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Salamina, Caldas Destination Guide | La Ruta del Arriero

Salamina, Caldas Destination Guide | La Ruta del Arriero

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Salamina, Caldas whose nickname is Ciudad Luz, or Lighted City, is one of the most exclusive up and coming pueblos for tourism in the Colombian Coffee Axis. Visitors will find unique gastronomy, soaring picture-worthy mountains, carefully preserved colonial architecture, orchids, and artisans.

A Brief History of Salamina, Caldas

Founded in 1825, Salamina, Caldas was the capital of the south of the department of Antioquia until it was split off into what is today called the Department of Caldas. Salamina is the center of La Ruta del Arriero, or Mule teamsters route – after the long lines of mules, or oxen, which were used to transport goods in pre-industrial Colombia.

Today, you can still see mule teams come in from rough areas of the mountains which remain unreachable by the Jeep Willys. The ruggedness of the terrain has helped to preserve many colonial crafts and traditions which are actively being conserved into posterity.

To get here, catch a bus, or taxi, in Manizales to Salamina. The roads are a bit curvy, so if you get sea-sick easily, plan appropriately. For private car transport, contact us via for our top recommendations.

Salamina, Caldas Destination Guide

This is the birthplace of a movement in Colombia called “Pueblo Patrimonio,” or the first of only 17 pueblos in the country which have this conotation. Today, it is being carefully preserved, but still off the radar of the mainstream tourism routes.

Salamina was founded by settlers from places like Sonson, Antioquia. These men and women came to the region mostly looking for silver and gold. The founders of this pueblo were not your average farm colonist. They were actually people of education who valued art, culture which is what led to the name Ciudad Luz, or the Lighted City.

Here’s what your visit to Salamina should Feel like:

The perfect jumping off point, visitors should come stay in Salamina at La Estancia Hotel Boutique, which sits at the highest point in the pueblo and has a special terrace offering 360 degree views. Great for travelers who enjoys morning practices like yoga, tai chi, or meditation.

Reservations: 320 210 0240 Address: Calle 4 #4-51 Salamina, Colombia

Day One: Afternoon Check-In

Once you are checked in, it’s time to get oriented a bit and start finding your way around. Forgot your hat? You’re in for a treat at Sombreros Don Samuel, where you can buy your own Sombrero Aguadeño – from a high quality locally made source.

A new sombrero to protect us from the equatorial sun of the Coffee Axis! The gal I am elbow-bumping is called La Musa de Tequendema, or Agripina Montes del Valle one of the first famous female poets of her time.

Feeling a bit of chill as the afternoon wanes into evening? Drop into Cafe El Polo, an authentic cafe that has been in operation for more than 50 years. Be sure to try the Macana and Huevos al Vapor (vaporized eggs) – two preparations that are unique only to Salamina.

Don’t miss out on watching the sunset back at La Estancia with a cup of wine, or a cold margarita. You are going to love the selfie shots of the fading light and the show of colors in the evening sky.


Be sure to eat some of the locally made cheese from San Felix, called “Siete Cueros,” or seven skins, to accompany your bottle. Cheese can be purchased on the main plaza a few doors down from Don Samuel.

Night has come, and you are going to have a full day ahead of you! Rest easy knowing your mattress is a Serta, which is the what the Sheraton/Hilton uses. Only the best for visitors of La Estancia Hotel Boutique!

Reservations: 320 210 0240 Address: Calle 4 #4-51 Salamina, Colombia

Day Two: Exploring Salamina

One of our top recommendations as a morning activity, is to go on a nature hike, or early morning birdwatching tour, in Valle de la Samaria. It is located about an hour from Salamina. Here you can see the most densely populated wax palm forest in Colombia.

Breakfast, which is included in the cost of your stay at La Estancia, consists of bottomless cups of coffee, fresh locally produced fruit, eggs, arepa or bread, fresh orange juice, and hot chocolate. Be sure to notify them ahead of time if you have any special dietary needs!

After lunch, it’s time to take a tour of the pueblo from 2:00 – 4:00 PM. Learn about the architecture, history and legends of the Ciudad Luz, of the coffee axis. Your guide is bilingual in Spanish/English! He can answer all your questions!

For lunch, we recommend Lucre, it’s a local favorite, with fresh ingredients, and consistently good quality for the price. They also feature locally made artisan ice creams. It is located on the main plaza inside Cafe Toboso.

Day 3: Coffee Farm Experience or Paragliding

The same coffee you drink at breakfast during your stay at La Estancia, comes from the farm where they take guests for a tour of the entire process. If adventure is more your thing, then opt for paragliding for breathtaking views of the mountainous terrain.

In the afternoon, you will visit the house of Consuelito, the owner of a typical Colonial style building of the period. Cost of entry is only 5,000 COP, and includes a courtesy cup of coffee or tea with the owner.

Additional activity options:

  • Nature Hike – A fun experience out in the countryside where you will see breathtaking view, a beautiful waterfall, and biodiversity.
  • Noche Salamineña – A cookout in classic Salamina style with fireworks, canelazo (with or without alcohol), and music.
  • Mirador La Palma – A scenic overlook where you can go eat lunch, or do dinner and drinks. Bring your camera!
  • Wine party – Taste blackberry wine made in a nearby pueblo accompanied with unique locally made snacks, cheese and sweets!

Be sure to contact La Estancia Hotel Boutique with prior anticipation as they only have 8 rooms available which can fill quickly on busy weekends. Yes, children and pets are welcome!

Reservations: 320 210 0240 Address: Calle 4 #4-51 Salamina, Colombia

La Ruta del Arriero
Route of the Mule-Teamsters

This is an alternate plan to spending extra time in Salamina, but instead visiting the surrounding pueblos which together are “La Ruta del Arriero,” or the Route of the Mule Teamsters.

Salamina is the perfect jumping off point for several unique touristic pueblos of northern Caldas. Each day, the private car/driver for La Estancia, is going to take you on a unique culture tourism adventure.

Day 1: Aguadas – Sombreros & Piononos

The most famous legend about strong, brave and legendary men, are Los Putas de Aguadas. A special term and title that is native to Aguadas, the character profile is that of the farmers and arriero (or mule teamster), who helped to settle the north of Caldas.

Wander the colonial pueblo of Aguadas. Visit the Sombrero Museum, Truky Piononos, and Cafe Bruma. Eat tipico lunch on the main plaza. Each year in August is the national pasillo dance competition – a tradition that has endured since prior to the Colombian civil war.

Day 2: San Felix – La Valle de La Samaria & Marulanda

Prepare to get up early for an early hike in Valle de la Samaria then lunch and a tour of the wool cooperative which makes some of the most beautiful ponchos in the Coffee Axis!

Be sure to wear study hiking shoes and bring a camera or field glasses. Plan to do your hike at dawn so you can experience the magic of hundreds of varieties of exotic birds including the Multicolor Parrot of Caldas, Andean Mot Mots and so many more.

Day 3: Salamina – City of Light

The perfect, mid-route break, and also the most central location of this route. All your day trips start and end here, but in the middle you will rest, take a pueblo tour and enjoy artisans, antique well-preserved houses, and coffee shops.

Day 4: Aranzazu – Horse Rides & Blackberry Wine

Aranzazu was never touristic, until it suddenly was. What no one knew about this pueblo, is that it has a lot to offer for people who love spending time in the countryside riding horses, or hiking to waterfalls.

Today, you will ride through the Colombian country side crossing creeks and passing waterfalls! Enjoy a glass of Vino de Mora, or Blackberry wine – be sure to take a bottle home with you!

Day 5: Manizales – Coffee, Tango & the Expedition of 20

Prepare to absorb the urban setting of what is a cultural capital of Colombia. Enjoy a unique coffee shop experience with a 270 degree view, wander the only Calle del Tango in the world, and take in breathtaking sites at the Founders Monument in Chipre.

Manizales isn’t only an urban attraction – it has some of the most beautiful green spaces in the form of 4 different eco-parks. Take your children to Los Yarumos, experience great birdwatching at Alcazares – Arenillo, sports and swimming at Bosque Popular del Prado. Plan to take photos of hummingbirds, bonsai trees and butterflies at El Recinto de Pensamiento.

About La Estancia Hotel Boutique

Owners Patricia and Jaime, have a unique appreciation for Salamina which flows from their 40+ years of experience working in hospitality/tourism in the United States. They came back to their country of birth over the last 4-5 years looking for a pueblo with unique features.

Salamina checked all the boxes for them on points of interest such as geographic position, costs, local kindness and future potential. For them, La Estancia is an investment which they hope will endure into posterity.

The house they purchased was built over a hundred years ago. The story behind it is a cute story of true love under pressure. A priest and nun fell in love, renounced their service to the church and raised children together. Once or twice a year they threw parties and invited the entire pueblo.

Reservations: 320 210 0240 Address: Calle 4 #4-51 Salamina, Colombia

With positive vibes, a happy history, and high hopes, Patricia and Jaime have created a beautiful space by employing local artisans and talent. This hotel is their life’s dream made manifest! Welcome to Salamina, Caldas!

About the author

Coffee Axis Adventures and Expat Lifestyles meet Wit and Wordpress! I have been writing my whole life in one form or another, and blogging since 2012. My career as a professional writer began in 2013 and this is what I have been doing ever since! My personal mission: Create love and appreciation for local brands, products and entrepreneurial projects of value and quality. Do my part to participate in and help create, a strong local economy that supports local people and their families!


  1. Great information. Gracias!

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