Nestled in the central Andean mountains, the Colombian National Coffee Park (Parque del Cafe) is a theme park that revolves around one of the world’s favourite commodities: coffee. Set in lush greenery, learning about Colombia’s coffee culture is made fun with interactive museums, thrill rides, and high-energy, infectious shows operated by people that are truly proud of their heritage. Imagine Disneyland or Universal Studios in a more traditional and heartwarming form. Even if you are not a theme park fan, give the Colombian National Coffee Park a chance. You may be pleasantly surprised by this fun, educational playground! Not convinced? Read on…
A non-profit theme park in Colombia
The National Coffee Park is located at Montenegro, Quindio, ~10km from the capital city, Armenia. Established in 1995, the National Coffee Park is a non-profit organisation, supported by the National Coffee Growers Federation of Colombia and the Departmental Committee of Coffee Growers of Quindio. Produced all year round in Colombia, coffee plays an important role in the lives of locals from being the daily comfort beverage to main source of livelihood, and this is most apparent in Quindio, part of the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia.
The idea of the National Coffee Park is to spread awareness of the coffee culture and development in Colombia in a fun and natural way, and they managed to do so while conserving the environment! This non-profit theme park caters largely to domestic tourists since most international visitors to Colombia rarely made it to Quindio, but if you are in this region, know that the top attraction here is the National Coffee Park.
Nature and conservation in the National Coffee Park
Upon entering the National Coffee Park, the fun begins with a scenic chairlift ride into the heart of the attraction where one can continue the journey by train, cable car or explore on foot. Listen for excited chatters while taking in the breathtaking view of nature beneath. Contrary to what one may expect from a touristic theme park, the National Coffee Park takes pride in environmental conservation and sustainability.
Nature has been conserved and curated into various sections, showcasing the likes of coffee trails, myth garden, bamboo forest, etc. Breathe in deeply as you stroll around this huge playground, you would realise that the air is particularly fresh. Some interesting sites to look out for include the indigenous cemetery, colonial house replicas and scenic look-out points.
Fun attractions, activities and shows
Ready for some adrenaline pumping rides? The family-friendly National Coffee Park caters to people of all ages, and the rides can be categorised into aquatic, land and the more thrilling ones that set people screaming in the sky! A personal favorite is Rapidos - a swirling water ride that goes round and round. Interestingly, there are also horse rides for those favours nature over mechanical rides.
At the National Coffee Park, there are two shows daily, namely the Coffee Show and Secret of Nature. The former is a must-see, as it is the main highlight of the theme park! Professional performers along with the use of light technology and light-hearted music put on a great show that conveys the Colombian coffee culture and sentiments. Learn about how coffee originated and evolved over the years. The dancing coffee pickers in their traditional wear will boost the energy level in the hall, and you may involuntarily start tapping your feet.
At the Interactive Coffee Museum, one gets to learn interesting facts about coffee from seed to harvest and production. Located near the main entrance, it is likely that most excited visitors will bypass the quaint museum upon entering the National Coffee Park, but do visit before you leave! This is not just about the coffee, but the people, heritage and culture. There are also motion-sensored figurines, touch-screen learning and a video screening in the museum. Outside, photos lined the corridor walls of the same building. To end your visit on a sweet note, buy a cup of ‘tinto’ ( black coffee) at Juan Valdez at level one.
Besides the Interactive Coffee Museum, don’t miss the Museum of Archeology and be transported back in time to gain insights on Colombia in the pre-colonial days.
Visiting the National Coffee Park? Here are some tips:
There are different price tiers for the tickets, from all-access to partial access and discounts for students, etc. To get the best value ticket, purchase your tickets from the Parque del Cafe retail shop in Portal del Quindio mall in Armenia. If you have a local friend, he/she will be able to get a better price for you.
Comfortable footwear is recommended, as the theme park is huge. An extra set clothing or a raincoat will come in handy after some of the water rides.
Bring a bottle of water and some snacks. There are limited dining options.
Plan your trip well to maximise your day at the coffee park. I visited on a weekend but the crowd was bearable and the queue for most rides was less than 15 minutes.
To get to the National Coffee Park, drive or take a bus or taxi from Armenia city, the capital of Quindio to Montenegro.
Coffee theme park in Colombia
There are many theme parks in the world but the non-profit and environmentally friendly Colombian National Coffee Park is one of its kind. Even if you are not a fan of theme parks (I am not!), know that you will immerse in the local culture and gain insights on one of the most loved commodities in the world.
Theme park lovers that cannot get enough of the National Coffee Park should check out the agriculture theme park, PANACA, at Quimbaya that is also in Quindio.
Colombian National Coffee Park (El Parque del Cafe)
Address: Km 6 vía Montenegro Pueblo Tapao, Montenegro, Quindío, Colombia
Website: National Coffee Park
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