The Museo de la Caña (Sugar Cane Museum) is located about an hour from the city of Cali and not too far from another attraction, Hacienda El Paraíso. The museum tells about sugar cane production throughout Colombia with examples of extraction methods from different regions of the country. Sugar cane is one of the most important agricultural products in Colombia and was introduced to the country from Cuba.
The museum is open daily from 9am to 4pm and costs COP$8,000 per person (as of November 2016). Guides take groups to 21 different points along the perfectly manicured grounds and give short explanations of the sugar cane cultivation in each region represented. The entire tour takes about an hour.
Tours start off with more primitive mechanisms (trapiches) that only extracted 25% of the juice from the sugar cane. As time progressed, so did the machines. By the 17th century, many of the machines were extracting better than 50% and would use animals instead of slave labor.
While the information is interesting and the knowledgable guides are entertaining, the star of the show is the landscape. The grounds are absolutely gorgeous with each tree and plant labeled, making the attraction part museum and part botanical garden.
One of the last stations allows visitors to try guarapo (sugar cane juice) and to chew on freshly cut sugar cane. The guarapo definitely needs lemon (it’s very sweet), while chewing on the sugar cane can be refreshing.
At the very end of the tour, the guide takes visitors to a hydraulic sugar cane press. It’s the most efficient machine on the tour.
The guide then gives an optional tour of the plantation house, Hacienda Piedechinche, which was built in the 18th century.
On the ground floor, studies used by the men and women of the house along with a dining room and chapel are decorated with original pieces.
Upstairs is a bedroom, while attached to the house is a carriage house.