The typical South-West Antioquia - Colombia
I visited the bustling city of Medellín already a few times; I’ve been to Rio Claro, Guatape, San Jerónimo and to the Pacific coast (Nuquí and Bahia Solano), but the south-west of Antioquia was new for me.
I started to explore and this time with an organized tour. I was picked up at my hostel in “El Poblado” and we drove in a new minivan via the “Autopista Sur” towards Concordia (= 95 km from Medellín). Along the way we had to keep our nose closed for a few seconds because of the terrible smell that was caused by bone-mill for the production of gelatine and animal-food. We were very lucky with the weather and enjoyed the beautiful scenery and the radiant sun on our faces. The Cauca river ran beside us all the time (on 600m altitude) guided by surrounding green mountains, palm trees and the beautiful waterfall "Salto de Magallo". We visited the “Finca Platanillal”, located on 1700m altitude. We were introduced to the whole coffee process. Very interesting and not forget to mention the views over the coffee region!
From Concordia we drove over winding roads to Bolívar (= 109 km from Medellín) and after a bit of climbing we arrived at 1200m. Platano and coffee plants were all over the place. From "Parque del Cafe del Suroeste", located on km4 vía Ventorillo, we went on a quad, and this time literally with our noses IN the coffee plantations. Steep but what a view! Four persons on one quad - hilarious but possible. After lunch we did a zip-line activity over these beautiful hills and coffee plantations.
We went on to the village of Bolívar, the second largest town after the town Andes in this region, where we spent the night. A pretty village with large, wide and beautiful trees on the "plaza" and tall, graceful palm trees next to some buildings. In the evening we visited the "Zona Rosa" and enjoyed the atmosphere. It was very interesting to see how the locals came to show off with their horses, Paso Finos they are called and recognized as the national breed. The horses were walking in a very unique fast draft technique, like walking on the tips of their toes.
The next day we continued towards Jericó (= 104 km from Medellín) where we could enjoy the colorful colonial architecture. This village, with its 2 cathedrals and 15 chapels, located approximately at 1900 m altitude, had a beautiful plaza, identical streets, houses and locals wearing carrieles (this is a shoulder bag made of leather and cow-skin for decoration). Not really my style but nice to see how they were made. A very practical bag it is, with up to 12 hidden inside-pockets. I also saw people of the Embera Chami ethnic group in the streets.
After a long time being out of service, the cable car of Jericó (8.000 cop / pp / 5 minutes) was running again and took us uphill, to enjoy a fantastic view over the whole area and the "Cerro Tusa", which looks like a pyramid (depending on the angle you see it from).
Surprisingly, the prices for accommodation, food and drinks were quite low in this region. The people were super friendly and all the villages, and this applies to the whole area, were so clean and well kept! Not a cloud in the sky and made with love! The roads were well maintained, although occasionally they had some potholes. The area was so green with hardly anyone who lived here except some luxurious fincas. The town of Fredonia was the most populated place around here.
Antioquia is the largest producer of coffee and therefore quite famous. The local population lives from and for the production of coffee, there are 5316 coffee fincas! Every Willi (Jeep) passing by was loaded with huge coffee bags up to the roof. Apart from coffee, you can see lots of orange-plantations in the valley of the Cauca-river.
I dont think I ever stopped so often to take pictures.
1. Take some aspirin with you because the villages on higher level can cause a mild headache.
2. The tour was organized by Andres of Land Venture Travel. He is a born and bred Paisa, speaks fluent English and has very profound know-how of this area.
3. You can also visit these villages by yourself by using the public transport from Medellín. But I must say that it was a real luxury to travel with Andres. We saw a lot in a short time.
4. If you want to have lunch, you are cheaper off if you asked for a "menú del día” (cost 7.000 cop) than when your order from menus (approx. 16.000 cop). This is always with meat.