Hailing from an island, I’ve always felt at home inland. Having been brought up in a landlocked county in my native Ireland probably has something to do with my mindset in this regard. I don’t have an irrational fear of water. Many of my fellow countrymen snorkel the planet’s great oceans as well as scuba dive in them. Plus, I have no problem sailing the high seas. It’s just up in the hills has always felt a bit better.
So with this in mind, plus a desire to check out quiet slow-paced places on a recent escape from the Colombian capital, my final short stop ticked many boxes. Perched at an altitude of 1,900 metres, the quaint little town of Filandia in Colombia’s famed coffee region is as far as I’m concerned, a close to perfect inland location.
Eye-catching scenery among the green rolling hills, tranquil country roads to ramble aimlessly about with warm, but not unbearable, daytime temperatures – just like the friendly locals – along with a well-kept town contribute to make this a highly enjoyable place to visit. Throw in the fact that it’s not as well known was nearby Salento and hence receives far fewer tourists. It’s hard to find fault if a bit of peace and quiet in the countryside is what you’re longing for.
In many ways, the place is a picture-postcard image of rural, old-school Colombia: a colourful little main plaza replete with a stand-out Catholic church; the compact, doorless, plastic-top Willys Jeeps used to transport coffee, people and whatever else you fancy, farm animals wandering freely, without a care about the streets, and of course the elderly locals kitted out in trademark ruanas and wide-brimmed hats known as the ‘Aguadeño.’
A tasty little touch for me was the way that almost every second dwelling in the town seemed to sell chargrilled arepas in the morning and again in the evening. Plain arepas with a touch of butter and/or salt they may just have been – the odd few houses offered cheese – but they hit the spot. In fairness, for $300 pesos a pop you really can’t go wrong with Filandia’s breakfast.
After a couple more arepas, you are in the right place to wash them down with a cup of coffee. There’s no shortage of options in this regard – all very reasonably priced as well for the hard-pressed, as you may have guessed, we are.
If you do happen to get bored with things in the town and its surroundings – my stay was much too short for this to happen – there’s the country’s thematic Parque del Café in Montenegro, about 20 kms away. The city of Armenia is less than an hour’s bus ride if you are looking for some urban ‘action’
In terms of accommodation, the small Eden de Filandia above the pharmacy ‘Bristol’, offers basic rooms. From your balcony you can see the square and at a giveaway price of $12,000 pesos per night. There are other, slightly more expensive options if you feel like ‘splashing the cash’.
As you’ll discover should you visit, the name Filandia has nothing to do with the country Finland. The town’s name comes from the Latin ‘fila’ meaning daughter and ‘andia’ referring to the Andes Mountains. So basically the town’s name means ‘Daughter of the Andes’.