Light-hearted music with freestyle lyrics filled the air while the crowd erupted with laughters. PANACA - the first agricultural theme park in the world - brings to mind the image of happy, bountiful experiences to be shared amongst loved ones. One may not know what to expect prior to visiting this educational farmland, but whatever you have in mind, you would be pleasantly surprised. From charming serenaders, adorable pig races to impressive horse shows where the sensual lady in red dance with trotting horses, PANACA promises edutainment and beyond.
PANACA, Quindio: agriculture theme park with a heart
Located in the beautiful coffee region of Quindio, PANACA (also known as the National Agricultural & Livestock Park or El Parque Natural De La Cultura Agropecuaria) sits ~7km (~4.3 miles) west of the main town of Quimbaya.
Born out of sentiments for nature and our environment, the people-oriented PANACA theme park was created to instil greater awareness and a sense of belonging in the countryside. With the tagline of ‘sin campo no hay ciudad’ (which literally means ‘no city without field/agriculture), PANACA presents a wonderland for people from all walks of life to return to the basics. This is perhaps the most applaudable and inspiring factor of this 2.8km long agricultural theme park.
The little things do matter and PANACA seems to understand this too. With a mission to promote love for the countryside and work of farmers, the park only sell natural juices or water. Soft drinks are not available because, well, farmers don’t produce that!
Things to know about PANACA
Upon arrival, the scale of the PANACA may overwhelm but the considerate management would have a printed schedule of showtimes and activities, along with a map, to guide you along. PANACA may remind you of the Universal Studios when you first arrive, but one would soon discover this mascot-filled ‘countryside’ theme park has more to offer than plain old fun and exhilarating canopy flights. Informational boards pop up at various sites to give information on plants, trees and animals.
With more than 4,500 animals including countless species of cows, horses, dogs, and even rabbits(!), one may eventually be subjected to much ‘oohs and ahhs’ upon learning about the various roles of the animals on the farm and their contribution to mankind.
Enjoy tender moments with farm animals or fly across canopy
Watching a tender moment between the mother goat and her kid may inspire one to become a vegetarian (… well, at least for me)! Jokes aside, the livestock stations provide a great learning platform for young children and city bumpkins. The livestocks in PANACA include horses, cows, dogs, cats, goats, pigs and rabbits.
As one walks along the beautiful countryside of PANACA, you will also be treated to a beautiful view at the El Mirador (lookout) where you can spot the occasional brave soul flies 2 km (~1.2 miles) over the canopy. If you do not have a fear for height, the views are really impressive and each flight will take ~25 minutes at the affordable costs of 31,000 COP (~10.70 USD).
Cheer for dancing horses and adorable racing pigs
Besides learning more about agriculture, the various shows at PANACA are heartwarming, impressive and delivered with wit. The skills and professionalism of the staff and animals shine through in spite of the stifling afternoon heat that threatens to lull one to sleep.
All commentaries are delivered in Spanish but even if you are a non-native speaker, the energy is infectious and you may find yourself laughing along with the entertaining performers and delighted audience. Amongst various shows, the pig races and spectacular horse show (usually the last one in the day) are not to be missed. Imagine dancing horses and cowboy stunts!
Getting around Panaca and useful tips
While it is possible and recommended for people to get around PANACA on foot, one can also hop on the Cabalgata (horse carriage) for a short tour of ~25 minutes at 18,000 COP (~6.20 USD, prices as of 2016). Besides enjoying the countryside scenery and learning about the various uses of plants and trees, the horse carriage may likely give you a better idea of the 18th century bumpy transportation.
Comfortable clothes and footwear along with a hat and sunscreen are highly recommended for your personal comfort. Although restaurants and drink shops are available in PANACA, the park sometimes receive up to 8,000 visitors in a day during peak season. Therefore, it will be wise to bring your own water and snacks if you do not want to be in a long queue.
Reasons to visit Panaca: social responsibility & sustainability
When one visits PANACA in Quindio, you will not just be enjoying as a visitor but also supporting the local community because PANACA provides education and jobs for ex-members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and help them to get re-integrated into the society. PANACA also provides training programs to educate farmers in different regions of Colombia. Thereafter, the agricultural knowledge can be extended to others in the community. With the rapid population growth and declining food production in the world, a visit to PANACA for personal enjoyment as well as to support the idea of sustainable agriculture is the least that one can do.
PANACA, Agricultural Theme Park in Quimbaya, Quindio
Address: Kilómetro 7 vía vereda Kerman, Quimbaya – Quindío – Colombia
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 8am - 6pm. Closed on Monday.
Duration: require ~ 6 hours
Contact: +57 (6) 758 2830