I have mentioned the city of Manizales several times on this blog. The capital of Caldas is one of the best places to live in Colombia, and I really enjoyed my two years there. Even if you are a tourist, it’s worth spending some time in the city because there are plenty of things to do there. I highly recommend visiting the centre and going to the top of the cathedral via the Polish corridor. This activity is not for the fainthearted since it’s amazing and scary in equal measure.
Manizales is a great starting point for various trips because it is located close to Los Nevados national park with its impressive volcano Nevado del Ruiz. You can also stay at Hostal La Laguna and hike to a huge waterfall. Rio Blanco natural reserve is famous among birdwatchers. There are some amazing places within the city limits as well: I enjoyed visiting Ecoparque Los Alcázares, which is close to the city centre, and I was lucky to have a nice view of Los Yarumos from my apartment.
Living in a Colombian city is usually a noisy experience, so it’s nice to have the option of going somewhere to unwind. As its name suggests, Recinto del Pensamiento is a place that is supposed to make you think. It sounds like a remote retreat, but it is in fact easily accessible and there are numerous facilities that include even a hotel. Recinto del Pensamiento’s allure lies in its beautiful natural setting.
Even though it is located just over ten kilometres from the city centre, Recinto del Pensamiento offers amazing sights that you would expect to see somewhere far away. You can go on a two-hour hike that will show you the beauty of Colombian nature. It is mandatory to go with a guide and an adult ticket costs 19,000 pesos. You can pay 15,000 more for a chairlift, which is very slow and looks rather creaky, so walking represents a better option. The first part of the hike is a little steep, but it isn’t really challenging.
The first stop takes place at a house where you can relax and watch birds. There are countless hummingbirds flying around and making brief stops to drink sugary liquid from plastic water feeders. In the meantime, your guide will tell you mind-blowing facts about this species. Hummingbirds are incredible animals, and the way they move their little bodies will never cease to amaze me. While hummingbirds attract everybody’s attention, there are in fact more than 150 species of birds in the area. If you want to spend more time observing them, you can also book a birdwatching tour.
The hike continues past a fish-filled pond, and then you walk up a path lined with bonsai trees until you reach another highlight of the trip. You will enter a large glasshouse which is a home to beautiful butterflies. Seeing various colourful species of these insects is an amazing experience. There are plenty of plants too, and if you get lucky, you can spot some of the butterflies in their chrysalis stage. After exiting the glasshouse, you will descend back to the main area through a forest in which beautiful orchids grow. The guides are knowledgeable and they are always happy to provide relevant information and answer your questions. You can find photos from the hike on Recinto del Pensamiento’s Facebook page.
As you can see, Recinto del Pensamiento is a great place to visit and you definitely won’t get bored there. I recommend going there in the morning because that’s when the weather is usually quite nice. Fortunately, going to Recinto del Pensamiento from Manizales is pretty easy; you can check this map for its exact location. Taxis are affordable and reliable, and you can also get there by bus from El Cable area. Look for a bus going to Maltería and make sure to ask the driver if you are going the direction. You will get to the main entrance after a short ride. Enjoy your trip!