- Hiking / Trekking
I stayed in Manizales for a few days. It certainly isn't the most beautiful city in Colombia, but it deserves credit for being surrounded by many points of interest, such as the Los Nevados National Park and the Nevado del Ruiz volcano. Actually, this city that's perched at an altitude of approximately 6600 feet was built according to strict standards in accordance with the region's earthquake risks. Manizales is also famous for the quality of its coffee, since it's located in the heart of "eje cafetero" or the Colombian coffee growing axis, a region not to be missed during your stay in Colombia.
A few places however remain to be discovered in this city with rather steep streets, like the famous statue, the Bolivar Condor, as well as the panoramic tower of Chipre. For those who love nature, it’s possible to get some fresh air at the Recinto del Pensamiento, where you can observe butterflies and orchids. In January, the streets fill up and become home to street vendors, parades, BMX tournaments, bullfighting and of course, the crowning of the Coffee Queen!
Situated to the north of the Coffee Triangle, in central Colombia, Manizales is the capital of the Caldas department. The town has a population of around 400,000. The Nevado del Ruiz Volcano forms the town's backdrop, which still has some colonial-style buildings in the centre of town. Sadly, many have been destroyed by eruptions and fires over the past couple of centuries. Along with Armenia and Pereira, Manizales forms part of the Coffee Triangle.
In Colombia, Manizales is known for its welcoming people and has earned the nickname 'Capital del Afecto' (the friendly capital), thanks to this reputation! The small, urban centre is often a base for conferences and there's a huge hotel network. Among the things to see and do in town, there are hot thermal springs, its cathedral, the cable car and, last but not least, sampling its coffee! Manizales wasn't one of my favourite places, but I do have fond memories of its residents.