Eje Cafetero (Coffee Triangle) is a beautiful region just a couple of hours outside of Medellin where most of the Colombia’s famous and delicious coffee is grown. We decided to take a road trip to discover this scenic locale with a couple of friends who were visiting from Miami. Without anticipating so much traffic we ventured out on a Monday after Fiesta de las Flores. This was a daunting task as all of the trucks were on the road this day, many tourists were leaving the city after the festivities and we knew of only one winding and mountainous highway to get to the area. After a very congested but incredibly picturesque drive we arrived at a small town called La Pintada where we stayed for the night.
The following day we woke up early and made our way to Termales Santa Rosa de Cabal about 3 hours from La Pintada. Upon arrival we were charged 20,000 COP pp/$ 6.66 (Aug., 2015) to use the facilities. This park is a natural reserve with numerous hot springs and a gorgeous waterfall that serves as the background. The park is located in a volcanic region and this provides the comforting and therapeutic warm water that is distributed throughout the pools. We were able to enjoy a couple of hours in the park while lounging in the pools and breathing in the fresh crisp mountain air.
Next, we stopped in Salento a charming and beautifully preserved town with a laid back attitude. Countless backpackers visit this area since accommodations are relatively inexpensive and many tours and buses depart from there. We were able to find incredibly inexpensive food at El Rincon de Lucy, a small restaurant commonly known as comida corriente. This type of restaurant usually offers one or two food options but the home-style meals are hearty and delicious. We had the trout complete with rice, beans, plantains, salad, arepa and even a soup all for 6,000 COP/ $2.08 (Aug., 2015).
Around 9pm we arrived at our accommodations Las Palmas de Cocora in Cocora Valley, an eco-lodge where we reserved a beautiful cabin for 55,000 COP pp/ $ 18.33 pp (Aug., 2015). We were greeted by a friendly and extremely helpful host John Fredy who immediately began setting up the fire pit for us. After we settled in we all sat around the fire and even in the dark we could see the silhouette of the beautiful mountains that surrounded us in the valley. The night was extremely clear and we had a spectacular view of a meteor shower that occurred that evening.
The views from the cabin in the daytime were breathtaking as the mountains in the background gave way to magnificent skies. The entire scenery was dreamy and the Disney like cottage gave the whole place even more character. Surrounding us were also charming sheep, horses and other animals that just roamed the property. During breakfast we would sit along the lush vegetation and simply enjoy nature.
During our stay in the valley we made way to El Parque del Café which everyone told us was a must do in that area. The park is made up of many acres of farmland where coffee is actually grown (we even picked a few coffee beans to try as we walked along). In the park there were attractions to enjoy and a cultural show that exhibited the history of coffee throughout Colombia. The park offered amazing views especially from the cable car where we could see far across the landscape. We topped the night of with some delicious local coffee that was a perfect way to end the day.
On our last morning in the cabin we ventured (better yet, attempted to) on a hike down to the river over some very rugged terrain. Our guide took us about half way where we were able to get some great shots and then we turned back around. Since we had not packed our hiking boots we were not prepared to hike all the way down in sandals. Regardless of this we had an amazing time and an unforgettable experience. I would highly recommend that visitors bring their hiking gear and visit Los Nevados National Park nearby. Eje Cafetero is a magical and enchanting place that we will definitely revisit and is a must do for anyone visiting Medellin.