A Cup a day the Buena Vista Way

Waking up to the smell of fresh coffee is the only way for me to start my day. When we found out about El Cafetal, an organic coffee farm and in the lowlands of where you can stay, drink coffee and relax overlooking the Amboro National Park, we had to go and see for ourselves.


El Cafetal is 3 Bolivian km or 4.1 actual km (the choice is yours) from Buena Vista. Coming from the Altiplano, the environment was an instant shock. Buena Vista is but one of Bolivias’s towns located in sub-tropical-jungle-land.

We arrived late one afternoon direct from Santa Cruz. The overnight bus ride the night before had been somewhat of a nightmare. Imagine if you will, an iron box on wheels, without shock absorbers travelling along a rocky, dusty, rattley road for supposedly (in Bolivian time) 14 hours in 90% humidity, while you sit in a chair that is big enough for a 4 year old accompanied by stenches of sweat and snoring carcuses. This was our trip from Sucre to Santa Cruz.

Needless to say that when we arrived more than 24 hours later in Buena Vista we were less than enthusiastic about taking a few days to get lost in the Amboro National Park. After much rest and relaxation we wandered over to the coffee plantation north east of the village to learn more about where our daily grain comes from.


El Cafetal’s dueno organised a tour of the plantation for us with a local worker and guide from the farm. Here we learnt about cultivation, harvesting and drying the beans that eventually end up in our cups each morning.


El Cafetal was developed in the 1980’s by a woman that wanted to start a large coffee farm to the scale of those in Brazil for exportation. The plantation started out with 300ha and has been scaled down to the 50ha it is today.


Throughout the plantation, cultivation is subject to organic and eco-friendly cultivation practices, which means no chemicals and the natural eco-systems of the forest are conserved and protected including insects, animals and ground cover for natural plague protection. The farm works entirely with nature to produce those little green beans that eventually become coffee.


The certified- organic farm is also certified by a number of organisations including Café Practices, UTZ, Bio Latina, Bird Friendly and CERES.

Since its conception in the ‘80’s ownership has changed. The now owners of the plantation, Bolivia Exporter and Cordey (a development agency), export 90 % of the green beans produced here.

The plantation and hotel are part of a larger eco-tourism reserve  including Candelaria Ecolodge and community, nature walks, lagoons an artesanal centre. El Cafetal itself has a small number of lodges and cabins available, and this is where we chose to stay for a few nights to be close to nature and wind down.

During our few days there we took several walks along the “eco-senderos”, most of them lined with sprightly green arabica plantations. One of the paths leads down to a river (rio Surutu), which supposedly, if you cross, you arrive at an even more beautiful jungle path on the other side according to one local. Considering the colour and depth of the water, we decided to take his word for it.


The surrounding forests are home to many wildlife species including monkeys, jaguar, tucan, squirrels, birds, snakes and frogs to name the least. Unfortunately, each time we ventured in during our stay, we were accompanied by three very keen dogs that inevitably frightened off any animals, besides the odd squirrel or two and a couple of snakes.


So for our stay getting close to nature meant the flora and many, many insects inhabiting the area. I did however, wake up to a frog in our bathroom one morning. Not the usual sight I’m used to when I look in the mirror in the morning. Thinking he must’ve got lost and ended up in the wrong hole until we were confronted by a squad of slimy green and brown creatures in the room one night.

Besides the odd insect or amphibian the lodging at El Cafetal is quite nice for such a remote area. The coffee is unlimited and the views from our room were spectacular, a sheer drop giving over the thick sub-tropical forest below. Juan-Carlos the guy that runs the hotel with his wife is friendly and hospitable (his wife less-so), even willing to do late evening runs into the pueblo for us.

All in all our stay was a nice, relaxing experience and we’re all the more wiser about the liquid gold drop in our cup and where it comes from for it.

2 Responses to “A Cup a day the Buena Vista Way”
  1. Pascal et Chantal LE RAL says:

    En compagnie de Luc , le Papa de passage à Marseille on s’est régalé à vous suivre dans ce fanstastique voyage . Bravo pour les photos et les commentaires . On a envie de suivre .
    Bisous à tous deux

    Pascal et Chantal

    • munyivaresponsibletravel says:

      Merci Pascal et Chantal pour le commentaire. Ca fait plaisir de savoir que vous avez regarde le blog et que cela vous avez plu. A bientot pour les nouvels aventures!

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  • Natasha Malinda from Melbourne, Australia
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