary and confirm the corresponding hotels, wich includes dinner and activities. A car needs to be booked by yourself.
I made a road trip of 4 days and 3 nights where I stayed in El Nido del Condor, Sazagua Boutique Hotel and Hacienda Bambusa and visited plenty of sights during the day. If you have more time, I would recommend staying a little longer. There is so much to see and experience along the way. Moreover, you stay in the most beautiful hotels, where you really just want to spend more than one night. Every single day I was sorry to have to leave again.
Can’t get enough of the coffee triangle in Colombia? Then extend your road trip with a visit to coffee village Salento and the Cocora valley with th ehighest palm trees in the world. In the next articles you’ll find tips for Salento and everything you want to know about hiking in the Cocora valley
Included and excluded – coffee region road trip in Colombia
Depending on the package you book, the following elements are included with your booking:
- hotel stays in three unique boutique hotels
- daily breakfast
- daily dinner (excluding drinks)
- 1 activity per destination
- travel itinerary with numerous tips
A car needs to be booked by yourself. Driving through the coffee region in Colombia is easy and safe. It is recommended to rent a solid car and preferably a 4 wheel drive (with high tires). You drive 17 km on a dirt road to El Nido del Condor and if it rained the road can be pretty bad. Moreover, this way you also save some time. With a normal car it might take you twice as long.
Hotels in the coffee region in Colombia
Read more about the hotels that are part of the road trip through the coffee triangle in Colombia, in these extensive reviews.
More about a road trip – coffee region in Colombia
Road trip Eje Cafetero is a concept of Secretos de Colombia, where 17 high end boutique hotels in Colombia work together to offer travelers a unique travel experience. The hotels are selected for style, privacy, tranquility and service and are located in the most beautiful places in the country. Road trip Eje Cafetero is a collaboration between hotels El Nido del Condor, Sazagua Boutique Hotel and Hacienda Bambusa. Would you like more information about the road trip through the coffee triangle in Colombia? Check out the website of Secretos de Colombia.
More about Colombia
Intererested in reading more about Colombia? This is an article with the most beautiful places to visit in Colombia, including the best time to visit. Or check out the Colombia blog page with city guides and things to do in Bogotá, Medellín and Santa Marta. Tips for lovely towns such as Salento, Mompox and Villa de Leyva. But also the Tatacoa desert and Valle de Cocora. Interested in archaeology? Read more about the mysterious San Agustín statues.