Welcome to Apia Risaralda, the heart of the wind, el corazon del viento, where you can drink the best coffee, observe a wide variety of birds, and then glide off the mountain in a parachute!
A Brief History of Apia Risaralda
Apia, in the Department of Risaralda, was founded in 1884, but mis-recorded in history books as 1883. The founders are Jose Maria Marin and his family, along with Julian Ortiz – who also founded nearby Santuario.
The name “Apía” came from a local indigenous tribe of a chief named Tucarma, whose consort was called Zulayma. Their story was immortalized in a theatrical work called “El Ocaso de un Pueblo” which tells/sings the story of the conquista and colonization of Apia Risaralda.
It is important to note that this has always been a coffee growing pueblo which distinguishes itself by the quality and amount of shade which the plants are grown in.
A local coffee association called AsoApia, and it’s founders, have dedicated more than 25 years to promoting organic coffee and a tradition of conserving the remaining tree coverage.
Information supported by local teacher and historian Francisco Javier Azate Gallego
Apia has always been a pueblo which distinguished itself both academically and musically. Many families actually sent their children to Apia for high school due to the renown of their educative processes.
COMARCA, also known as the Corporation Musical for the Art and Culture of Apia, has also long been a driving force in fostering exceptional talent in local children, also helping to found musical organizations in 14 other municipalities.
How to Get There
There is a company that leaves hourly from the bus terminal in Pereira called “Trans-Apia,” stops in La Virginia, and then goes onward to Apia. Travel time is about an hour and a half. Via private car you can get here in about an hour from Pereira.
If you are coming from Manizales, catch the bus via Autolegal transporter directly to Viterbo, then catch a jeep to Apia. Jeeps leave at 7:00 AM and 12:00 PM and return at 1:30 PM and 5:30 PM.
However, to go back to Manizales you should plan to go through Pereira. The jeep arrivals do not coincide with the buses that go back up to Manizales which leave at 1:30 PM and 4:00 PM. Buses for Pereira leave every hour from Apia.
What to do in Apia
Apia is a typical pueblo with some unique features that make it stand out. With a local economy that is heavily dependent on coffee, a movement started a few years ago to teach local inhabitants how to drink the specialty coffee that they were producing for export.
The concept caught on and today there are now, at the time of writing this, nine coffee shops and three roasters. But there is more to do than drink coffee!
Rutas del Viento – Bicycles and Agro-Tourism
Operated by Local Guide Julian Mauricio Calle, this is an immersive tour for bicycle, farm and horse enthusiasts. Get your hands dirty with farm tours and participative experiences – fun for families with children too!
Pueblo Tour – This is an immersive experience where you get to see what lies behind closed doors in a pueblo that has conserved much of its original wood architecture. The best part? You will get to see a band perform a segment of the local theater work “El Ocaso de un Pueblo” which tells the story of the Spanish conquista and the Antioqueno colonization.
Tatama Extreme Nature – near to Apia, is a national park that protects some of the most important natural resources of this region. In it you will experience a combination of bicycle, hiking and even visit a waterfall. Side benefits include birds galore and extreme biodiversity of plants, flowers and even the occasional wild orchid!
Fly and Ride Adventure – where you will be able to fly high above one of the most beautiful parts of the coffee region, and then later ride a horse through the coffee fields below. This is your chance to try paragliding, and then later ride by mule through a sugar cane field just like the arrieros, or teamsters who helped to settle the wilds of yesteryear.
To schedule your experience contact Julian Mauricio Calle by cell or WhatsApp 300 427 2010 and 312 257 6381 or online at www.bicitoursrutasdelviento.com FB: @rutasdelviento Insta: @bicitoursrutasdelviento Twitter: @bicitoursapia
AsoApia – Organic Coffee Association
Reserva Florestal La Playita
Apia Risaralda is a special place to learn and experience coffee, and AsoApia together with 350 producers and Reserva Forestal La Playita, is a local coffee association that works with farms from field to table to produce high quality coffee and find buyers for the product.
Coffee here has a special taste and essence because much of it is grown in shade, a practice that has largely disappeared in Colombia. For interesting export possibilities, local coffee experiences and cupping workshops, stay tuned.
For more information contact Norma via WhatsApp +57 311 324 8693
Agualinda Parque Natural Hiking Trail
Up the mountain from Apia, is a natural park which belongs to the municipality, but is managed by a local conservation group called Vida Silvestre.
Catch a jeep up to the top access point of Agualinda, then wander down the trail where you can see typical plants, birds and animals. Catch a jeep back down to the pueblo, or plan to call a taxi.
Hiking time is between one and two hours. Wear sturdy shoes, carry an umbrella, be sure to use pants, and a long sleeved shirt, to protect from bugs and mosquitos. Most of the trail is shaded but wear a hat if you are sun-sensitive.
Agualinda is open from early morning to late night in accordance with coronavirus curfews and local restrictions. For a guided experience contact either Julian, the tour operator mentioned previously.
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Where to Eat and Drink
All around the main plaza you will find coffee shops and restaurants. For breakfast, we always go to Fanny’s which is across from the fire station (Bomberos), our very own local secret!
Cafe de Mi Pueblo Apia
What is probably one of the most famous coffee shops, Cafe de Mi Pueblo Apia, was the pioneer in teaching local coffee cultivators to drink the Specialty coffee they had always shipped abroad.
Also the owner of the farm where the coffee they serve is produced, each step in the process from farm to table has been adapted to the individual variety. That is to say that according to type, each step is analyzed to bring out the best features of each coffee.
In 2019, they opened their own roastery. Whether you want to drink a cup, or learn the whole process, Cafe de Mi Pueblo Apia offers a special experience for visitors. Be sure to try their other coffee-based products like nougat snacks, arequipe, and cookies!
To schedule your roastery to cup tour, contact them via Whatsapp or by calling 314 621 3816 – 320 675 4120 , or drop by and enjoy a cup of Colombia’s finest! FB: CafeDeMiPuebloApia
Cafe y Arte El Clavel
In an adorable little nook, or alleyway, is a small coffee shop that we recommend! Sit under the umbrellas, enjoy the colors and grab something hot or cold to drink accompanied by snacks!
Visitors can choose from three different brands of coffee according to the aroma or flavor profile you prefer! Our favorite was Coffee Garden, a Castillo Rosario variety with chocolate, red fruit and panela flavor notes.
In the evening, this is the ideal spot to hang out with friends, drink sangria, beer or aromatica de frutas – a hot fruit infusion.
For more information, check them out on Instagram @cafeyarteelclavel They also offer event services if you ever want to plan a birthday party or romantic evening. Spanish only.
Contact them via WhatsApp or by calling +57 316 247 4324
Where to Stay
Apia Risaralda has a great variety of options for lodging that works well for both large and small groups. You can find a more corporate hotel structure, or a family home that can be rented completely.
Junior Plaza Hotel
Owned and operated by four brothers since 2009, Junior Plaza Hotel, and a panaderia (bakery) called Yuyo, offers a convenient central location on the corner of the main plaza. Special breakfast discount for hotel guests!
The hotel rooms range from full size single up to king size suite options, all with private bathrooms. 15 rooms, up to 30 guests. Keep in mind that during high season, holidays, holy week and special events you should plan to book 15 to 30 days prior.
Hot Water – WiFi – Convenient Location – Bakery
Call or WhatsApp for reservations and booking +57 311 390 9574. Spanish only. FB: @hoteljuniorplaza firstname.lastname@example.org
Abuela Casa Hostal
Another family of four children, three sisters and one brother, this was a house which was inherited from their grandmother. Together they have conserved the feeling and traditions of the house they fondly remember growing up in.
A room or the entire house can be rented out for family vacations, or special multi-day events. Currently only two rooms have private bathrooms, but future plans include private bathrooms for the other bedrooms which are big and spacious.
Their slogan and mission, is “descanso y tradicion,” or rest and tradition. It is their desire that when guests arrive here, they feel like they are home!
Hot water – WiFi – Fully Stocked Kitchen
Reserve via AirBnB here: Abuela Casa – Descanso y Tradicion
Grab your camera for beautiful morning and afternoon views of the pueblo!
Call or WhatsApp for reservations +57 314 617 2431 – Luz Adriana Lopez, or Yoryi Lopez 314 690 7645. Or by email email@example.com
Plan Your Trip
This is not a place to wander into and stumble onto museums and shops. You really have to know what you want to do, then plan to do it with the right people who we have included in this destination guide.
If you plan to take some of the tours listed here, attend one of the annual events like the rock music festival, paragliding congress or enjoy a show by COMARCA/theater, then you should definitely plan to stay at least a couple days.
Apia Risaralda is a pueblo that while still relatively unknown, is distinguished for its’ incredibly beautiful wood architecture, one of a kind local art/music culture and some of the best coffee to be found in the region!