Named after a famous native priestess, Yulima, the Tolima department was created in 1861 from part of what was Cundinamarca. Hugging the western slopes of the Andes mountains north of the Huila district, Tolima boasts snow-covered peaks, deep river valleys, and all terrain in between. Coffee trees love the high hills while rice, sesame and sorghum claim the lower regions.
The high altitudes and rich soil helps put coffee from Tolima on the board for awards: in 2015, the district garnered three of the top four awards for the Colombian Cup of Excellence competition, securing 1st, 3rd, and 4th places.
Transportation in this part of Colombia can be challenging--roads often minimal at best. Also, as one of the last areas of conflict between the government, paramilitary and FARC (people’s Guerilla movement), farmers of the Tolima district have overcome much difficulty as they seek to improve their coffees and their way of life.