Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Andes
The Parque de la Vida (‘Park of Life,’ in English) is a public space in the Colombian city of Armenia. The park features 20 acres of paved walking trails, tiered waterfalls, and bamboo bridges. In case of rain showers, visitors can duck into any number of small cottages located in the park until the storm passes. Visitors to the park can see fish, ducks, and geese swimming in calm, man-made lakes surrounded by trees. The park also has a skating rink, a bandstand, and occasionally hosts craft fairs.
With cultivated gardens and forested areas, the tranquil Vida Park is a welcome respite in the middle of the city. At Christmas time, the park is decorated with numerous lights and is a wonderful place to visit at night. Walking around the entire park takes about an hour.
The Quimbaya Gold Museum (Museo del Oro Quimbaya) is a museum located in Armenia, Colombia, designed by Colombian architect Rogelio Salmona. The building prominently features both water and bricks in its exterior design. Visitors can follow the history of Colombian gold through the art and craftsmanship of the indigenous Quimbaya culture, whose artifacts are preserved in a the museum’s exhibits. The museum houses a large collection of pre-Columbian artifacts, including almost 400 gold objects, a fine ceramics collection, stone sculptures, and wood carvings. Most of the pieces originate from the pre-Columbian Quimbaya civilization, as well as the Emberá people and other Amerindian tribes. Most of the pieces have been restored and preserved by experts from the Gold Museum in Bogotá, Colombia.
Some of the museum’s most important pieces are the gold poporos (traditional devices used to store and chew sacred coca leaves) and the zoomorphic vases. Goldsmiths from this period also made realistic and stylized animal figures. Among the most frequently represented are snails and insects in a state of metamorphosis, like butterfly pupae, which may have held meanings connected to the cycles of nature. The museum has a children's library and a room for temporary exhibits, among others, and offers guided tours.
Recuca (El Recorrido por la Cultura Cafetera) is an innovative coffee farm, near Armenia, Colombia, offering tours that give the visitor a glimpse into life on a finca. After arriving at the farm, visitors dress up in traditional clothing that would have been worn by Colombian coffee workers (‘cafeteros,’ in Spanish). After the requisite photo op, guests take a guided walking tour to learn about how (and why) Colombian coffee production is different than that of its other Central and South American neighbors. Visitors get to strap on a basket and head into the plantation to pick coffee beans before returning to the hacienda to learn about the coffee-making process. See the beans processed through a machine to have their skin removed, how the beans are oven-dried, and learn where the beans go after they leave the farm.
Visitors can learn some traditional dances as they get a lively introduction to the world of coffee production and the lives of the cafeteros. You’ll also learn about the history of the Jeep “Willy,” the distinctive vehicles used to transport coffee beans in Colombia, and of course you’ll taste coffee. For an additional cost, you can enjoy a traditional lunch at the hacienda. Please note: it’s best to reserve in advance for the lunch option.
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