You really can’t visit Colombia, the home of some of the worlds best coffee, without visiting the Coffee Triangle, called so because of the axis formed between the regions of Caldas, Quindío and Risaralda which are the main coffee producing zones in Colombia. Within the Coffee Triangle is the famous Colombian National Coffee Park (Parque del Café).
I wasn’t expecting a full-blown theme park when we visited Parque del Café but that’s pretty much what it was. Colombia’s National Coffee Park is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the country. Spend the day there learning about the production of the world famous coffee and walking around the beautiful grounds where hundreds of coffee plants are cultivated while taking a break every so often to go on the Rapids, the Bumper Cars or that ridiculously fast and high spinning thing that always makes at least one person puke. I love them all! I am an adrenaline junkie!
The park is extremely well kept, huge and beautiful and there are lots of things to do. Forests of bamboo surround the park while the rest os covered with a huge range of beautiful and unique plants and other trees. Bridges running through openings in the forest connect one area to the next, while cable cars glide gently across the park taking you from the entrance, deep into the park’s center. From the cable car, you can wave to the workers in the coffee plantations, see the amusements in the distance and really appreciate the vastness of the park and the surrounding lands, all covered in the rich green of young coffee plants.
I had never even seen a coffee plant before. In fact, I didn’t really know what they looked like so to see the whole process from tiny green plant to fully grown with red berries and finally to the finished dried coffee bean was really great. The smell of the coffee plants was also really unusual and nothing like what traditional processed coffee smells like.
One of the highlights of the park is the spectacular Coffee Show that they put on once a day, telling the story of the history, culture and process of growing and producing coffee as told through music and dance. The performers are fantastic dancers and the show is amazing. The atmosphere in the audience was pumped as they waited in anticipation for the show to start, while dancing to famous Colombian songs played through the speakers. Everyone in Colombia loves to dance and this type of event really showcases their lack of inhibitions and their passion for music and few people can resist to move and sing along to the beats of the music, while some even stood up and danced across the floor while waiting for the show to start.
There are museums, souvenir shops, restaurants, horse riding, traditional fincas (country/farm houses), cemetery of indigenous tribes, a traditional train that runs through the park with old style stations and of course loads of amusement rides and attractions including a roller coaster, Ferris Wheel, log flume, free fall ride (we went on this over 3 times!) and bumper cars and boats! I was too excited to remember to take pictures of the rides at the time but they’re pretty much the same in every place.
We had driven from Cali to the Coffee Triangle with our two friends and would camp in the beautiful Valle del Cocora the following night. We spent the majority of the day in Parque del Café, like big kids running from ride to ride until the park closed. Exhausted, we drove to Salento to look for accommodation for the night. We shared a room in a really nice, big and clean hostel for about $22,000 COP per person ($12 USD/9 Euro).
After a much needed nights rest we got up, walked around the beautiful town of Salento, stocked up on supplies for our night of camping in Valle del Cocora and headed towards the land of the Quindío wax palm, the national tree and symbol of Colombia and another of the most popular tourist destinations in Colombia…
For more travel photos from Parque del Café, visit our set on Flickr here.