Most of the coffee we are drinking back home is actually coming from Colombia. One of the best regions to understand more about coffee production is the Eje Cafetero. But the Eje Cafetero is way more than just a coffee region, it is nature at it’s purest. We are going to summarize the most important info about two places we visited in that region: Salento and Filandia.
Salento, the most famous town of the Eje Cafetero, is the perfect place to recharge your batteries and simply enjoy hills, trees, fresh air and of course a good coffee. If you want to truly disconnect a bit then we highly recommend to stay a bit outside of Salento. One of the greatest hostels we have been to is located just 10minutes outside of Salento on the top of a hill. La Serrano Eco Hostel has a huge garden and backyard farm, where they grow their own vegetables and fruits. During our stay a bed in a dorm was priced at 5€. Besides the unbeatable price, it has a cozy living hall for guests and a well equipped kitchen. Hostels in the center of Salento cost more, you’ll probably not find a dorm bed for under 10€.
If you happen to be in Salento at the beginning of January then you might be lucky to experience „La Feria de Salento“. Although we missed out on the „Feria of Cali“ we managed to get our festival a week later in Salento. La Feria de Salento is a street fest with live bands, DJ’s, fresh food and drinks for a week. In that period Salento get’s actually quite busy, as many locals come to Salento for the festival. We really liked that festival, it was authentic and a perfect example for the positivity of Colombian culture/lifestyle.
Of course with the festival going on, Salento is not as quite as it normally is, but if you stay where we stayed you can have both, a fun time and a relaxed stay. A coffee tour is obligatory in that region, we chose Don Elias coffee farm, where most of the production is still done by hand. The tour was very interesting (price 5€) and the coffee delicious. What we learnt there is something we had already thought when we tasted our first coffees in Colombia: The good, so called quality A coffee is purely for export, Colombians often don’t even get to chance to buy the coffee we get in Europe. This means that most coffee you get in bars or hostels in Colombia is pretty low quality. If you think about it, it is ridiculous that one of the worldwide best coffee producers exports most of the great quality coffee and then serves low quality beans to the locals or worse fills supermarket shelves with Nestle coffee, but yeah that is the sad truth.
Another great thing to do in Salento is the Cocoa Valley. The Cocoa Valley is full of high wax palm trees, that grow in that region. It is a great day trip from Salento. If you take the long trek, you can hike for 6 hours, passing by countless waterfalls, rivers and even see humming birds. In order to get to the start of the valley you have to take a jeep taxi. You heard right, the public transport in Salento are actually pretty cool old jeeps. Getting to the valley will cost you 1.50€. The entry to the valley costs just 1€.
That means including food and drinks (bring your own stuff) you can do this day trip for less than 5€! Which is a pretty great deal.
Another town that is worth the visit in the coffee region is called Filandia. It is a little bit smaller than Salento, but has the same small colored, wooden houses. Filandia is also surrounded by beautiful nature, you’ll be able to hike to waterfalls or to explore the nearby farms. If you have the time and want to treat yourself, we recommend eating out at the restaurant „Helena Adentro“. When you search for restaurants in that region, the first one that pops up is probably Helena Adentro. Besides good marketing, they also do great, diverse food. They have a couple of amazing vegetarian dishes, that you won’t find anywhere else. Expect to pay a bit more here, than in standard Colombian restaurants. Lunch costs around 3-5€.
Filandia has actually a pretty good amount of very nice hostels, when we visited most were empty, probably because everybody goes to Salento. Hostels in Filandia are therefore a bit cheaper than in Salento, you can find privates for 12-15€ and dorms for less than 10€.