Delve deep into UNESCO World Heritage site Eje Cafetero, Colombia’s coffee country in the sloping foothills of the Andes, on this 3-day tour from Medellín. Stay two nights at Hacienda Venecia, a century-old traditional coffee farm, and enjoy an inside look at its sustainable practices. Cruise down a scenic highway and visit Manizales and Salento, urban settlements in the high forests, and hike past soaring wax-palm trees in lush Cocora Valley. And of course, take pleasure in tasting some of the best coffee in the world.
Day 1: Manizales (L)After morning hotel pickup in Medellín, travel with your guide to Manizales, the capital of Caldas department founded in 1848. Start off your city tour at Plaza de Bolívar, where you’ll admire Neoclassical architecture. Then, absorb views of Bolívar Condor, a statue perched high above in the middle of the square.Admire Carrera 23 and board a cable car across Quebrada Olivares. On the other side, board your awaiting vehicle and head to the nearby suburb of Chipre. Cruise along its main avenue and arrive at the sculpture of Monumento a los Colonizadores, from where you’ll capture great views.After lunch, travel to Hacienda Venecia coffee farm. After check-in, relax in a hammock, lounge by the pool or stroll through the landscaped garden. If you’ve opted for the Supreme Package, tuck into a homemade dinner. If you’ve chosen the Standard Package, purchase dinner at the hacienda or take a taxi to a restaurant in downtown Manizales (own expense). Day 2: Salento – Cocora Valley (B, D)Following breakfast, travel for about two hours south to Salento, shrouded in fog on a mountaintop in the province of Quindio.Don't be shy about asking your driver for suggestions before you set off for three hours of exploring the little town at your own pace. Discover the delights lining the colorful street of Calle Real with its traditional colonial architecture, and step into organic coffee shops and handicraft and antique stores. Ascend the staircase of Alto de la Cruz. Purchase lunch.Then you’re back in the vehicle en route to Cocora Valley, located inside tropical Parque Nacional de los Nevados. Spend your two hours here in one of several ways: follow your driver on a maze of trails passing through grasslands, towering wax palms, creeks and cloud forests; hire a guide on-site (own expense) for your hike and hear commentary on the local plant and animal life; or traverse the wonders of Cocora Valley by horse, available for rent (own expense). Afterward, return to Hacienda Venecia and enjoy dinner on-site before tucking into bed.Day 3: Hacienda Venecia Coffee Farm (B)After breakfast, take a guided tour of Hacienda Venecia for a unique look into Colombia’s coffee tradition. As you walk about the vertiginous plantation, learn about growing cafetos (coffee trees) in small plots in the high forests and the way farmers have adapted cultivation on the challenging mountain terrain.Visit the beneficiadero, the processing site, where you’ll hear about the traditional and modern methods of producing coffee. Then head back to the main house to taste a cup, after which you’ll have an opportunity to buy Venecia coffee to take home. Following the morning tour, you’ll have time for lunch (available for purchase on-site) before you’re transported back to your Medellín hotel.