Begin your travels with a boost of energy – sampling the local flavors of Colombia's world-famous coffees in the Coffee Triangle. Continue your travels hiking and biking through unique high altitude ecosystems and lush cloud forest, and tackle class III & IV rapids on the Rio Buey. City tours of colonial Santa Fe de Antioquia and trendy Medellin make this a complete Colombia adventure.
Day 1 : Arrive Pereira. Gourmet Coffee Tour & Tasting Day 2 : Otun Quimbaya Hike and Los Nevados Bike Day 3 : Rafting on the Rio Buey Day 4 : Santa Fe de Antioquia and Serrania de Las Baldias Hike Day 5 : Medellin City Tour and ARVI Nature Reserve Bike Day 6 : Return home
Tour Santa Fe de Antioquia, learning about the local history
Learn about the coffee production process at a coffee hacienda
Take a cable car to AVRI Nature Reserve and bike the scenic trails
Arrive in Pereira. This region, referred to as the Coffee Triangle, is the heart of Colombia’s coffee production. Here visit an award winning coffee hacienda and walk through plantations to learn the intricate techniques of cultivation, harvesting, peeling, selection and the roasting process. Experience a process known as "Coffee Baptism" to better understand the difference in blends and aromas. Your time in the Coffee Triangle ends fittingly with a barista demonstration and coffee tasting.
The day begins in Otun Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary - a 489 hectare cloud forest filled with hundreds of species of birds, butterflies and small mammals. Hike through trails lined with old growth forest, orchids, bromeliads and ferns. Following your cloud forest hike, continue on towards Manizales and the foothills of Los Nevados, home to Central Cordillera’s highest peaks. Here your biking adventure begins. The ride takes you downhill on dirt roads through endemic Paramo (alpine tundra) ecosystem and cloud forest until concluding in classic Colombian farmland. Tonight, relax in the town of La Pintada, situated along the Rio Cauca.
Otun Quimbaya hike: 2.5 miles (4 km)
Elevation gain: 280 feet (85 m)
Max. altitude: 6375 feet (1973 m)
Los Nevados bike: 16 miles (25 km)
Elevation descend: 6073 feet (1851 m)
Max. altitude: 13,094 feet (3991 m)
Continue north along Cauca River Valley. This area is distinguished by traditional towns, thriving agriculture and the Andes’ Farallones peaks. Today’s destination is the Rio Buey, which offers thrilling class III-IV white-water rafting through cloud forest and isolated farmland. The run ends at the convergence with the Armas River. In the evening, settle in at your hotel and enjoy views of Cauca River gorge.
Rafting distance: 15 miles (24 km)
Max. altitude: 2,766 feet (843 m)
Day 4 Santa Fe de Antioquia and Serrania de Las Baldias Hike
Founded in 1541, Colombia’s Santa Fe de Antioquia, is a beautiful example of a traditional colonial town. Dotted with squares, streets, plazas and churches, learn about the local history as you spend a leisurely morning in this historic town. After lunch, continue to nearby Serrania de Las Baldias. This high altitude cloud forest reserve remains a best-kept secret in the region. Thousands of rare orchids and bromeliads are found throughout. Explore the reserve on foot. Your 4 mile (7km) begins at 3,150 m (9,500 ft.) and descends to 2,500 m, offering views of both the Central and Occidental mountain ranges. Finish the day in the city of Medellin. Overnight in Medellin's “zona rosa” neighborhood to enjoy local galleries, restaurants and some of Colombia’s exciting nightlife.
Total distance: 6.2 miles (10 km)
Elevation gain: 520 feet (835 m)
Max. altitude: 8,094 feet (2467 m)
Day 5 Medellin City Tour and ARVI Nature Reserve Bike
Surrounded by mountains, the locals call Medellin the “City of Eternal Spring” due to its pleasant year round temperatures. Your tour of this bustling city begins with a visit to Plaza Botero, a space designed to honor Colombia’s famous artist of the same name. Continue to the Antioquia Museum and the botanical gardens, which act as a wildlife refuge and research center. From the gardens, you’ll ride up on a cable car to ARVI, the city’s most important park and nature reserve. Enjoy panoramic views of the city. Mountain bikes will be waiting for you at the top of the ridge, and you’ll cycle the park’s scenic trails.
Before returning to Medellin, visit the Silleteros or saddle men who live in the Santa Elena community. The Silleteros were porters from the colonial era that used to carry goods and even people. Today this community is especially recognized for their elaborate floral arrangements prepared for the annual flower festival -- Feria de Flores. In the late afternoon, return to your hotel for a farewell dinner in Medellin.
ARVI bike: 7.1 miles (11.4 km)
Elevation gain: 532 feet (162 m)
Max. altitude: 8,428 feet (2569 m)
Beyond expectations! Then again we weren't sure what to expect. Lovely stay at the lodge, met other like-minded travelers (many had their trips planned by Adventure Life) and the owner was a gracious hostess. It felt like you were one happy family, visiting with a favorite aunt.
When to Go
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.