Coffee country and volcan Machin


The famous “Cramer’s Eighty-eight” butterfly landed on my arm and hung out for a while.

Colombia is famous for its coffee. So we went looking for Juan Valdez, the campesino and his mule Conchita that has been advertising Café de Colombia all over the world for many years. Leaving Bogota we headed west and first drove to Los  Nevados National Park in the central Cordillera of the Colombian Andes. The 5,300 m-high volcano Nevado del Ruiz dominates Los Nevados.  At the Thermales Ruiz we camped, relaxed in the hot water and did some bird watching. The next day though the fog rolled in and the trails to the volcano were closed due to recent volcanic activity. On our walks we could not get over the unusual and beautiful wildflowers and other plants that grow at such a high altitude.



Thermales Ruiz


Gentian ? Enzian?

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Bleeding heart?


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We left, crossed over the Rio Magdalena to Manizales and camped at Hacienda Guayabal in Chinchina. 64 hectar of coffee plants on steep hills, we saw the coffee harvest and production and drank great coffee. There we finally ran into Juan Valdez.


Juan Valdez is watching you!


Coffee cherries, ripe for the picking (yellow and red anyway)


C A F F E E trink nicht so viel Kaffee…..lala

On to Salento we went, broke out the bicycles and rode to the Valle do Cocora, famous for the very high wax palms, the nation tree of Colombia.


Riding up the Cocora Valley.


Wax palms grow up to 60 meters in hight.

Salento is a pretty town , has great climate and is a major tourist destination. People from other parts of Colombia come here on the weekends. It is also crowded with backpackers and has many hostels. We did the popular hike to the hut in the hills, drank hot chocolate with cheese (you put them in the hot chocolate) and enjoyed the views.

G in Salento

Salento and hiker.


Views of Cocora Valley.



That’s a loooong tail!


Coati at the “hot-chocolate-and-cheese-hut”.


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Hot chocolate and cheese…..


In town we talked to the owner of a bicycle rental and he pointed out a road on a map that goes over the mountains to Ibarra. He said there are many more wax palms on that route. We wanted to see that, so we took off and headed out of Salento up into the mountains again. It was a beautiful drive, single track dirt road (4×4 not needed) and winds its way over passes and through valleys. In Toche we took a left and continued up again. When it got late in the day we camped beside the road under the peak of Cerro Machin Volcano, near a hot spring. There was no traffic at all other than people on horseback or on foot. And the wax palms were everywhere, whole forests, we came to realize that they actually grow in/as a forest and what we had seen in the Valley de Cocora were sad remnants of a forest that had been cleared for cattle farming.


A wax palm forest untouched.

Roadside attractions on the drive from Salento to Ibarra via Toche and Machine volcano.


Paso Fino Columbiano





 Toche town center.

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Moving truck.





It took Günter a while to find this nice man that just happened to have a chain saw.


armadillo – Gürteltier




It was a two-day drive and we are glad we took this route. Günter has driven over 40 000 miles by now and is doing a great job. I, Sissi, have driven 100 meters so far.

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5 Responses to Coffee country and volcan Machin

  1. Sharon Mueller says:

    Dearest Sissi and Gunter, Enjoy, Enjoy!!!! Thank you for sharing your wonderful journey!!! Keep smiling! I do when I read your emails. Wishing you continued Happiness and Good Health, Everyday! Sharon & Robert

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Judi Cleghorn says:

    A wonderful journey through coffee country and wax palm forests. So much to see in this incredible world, and you’re actually seeing it! And thanks to these delightful blogs, we are, too. Keep having fun, and thanks for taking us along your mountain path! XO Judi

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Vicki & Jack says:

    Ditto what Judy said! Your posts always make my day…..and add a little sunshine into a soggy Southeast Alaska fall! Looks like we need to put Columbia on our bucket list! V & J

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dan S. says:

    What a fantastic adventure. Columbia photos are gorgeous. Really looking forward to your experiences and photos in Ecuador. Cueca is always at the top of the list for places to retire. Also wondering about Banos and Pacific “getaways”. Ecuador is on my list of places to visit soon.


  5. Greg von Buchau says:

    Loving your blog


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