Talk about a disappointment! Several Colombian friends had suggested I visit the town of Quimbaya, about 40 minutes from Armenia. I decided to take their advice and visit this town that’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage listed Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia one afternoon. It wasn’t bad, but one friend did a great job of building it up way too much. It lacked the colonial buildings most small towns in the region have and was so modern the streets looked like any other city. Maybe I’m missing something.
We arrived in the afternoon and had a quick lunch. That’s where the excitement ended. We asked the server for some suggestions of what to see in town and she answered by shaking her head slowly and uttering a firm “nada” (nothing). She was right.
We walked around the plaza for a few minutes which was full of families entertaining their children. Some Saturday mornings, there’s a farmer’s market with fresh products from the region or a craft market.
Next, we visited the church. It seemed to be quite new. It’s a nice brick structure with some beautiful stained glass work.
We stepped into the artisans’ workshop to take a quick look around. The history museum next door was closed.
We then decided to grab a bus back to Pereira from another plaza just a few blocks away. This plaza was where all the jeeps loaded up and headed into different towns nearby. It was also a bit unsavory and Marisol was uncomfortable there.
The bus ride back to Pereira cost COP$6,300 each and took a good hour and a half. It made a quick stop in the nearby town of Alcalá, which isn’t anything to write home about. The rest of the trip was down a winding country road through lush green hills and the occasional bamboo forest. To make a stop in Alcalá, the bus fare is COP$1,600. To go to Montenegro, it’s COP$1,700 on Nuevo Rapido. For Armenia, it’s COP$3,300. Buses to Montenegro and Armenia leave from a small building just a couple blocks from the main plaza.
If coming from the Pereira bus terminal, Expreso Alcalá has the only direct service to Quimbaya. Buses leave roughly every 15 minutes.
For lunch, try Balcón de Miramar overlooking the plaza. The food was great. We both had chicken with melted cheese on top.
For another great lunch, try Guanapalo. It’s a few steps from the main plaza and has great meat dishes. We got the picada for two and it was a ton of food for just COP$21,000.
One major tourist attraction is located near Quimbaya, which is probably the best reason anyone has to pass through town. PANACA is farm-based theme park where visitors get hands-on access to farm animals and agriculture. Buses leave from Quimbaya’s main plaza with Coomodequi and take about 20 minutes to reach the park.