Just the thought of an amusement park with a coffee theme was intriguing to me. Parque del Café, part of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia, is located in a beautiful green valley in the heart of Coffee Country near the town of Montenegro in the department of Quindío. It’s open until 6pm.
Getting there is very easy. At the bus terminal in Armenia, there are minibuses buses directly to the park. The ride is only COP$2,000 and takes about 30 minutes. You can even buy your tickets for admission to the park at the bus terminal.
There are several options that allow you to enjoy all of the park or certain attractions. A day pass including all activities in the park costs COP$59,000 for adults and COP$44,000 for children 90-120cm in height, including horseback riding and unlimited use of most attractions (as of July 2016). There’s also a COP$49,000 option that allows for use of seven different attractions, including a very colorful traditional dance program that should not be missed.
The entrance to the park is at the top of a hill. Once you pass through the gates, there is a small museum about coffee if you are interested. To get to the rest of the park, you have the option of walking down a pleasant path to the attractions or ride either the cable car or chair lift.
If you choose to walk down the path you will have a great experience. Along the way, you will see coffee growing naturally and get demonstrations on the entire coffee harvesting and production process. It’s very interesting.
There is a small section dedicated to the indigenous tombs found in the area as well. It’s cheesy but informative.
Plaza de Bolívar
At the end of the path and where the cable car ends is a reconstruction of a small Plaza de Bolívar, complete with a small church that has services on Sunday. All of the colorful buildings represent traditional colonial architecture commonly found in the coffee region. One side of the plaza has a long stretch of buildings with several reasonably priced restaurants serving traditional Colombian food and other fast food. Another building houses the train station which provides scenic rides around the park grounds.
In one path leading from the plaza, you will find such rides as go-karts and a spinning ride. Down another path there are kiddie rides, a rollercoaster, a couple of water rides, and a vertical drop. They aren’t exactly what you’d find at a Six Flags, but they’re fun.
Further down are more attractions, such as a raging rapids ride, an exciting coaster called Krater, bumper boats, bumper cars, and more go-karts. This is also where the horseback riding begins and the location of a small archaeology museum.
Getting back to the bus terminal in Armenia can be difficult if you wait too long. There is no special bus – a local minibus must be flagged down from the small souvenir shops across the street from the park. They are usually completely full after 6pm. The last bus is at 7:30pm, but there are other options. A colectívo might offer rides for just a bit more money than a minibus, and as a last option there are taxis.
Overall, it’s an enjoyable and educational day and worth the price of admission. You have to get there early if you want to do everything, and that may not be possible with the large number of attractions at the park. If I compare Parque del Café to the other theme park in the area, PANACA, I would say overall PANACA is much better and more entertaining. For non-Spanish speaking visitors, however, PANACA is a little difficult to do.