Zona Cafetera Colombia – Que Chévere!

If Colombia is known for one thing abroad (no not that), its coffee. After spending one our best weeks of the trip on the Pacific coast beaches of Colombia, it would be pretty hard for the beautiful rolling hills and farmland of the coffee region, known as Zona Cafetera, to steal our hearts. Or would it?

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Zona Cafetera, Colombia - Que chévere (a Colombian expression for 'how cool')

Before heading to the official coffee region, we made a stop in a town called Jardin (about 3 hours south of Medellin) that we had heard mentioned in passing by a few people, and decided to check it out. What I didn’t know was that I would absolutely fall in love with Jardin, the surrounding area, and the now-infamous Colombian hospitality. I know we (George) use a lot of superlatives in our blog, but Jardin, for me, really was a special place, and MY highlight of Colombia, right up there with the Pacific Coast / Choco region.

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That's the Pueblo of Jardin in the distance

Jardin was where we were introduced to camping on fincas (farms). This was something that we didn’t get to experience on our way through central america, and would become a theme in Colombia. In Jardin we stayed at Hostal Selva y Cafe (http://www.hostalselvaycafe.co/) (AKA Finca Kantarrana), which was a quaint house on some land near a river, with plenty of lush greenery, and a farm across the street where you could buy fresh cows milk and homemade cheese. George and I are seriously considering having a farm one day. We love waking up everyday in nature, the idea of growing our own vegetables, and leading a more self-sustaining life.

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After we left Medellin, we first stopped at the lovely mountain town of Jardin. we stayed the wonderful Finca Kantarrana - our first introduction to the wonderful fincas in Colombia

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Our camp spot at Hostal Selva y Cafe http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g2035190-d4234360-Reviews-Hostal_Selva_y_Cafe-Jardin_Antioquia_Department.html

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Buying the town specialty 'Crema" popsicles from the house next door

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The farmer's house next door where we bought fresh milk and cheese

There is so much to see and do around Jardin. You can visit the central plaza and drink cafe tinto while watching the cowboys get coffee or drink the favorite Colombian spirit, Aguardiente.

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The lovely plaza in Jardin Colombia

You can take a coffee tour, or go on a variety of hikes (which we did) or horseback rides through the countryside. A really cool outing we did one day was to go on a horseback ride to Cueva Esplendor, a waterfall inside a cave in the mountains for all of $25 US including lunch and transportation. The pictures don’t do the countryside justice, and the horses and the guide were just awesome.

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Horse stables in Jardin

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Heading up by horseback in Jardin

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At the entrance of La cueva del Esplendor in Jardin

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La cueva del Esplendor in Jardin

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Time for a dip in the freezing cold waters!

I was so sad to leave, but it was time, and it just so happened that two of the other guests we had befriended, Franzi and Tanya, were also leaving and decided to catch a ride with us. Can I just say how awesome it is to come across so many awesome independent women traveling by themselves. These two met at the finca, but have been traveling alone through Colombia. They got a treat riding in Titus. This is what riding in the back of the van on dirt roads looks and feels like …

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We told them it would be a bumpy ride on these dirt roads 🙂

After dropping off our new friends, we headed to a popular overlanding stop at Finca Guayabil…yes another finca, this time that specializes in coffee growing and tours! And let me just say how IMPRESSIVE it is to see hill…after hill…after hill…of coffee plants (think Napa Valley vineyards but with coffee plants). Oh, and the coffee they made us each morning at the Finca? Yeah, it was amazing to say the least. You can do a coffee tour here, and hike the many trails around the property. The people who run this place really go out of their way to make you feel at home and make sure you have everything you need.

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The view looking down from Finca Hacienda Guayabal

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Our camp spot at Finca Hacienda Guayabal

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Finca Hacienda Guayabal - So much coffee

Our last stop in Zona Cafetera was to an area near the town of Salento. We had heard not-so-great things about the town of Salento due to its rising popularity with tourists, but we really wanted to go for a hike, and Salento is at the base of the Los Nevados mountains. Taking the advice of some friends (OurRoadLife.com), we decided to stay at a finca in Boquia outside Solento, called El Mocambo. This is where I would proceed to befriend two kittens and George would ponder the idea of one day owning a cow. Every morning George would meet a worker at 7am to get his fresh leche from the cow…which we would then use to make the best cup of coffee, and proceed to share our milk the kittens. This place was pretty awesome…

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The horses at Finca Mocambo near Salento in Colombia

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Camping at Finca El Mocambo

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Fresh milk from the cows at Finca El Mocambo near Salento

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One of the kittens, sleeping after drinking some milk - milk mustache

I REALLY wanted to do a 3-day hike in the Los Nevados mountains, but alas, time got the best of us (we booked another week of spanish and we were now on the move to get there…PS. check out Karie’s blog post on her awesome 3-day hike!); instead we managed an awesome 4-hour hike through the wax palms. El Mocambo provided us with a map, and with their directions we would first hike up to the Acaima hummingbird sanctuary in the mountains. Acaime was about half way through the hike and offered either a free hot chocolate or agua-panela (Colombian drink that is hot water and a sugar that is almost like molasses) with a slice of fresh Colombian cheese in exchange for an entrance fee of 5 pesos ($2 US). After that we climbed up to Finca La Montana, and then descended into the beautiful Valle de Cocora filled with GIANT wax palms. We really really enjoyed the hike and I would highly recommend this route.

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Start of our hike in Los Nevados - off to see the wax palms

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Los Nevados National Park - Colombia

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Watering crossing in Los Nevados Park Colombia

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It was a hard straight up climb, but the views were worth it - Los Nevados Park Colombia

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Looking up at the wax palms

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Ending our hike in Los Nevados, loving fincas

At this point in our Colombia travels, we have hit so many highlights, that it’s hard to imagine Colombia having anything left to offer. However, the next day we headed south yet again. This time towards Cali and the lake district of Lago Calima. Till we meet again Zona Cafetera…

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Adios Zona Cafetera

More pics:

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After we left Medellin, we first stopped at the lovely mountain town of Jardin we stayed the wonderful Kantarrana Casa de Campo / Hostal Selva y Cafe - our first introduction to the wonderful fincas in Colombia

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The lovely plaza in Jardin Colombia

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Hiking through the lush fields of Jardin

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Day hike, town of Jardin Colombia

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Our camp spot at Hostal Selva y Cafe http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g2035190-d4234360-Reviews-Hostal_Selva_y_Cafe-Jardin_Antioquia_Department.html

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DCIM@GOPROGOPR0302.

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That's the Pueblo of Jardin in the distance

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Start of our horse back tour to La cueva del Esplendor in Jardin

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Jenine feeling comfortable on her horse in Jardin

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The valleys and landscapes of Jardin

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Heading up by horseback in Jardin

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Landscapes around Jardin

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The tour allowed for some creative trail riding

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The lush rock wall with water misting at the entrance to La cueva del Esplendor in Jardin

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At the entrance of La cueva del Esplendor in Jardin

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La cueva del Esplendor in Jardin

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Jenine at La cueva del Esplendor in Jardin

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Bouldering?

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Horse stables in Jardin

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Jenine taking off to explore in Jardin

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Heading back to Jardin, town in view below

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With my horse "Bromo"

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Town plaza in Jardin, view from our cafe

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Buying the town specialty 'Crema" popsicles

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The farmer's house next door where we bought fresh milk and cheese

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Fresh milk from the farmers

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Giving a ride to our new friends, Franzi & Tanya who we met in Jardin. It would be a pretty bumpy 4 hour ride back there. Sorry friends!

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Leaving Jardin, Colombia

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Titus heading out of town, Jardin Colombia

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Jenine standing with Jardin, Colombia in the background

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Coffee Fincas

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We told them it would be a bumpy ride on these dirt roads 🙂

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Posing at the Finca Hacienda Guayabal. Coffee plants as far as you can see in the distance.http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g1641478-d1867772-Reviews-Hacienda_Guayabal-Chinchina_Caldas_Department.html

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Our camp spot at Finca Hacienda Guayabal

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The view looking down from Finca Hacienda Guayabal

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Finca Hacienda Guayabal - does anywhere in the world grow as much and as good quality coffee as Colombia?

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Finca Hacienda Guayabal - So much coffee

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The best cappuccino we've ever had - Cafe Jahn Filandia (http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g3147813-d4945330-r243571579-Jahn_Cafe-Filandia_Quindio_Department.html)

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Hello horse

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Our view from our camper at Finca El Mocambo

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Finca El Mocambo - a truly special place to camp near Solento in Colombia (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g1580963-d8427844-Reviews-El_Mocambo_Hostel_and_Guest_House-Salento_Quindio_Department.html)

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Camping at Finca El Mocambo

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The horses at Finca Mocambo near Salento in Colombia

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View from above - Finca el Mocambo Colombia

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Jenine loved the kittens, but the kittens didn't love the dog @ Finca el Mocambo Colombia

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One of the kittens, sleeping after drinking some milk - milk mustache

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Our kittens at Finca El Mocambo

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The roads through Salento Colombia

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Start of our 'wax palm' hike in Los Nevados

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Wax Palms in in Los Nevados Park near Salento

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Start of our hike in Los Nevados - off to see the wax palms

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Watering crossing in Los Nevados Park Colombia

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Los Nevados National Park - Colombia

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Walking over some tricky bridges in Los Nevados Park - Colombia

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At the top of our hike in Los Nevados

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Los Nevados national park Colombia

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It was a hard straight up climb, but the views were worth it - Los Nevados Park Colombia

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Lone wax palm

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The wax palms of Los Nevados national park

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Looking up at the wax palms

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Wax palms Los Nevados in Colombia

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Ending our hike in Los Nevados, loving fincas

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We parked Titus in the town square in the popular tourist town of Salento. Titus quickly became the most popular attraction in the city

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Jenine crosses a fun bridge in Los Nevados Park

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Fresh milk from the cows at Finca El Mocambo near Salento

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We'll miss these kittens - Finca El Mocambo

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Jenine wanted to take these little girls with us

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This dog was my good buddy for the past 3 days at Finca El Mocambo Colombia. It was hard to say goodbye

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3 comments on “Zona Cafetera Colombia – Que Chévere!
  1. Sissi says:

    Yes, the fincas are great, you had a great time.It reflects in your smiling faces.

  2. Karie says:

    If you have time, swing by finca San Antonio in northern Ecuador in the cloud forest west of Ibarra. I posted it on ioverlander. A couple and their young child started a farm two years ago. A real organic farm with their two hands and a couple hired help. Organic panela, honey, pollen (have you ever had that?), coffee, berries…..they sell at an organic market in otavalo. Beautiful first rate location too.

  3. Emma says:

    Looks fantastic! You guys sound like you had an amazing time there… Colombia—looks like it will be the next country we’ll have trouble leaving 🙂