Zona Cafetera – Here we come Juan Valdez! – Days 119-120

It did not seem right to visit Colombia without visiting the Zona Cafetera (the Coffee Axis), so we added a quick 2-day trip to the itinerary. Although the distance did not seem far, I knew that this might be a long drive so we splurged for a private driver from Medellin to the Hacienda Venecia near Manizales. We were picked up in Medellin at 9:30 and we were glad that we’d had a good breakfast because, once we cleared the outskirts of the city, there were not a lot of places to stop. The drive was very scenic as we drove through green mountains and fields of Avocado trees (a crop that is an expanding Colombian export). I kept waiting to see coffee and kept asking the driver “cafe?” as I pointed in distance. But he kept responding “aguacate”. It was not until we were very close to our destination that he smiled and pointed to a hill saying “cafe!”.

The Hacienda itself was interesting: a hundred-year-old coffee farm that has opened 3 distinct tourist accommodations in the form of the Main house, a coffee lodge and a hostel. We opted for the middle-level coffee lodge which had a pool and optional meals. The meals were delicious simple Colombian fare and we were very glad we’d chosen to stay where we did. We let the kids play in the pool and rest in the hammocks when we arrived. I was just excited to see the coffee growing, not to mention the other fruits all around like pink bananas, papayas and cacao. We ate dinner and convinced the girls to take a walk before we went to sleep (easier since there was no TV in the room).

The next morning we took our great coffee tour! Whilst Colombia harvests coffee all year round, October and November are the top harvest months. Any other time, I’ve seen coffee farms, the machinery was never operational and I’d hear “well in season, this machine does this…” During this tour, we got to see everything working including the new machine they had to sort the beans by colour. The kids learned a lot and we did a whole recap unit for school in the afternoon.

The next day, we headed to Pereira, a city nearby, and boarded our last internal flight in Colombia. Welcome to Bogota!

Where we stayed (5 words or less):

By the numbers:

  • Amazing meals we ate there: 4
  • Beverages we bought from the Honesty Bar: 3 (2 cokes and a beer)
  • Types of coffee processing we learned about: 3 (natural, washed and honey)
  • Stops made on the 6-hour car ride from Medellin: 0 (not even for a Baño)
  • Km covered in our 6-hour car ride from Medellin: 220 km

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