One Family's Return Trip: El Parque Nacional del Café

We finally made it to the Eje Cafetero (the Coffee Axis). The Coffee growing region known as the Eje Cafetero consists of the departments of Caldas (Manizales), Risaralda (Pereira) and Quindio (Armenia). On a bright sunny morning, we were off to Quindio to go to the National Coffee Park.

This park is truly on the list of PLACES NOT TO MISS!!! It is part museum, part botanical garden, part Disneyland. Unlike many of the other places we visited, the Coffee Park was a little pricey, however, I would recommend that you purchase the Pasaporte Multiple that currently is $49, 500 pesos (about $25 US). This allows you to see all of the attractions and ride any ride over and over. The 7 Aventuras costs less, but you can only do 7 things -- which means if you visit the museum you can only go on 6 rides -- this includes the chair lift to get you to and from the bottom of the park. If you use the lift, you are left with 4 things to do one of which absolutely needs to be the SHOW DEL CAFE. Do not make the mistake I made and be too cheap!
Fortunately, my boys and hubby got the MULTIPLE and spent all day riding rides. Little boys couldn't have been happier! Of course, they were getting wet and going on roller coasters.
One highlight for those 12 and over is the horseback ride through the coffee plantation. Younger children are pulled by a horse drawn wagon on the tour.
The museum was really interesting -- even the kids enjoyed it. We got to see the entire process for making coffee as well as learn about the culture of the cafeteros.

This is a model representation of a traditional coffee plantation home.

There is also a recreation of a plaza and traditional village center. It is the main food court for the park. You can get anything from traditional Colombian fare to fried chicken, burgers and fries, so there is something for everyone.

Truly, there is more to do than you can accomplish in a day, so get there early and decide what your priorities are. I recommend walking down to the bottom through the Mitos and Leyendas Trail and Botanical Garden, you will see statues of different Colombian legendary mythic creatures -- like the Madremonte. (Read more here:

http://raisingcolombiankids.blogspot.com/2010/04/la-madremonte.html)


You also will not want to miss the Show del Cafe. Traditional dances of Colombia and particularly the coffee growing region are performed by local performers. It is very well done!We were told that most of the performers are college students who help fund their education through their performances. My favorite dance was performed with machetes -- very cool! Pictures of the performance are not allowed, so this one comes from the park website. You can learn more there about the park, hours and show times.
Photo:
http://www.parquenacionaldelcafe.com/newpage/panelwi/atracciones/fotos/c31736_DSC_0111%20(Small).jpg

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