Salento was such a pleasant surprise to me! I arrived with no expectations. But Salento turned out to be a very easy going (read: ‘sleepy’), colorful, small village in Colombia with a great vibe to it. And within just a stone’s throw from amazing Valle de Cocora.
Valle de Cocora: humming birds and palm trees reaching up to heaven!
Valle de Cocora was truly one of my Colombian highlights! You can easily take one of the jeeps in the morning from the center of Salento. They drive you straight to the valley and you can return the same day.
Valle de Cocora can be discovered by horse. One of my friends, Wies, a very experienced horseback rider, explored Valle de Cocora this way. She enjoyed it, but her guide told her that she was the first person who didn’t cry during the trip… The pathway can be very narrow on some parts, so most people freak out along the way.
I was really happy that I decided to hike through Valle de Cocora. At the start of the walk some guides tried to convince me to hire them, but a guide is really unnecessary in Valle de Cocora. I therefore joined two other girls, Nathalie and Alexandra, and we hiked together through thick forest and over hanging bridges.
The hike took us about 7 hours and we really took our time. Halfway we ‘enjoyed’ a hot chocolate with cheese. Well…enjoyed…at least I tried this local specialty! The best part of this break were all the humming birds flying around. I discovered that the best way to photograph them is from below, because that way you can see the incredible colors of their chest. I could have stayed there for hours. I love these birds!
But the best part of the hike was yet to come. Palm trees almost reaching up to heaven! Such a photogenic place! Wow! I kept taking photos and I was overwhelmed by the sight of the big trees. I asked someone to take a picture with me in it, to create some perspective in the photo. This way you can see how enormous the trees are. Stunning, and I’d go back in a heartbeat.
Coffee tasting, strolling around in Salento
As I said, Salento is just a sleepy, small town. Nothing like Bogota or Medellin. But that doesn’t mean that you should leave once you’ve seen Valle de Cocora. Salento gives you the opportunity to stroll around, eat, drink and relax. And, it’s one of the places where you can visit coffee farms.
Wies and I, visited Don Elias, a family-run coffee farm where most things are still done manually. The walk towards the coffee farm (about 4 kilometers) was already worth the visit. Beautiful sightings and I even spotted a toucan.
At the coffee farm the owner and his grandson showed us around. Even though my Spanish is poor, it was not hard to follow their enthusiastic stories. At the end of the ‘tour’ we enjoyed a home farmed and freshly brewed coffee. And the pride and friendliness of the owner made the coffee taste even better!
If you feel you need a work out, Salento is also the place to be. In town, you can walk up the 250 steps towards the Mirador, a look out point. But just strolling around the dusty, colorful streets, is very enjoyable as well.
Relaxing in Salento
When choosing an accommodation, the atmosphere of a place is very important to me. So, when I arrived at La Serrana, I was easily convinced that we should stay here. The place has a homely vibe to it. Dinners are served every weekday (with vegetables from their organic garden) at big tables. A great way to meet other visitors. And at night, they light a big camp fire, where everybody can sit around.
La Serrana is just a 15-minute walk away from the center (or a couple of minutes by a jeep taxi -but they only run until 9 pm). Highly recommendable!
So…hopefully I convinced you to include Salento in your trip to Colombia! A great place to enjoy nature and silence before you head back to chaotic cities like Bogota and Medellin.