The Colombian Coffee Region (renamed the UNESCO Coffee Cultural Landscape) has to be one of Colombia’s most enticing and visually stunning locations. Spanning the three departments (states) of Caldas, Risaralda and Quindio – each with sizeable cities namely Manizales, Pereira and Armenia respectively – the Eje Cafetero (coffee zone) is a collection of rolling mountains and valleys, folds and rivers, rugged, lush and immense all at the same time.
Various smooth varieties of coffee bean have sustained and strengthened the region economically since they were first planted some 150 years ago are. This is where the best coffee in Colombia is grown, famously exported and branded by the Coffee Growers’ Federation whose logo is the face of Juan Valdez, complete with wide-brimmed hat, poncho, moustache and loyal mule.
Among the twisting roads are many mainly small coffee towns, each with its own distinct colours but all with the unmistaken Antioquian-style architecture; a reminder of the people’s ancestors who colonised what were once wild and untamed lands during the 19th century.
Brightly coloured wooden buildings fused with giant guadua bamboo structures characterise the region.
Towards the higher reaches of the central Andes lie the once vast cloud forests that carpeted the land filled with bromeliads, birds and monkeys but which soon gave way to the world’s thirst for the black bean. A mixture of diversity and distinct rural culture make the Coffee Cultural Landscape a near unmissable destination during any tour of Colombia.