Aranzazu Caldas, is also known as “el Farol del Norte,” or the later of the north. It is a pueblo of Cabuya (fiber), Waterfalls and Blackberry Wine. Come along with us as we take you inside one of the hottest offbeat destinations of the Coffee Axis of Colombia.
History of Aranzazu Caldas
The small pueblo (or town), of Sargento was formed in 1853 – and its name changed to Aranzazu in 1855. An important part of the third wave of Antioqueno Colonization, the newcomers favored it for the terrain and climate which was favorable to the typical agricultural/socioeconomic model of this cultural segment.
From its inception it was a pueblo firmly rooted in the Catholic faith. Visitors can gain a feeling for the depth of their devotion in a few ways. Upon arrival from Manizales, you will see the 10 Commandments strung out along the roadside.
Inside the pueblo you will find a religious art museum with invaluable life-like representations of Jesus and the saints by Hermanos Carvajal. They stand in wait with the original alter and photos of the old church which was demolished.
Conservativeness is also reflected in the history of pueblo professions which went through a phase where many sent children to be nuns or priests. Later it became popular to become teachers. Now tourism is on the uptake.
Favorite hobbies in this pueblo is walking and riding horses. Traditions include horse parties where the hot blooded Paso Fino Colombianos are paraded through the streets ending in a big party. Enjoy this party the last Wednesday of every month.
It is not uncommon for retired women of the pueblo to gather and walk several miles up into the hills for lunch, and then return. Visitors will find hiking, horseback riding and waterfalls as the mainstay of activities. For a more restful experience, spend a day hanging out and observing the local characters.
Breakfast & Bakery
Especially if you arrived on the early bus, you are feeling that little growl in your stomach begging for some calories to fuel your machine! Aranzazu Caldas has the solution.
Parque Cafeteria & Panaderia
Featuring an American-style breakfast of eggs, toast/bread and coffee or tea, be sure to try some of the typical Colombian favorites. Classics like Pan de Bono, Pan de Queso and even Croissants can be found here.
In the afternoon, stop in for the only Jar of Juice service in the pueblo! Did we mention how delicious their chicken empanadas are? Por favor, regálame una empanada de pollo con jugo de lulo en agua! “Please, give me a chicken empanada with Lulo Juice in water!”
Hours: 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM Every day Location: Aranzazu Caldas. The corner of the main plaza by the Alcaldia and the Church.
Where to Grab a Coffee, Juice or Tea
There are three different coffee shop experiences we recommend…
Taller Gourmet Cafe & Healthy Food
Feeling hungry but looking for something that isn’t fried? Then Taller Gourmet Cafe & Healthy Food is a concept for light snacks or lunches, smoothies, lemonade, tea and coffee. Tip: For a little added fiber and protein, ask for a scoop of ground flax and/or chia seeds in your next smoothie!
Be sure to check out their Chalkboard of Fame which features local personages and intellectuals or people who have had an impact. Their coffee is from Pacora, one of the other far-out pueblos of Northern Caldas.
Hours: 8:00 AM – 10:00 PM Everyday Instagram: @tallergourmet_comidasaludable Locations: Aranzazu Caldas, Salamina & Aguadas. Contact: 312 655 9936 (Spanish)
“365” Coffee Bar & Social Salon
Featuring their own exclusive brand of coffee de origen, a modern upscale feel and a place where people can gather comfortably – this is a great stopping point in the morning or afternoon. Especially if coffee is your first priority, and quality is a must – they are focused on technique and plenty of options.
Stop in on the 2nd Tuesday of each month for intellectual chats about the art and history. Be sure to order a manual preparation like Siphon, Bonavita or French Press in order to enjoy your coffee in style with friends.
Additional options also include juice, tea, aromatica, beer or a unique cocktail menu. They also offer sandwiches and snacks. They are facing the Main Plaza opposite of where the busses arrive and below the Alcaldia (Mayors Office).
Hours: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM Every day Instagram: @365alamedida
Artesano Cafe – Scenic View
For a quaint feel, a great view and a cozy ambiance for romance or friendship – then this is your afternoon to evening chill spot. Featuring locally grown ORGANIC Cafe de Origen Aranzazu, visitors are in for a special treat.
In the evening you can enjoy the local pueblo ambiance over a BBC Craft Beer, a ginger tea or enjoy “una manera diferente de tomar cafe.” (A different way to drink local coffee) plus that beautiful green view of forest and mountains. It is only a block off the main plaza.
Hours: 2:00 PM – 10:00 PM Every day Instagram: @artesanoaranzazu (Same for Facebook) Contact: 313 656 3015
We have given you three places for socializing with locals, over a hot or cold drink, and with unique ambiance options. Now, let’s get to the fun part: Tourism!!!
Touristic Attractions in Aranzazu Caldas
Aranzazu, is a place which celebrates many Paisa traditions like panela, Colombian coffee with the unique quirk of Blackberry Wine. They were once a major producer of Cabuya, a jute-like fiber which can be formed into ropes or woven into bags for coffee and/or local produce.
Agro-Tourism for Small to Mid-Size Groups
One of the most unique ways to connect with coffee axis culture is to LIVE the experience. With Jesus Alberto, Provincia de San Isidro, you will learn about the present and past of local agriculture.
Visit their small onsite collection of old relics and farm implements including a sugar cane press which can be run by a mule or horse. Take a hike on their nature trail with breathtaking scenery, a scenic swing and natural carbon deposits. Get a feel for the Panela-(sugar) making process with a working Trapiche, or sugar cane refinement workshop.
Groups of 10 = 50,000 per person Groups of 5 = 100,000 per person
Includes fresh fruit snacks, lunch and transport from/to the town. For more information contact Jesus Alberto (Spanish) 320 671 8859 or Erin Donaldson (English) 312 794 8245 with prior anticipation of at least 15 days!!
Believe it or not, the residents of this pueblo are HUGE horse aficionados. Whether your preference is a hot blooded Paso Fino Colombiano, or a sure footed – but ready to go mountain horse, you will find the best of both worlds here.
Visitors can plan to attend big organized trail rides with 30 – 100 riders, or plan their own private excursion. And, on the last Wednesday of each month, it is fair days where cattle are sold at the sale barn and the fine blooded horses are trotted through the streets until midnight.
We particularly recommend asking about the waterfall trail ride option where visitors will be mounted and taken up to the highest mountain to visit a breathtaking waterfall. Plan to stay for at least a day and a night especially if you are dependent on public transportation.
For more information: Carlos Hincapié Rincón (Spanish) 311 630 6976 or Erin Donaldson (English Assist) 312 794 8245. Must reserve at least 8 days ahead of time to ensure availability!
Where to Stay
Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep…
Hotel La Casa de Los Abuelos
We don’t always find traditional Colombian hotels to be comfortable – but this one checked all of the boxes!! With quality mattresses which are soft but not too deep or too firm, a good nights rest comes at a great value!
Once an old house with over 100 years of existence, much of the furniture, layout and decor – including many of the original art and relics, add to the feeling. The owners wanted to give the look of a traditional house while still offering private bathrooms and comfort in each of the 18 rooms. Prices start at 30,000 COP (~$10 USD)/night.
Front Desk Service 24/7 Contact (Spanish): 311 711 5247
Por favor, necesito una reserva para…(días/tiempo de llegada). Please, I need a reservation for…(day/time of arrival)
Not all pueblos are as sleepy at night as we are led to believe. Aranzazu Caldas likes to listen to music, ride horses and drink beer/alcohol too!
El Bar – Drinks & Karaoke
Evoking a modern feel with a little bit of retro – El Bar is a place to go have a cocktail, beer or shot – and listen to really good music. With a special emphasis in special events, over time they will be offering themed nights and karaoke.
Our top recommendation is the Coco Aranzazu, the house cocktail, which features rum, blackberries/conserve, condensed milk and coconut cream, with a touch of canela. Or, opt for the Griall cocktail, which has a base of coffee.
This is a green business which was created with recycled elements and the re-use of water for hand washing to clean floors.
Hours: Sunday – Thurs 7:30 – 12:30 PM, Friday 7:30 – 1:00 and Saturday 7:30 – 2:30 on Saturday Location: One block off the main plaza behind the Alcalde’s office.
If you want something a bit more low-key then grab a cold beer at Ocuzca Cerveceria. They are offering a wide variety of national and import beer. Taste different types of craft beer from Colombia and around the world.
This is a great place to go with friends to listen to music, chat and enjoy a great sunset view. They are directly below the Alcalde’s office and straight through to the back overlooking a forest with green pastures on the edge of the pueblo. They also offer coffee, juice and tea too!
Hours: Everyday – 7:30 AM – 11:30 PM
Be sure to try their “Selfie Shot” which has bar decor with a strikingly green contrast of the nature behind it.
How to Plan Your Vacation
Since there aren’t many English-Speakers in this area, we are here to help you create your perfect adventure. Feel free to reach out to us to help you establish reservations, create a fun plan, or even accompany you and your small group as a translator/event coordinator.
Keep in mind that we have a very tight schedule with a lot of time demands. With that in mind you can contact us at any time to help you make reservations, but for Tourism Coordinator/Interpreter services we need a minimum of 15 days notice! Read more > Click Here
Phone: +57 312 794 8245 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
5 Reasons You Should Visit Aranzazu Caldas
- Most Friendly – this is the type of place where kind greetings are the rule and not the exception. Also considered to be very safe too!
- Good Roads/Easy Access – after you pass Aranzazu the road quality deteriorates rapidly as the northern route desperately need some TLC.
- Hiking and Waterfalls – If you love nature, hiking and beautiful waterfalls then this is a place you are going to feel good in.
- Blackberry Wine – Aguadas with the Pionono is the only other pueblo with a unique local gastronomic tradition quite like this one.
- Intellectual Minds – Over 100 books by more than 50 local writers have been published. Monthly conversatorio, or conversation about history, culture and coffee.
Going Forward – New Frontiers!
Remember, you heard about Aranzazu Caldas from us first! Really, we felt like there is quite a lot of interesting tourism-ready infrastructure – particularly these coffee shops which open 7 days a week. The open every day thing, can be hard to find – even in cities like Pereira or Manizales.
Over time we expect this pueblo to develop even more, but for now you have a place to go to which has a unique identity, no big crowds and a very original vibe.
For us this is a very new and interesting, and one of the first of many pueblos we hope to work with! If you are from a pueblo that you feel deserves visibility and has something unique to offer – then we are here to help you create NEW FRONTIERS in tourism, gastronomy and lifestyle opportunities in Colombia.
Historical input contributed by Jorge William Duque Zuluaga – Historian & Creative Director of Aranzazualdia.com
Additional history and context by Luis Giraldo Salazr Muñoz – Historian & Notary