Cocora Valley, Salento, Quindio, Colombia
3 days - March 2018
What was supposed to be a 3 hours trip (as per google maps) from Cali ended up being a 6 hours trip with one Uber, one bus, another bus and then a bit of walking. Colombia is a big country and in the next 6 weeks we had to endure many more hours of transport !
Salento is a little village in the middle of the mountains where coffee plantation got developed.
Salento in itself is quite nice with many houses of different colours, the main square and a local market presenting local artefacts like leather and feathers. There are cowboys with leather boots waiting on their doorsteps. Beautiful!
It was a bit chilly but we didn’t complain after Nicaragua and Costa Rica weather (hot and humid!)
Unfortunately we had to change our plans as it was Easter Week and a lot of things got cancelled and some park closed (no Los Nevados trek for us...) We had 3 days to enjoy the surroundings and we started with the discovery of a coffee plantation at Don Elias plantation. Coffee was brought from Ethiopia by the Spanish but the first ones to drink coffee were the Turkish.
We first visited the coffee plantation where we discovered that coffee plants were surrounded by bananas and oranges to distract the insects and birds who then won’t damage the coffee beans! It takes around 20 days to grow coffee cherry which are collected manually one-by-one. Besides it takes 2.5 years for a tree to start growing coffee cherries. The skin is then stripped off with a special machine, then they dry and finally they are roasted. We’ve been offered some coffee to try at the end of the visit but none of us like coffee and this won’t change after trying Colombian coffee!
The day after, we hiked to 3,800 metres to the Cocora Valley! A beautiful 16 kms hike around the forest first, colibris and finally massive palms culminating in the valley. 70 metres palms ! Amazing landscapes in the midst and a bit of rain that made the hike magical. We crossed many unstable bridges (none of them collapsed though!) and shared the road with cows and horses. One of the highlight of many travellers in Colombia and we understood why!
# to come from Cali: take a first bus from the terminal de bus to Pereira for 27,000 pesos per person. Then a mini bus to Salento that leaves when full for 4,500 pesos per person.
# We highly recommend the Don Elias coffee tour: 5,000 per person. We got there walking (around one hour from Salento) and come back with a jeep (3,000 pesos per person)
# to go to the start of the hike, take a jeepney on the main square of the village for 4,000 per person.
# we did the full loop and it took us around 6 hours. We also stopped at the Casa de Colibri (5,000 per person and that includes a free drink) to see Colibris flying around. We didn’t find it hard but there is still 16 kms and it’s quite steep.
# Don’t miss the speciality of the region: trouts! We had one on the main square from a food truck: yummy!
# after our big hike we had one of our best burgers in Colombia at Brunch cafe. AMAZING!