of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and landmarks
including the Tayrona National Park, Minca and the Lost City are
likely to spring to mind. While all of these are beautiful – and
worth visiting – I would like to dedicate this visual story to the
coffee farmers that inhabit this mountain range, and shed light on
both their culture and their eco-friendly practices.
My journey began at the coast of Santa Marta. As I headed
inland, entering the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the beauty of
the landscape took my breath away. Hills of blueish green stretched
as far as the eye could see, punctuated by the odd small house. The
ascent was sharp and I quickly rose to 5,700m above sea level from
where I could see across the Sierra Nevada to the flora and fauna
sanctuary of Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta.
I reached San Javier, a village set on a mountain ridge dressed
in clouds. There is only one road here, with houses on each side.
Horses and mules laden with large coffee bags were guided through,
children were playing and the elderly were relaxing.
Life revolves around coffee in small villages such as this, and
it was beautiful to see how many families worked together in its
production. Beans were scattered everywhere – they were laid out to
dry around houses and beside the road, and stacked in big 70kg bags
On the steep mountainside, coffee farmers observe soil
preservation practices, making room for biodiversity. Sustainable
practices and philosophies such as this have meant that their
produce can be certified as both organic and fair trade.
As generations of farmers in the Sierra Nevada work to meet the
growing demand for quality coffee, their continuing dedication to
protecting their environment is something truly beautiful to