Colorful balconies in Cartagena's Old Town
Colombia

Colombia: Where the Magic of Disney’s Encanto Becomes a Reality

User Avatar Author: Kevin Wright
7 months ago - October 23, 2023

Reading time: 7 mins

Cinematic influence on tourism, often referred to as film-induced tourism, is a fascinating phenomenon where depicting a location in a movie or TV show sparks an increase in tourism to that place. Another way to look at it is as a form of cultural tourism where visitors are drawn to a site based on its depiction in a film or series.

The power of the silver screen to shape travel decisions is a testament to the media’s profound influence on our perceptions and desires. In a world where visuals speak volumes, the allure of seeing a film’s beautiful backdrops in person can be irresistible, making cinematic influence a powerful tool in tourism.

This blog takes a look at one of the most wonderful examples of film-inspired tourism: Disney’s Encanto and, of course, the amazing country that inspired it.

 

Colorful Colombian facades

Colorful Colombian facades

 

Where does Encanto take place?

Ever since the film’s debut, people have been typing in questions like: “Where is Encanto set?” and “Where does Encanto take place in Colombia?” into web browsers, curious to see if they can find the mysterious valley where the Madrigal family resides. The film’s setting is a work of fiction: a town named “Encanto” set in the mountains of Colombia, inspired by the famous Cocora Valley and its many settlements. The valley is renowned for its hilly landscapes dotted with wax palm trees—the tallest in the world—prominently represented in the film. These towering trees, set against the backdrop of lush green mountains and clear blue skies, create a landscape that leaves visitors in awe. Its many cultural aspects are also featured in the film, where the characteristic Colombian spirit of community and joyous outlook are central to the plot.

 

Wax palm trees in the Cocora valley

Wax palm trees in the Cocora valley

What makes the Cocora Valley Special?

Nestled in the heart of Colombia’s coffee triangle, the Cocora Valley (or Valle de Cocora) is often considered “the quintessential” Colombian region, alongside the Caribbean villages that inspired “Macondo,” the setting for Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”

Colombia’s Coffee Triangle, also known as the Coffee Zone or Coffee Belt, is a popular destination for coffee enthusiasts and travelers seeking a taste of Colombia’s rich cultural heritage. This region is renowned for its high-quality coffee, stunning landscapes, and vibrant local communities.

The Coffee Triangle comprises three main departments: Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindío. These areas form part of the Paisa region and are nestled between the basins of the Campoalegre, Otun, and La Vieja rivers.

Coffee Triangle crops

Coffee Triangle crops

A visit to the Coffee Triangle offers a unique opportunity to explore coffee plantations and learn about the process from bean to cup. Many farms offer guided tours where you can witness first-hand the careful cultivation and harvesting processes that lead to the creation of some of the world’s best coffee.

The region is not only about coffee, however. It’s also home to some of the most developed agrotourism in the country, with a wealth of natural and cultural attractions.

The towns within the Coffee Triangle each have their unique charm. Salento, for instance, is a beautiful town known for its colonial architecture and proximity to the Cocora Valley.

 

What about the lovely architecture depicted in the film? Where can I find a House like “Casita”?

The architectural style of Encanto’s Casita is inspired by traditional Colombian architecture, so Encanto’s house in real life was inspired by the design team for the movie, which drew inspiration from the Colombian towns of Barachara and Salento.

Casita, Spanish for “little house,” is a three-story square building enclosing a ceiling-less courtyard at its center. This kind of architecture is common in traditional Colombian houses and is known for promoting natural ventilation and community living. The Encanto house in real life also features many small balconies on the outer walls, another characteristic of Colombian architecture.

A traditional Colombian "Casita" in Salento, Colombia

A traditional Colombian “Casita” in Salento, Colombia

The Casita is much more than just a building in the film; it is an active member of the Madrigal family, able to move and interact with the family members. This magical element adds a unique twist to the traditional architectural style.

You can find “Casitas” all over the Coffee Triangle and other ingenious and charming styles throughout Colombia, especially in the Caribbean regions. Colombians are proud of their unique styles and tastes, combining Amerindian and European styles adapted to their fantastic weather and distinctive regions.

Encanto Colombia is a visually stunning animated film celebrating rich culture and enchanting traditions.

How can I visit the Coffee Triangle and towns like what is seen in Encanto?

Getting to Colombia’s Coffee Triangle is relatively straightforward. The region is located roughly within a triangle between the cities of Medellin, Cali, and Bogotá.

The main gateway to the region is Medellín, offering quick 40-minute flights to each of the three Coffee Region hubs. These hubs are the cities of Manizales, Pereira, and Armenia.

Alternatively, several airlines connect Bogotá to the Coffee Triangle, making flying from the capital another viable option.

A man harvests his coffee in Pereira, Colombia

A man harvests his coffee in Pereira, Colombia

Once in the region, getting around can be part of the adventure. In many coffee towns, the best way to get around is by jeep. The jeeps, known as Willys, are the traditional way of transportation in the region. If you plan to explore multiple towns in the coffee region during your trip, using the local bus system is also highly recommended.

Remember, before embarking on your journey, it’s always a good idea to check flight schedules, bus times, and other logistics to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip.

Beyond the Coffee Triangle, what other regions of wonder does Colombia hide?

Colombia has diverse landscapes, a rich history, and a vibrant culture. Besides the Coffee Triangle and Cartagena, there are several other top destinations for tourism in Colombia:

  1. Tayrona National Park: Located on the Caribbean coast, Tayrona National Park is known for its beautiful beaches, diverse wildlife, and hiking trails.
  2. Bogotá: The capital city of Colombia, Bogotá, is home to numerous museums, including the famous Gold Museum, historic neighborhoods, and a lively food scene.
  3. San Andrés: a beautiful coral island in the Caribbean Sea. It’s part of Colombia despite being closer to Nicaragua and Jamaica geographically. The island is known for its stunning beaches, vibrant reefs, and rich cultural history.
  4. Providencia: a stunning island in the Caribbean, part of the Colombian Department of Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia, and Santa Catalina. It’s less frequented by tourists than its neighbor, San Andrés, making it an ideal destination for those seeking tranquility and untouched natural beauty.
  5. Caño Cristales: Often referred to as the “River of Five Colors,” Caño Cristales is famous for its vibrant colors that occur naturally due to the unique plant species that grow in the river.
  6. Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá: An underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine, the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá is a unique sight to behold.
  7. Villa de Leyva: A colonial town known for its well-preserved architecture, cobblestone streets, and the nearby Paleontological Research Center, which houses fossils that are millions of years old.
  8. Guatapé: Famous for the giant rock known as El Peñon de Guatapé and the colorful zocalos (baseboards) that adorn the buildings in the town.

These destinations offer a glimpse into Colombia’s rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and warm hospitality.

The Stone of El Peñol in Guatapé, Colombia

The Stone of El Peñol in Guatapé, Colombia

Fall in love with Colombia’s Charm!

Colombia, a country that was once overlooked mainly by travelers, has now emerged as a destination celebrated for its vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and warm, welcoming people. It’s time to fall in love with Colombia’s charm!

So, dear traveler, let the magic of “Encanto” guide your next adventure. Whether it’s the charming beats of Encanto Colombia or any other film-inspired destination, the world is brimming with places waiting to be explored as Encanto Colombia comes to life in the vibrant and magical world of the Disney movie ‘Encanto,’ where a young girl named Mirabel embarks on an extraordinary journey of self-discovery.

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