Colombia’s coffee growing region is located in the central Andes, and is also in the heart of Colombia’s volcanic epicenter. The region is easily accessible from our Lodge (3.5-hour drive), and offers up opportunities for awe-inspiring hikes with unbelievable scenery in both cloud forest and paramo ecosystems. Photogenic and friendly mountain towns, medicinal hot springs, and the best coffee in the world are just a few of the reasons why you need to visit this region of Colombia.
YOU CAN COMBINE ANY THESE JOURNEYS LISTED ABOVE IN ANY WAY YOU WANT. FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO WISH TO EXTEND THEIR TRIPS, WE HAVE A VARIETY OF EXTENSIONS TO SOME FASCINATING SPOTS IN COLOMBIA.
You are probably wondering what is a Peace-of-Mind Tour? We know that many of you are itching to get out and explore the world, and at Colombia Photo Expeditions we believe leisure travel will return and can be done safely. For this reason, we have designed “Peace of Mind” tours that we think are the safest way to get you back out there when international air travel resumes: We are strictly following the World Travel and Tourism Council and the Colombian government’s biosafety protocols at the Araucana Lodge and in the field. The lodge has very spacious rooms with open hallways and common areas, excellent ventilation, and is only operating at 40% capacity.
ITINERARY: COFFEE AREA & PARAMOS
Araucana Lodge to Salento with a stop at the Quindio Botanical Garden
The morning is spent crossing the mighty Cauca Valley which separates the western and central Andes, affording views of the imposing mountains on either side of the valley. Our first stop is the Quindio Botanical Garden, which is considered to house one of the most interesting and important plant collections in Colombia. Aside from a large butterfly house and a canopy observation tower, the garden has several kilometers of trails that allow us to get acquainted with the property.
After lunch at the garden we continue on a 90-minute drive to Salento, a picturesque mountain town with welcoming citizens and the gateway to the magical Cocora Valley. After check-in, dinner is at one of the many colorful spots serving fresh rainbow trout (the local specialty) in a plethora of different preparations.
Lodging: Hotel Terasu
Cocora Valley Hike
The rolling green hills of the Cocora Valley afford surreal scenery and ample opportunities for hiking through cloud forest and along the Quindio River watershed. The landscape is unique as it is dotted with Colombia’s national tree, the wax palm, an endangered species that is the tallest palm tree in the world. The spectacular scenery of wax palms overtopping the cloud forest and the imposing Andean peaks in the background provide the perfect for landscape photography or simply enjoying the views. After returning to town, the bustling center park is perfect for people watching or taking a walking tour to enjoy the variety of colors in painted houses, even doing a little shopping to support the local artisans.
Lodging: Hotel Terasu
Salento to Termales del Ruiz with a stop in Filandia
After breakfast we depart Salento and head to the traditional Colombian village of Filandia. Known as one of the most beautiful towns to visit in the heart of the Coffee Region, the town offers a very authentic experience to the curious traveler. The architecture, landscapes and the sociability of the locals makes Filandia an obligatory stop for visitors.
We then begin our BIG ascent to Termales del Ruiz, in Los Nevados National Park at 3,600 meters (11,500 feet) above sea level. A two-night stay will allow for birdwatching hummingbird feeders as well as enjoying the vistas in the surreal paramo ecosystem. Paramos are very unique, high mountain ecosystems found only in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, and are one of the most vulnerable and fast evolving ecosystems on Earth. There really isn’t an equivalent environment anywhere else on earth, which provides a plethora of interesting opportunities to the seasoned traveler. An added bonus is that the hotel boasts several hot spring pools with mineral rich waters that can be enjoyed in the evening.
Hotel Termales del Ruiz
Los Nevados National Park and Hot Springs
The morning starts with a drive to the highest elevation reached on the tour, 4,100 meters (13,500 feet. We have a whole morning to concentrate on the surreal flora in the park, with access to the most iconic plant of the ecosystem, the beautiful Frailejon, or Espeletia, a remarkable sunflower-like plant. We hope to get views of the glaciated peaks and the volcanic environment before heading back to the hotel for lunch. In the afternoon there is time to explore the native gardens along the hotel trails and visit the impressive array of hummingbird feeders on the property. At such high elevations, it is difficult to imagine how these small creatures survive in such a harsh environment. But they do, and thankfully they are very photogenic and the feeder set up allows one to get up close and personal with species such as Sword-billed Hummingbird and Rainbow-bearded Thornbill. Of course, those who wish can enjoy the multiple hot-springs on site.
Hotel Termales del Ruiz
Termlaes del Ruiz to Buga with a stop at Hacienda Venecia
Our final day is spent traveling towards Buga to prepare for flights out of the Cali airport the following day. There will be a stop at Hacienda Venecia, a coffee farm with 100 years of tradition and extensive experience in the cultivation, production, marketing, roasting and exporting of Colombian coffee. Its vast coffee fields have a large canopy of native trees, springs and diverse flora and fauna. The farm provides a backdrop for a tour where visitors can experience every stage of the coffee production process as it happens and enjoy an authentic glimpse of life on a coffee farm.
After lunch at the hacienda we head to Buga to check in at our beautiful colonial-style hotel with some time to rest before an evening stroll to the “Milagrosa” square and church. This is a place of religious pilgrimage for Catholics from all over Colombia, coming in search of miracles. Dinner is at the fabulous hotel.
Lodging: Hotel Guadalajara de Buga
Depart From Cali
You will be taken to the airport in private transport to catch flights home. Cali airport is 1 hour from Buga.
Our revised cancellation policy allows you to book with much flexibility and peace of mind.
Exclusive and private. A private guide means you will not share activities with others and you will always be transported in a private vehicle.
Flexibility in Daily Activities – This itinerary is merely a suggestion of activities; please contact us for more options.
Minimum Contact: Surely, we have designed the tours to visit sites where contact with other travelers will be minimal. We understand that contact with the locals it what makes traveling an enriching experience, so this will happen only in open areas and outdoors where we can practice social distancing.
Our Peace-of Mind Trips Include
- All Lodging (Double Occupancy)
- All Meals From Dinner on Day 1 to Breakfast on Day 6
- Bottled Water Throughout the Trip
- All Activities Listed in Itinerary
- Bilingual Guide During Trip
- Internal Terrestrial Transport From Airport Pickup to Airport Drop-off
- Limited Health and Accident Insurance
Trip Does Not Include
- Alcoholic Beverages
- Airfare to Colombia
- Items of Personal Nature