COLOMBIATHE AMERICAS

Things To Do In Salento: Hiking Cocora Valley

Exploring Colombian Coffee Region

Continuing from my previous post. After Pereira, I traveled to Salento. An hour away from Pereira, lies the beautiful town of Salento. A must-visit town when in the Colombian Coffee Region. There was no direct bus to Salento from Pereira. All the direct buses were running from Armenia. This might be due to Pandemic. I got down at the intersection rather than going to Armenia and get another bus back to Salento. From the intersection, I hitchhiked to the town. It felt like I am finally on the road after the 6 months of Quarantine in Medellin.

 

On the way to Salento
Entering the town
The Hostel
Dreamy sunset

 

Local church
Showcasing Documentary about Salento
The tall doors of the town
Materials used to make walls in the town which includes horse manure

Calle real
A local market

Town main square
covered in fog

 

SALENTO

I stayed at Combi Salento Hostal. A perfect place for budget backpackers with a friendly host. The host Mauricio is a very well-travelled guy. With his guidance, I planned the rest of my Colombian trip. On my first day in Salento, I explored the town by walk. It is a lovely small town which can be easily explored on foot like Jardin. Salento is a colonial town with colourful houses and really tall doors. The reason behind the big doors as explained by my host was every house used to own horses in the past and the horse’s stable used to be located inside the house. The structure of the houses cannot be changed as per the current local law. The material used to build walls included horse manure. Calle Real is the most popular street in the town which you cannot miss as it is adjacent to the town square.

 

panoramic view of Medellin

View from Mirador Alto de La Cruz

VIEWPOINTS OF SALENTO

There are two viewpoints in the town of Salento. From “Mirador de Salento” you can see the panoramic view of the town and from “Mirador Alto de La Cruz” you can see the majestic view of mountains. Both viewpoints are close to each other and can be reached through Calle Real.

 

Tejo!

I won!

 

PLAY TEJO 

One night, my host invited me for a drink and the game of Tejo. Tejo is a really popular local sport. It is a throwing sport where one needs to hit the target with a small disk-shaped stone. If you hit the target, it explodes on impact thanks to the gunpowder used. The explosion is perfect for cheap thrills. The points are given to a player depending upon how close/far one hits the target like a game of darts. It is a fun sport and should not be missed when in Salento. I beat my host in his own game by hitting the bull’s eye! You can find many local people in the Tejo field: Drinking, Dancing, Playing Tejo and enjoying the moment.

 

Welcome to the stunning Cocora Valley
The first viewpoint

Horse riding

The willy!
In the nature’s lap 🙂

The view from second viewpoint

Reached the fog covered Finca La Montana

Hiking back through the forest

The dog, my companion 🙂
Finally saw some greenery
Tall palm trees everywhere

COCORA VALLEY

Perhaps, the most famous attraction of Salento. The Cocora valley is known for inhabiting the tallest palm trees in the world. I took a shared Jeep(Locally known as Willy) from the town square to reach Cocora valley. I met some local people in the jeep with whom I hiked till the second viewpoint. We skipped the first viewpoint as it was too crowded.  From this viewpoint, I saw Condors (Species of Vulture) flying over palm trees. It was a sight to behold. Condor is one of the largest flying land birds in the world. It was breathtaking to see their flight. I continue my journey from the second viewpoint to Finca La Montana. When I reached Finca La Montana, It was covered with fog. It is located at an elevation. There’s a museum at Finca La Montana but it was closed due to the pandemic. I took some rest and had my lunch. From here, I  hiked through the forest covered with fog on my way back to the exit point. I circled the Cocora valley. I passed through several wooden bridges and streams of water. It was muddy and a bit difficult to hike as it was raining during my visit. After getting back to the ground, I was awarded mesmerising views of Palm trees. It seemed like palm trees are touching the sky. The whole hike took 4-5 hours. Needless to say, It is a must-visit place. I truly enjoyed my time. Horse riding is also available here. Cocora Valley is the gateway for the trek to Los Nevados which last for several days. You need to pay 3000 COP at the entrance followed by 4000 COP for the second viewpoint entrance. There’s an extra fee for the first viewpoint. If you wish to circle around the valley as I did then you need to pay 4000 COP more at the exit.

 

Walking the main road to Santa Rita
The farm at the entrance
The map of the Santa Rita natural reserve
Food shack
The camping zone
Butterfly love 🙂
Santa Rita Waterfall

 

SANTA RITA WATERALL

The next day, I decided to visit the Santa Rita Natural Reserve. There’s a hiking path from the town to reach there but I decided to take the main road. It took me a little over an hour. There is a farm cum restaurant at the entrance. The entrance fee to the reserve is 7000 COP. There are several waterfalls and tunnels in the natural reserve. There is a food shack near the Santa Rita Waterfall.  There are several trails to explore. I saw different species of birds during my hike  I hiked for around 3 hours before settling down at the camping area along the water stream for lunch. You can camp out here for 20000 COP per person. I totally recommend visiting Santa Rita Natural Reserve.

Ready to hitchhike!
Welcome to Filandia

The viewpoint dome which was closed during my visit


FILANDIA

My host strongly recommended me to hike to a secret waterfall which not many people know of but I decided to visit the town of Filandia instead. Do ask him about this waterfall if you stay at Combi Salento Hostal. It looks beautiful in pictures. Filandia is another small colonial town, half an hour away from Salento. I hitchhiked to Filandia from Salento since jeeps that regularly ply between Salento and Filandia were not functioning due to the pandemic. I explored the town by walk. The town has some nice viewpoints. I tasted the famous ice-cream from the town before returning back to Salento. Filandia can be skipped if you have already been to several towns in Colombia. The next day, I bid Salento good-bye to continue my journey towards South of Colombia

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An Indian Traveler

Hello! My name is Saurabh. I'm a cinephile, an avid traveler with a song stuck in my head which I keep humming till ad nauseam :)

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20 Comments

  1. Very nice. Not having time to visit Colombia’s coffee region is one of the things I regret, I am amazed by the beauty of some of the houses and the murals and, since I like odd things, by the world’s tallest palm trees in the Cocora valley.

  2. To be honest, I didn’t know about Salento until I drop by here. Glad I learn about this place. It’s so refreshing to see new places and hopefully I could also visit Salento in the future.

  3. What a beautiful area! It might have been a little foggy (and soggy) during your visit, but I love all the greenery, tunnels and waterfalls of the Cocora valley. It is relaxing just looking at your photos!

    The colourful houses in Salento are fabulous too!

  4. Interesting! This is the first time I heard about Tejo and it seems thrilling and exciting. I am just a bit worried if it’s safe but I would really love to try. Just like what you said it’s a cheap thrill. Thank you for sharing about your adventure in Salento.

  5. The Cocora Valley is on my wish list for my next trip to Colombia! After having been to the major cities, I’d really love to explore these smaller mountain towns next time. Filandia looks quaint, and I love how much art there is everywhere. All the fog in the valley is so atmospheric, too!

  6. Salento somehow looks like the place in Ilocos Region and the hillside in the Philippines. I reckon they share similar culture too, especially religion. No wonder, I will feel at-home when I visit Salento soon.

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