Quindio is one of the 32 departments in Colombia. It’s located in the central-western part of the country and is part of the Colombian Eje Cafetero (coffee growing region). The capital, Armenia, suffered a major earthquake in 1999 but was rebuilt in just 15 years, and together with other factors such as its nature, the kindness of its people, and many tourist resources has made Armenia one of the top national holiday destinations in Colombia once again.
We going to give you a few more reasons to visit the region, so, pencils ready, here are our top 10 places to check out when visiting Quindio.
1 – Salento
nto is nicknamed “the father of Quindio”, as it’s the oldest town in the region (founded on January 5th, 1842). It’s just 25km north of Armenia, making it easily accessible.
It has more than its fair share of tourist attractions, but without a doubt, one of the highlights is the Cocora Valley. Both are considered the birthplace of the national tree, the Quindio Wax Palm.
And if you like local festivals, the town’s anniversary is celebrated each year from January 2 -12. Mark it down in your agenda!
2 – Cocora Valley
Cocora Valley is a natural area located in in the Central Cordillera of the Colombian Andes and part of the Los Nevados National Natural Park.
You can appreciate nature in all its splendour all along the valley’s slopes, which is one of the principal locations of the national tree of Colombia, the Quindio Wax Palm (Ceroxylon quindiuense), and home to other endangered species that are now protected under the park’s national status.
Make sure to organise some hiking, bird watching, or horse riding activities as it’s the perfect spot to relax and unwind.
3 – The National Coffee Park
The National Coffee Park is a theme park located close to the municipality of Montenegro. It was founded by the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia and the Departmental Committee of Coffee Growers of Quindio in 1995.
Through visits, the park helps to encourage the preservation of the cultural and historical heritage of coffee in Colombia. It covers 96 hectares of land and boasts more than 20 rides and cultural attractions, including themed gardens, a cable car, the longest roller coaster ride in the country, Colombian folk architecture, and more than 4000 species of plants and trees.
4 – PANACA
PANACA, (Parque Nacional de la Cultura Agropecuaria) is a large-scale agricultural theme park, where you’ll find impressive exhibitions, surprising theme stations and the most extensive collection of domestic zoology in the world.
PANACA is located in Quimbaya and intended as a park to create awareness about nature for people who live in the city. A place for learning between the city and the countryside, where through interactive activities and fun visitors get to clearly understand that “there’s no city without agriculture” and develop a sense of belonging in the countryside.
5 – El Alumbrado de Quimbaya
The “Alumbrado” in Quimbaya is one of the most famous traditional celebrations in Quindio. The “Noche de las Velitas” (Night of the Candles) takes place in Quimbaya on December 7 each year, which is the day before the Catholic Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
The streets are filled with candles, lights and paper lanterns in all shapes and sizes depicting animals, saints or biblical figures, flowers – anything, really, and the whole town is filled with light. There are also parades and fireworks, and it’s the day that marks the beginning of Christmas in all of Colombia.
6 – Recuca
Tourists are greeted in Recuca with a coffee made with panela water and then dressed in typical clothing and outfits for a historical and cultural coffee journey taking in Ethiopia, Arabia, Holland and America.
Recuca is on the Chapolera estate. It’s accessed through a dense coffee plantation, and from there, several stations show visitors how coffee culture spread throughout Colombia and how it was traditionally harvested in the coffee plantations.
They go through the different phases, drying the beans, roasting and grinding, preparing, and after enjoying a great coffee that leaves visitors with a strong understanding of traditional Colombian coffee culture.
7 – Quindío Botanical Gardens
Quindio Botanical Gardens provides a space for scientific exploration and environmental training in the municipality of Calarca.
Although it was founded in 1978, it wasn’t until 2000 that it first opened to the public, and since then has been an excellent asset for ecotourism in the region. It’s the perfect place to spend a few hours with your family surrounded by a wide variety of palms, heliconia, cacti and wild animals like squirrels, iguanas and birds.
There’s also a butterfly house inside the garden with one of the largest collections of butterflies. A great spot for photography and nature lovers to visit.
8 – Quimbaya Gold Museum
The Quimbaya Gold Museum was designed by the Colombia architect Rogelio Salmona and is home to an extensive and varied collection of archaeological artefacts dating back some 10,000 years. A truly impressive display of pre-Hispanic artworks from the indigenous people of Quindio.
In addition to the museum, the cultural area has a regional documentation centre, a children’s reading room, an outdoor theatre and a space for temporary exhibitions.
9 – Arrieros Park
Arrieros Park is located in the Santana area of Quimbaya among coffee and banana plantations. The park recreates the life of the so-called “arrieros” (muleskinners) with artistic and cultural scenarios, exhibitions and entertainment areas.
The “arrieros” were the emblematic villagers who transported goods using mules and contributed greatly to the growth of villages in the region. A different and entertaining way of seeing, knowing and enjoying the life these workers had in the past.
10 – The Park of Life
Just 100m from Founders Park in Armenia is the Park of Life. This park was given to the city of Armenia by the area’s coffee association to mark its 100th anniversary.
Covering an area of 8 hectares, it has a beautiful wooded area and large open green areas, as well as a lake with fish, ducks and geese, and several waterfalls in the form of a staircase.
The park is decked out with festive decorations and filled with colourful lights in December. This is when it has more life than ever and has made it the most visited place in Armenia during these days for many years now.