The Coffee Triangle
The verdant hills produce some of the world's best coffee
A really interesting and beautiful region of the country, the coffee triangle (the Zona Cafetera) sits on the middle of the three “fingers” of the Andes, as they wend their way finally down to the Caribbean sea. Only a 45 minute flight (or around 6 hours down into the valley and back up again) from Bogata, this is a region of plenty, with lush and fertile mountains and hills covered, predominantly, with the famous coffee bushes.
The triangle itself stretches roughly around the main town of Pereira and was once one of the most important sources of income for both the region and Colombia. However, since the 1990s saw the global prices for coffee tumble, the region and the many stunning haciendas have realized the benefits to be had from tourism as a form of income. Today there are many interesting and quirky places to visit and properties to stay in.
The main town of the region, Pereira was once a town of colonial architecture and great wealth. Founded towards the end of the 19th century by one of the wealthy land owners, it has been wracked by the many earthquakes in the region and, as such, is more of a base than a destination in its own right these days. Direct flights from Bogota are only 50 minutes, making access to the region relatively cheap and easy. The smaller town of Armenia, to the south, also has direct flights from the capital, taking just 30 minutes.
Situated approximately an hour to the south of Pereira is the charming town of Salento, a highly recommended stop on a day’s journey through the coffee district. Originally founded in 1850, the town of today has managed to retain plenty of its unique charm featuring cobbled streets, stunning multi-coloured house fronts and a scenic central square.
Another popular and worthwhile activity is a visit to the nearby Corcora village and the valley of the “Palma de Cera”, or wax palm. This beautiful, lofty palm tree has been adopted by Colombia as the national tree and it is easy to see why. Looming out of the often misty valley these spindly giants (some grow as high as 60 meters) were once in grave danger of disappearing from the planet altogether as their bark was used for candles in the rural Colombia. Today, while not a large population, fortunately the tide has turned with the advent of electricity to the rural areas.