After years in the tourism wilderness due to civil upheaval and an ongoing war versus rebel forces, progress and peace has finally taken hold in the region, allowing for the first major influx of travelers in a very long time. They have discovered a country full of very friendly people, who are full of passion when it comes to the business of living life.
Another thing Colombia is famous for is coffee plants, its #1 export, and caffeinated travelers everywhere are clamouring to enter the country to experience them. One burning question that figures in the minds of our readers is: where do I start? To help in your quest to experience the best coffee on Earth, we have put together a list of exemplary plantations that will make your first trip to Colombia a memorable one.
1) Coffee Tour Hacienda Venecia, near Manizales – At this very popular coffee plantation, tours run about three hours, boasting guides that are very hospitable, knowledgeable and who speak excellent English. In the course of your journey through this place, they detail the history of coffee in Colombia, as well as how it interconnects with coffee history of the world. Day trippers should try their delicious lunch sets, which go for about 10,000 pesos. If you wish to stay overnight in this wonderful place, there is a boutique hotel where you can stay, housed in the old hacienda (plantation house), with a guesthouse available for budget travelers. Their admirable amenities include a refreshing swimming pool, hammocks to swing your cares away in, and mountain bikes that you can use to rip through the surrounding countryside. Full meals are also available in addition to the previously mentioned lunch service, making this plantation an excellent value for your travel dollar.
2) Finca Don Eduardo, Salento – Located in the foothills of the Andes, about seven hours from Medellin and eight hours from Bogota, Finca Don Eduardo is only short ten minute walk from the town of Salento, making for easy access to their tours. During their informative presentation, they go through all the steps of cultivation, from their beginnings on the plant as coffee cherries, to the stage they are dried and roasting, eventually ending up in your cup. At the plantation, they have introduced a bamboo forest that you can check out, and there are several waterfalls, so be sure to pack your swimming trunks for a post-tour dip! Back in town, they also own an accommodation called the Plantation House which offers dorm rooms for backpackers. In addition to all the usual traveler services (free coffee, free wifi), they also have a cosy social area with a fireplace (while this part of Colombia is close to the equator, it is high in elevation, making it chilly at night), as well as a beautiful garden, with a few coffee plants naturally!
3) Finca Hotel Bosques de Saman, Alcala – Consisting of a series of buildings that mirror the traditional houses in the area, the Finca Hotel Bosques de Saman gives the local experience, while enabling access to a coffee plantation on site. After a very informative tour, and the standard sampling of the merchandise afterwards, head up to The Canopy, a zipline that is the highest and longest in Colombia. Soaring at speeds at up to 80 kilometres per hour, you’ll pair the caffeine rush that you just experienced with that strong cup of dark Colombian roast with a surge of adrenaline: quite the feeling, if you ask us! When it comes time to wind down your day, the hotel property offers two swimming pools, a Jacuzzi hot pool, a sauna , and a Turkish bath, just what you needed after days of hard travel in the developing world.
Colombia is just opening up and there are many opportunities to experience its most famous export. By visiting these plantations and experiencing where your coffee comes from, your money is benefiting the farmers to a much larger degree than just buying your drink back home in the West.