In this itinerary, you'll embark on a high-altitude 4-day trek into Los Nevados National Park. You'll visit a working coffee farm and enjoy the unique scenery of the Páramo Eco-system here. While many travelers only see the Cocora Valley and Salento on a quick day trip, you'll get to know Colombia's Zona Cafetera from an in-depth perspective over the course of your 6 days in the region.

Highlights

  • Stay overnight on a working coffee farm
  • Spend two days trekking through the Cocora Valley
  • Hike to remote protected nature reserves

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Zona Cafetera - Coffee Finca Pereira
Day 2 Trek in the Valle de Cocora (Day 1) On Trek
Day 3 Trek in the Valle de Cocora (Day 2) On Trek
Day 4 Trek to Refugio Ecológico La Pastora On Trek
Day 5 Trek to El Cedral Wildlife Sanctuary Otún Quimbaya
Day 6 Depart Zona Cafetera  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Zona Cafetera - Coffee Finca

Colombia's coffee region
Colombia's coffee region

Welcome to Colombia! Today you'll take a flight to either Armenia or Pereira, cities in Colombia's Zona Cafetera (coffee region). 

Upon arrival, you'll transfer to an organic coffee finca (farm) in the beautiful countryside of this region, surrounded by sloping Andean mountains coated in green coffee fields (be sure to keep your camera within easy reach). Upon arrival to the finca, you'll learn every step of the coffee production process. Furthering this authentic experience, you'll stay overnight and learn even more about Colombia's famous export (the country is the world's third largest producer of coffee). Of course, there will be frequent tastings.

Day 2: Trek in the Valle de Cocora (Day 1)

A farmer with his cows in the Quindío Department, Colombia
A farmer with his cows in the Quindío Department, Colombia

Leave the finca bright and early and drive a short distance to the Valle de Cocora (Cocora Valley) viewpoint, which sits at an altitude of 2,407 meters (7,897 feet). Shortly after arriving, you'll begin the nearly seven-mile hike. Not to worry, though—there will be breaks during this trek. You'll stop along the way at a lookout point to enjoy your packed lunch and the beautiful views of the colorful sub-páramo (alpine highland) flora, as well as the basin of the Cárdenas River.

You'll then make your way up to 3,475 meters (11,404 ft), where you'll find your campsite at La Argentina Hacienda. You'll arrive at camp in the early afternoon, leaving plenty of time to explore your surroundings. Perhaps choose a trail that heads deep into the forest to watch the sunset over the Cárdenas Canyon.

Day 3: Trek in the Valle de Cocora (Day 2)

Páramo landscape dotted with espeletia plants near Nevado del Ruis, Colombia
Páramo landscape dotted with espeletia plants near Nevado del Ruis, Colombia

After breakfast, break camp and continue the 8.3-mile (13-km) hike up the 2,789-foot ascent to your next destination, a campsite located near the small village of El Bosque (11,843 feet). This is a strenuous hike, so a decent level of physical fitness is required. 

You'll be trekking through the páramo, an ecosystem found in Colombia's Andean highlands. The landscapes here are more rugged and common vegetation includes the espeletia plant, which resembles a cactus and sunflower. Stop for lunch at the El Berlin farm before making the final climb to the village. You'll encounter a landmark school at El Bosque (the only remote-access school in the region) and nearby you'll find your nearby campsite.

After setting up camp, join a walk through an elfin forest (a unique ecosystem featuring miniature trees and small animals) for some birdwatching. Or try your hand at fishing in the nearby river.

Hiking duration: 7-8 hours
Optional elfin forest walk: One hour

Day 4: Trek to Refugio Ecológico La Pastora

Pumas also live in Ucumarí
Pumas also live in Ucumarí

Today's 5.6-mile (9 km) moderate trek descends to Refugio Ecológico La Pastora (La Pastora Refuge), located at an elevation of 8,057 ft, in Parque Regional Natural Ucumarí. You'll pass through one of the most well-preserved river basins in South America, as well as a mixture of high-altitude Andean forests, home to exotic birds and animals like pumas and mountain toucans. Enjoy a late lunch at La Pastora and take the afternoon to relax.

If you have the energy, there is an optional walk you can take to explore local waterfalls, as well as birdwatch. Then retire for the evening around the campfire with a cup of wine and good company. You'll overnight at the refuge here. 

Day 5: Trek to El Cedral

Butterfly on a zinnia elegans flower, Colombia
Butterfly on a zinnia elegans flower, Colombia

Rise early and start on the final 3.7-mile (six-km) descent through the Otún river valley to the El Cedral trailhead. On the way be on the lookout for the elusive endangered mountain tapir. Once you arrive at El Cedral, celebrate with a refreshing beverage.

Next, hop in a waiting 4x4 and drive to the Santuario de Fauna y Flora Otún Quimbaya (Flora and Fauna Sanctuary)—a protected area of 489 hectares (1,208 acres) run by a community association promoting sustainable development. The sanctuary is home to over 250 species of birds, butterflies, and small animals (including the tapir) and sits amid rainforest vegetation and sub-Andean forest.

Relax during the evening and enjoy the provided dinner. You'll overnight at the sanctuary, 

Day 6: Depart Zona Cafetera

Pereira's town center
Pereira's town center

It's time to say farewell to Colombia! Enjoy your last moments in Colombia's beautiful coffee region with a leisurely breakfast and/or souvenir shopping.  A representative will meet you at your hotel and drive you to the airport for your return flight home.