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COLOMBIA, SOUTH AMERICA  -  TRAVEL & LODGING GUIDE
HOTELS & RESORTS IN CALI, IBAGUE, MANIZALES & QUIMBAYA

Hills and Coffee Plantations Near Manizales, Colombia, South America
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Colombia Travel Guide
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COLOMBIA TRAVEL GUIDE:
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Colombia Travel Advice For Visitors   by Tom Fisher
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Colombia travel advice seekers should be prepared for a sensory assault that will entice and thrill visitors. Colombia has a great deal of diverse attractions and activities, with two coasts facing the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It has everything from deserts to glaciers, steaming rainforests, secluded islands, pristine beaches and modern cities.
 
Western tourists and visitors will probably want to fly in by plane to Bogota, which is the capital. Depending on the itinerary, it's also possible to hop over by plane to other destinations like Cartagena, Cali or San Andres. Visitors entering from Ecuador or Venezuela can come in by bus or car, and those coming from Panama can take a boat.
Safety-wise, visitors don't have all that much to worry these days. Metropolitan zones are about the same as any other city in Central & South America. Visitors should take standard precautions such as avoiding a tough neighborhood after dark and not heading off solo into isolated regions.
Colombia, Caldas, Manizales, Chinchina, Coffee Plantation at Hacienda De Guayabal at Dawn
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The real draw for visitors is the variety of the destinations and the natural beauty. The choices range from Bogota's flesh pots to the Salsa clubs in Cali and the Carnival in Barranquilla, among others. Visitors can spend many days & weeks enjoying all this, not to mention the tropical rainforests, majestic humpback whales in the Pacific, and the pristine beaches and coral reefs near Caribbean coast islands like San Andres, Santa Catalina and Providencia.
 
Boys Jumping from Bridge in El Rodadero, Seaside Suburb of Santa Marta, Colombia
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Speaking of which, scuba diving is one of the premier attractions here that draw in large number of visitors from all over the world. As mentioned above, visitors can explore the underwater marine life on both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. There are some destinations on each coast that are famed for their excellent dive spots.

San Andres and Providencia probably offer the most popular dive spots on the Caribbean coast. Isla Gorgona and Malpelo Island on the Pacific Coast are quite famous and popular among both tourists and expert divers. Visitors need to choose from amongst these locations based on their taste for adventure, diving skill and travel logistics.

So for example, a visitor planning to head out to San Andres can reach it directly by air even though it is 700 km away from the mainland. Another plus point here is that since the coral reef is really long, tourists and divers can enjoy the dive spots and attractions of Providencia & Santa Catalina along with San Andres. 

The biggest attraction is, of course, the famous 'sea of seven colors' which is a good indicator of the diversity of marine life here.

Pacific coast divers at spots near Malpelo Island or Isla Gorgona tend to be more adventurous. A trip here involves a flight to Guapi from Cali, followed by a boat ride to the island. Crystal clear and cold waters await divers, along with whale sharks and hammerheads. Isla Gorgona is an especially tourist-friendly place with nature tours, whale watching and beaches, and a history as an old prison island like Alcatraz.

To end this healthy dose of Colombia travel advice on a general note, visitors are advised to consider longer stays. It's not possible to drive-thru or jump from one airport to another over a quick weekend. Every destination has to be considered as a mini vacation by itself that needs to be explored and enjoyed at its own sweet pace.

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About the Author: If you want more great tips try my new Colombia travel advice site

CALI RECOMMENDED HOTELS, COLOMBIA

Santiago de Cali, simply referred to as Cali, is a city in western Colombia and the capital of the Valle del Cauca Department. With a population of 2.5 million, Cali is the second largest city in the country. It has one of the fastest growing economies and infrastructure in the country because of its geographical location. 

The city was founded on July 25, 1536 by the Spanish conquistador Sebastián de Belalcázar.
 

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InterContinental Cali
Splendid views of the Cali River give the InterContinental Hotel an air of peace and tranquillity despite its convenient downtown location. Cali is known for its distinctive Latin flavour and the warmth of its residents. From cultural explorations to art and festivals, there is plenty to do in this city founded by Sebastian Belalcázar, the 16th century Spanish explorer. Some of the things you are sure to find in the city include a variety of restaurants and lounges which feature the notorious Salsa music that appeals to all different generations.
Mercure Hotel Cali Casa del Alferez
With colonial style and in an exclusive area of Granada, the Mercure Cali Casa del Alférez Hotel is 10 mins from the city center and 15.5 miles (25 km) from the international airport. The hotel has 60 rooms: 19 Superior, 28 Luxury, 9 Privilege and 4 Suites.  There are 4 meeting rooms for 60 people, cable TV, Wi-Fi Internet and a fitness center.  Enjoy the best gourmet cuisine from Asia and the Mediterranean in the cozy, chic restaurant, Ginger n Garlic, or relax on the Terraza del Alférez with a refreshing drink.
Radisson Royal Hotel Cali
The Radisson Royal Hotel Cali is conveniently situated next to the Trade Center Corporate Complex in a charming residential area of Cali, Colombia. Hotel guests enjoy a variety of amenities, including a Business Center, a Health Club and wireless Internet access. The Radisson Royal Cali Hotel is just 15 minutes from downtown and a short distance from a number of local attractions. During your stay at the Radisson Hotel in Cali, Colombia, enjoy a meal at one of our two on-site restaurants. Choose from superb international dishes, including traditional Colombian options, at Café Royal, or dine poolside at La Parrilla. The Radisson Royal Hotel Cali features three on-site bars, and 24-hour room service is available.
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IBAGUE FEATURED HOTELS, COLOMBIA

Ibagué is the capital of the department of Tolima in Colombia. It is situated 1,285 m (4,216 ft) above sea level, on the eastern slopes of the Cordillera Central between the Chipalo and Combeima rivers, tributaries of the Coello River. It is on the road from Bogotá to Cali near the high mountain pass known as "La Línea" ("The Line") which connects the interandean valleys of Magdalena and Cauca rivers; as a result, the city has become an important commercial center and road transport hub. The fertile surrounding countryside produces coffee, cacao, tobacco, sugarcane, and rice. Ibagué is widely regarded as the "Musical City of Colombia" due to its long tradition in offering advanced musical education and its rich schedule of musical events during the year.
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Hotel Dann Combeima, Ibague
This hotel is located in the commercial and financial area of Tolima in Ibagué, ideal for leisure and business travellers. It features a gym, a sauna and free Wi-Fi. Dining options include restaurants La Terraza and Tony Roma’s that serve barbecue based dishes and Thai cuisine. The Pentagrama Bar, located in Dann Combeima's lobby, prepares a variety of cocktails and guests can listen to music. Accommodation at Hotel Dann Combeima is spacious and offer city views. They are equipped with LCD cable TV, a seating area and a work desk. Some rooms also have a jacuzzi.
Hotel Estelar Altamira, Ibague
Next to Ibagué's financial centre, a 5-minute drive from the airport, Hotel Estelar Altamira provides accommodation with free Wi-Fi and free parking.  Hotel Estelar Altamira is located 10 blocks from popular Manuel Murillo Toro Stadium. The hotel features tennis courts, gym and pool.  Guests at Estelar Altamira have a games room for entertainment and a cash ATM on site.  The hotel offers several gastronomy choices. Guests enjoy Italian, French and Argentinean cuisine at La Toscana and Le Bistrot. For refreshments and light meals, there is Bar El Aceituno and Las Palmas Parrilla y Snack Bar.

MANIZALES RECOMMENDED HOTELS, COLOMBIA

Manizales is a city and municipality in central Colombia, capital of Department of Caldas and part of the region of Colombian Coffee-Growers Axis, near the Nevado del Ruiz volcano. 

Nowadays the city is the main center for the production of Colombian coffee and an important hub for higher educational institutions.

Also read: Colombian Coffee - The Best in The World

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Estelar Recinto del Pensamiento Hotel, Manizales
This hotel offers spacious accommodation, a convention centre and free Wi-Fi. Located 2.5 km from downtown Manizales, surrounded by 20 acres of gardens, water, forests and nature trails. Hotel Estelar Recinto del Pensamiento includes interesting sites, such as the Butterfly observatory, Forest orchids and a bamboo pavilion with capacity for 1.500 people. It is located a 5 minutes' drive from the airport and 3 km from Los Yarumos Park. Dining options include a restaurant that serves regional and international cuisine. Juan Valdez Café offers a variety of drinks.
Hotel Estelar El Cable, Manizales
Hotel Estelar El Cable offers spacious rooms with city views, a gym and free Wi-Fi and is located in the centre of Manizales and ideal for business and leisure travellers. The hotel is situated 37 km from Matecaña International Airport, and 3 km from the Palogrande Stadium. Free private parking is available. Dining options at Estelar El Cable Hotel include an extensive buffet breakfast and an à la carte restaurant where local and international dishes are served. Rooms feature contemporary décor with large windows, giving a bright and airy feeling. All are air conditioned and include LCD cable TV.
Hotel Estelar Las Colinas, Manizales
A Hotel totally renewed, in which the innovation and the implementation of new technologies, connectivity and services are permanent. Hotel Estelar Las Colinas is an excellent alternative for executives and tourists, who will find in the heart of Manizales, the front door to all the Coffee Triangle. Only 3 blocks from Manizales´s Cable Plaza mall, Hotel Estelar Las Colinas offers spacious accommodation with free Wi-Fi and free parking. The hotel features a bar specialising in exotic coffee. In the totally refurbished Estelar de las Colinas, guests can relax in the sauna or have a meal at El Mural Restaurant, which specialises in Argentinian and international cuisine.
QUIMBAYA FEATURED HOTELS, COLOMBIA
Quimbaya is a town and municipality in the western part of the department of Quindío, Colombia. It is 20 km northwest of the departmental capital Armenia. The name of the city derives from the name of the Precolumbian culture that inhabited the area, the Quimbaya civilization. Quimbaya is bounded to the north and west by the department of Valle del Cauca, with La Vieja River forming the western limit. 

The National Agricultural and livestock Park (Spanish: El Parque Natural De La Cultura Agropecuaria), PANACA, is located 7 km west of the main township. The 47 hectare park contains a variety of interactive exhibits, including more than 200 species of animals. Along with the National Coffee Park in Montenegro, the theme park is one of major tourist attractions of the department.

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Decameron Panaca All Inclusive, Quimbaya
Situated in Quimbaya/Quindio in the hills of Colombia where the finest coffee in the world is produced, Decameron Panaca provides a beautiful and convenient place from which one can experience the many activities offered in the area. Guests can experience the tranquility of the Colombian countryside, and even mingle with many animals kept next to the hotel. Its location offers the opportunity to discover, just a few kilometers away, a variety of places and experiences for all tastes and inclinations. La Estancia Restaurant: Offers wonderful breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets in a beautiful setting. La Herrería a-la-carte Restaurant: A specialty steak house open for dinner (by reservation only).
Colombian Coffee - The Best in The World   by Wesley Johnson

Thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign started in the 1980s, Colombian coffee is now almost synonymous with the popular image and logo of Juan Valdez and his donkey trekking through the Colombian mountains.
Ripe Coffee Beans, Recuca Coffee Plantation, Near Armenia, Colombia, South America
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However, with the advent of specially grown coffees, environmentally sustainable coffees, organic and fair trade coffees, Colombia is working hard to upgrade its image and become the world's premiere source for high-quality, gourmet coffees.

Types of Beans Grown in Colombia
Almost all the coffee beans grown in Colombia are 100 percent Arabica beans. The Arabica bean is low in caffeine and acidity and are best grown in rugged, mountain terrains.

The Arabica bean is the most popular bean in North America, thanks to its superior taste and how well it lends itself to a classic, American medium roast.

Washed Arabica

Colombian coffee beans go through a washing process. This wet processing purifies the beans, takes out some of the acidity and gives the coffee a stronger aroma and richer taste, making it ideal for the coffee lover.

Coffee Growing Regions in Colombia

The two largest coffee-growing areas in Colombia are the central region including Armenia, Manizales and Medellin and the eastern, more mountainous area closer to Bogota and Bucaramanga.

Major Carriers of Colombian Coffee

Most standard, store brands will have Colombian coffee. However, many will also blend these with beans from Brazil, Africa or other Latin countries. To ensure a brand is 100 percent Colombian, look for the Juan Valdez logo and 100 percent Colombian certification.

Colombia, Caldas, Manizales, Hacienda Venecia, Coffee in Sisal Bags Ready for Export
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Colombia, Caldas, Manizales, Chinchina, Hacienda De Guayabal, Coffee Worker Holding Coffee Cherries
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Organic and Fair Trade Farming in Colombia
Thanks to consumer demands, a number of coffee plantations in Colombia are working toward a triple seal certification. The Triple Seal is the highest level an organic farmer can obtain and requires first that the farmer meets the USDA organic cultivation standards.

Next, the grower must create a natural shade grown coffee plantation. So, instead of relying on artificial shades or screens, the grower must plant and grow a natural, plant-based canopy.

Finally, the last seal is granted by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and Rainforest Alliance. This seal is dependent on how the coffee plantation affects the natural habitat around it both now and in the future.

Many Colombian coffee growers are also moving toward fair trade practices to stay competitive with the international coffee market. Remember, coffee is a volatile commodity, so staying in tune and on top of customer demands is crucial to growers and manufacturers remaining competitive in the java business.

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About the Author: For additional informative details on coffee and enticing flavors that explode your taste buds, please visit http://www.coffeetryst.com, a popular site with insights on coffee options, such as flavored decaf coffee, gourmet coffee gift baskets, and many more!

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