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A month in the coffee region - where to stay?

Although I am familiar with Panama I have never been to Colombia, and I plan to spend a month in the coffee area this coming winter - with a view to retiring in Columbia. I like what CI read about Pereira but I am open minded, and actually might prefer a smaller centre as I am not in love with city life generally. However, the thought of spending a month in a small hotel room is not appealing and I wonder whether there might be better options available at a reasonable cost. I am looking for a temperate climate where I can avoid the costs of heating and A/C - and enjoy the fresh mountain air!

Suggestions are most welcome!

Your choice to visit the Coffee Axis -- excellent.

Not providing an approximate budget or budget range as of yet -- questionable.

Furnished short-term rentals are often scarce and pricey in quality areas of South America and the world.

Consider visiting www.airbnb.com and making use of their maps / photos / detailed descriptions of rentals / reviews.

-- cccmedia from Medellín

Since finding lower-price rental opportunities is generally harder online, consider this option....

Stay in a hotel or airbnb place for the first few days in your target area .. and use local newspaper ads and shoe leather / taxi visits to potential neighborhoods, etc. on those days.

cccmedia

I've spent some months in the coffee region.

I didn't care for Pereira much. I just didn't feel very welcome.

I love Salento very much. The Cocorra Valley is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen, and I've been to five continents. It's a super little town and the people are very sweet. They have some great hostels for less than $10. I stayed in a new hostel owned by some Americans that was hotel quality for $8 a night. Wine, huge back deck, hardwood floors, new beds, beautiful views, and a couple of guys playing acoustic guitar every night. I've had so much fun in Salento, and I'll go back ASAP.

I also visited Filandia for a week my last trip. It's a very small town not far from Salento. There were hardly any Gringos around, and they don't see many foreigners. So the Filandians all wanna talk to you. They're excited to see you in their little village. I highly recommend at least a couple of days here. I found an authentic taco shop with a Mexican owner. Real Mexican food in Colombia is hard to find, and this tiny town had it.

I've been to Manizales a couple of times and it's a great mid-sized city. It has more shops in one place than any where else I've seen. There are five universities and there's a vibrant party scene at night. I stayed at a hostel near the skilift on the side of the mountain for 10 bucks a night. My own huge room with a double bed. Hardwood floors and antique furniture. Big kitchen. The third floor is a tiki bar with an open air view of the mountains. Super nice owners. Manizales is worth a look.

I guess I got a bit of tunnel vision my last post because you said you were interested in the coffee region. But I'll tell you some other places I loved.

I spent a month in Guatape. It's about 90 minutes bus ride from Medellin. I got into town and was impressed, so I rented an apartment right by the lake for $180 for the month. Three bedroom, two bath. It's only 4000 people, so everyone knows you're the new guy when you walk around town. They'd say, "Hey Gringo! Come have beers with us!" And I'd go have beers and talk with a table full of old men. Guatape is gorgeous, and the weather is nice. I don't like hot or cold weather, so I spend my time in Colombian mountain towns with perfect temperatures. Guatape surely has nice weather. Go see "The Rock".

My last trip, I spent a couple of weeks in Villa de Leyva which is more towards Bogota. Great climate with lots to see. I took a Colombian girl and we had so much fun hiking and seeing everything. They have cobble streets and great little shops and bars.We had beers and wine at one little bar that was playing Bon Jovi and Beatles and Nirvana all night on the TV/stereo system. Every building in town is painted white by city ordinance. We stayed in a hostel outside of town on the side of a mountain where you could sit by the firepit and see the entire city and all the valley and mountains. Since we stayed 10 days and the owners liked us, they put us in the master suite which was super grand. For $10 a night. My date and I visited the ostrich farm and saw the dinosaur fossil museum (Colombia used to be an ocean 170 million ago), and we took a tour of their beautiful vineyards. I felt very welcome in Villa de Leyva and would love to visit again.

I spent 10 days in San Gil. It's one of those towns that gets labeled as a tourist destination, but it's still just a regular beautiful Colombian town. There's tons to go see and do in San Gil. Had a ball. The weather is a bit more hot than most mountain cities in Colombia. The high during the day was 82 or so, which doesn't sound bad, but I like 70ish better. I stayed in a great hostel owned by a very cool, young Australian guy that would take us to do fun stuff. They have a jacuzzi in back where everyone drinks and tells stories. I went caving and hiking and swimming in the clean rivers with some other travelers. Great fun. So much fun.

So, if I could offer advice based upon my own experiences and my own personal tastes, go to the little Colombian towns. That's the real Colombia. The little towns offer so much more than Medellin or Bogota. And the people are very welcoming.

Cheers. I hope you have a blast. If I had the cash saved, I'd come hang out with you.

cccmedia :

Stay in a hotel or airbnb place for the first few days in your target area .. and use local newspaper ads and shoe leather / taxi visits to potential neighborhoods, etc. on those days.

cccmedia

Makes sense. I have looked at VRBO and Airbnb and there seem to be plenty of places available at good rates. But the choices will be much better if I am there to evaluate in person.
f course, I won't set a budget unto I see what I can actually get for what I want. :)

From what I’ve seen, the airbnb.com listings in the Coffee Region (at least Armenia and vicinity) are much reduced in price compared to those for Medellín. 

Additionally, in some cases, discounts of close to 50 percent off the day-to-day rates are available for month-long stays in Juan Valdez country.  Such discounts are clearly stated in the applicable listings.

cccmedia from Medellín :)

Back from doing a little research and reading suggestions from helpful members - here is my starter short list, not to say I won't check out the 3 eje cafeteros cities as well, but as I have said, big cities (over 50K) just do not excite me, lifestyle-wise. Of course, nice to have one nearby!
In No Order, and welcoming further suggestions:

- Salento
- Rionegro
- Darien
- Guatape
- Jardin?
- Villa de Leyva
- San Gil (too hot?)

Guatape being on what seems to be a large lake is appealing for that reason. And by "temperate" I mean low to mid 70s, hitting the 80s from time to time, but a decent amount of clear sky before and after the rain. :)

Salento opened its first public swimming pool this summer.

However, it’s mostly a party pool venue where alcoholic drinks are served .. and was open only for the evening.

The water was deliberately over-“climatized” .. meaning too luke-warm for real swimming. 

cccmedia from Medellín

SunsetSteve :

welcoming further suggestions:

- Salento
- Rionegro
- Darien....

And by "temperate" I mean low to mid 70s, hitting the 80s from time to time, but a decent amount of clear sky before and after the rain. :)

Darién is a province at the extreme southeast side of Panama.  As far as I can tell from research, there is no Darien or Darién in Colombia.

You may have heard of Panama's infamous Darien Gap, the 60-mile break in the Panamericana that makes travel between Colombia and Panama problematic.  And by problematic I mean it’s a place hostile to practically anything besides alligators and swamp guerrilla guys.  No Gringos are passing between the two countries in the family car.

Even if there was a small pueblo of the name Darién on the Colombia side, I’d imagine it was a hot, humid place .. home to zero Gringos.

You’d be better off in Darien, Connecticut. ;)

cccmedia

It's near Cali. Close to Buga. Beside a lake.

Video of Darien

Darién is safe, it is sort of a resort town since it is close to Lago Calima, the largest man-made lake in Colombia. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calima_Lake

It is cool, even chilly at night with the lake at 4900 feet elevation.  In and around the area there are lots of rooms/apartments for short term rentals, you may be able to find some on-line (I wasn't able to find much), or by asking around if/when you get there.

We stayed there courtesy of a cousin who worked for Comfandi. who have a resort and hotel right on the lake.  Highly recommended.

http://www.comfandi.com.co/persona/cali … ago-calima

- Salento
- Rionegro
- Darien
- Guatape
- Jardin?
- Villa de Leyva
- San Gil (too hot?)
====================
If you go to Colombia and don't go see Salento or Guatape or Villa de Leyva or San Gil, I will personally come down there and beat your a$$. All of those little towns are very beautiful. Go see them ASAP. You will LOVE those towns.

I didn't see Jardin but two guys I hung out with swore it was great. So go see that sh1t, too.

I don't know about this Darien place. I guess I'll look it up.

I don't know if links will post here, but this is a good video of Salento. And you can't even tell much from a video. When you're riding in the back of that Willies Jeep, it's the most serene, incredibly beautiful ride of your life. What a wonderful town.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYxqzX-MwwE

Thanks, Brandon.

Well Steve, since you said Guatape appealed to you. I wanna talk about it. I had such a great time in this little town. 4000 people, but it seems even smaller than that just walking around town. Very nice REAL Colombians that will invite you to do things and to have dinner at their house. I didn't know anything about this town except that some people in Medellin told me it was great. So one morning, I was mad a Colombian girl in Medellin (they're flaky as ****), so I got on a bus and went to Guatape.

Man, when I walked into town, I was like HELL YES! And I immediately decided to rent an apartment for the month. $180 right by the main drag and the lake. Nice place.

I was the only gringo in town, so everyone knew me. I'd walk around and to "The Rock" every day and they all say Hey Gringo! Such nice people.

There's a huge zipline that runs across the lake right by the town. And some of my gringo friends came over from Medellin and we rented a boat for several hours for $5 each.

So, here's some photos. Pics never capture the true beauty of a place like being there, but perhaps they'll give you an idea.http://www.colombiafacil.com/site/assets/files/2118/mi_casa_guatape_hostal1.600x0.jpg

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSwcWbVWy1yA12DNX5Vj9j-yW66ANQrY19OY8S5owXX0emwUJEXLg

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRJlI1Nlp834_NYKHqtDsQjwX-GhgcSNChNMP7tbFrKaTJIspcM

[img]http://lh4.ggpht.com/-sCX-r_l-b5k/UsrcVlyT0WI/AAAAAAAAvAY/GTaPID7_K48/guatape-rock-7%25255B2%25255D.jpg?imgmax=800[/img]

https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/01/79/b8/64/guatape.jpg

http://image.shutterstock.com/z/stock-photo-colorful-colonial-houses-on-a-cobblestone-street-in-guatape-antioquia-in-colombia-187244789.jpg

https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/beautiful-old-town-replica-guatape-colombia-february-penol-main-street-was-inundated-61919136.jpg

http://image.shutterstock.com/z/stock-photo-guatape-colombia-february-beautiful-and-colorful-streets-in-guatape-city-center-known-336304700.jpg

Looks terrific. Def. worth a close look!

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