The region is noted for the steep-sloped valleys that make much of the area quite difficult to reach, while the hot and rainy climate is ideal for cultivating coffee. Tourism in the area has been growing over recent years, as more people discover the stunning scenery, warm welcome, and historic architecture to be found here.
The Origins of Coffee Growing in the Region
Today the Coffee Triangle refers to three departments in the region, Caldas, Quindio, and Risaralda. Coffee cultivation in Colombia began in the east of the country but was first brought to the Caldas district in the mid-nineteenth century, and swiftly became one of the most profitable and successful crops for the local farmers.
The success of the crops in Caldas both in terms of the quality and the amount of coffee that could be produced was impressive and soon spread to nearby Quindio and Risaralda which were both producing coffee for export by the beginning of the twentieth century. Today, the majority of the coffee grown in Colombia comes from the Coffee Triangle.
Why This Region?
There are several reasons that the Coffee Triangle is particularly successful when it comes to coffee cultivation, and the climate is certainly an important feature with consistently warm temperatures and rain throughout the year both helping the growth of the coffee plant.
Another reason that the coffee plant is so successful in this region is that the rich volcanic soil is ideally suited for the plants, with the conditions here better for coffee growing than anywhere else in Colombia.
The Main Settlements
While each of these three capitals is an economic force in the Coffee Triangle, it is out in the smaller towns and villages that people will get a real taste of the region and its culture. Small towns such as Salento and Quinchia are the lifeblood of the Coffee Triangle, and these offer some of the most interesting and historic places to visit in the region.
The area has long been a very popular place to visit among Colombians from the surrounding areas, with its attractive mountainous scenery and the fact it has avoided most of the violence in Colombia.
There are now increasing numbers of people traveling from beyond the borders of Colombia to enjoy the area, and the charming architecture in some of the towns like Salento and Santuario help to make it a beautiful place to visit.
Because of the nature of the terrain, it is also very popular among those who enjoy outdoor activities, with rafting and kayaking on the River Barragan and the Rio La Vieja both growing in popularity. Hiking through the steep-sided valleys offers excellent views, while those looking for a more relaxing experience will find that the thermal spa at Santa Rosa de Cabal is a luxurious treat.
A Visit to the Colombian National Coffee Park
One of the main destinations for those looking to find out more about Colombian coffee and the way it has shaped the development of this region is the Colombian National Coffee Park.
The site is between the towns of Montenegro and Armenia in the Quindio department, and is a real celebration of coffee, and also has a theme park area with several rides for younger visitors. The park is divided into two sections with the coffee museum, traditional coffee buildings and a theater show exploring the history of coffee located at one end of the park, with the theme park located at the other end. Suitably enough, these two areas of the park are divided by a walk through an extensive coffee garden and bamboo forest.