Colombia is a growing tourist destination, luring travelers with its tropical weather, rich culture and diverse activity offerings. With so many different cities and towns, and quick flights to pop around on, Columbia can be an exciting but overwhelming place to explore. To get started, here is a 36-hour look at an awesome tour that takes you through coffee regions outside of Medellín – Jardín and Támesis – for waterfall repelling, a horseback ride through the coffee mountains, a coffee farm tour, and local insight to the Columbian coffee industry and farming culture.
Note: Land Adventures Tours is a local group that has a combination of tours within the Medellín region. They are extremely friendly and will work with you to create the adventure you desired for your trip. This trip combined the Támesis Hike & Waterfall Repelling, and the Jardín Coffee Region Tour with a horseback ride to the Splendor Cave waterfall.
Land Adventures Tours:
Start the day off with an early morning pick up at your Medellin hotel, and hit the road for ~3 hour drive out of the city and into the tropical vista of Támesis. While the drive is a bit long, the view makes it fly by. The jeep ride can often resemble an Indiana Jones-style adventure, navigating the rough roads, drivers and uneven grounds, rolling through the mountain ranges and small towns as you exit the city limits. This is ample time to talk with the guide about the history of the land, learn about the small townships along the way, and stop for an impromptu but earned coffee at a local farmer’s house, gearing up for the hike and repelling ahead.
Arrive in Támesis and get geared up for the first big adventure. Established in 1858, Támesis is a small town in the Southwestern Antioquia subregion of Columbia, named after the River Thames.
Note: Along with the other essentials they request you to bring (sunscreen, insect repellent, quick-dry clothes, extra socks or change of clothes), make sure to bring hiking shoes with good traction – we found that running/ athletic shoes are the best grip for slick rocks hiking up and gripping the rock while repelling down.
Begin the assent! This 2-hour hike is no joke, a moderate to high fitness level is recommended and definitely needed. The climb takes you through the tropical forest and neighboring fields, stopping to observe some pre-Hispanic Indigenous and a view looking across the valley tucked in-between surrounding mountains. Rock climbing experience will also come in handy as you’re asked to scale a rock wall that takes you to the final perch of the waterfall.
Harness up, and repel down. After watching the guides make it look easy, time to step over the ledge and repel 246ft down the face of the waterfall. The rushing streams, slippery rocks and puzzling challenges make this an exhilarating ride till you get to the base. Take a moment and turn towards the vista behind you, it’s a stunning sight as you hang on the mountainside and water rushes past your feet.
Note: If there is enough time, guides will offer a second round at repelling, with more confidence on the next try, it is almost more enjoyable as a slick ride down the mountain face.
Arrive/ Dine in Jardín. After a soaking adventure, enjoy a continued drive through the Columbian countryside as you come up on Jardín, a quaint coffee town in the heart of Columbia’s coffee region. Stay overnight in the main plaza, El Libertador Park, or in a bungalow perched above the local festivities for a quieter evening. Venture through the town square for dinner, picking up local street foods along the way and sit street-side for a night dinning and drinking with the locals.
Wake up to the church bells ringing throughout the town square and meet the guide for breakfast and coffee at a local shop. As part of the trip, the guide will take you on a “pueblo stroll,” introducing local coffee farmers and distributors, sampling a fresh cup of tinto, or black coffee, a trip to a local sweet shop ideal for snagging some snacks or souvenirs for later, and a look at the neo-Gothic Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
Climb on horseback for a ride through the coffee bean mountainsides. This 2-hour exhibition is an opportunity to take in the full beauty of the lush green landscape and endless mountain ranges of tropical forest and coffee farms. Stroll through neighboring farms, meet some bulls and cows along the way as you arrive at the Splendor Cave (La Cueva del Esplendor) for a 20-minute hike through a hidden tunnel to find a waterfall cherished by the local indigenous people.
Note: Medium to high fitness level is recommended, but more than anything, this tour is a bit hard on your bum from the long horseback ride. Lesson learned.
Visit a local coffee farmer to see the processing of each bean that eventually becomes our favorite caffeine jolt. After being welcomed into their home, the farmer shows off the delicate and complex program that takes each bean, separates, cleans, dries and preserves it. While the majority of the beans are sent to be included as part of the main Colombian coffee bundle, individual bags are available to bring home straight from the farm. Nothing brews as fresh.
Dine on a gourmet lunch overlooking to mountain ranges. Join the family for a mouthwatering lunch prepared onsite utilizing all local ingredients for a truly authentic Colombian dish.
Head back to Medellín for the rest of your trip! Unfortunately, the afternoon brings you away from the mountains, but happily back to the magical city of Medellín. Another long trip at ~3 hours, this is a final chance to take in a ride through the rolling hills, ever changing clouds and tropical climate.
Photos: Nicole Albertson