Coffee and Mountains: Eje Cafetero and Los Nevados
If you visit only one area of Colombia make it the Coffee Region. Not only is it the source of the best coffee in the world but it is also a magnificent representation of the country's varied geography, its immense biodiversity, and its farming culture.
Many of Colombia's most iconic attractions are in the Coffee Region: Los Nevados, a collection of glaciated volcanoes that loom over the region; Cocora Valley with its hummingbirds and 60 meter (200 foot) palm trees and; the quaint town of Salento with its colonial houses and beautiful scenery; and of course, the coffee farms that produce the finest beans in the world.
The region also has lesser known but equally amazing places: the unique páramo environment found only in Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador; cloud forests full of exotic birds and flowers; glacial lakes high in the mountains that supply drinking water to towns; Andean farms thousands of meters up and away from civilization.
This adventure will take you to all of these places and let you experience them in the best way possible: on your feet, hiking through Colombia's most representative nature and culture.
- Stay overnight in the town of Salento.
- Hike in Valle del Cocora, home to hummingbirds and the tallest palm trees in the world.
- Visit the Otún Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary.
- Sleep in quaint mountain farmhouses and get a taste of Andean farm life.
- Hike through a cloud forest full of exotic birds and flowers.
- Trek through a páramo, a unique environment of glacial lakes and succulent plants.
- Hike to the Santa Isabel glacier at 4700 meters (15,420 feet) above sea level.
- Visit a coffee farm and learn about the entire coffee process from the best growers in the world
- Scheduling: Private Tour
- Languages offered on the Activity / Tour: English, Spanish
- Duration: 5 days
- Printed or Mobile Voucher Accepted
- All participants pay the adult price
- A minimum of 2 adults is required to book this tour
- Children under 13 are not permitted on this tour
- Pick-up servicePickup at the Pereira airport.
- Easy Cancellationi) Cancellation 45 days or more before departure: no fees. Full refund. ii) Cancellation 44-15 days before departure: 50% of cost of services booked. iii) Cancellation less than 15 days before departure: 100% of cost of services booked.
- On Request
- Cut-off TimeAvailable to be booked until 7 days before the tour starts. We reserve the option to confirm the tour or not due to availability.
- entrance fees
- Guiding service
- All meals from lunch of Day 1 to lunch of Day 5.
- Private transportation (pick up and drop off at the Pereira airport).
- Travel insurance.
- Trail food.
- Personal trekking gear (backpack, boots, poles).
- Flights to and from Pereira.
Your adventure starts at the Pereira airport where you meet your guide. From there you drive on scenic mountain roads to Chinchina and spend the day at a coffee farm.
In the evening you drive to Manizales where you spend the night.
The day starts early with a drive to Los Nevados National Park and the Nevado de Santa Isabel trailhead at 4000 meters (13,123 feet). The trail ascends immediately and you hike by headlamp light through a highland forest of dwarfed trees, mossy plants and small lagoons.
As dawn breaks so do the dense vegetation and you get open views of rock cliffs and mountainsides. Patches of snow appear as you go higher, accentuating the barren but beautiful landscape with white. You pass a collection of glacial lakes and soon after you arrive at the border of the Santa Isabel glacier at 4700 meters (15,420 feet). After enjoying the high altitude scenery, catching your breath in the thin air and perhaps making a snow angel, you hike back down.
5 hours and 7 kilometres (4 miles) after you started you arrive back at the trailhead. You spend the night at Campoalegre, a farm inn at 3930 meters (12,894 feet) just outside Los Nevados National Park.
There you get your first taste of hand-made arepas, farm-fresh cheese and Colombian highlands hospitality.
Today's trek starts on a wide mountainside trail with sweeping views of meadows and hills full of wildflowers. From the trail, you see El Ruiz, the infamous and highly active volcano that killed 25,000 people when it erupted in 1985. After an hour or so you reach Laguna de Otún, a lake fed by the Santa Isabel glacier that you hiked to yesterday.
The lake sits at 3900 meters (12,795 feet) above sea level and is the source of the Otun River that supplies drinking water to the city of Pereira where you started this adventure. After enjoying the view of the lake and the waterfalls that feed it you leave the wide mountainside trail and follow a narrow path that takes you through a garden of exotic succulent plants.
This is the beginning of your trek through the páramo. You spend the rest of the day walking through this unique landscape of frailejones (cactus-like plants that are said to resemble friars), colchones de agua ("water cushions"), rocky mountainsides and Andean eagles.
In mid-afternoon, you arrive at the El Jordan farmhouse where you spend the night.
Today you descend from the páramo and enter the cloud forest. The forest is cloaked in a mysterious white shroud but teems with life.
Your Los Nevados trek ends at the village of El Cedral. From there you drive to the Otún Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary where you hike through this sub-Andean forest that explodes with the colour and music of countless exotic flowers, birds and butterflies.
After soaking in the sights, smells and sounds of this rich ecosystem you drive to the town of Salento where you spend the night.
Salento was founded in 1842 and is the most well-preserved town in the Coffee Region. Its colourful buildings, traditional colonial architecture and mountain scenery make it one of the most picturesque towns in the country.
You spend the morning enjoying the sights of Salento before heading to Cocora Valley, home of Colombia's national tree. The Palma de Cera (wax palm) is the tallest palm tree in the world and has a wax covered trunk that can shoot up to 60 meters (200 feet) straight into the air.
The first part of your hike is through a dramatic landscape of grassy hillsides full of these trees. Then you enter a dense forest crisscrossed by streams.
Your destination is a small cottage in the middle of the forest. This cottage is surrounded by flowering plants and trees and as a result is abuzz with hummingbirds. After admiring the many different species of hummingbirds feeding on nectar you hike back to the trailhead and have a well-deserved lunch (the speciality is rainbow trout and patacon).
After your last cup of coffee in the Eje Cafetero, you say goodbye to this wonderful region as you drive to the Pereira airport.
- You will need to carry a backpack with trail water, trail food, sleeping bag and your personal belongings (clothes, personal medicine, etc.)
- Much of this adventure is at high altitude. We recommend acclimatizing in Bogota (2640 meters / 8660 feet) for at least 1 day prior to this trip to avoid altitude sickness.