Nestled at the western foot of the Andes lies the region responsible for producing the majority of that for which Colombia boasts #1—coffee. Known locally as “Eje Cafetero” or the Coffee Axis, the Coffee Triangle (Zona Cafetera) comprises the three departments of Caldas, Risaralda and Quindío, with their respective capital cities Manizales, Pereira and Armenia. An area marked by steep-sloped valleys that makes it hard to reach, a hot and rainy climate has found it the perfect breeding grounds for the holy bean.
Tourists flock to these parts to imbibe more about the coffee-growing process, where working fincas (coffee farms) who have embraced tourism await with sunny welcome. However, this sole commercial activity is not all that unites the region, the three departments sharing a common coffee culture, a deep-rooted pre-Columbian legacy, beautiful landscapes and the friendliness of its people. Between the three capitals, you will find a vibrant cultural life, gastronomy, monuments and museums, and nightlife.
Aside from coffee, this region serves a batch full of other riches. Enjoy the charming architecture of towns like Salento, a small colonial town that continues to draw visitors with its quaint streets adorned with the trademark colorful balconies and facades of Paisa architecture, and its proximity to the beautiful Cocora Valley—perhaps among the most striking of landscapes in the country; an endless canvas of lush green valley, dotted by palma de cera (wax palm)—the largest palm in the world and Colombia’s national tree—and set amidst sharp peaks and misty hills. Surely a splendid natural beauty to behold.
And, the host of wildlife here is certainly a treat, the Coffee Triangle home to some of Colombia’s most reclusive species: the yellow-eared parrot, black-billed mountain toucan, several endemic species of hummingbirds and even one of the continents’ most iconic species—the giant Andean condor; in more isolated areas, you might even be lucky to spot pumas, spectacled bears, even rarities like sloths and the woolly mountain tapir.
Whether you’re hoping to unravel the secret of this country’s world-class brew or take things at a slower pace and relax with the perfect cup of java—your visit here is sure to be stimulating.