Cocora Valley near Salento
Salento is a sleepy little town in Quindío department, in the Zona Cafetera region of Colombia. On weekends and holidays the town in flooded by tourist from Armenia and Pereira.
- For other places with the same name, see Salento (disambiguation).
There are buses from 5:30AM to 8PM from Armenia (3,400 COP).
Weekdays there are three direct buses a day to and from Pereira (5,500 COP). Buses from Pereira leave at 6:20AM , 1:20PM and 4:20PM. Weekends there buses every hour.
If you miss the last bus to Salento, the cheapest option is a bus to Circasia and then a taxi from Circasia to Salento for 20,000 pesos (Taxi company on the main square of Circasia).
If you`re coming from Pereira then Bus Company Flota Occidental will drop you off in Circasia.
- Mototaxi: There is one person, Alexis, who carries people around the town and farms in a Mototaxi (Colombia's version of a Rickshaw). Prices vary, but the mototaxi accomodates up to 3 adult people for the same price. Many people in town know the driver and even have his phone number at hand. Ph: 4-727-2141, 317-467-7735, 300-785-6349
- Visit one of the many Organic Coffee Fincas that are in the area.
- Visit the Mirador - the lookout point. It´s supposed to be one of the best views in Colombia. (Ask in Plantation House for the location of a house with an even better view)
- Eat Trucha - Trucha is a fish abundant in the region. You can find a plate of Trucha with rice and other sides for COP 10,000 to 20,000, depending on the restaurant and the manner of cooking. Restaurants around the main plaza or "Centro" typically offer Trucha. You can also go to a fish farm and buy or catch your own. However, this may become more expensive.
- Play Tejo - drinking, throwing metal weights and gun-powder !!!
- Further afield - Butterfly house in Calarca or the Guadua (Bamboo research Centre) or even the very touristy National Coffee Park.
- If you really want something different try pig racing at Panaca.
- Salento´s fiesta is typically the first week of January. Salento transforms from a sleepy little village to party central.
- Valle de Cocora. Here grows Colombia's national symbol, the 60 meters high wax palms (palma de cera). The landscape is surreal !
- CicloSalento, (Next door to the Plantation Hostel), ☎ 318 872 9714. Decent mountain bikes are available for hire here, from 8,000 COP for an hour to 35,000 COP for a full day. There are a whole range of trails around the area, providing something for everyone from relative beginners to those who want something a bit more technical. Some of the trails afford some spectacular views across the area and the coffee plantations.
- Hike into the Valle de Cocora, one of the most striking landscapes in Colombia. Jeeps leave from the Plaza in Salento early in the morning. Be there around 8AM as they will leave as soon as they fill up. (About COP 3000 per person). Take food and water. The Jeep takes you to the hamlet of Cocora (about 40 minutes). From there you start on the trail through grassland, towering wax palms, crisscrossing a creek into a cloud forest. You can also rent horses, for COP 10,000 per hour per person, plus COP 10,000 per hour for a guide. After about 2 1/2 hours of fairly easy hiking you will get to a ranger post (Acaime) (they want a small donation for admission) where you can have a cup of hot chocolate or tea and watch lots of hummingbirds. From here you can either go back to Cocora or do the entire loop over La Montana. To do the loop, backtrack from Acaime for about 1 km, then turn right up the hill to the ranger station at La Montana. This trail is fairly strenuous as it goes straight up for 1.8 km to 2860m. The view from the Mountain House is spectacular. From there it's an easy 1 1/2 hour (5.1 km) downhill walk along a wide dirt road with fabulous vistas and lots of giant wax palms back to Cocora where your Jeep will take you back to Salento.
The only ATM is provided by Banco Agraro de Colombia, located in the main plaza. The door to the ATM is difficult to see, but is its own door on the street.
Plenty of local artisans in Salento. Specialities include jewelry, candles and guadua artisania (the local bamboo).
- El Rincón de Lucy (on the corner of calle 4 with Carrera 6) has cheap but rich set lunches.
- Bar Camino Real, (at the end of the calle real, the touristy street, just before the stairs leading up to the mirador on your right). A very nice, artisty place with a small but delicious menu. It is highly recommended for dinner or coffee/drink after dark. There is even a fireplace with benches to sit around.
- Café Jesus Martin, Cra 6 # 6-14, . Excellent, cosy coffee house, with - obviously - locally grown coffee. The cappuccinos are especially great, and the chocolate cake is incredible. If you like to chill out in a comfy bar, this is the place to be.
- Weekends - any where round the main square - all the bars have beer tents set up. Along the Calle Reale, Bar Quindio has a couple of pool tables and lots of billiard tables.
- For something different, there's a Tejo bar two blocks from the main square (normally only open at weekends).
- Coffee Spa Hostel, Calle 12 #6-43 (Take the bus to the plaza, cross the bridge and look for the sign pointing to the left, just a 5 minute walk), ☎ 313-881-8225 ([email protected]), . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. The best views in town with a valley filled with wildlife as a backyard, but only a 5 minute walk from the plaza. A beautifully restored colombian farmhouse that provides hot water, internet, Direct TV, and spacious rooms and common areas. Dorm 10,000 COP / Private rooms 30,000 COP.
- Estrella Sin Fronteras, (take the opposite corner to the stairs for the Mirador, walk down the rubber tires, on the right), ☎ 311 383 3210. Run by Colombian man named Ruben Escobar. Dorm 15,000 COP.
- Finca de Don Elias, 4 Km on the way to the Palestina vereda. Don Elias is the owner of a coffee plantation. It offers only one bedroom that fits up to 4-5 people, with clean facilities and a private bathroom. Price is COP 15,000 per person per night. Don Elias offers coffee tours in Spanish for COP 5,000 per person, with a cup of truly homemade coffee (from grain to cup) at the end. Ask around Salento for Alexis, the gentleman with the mototaxi, and he can take you there for COP 8000 (up to three people for this price). You can always just go to Don Elias' plantation for the coffee tour, which is COP 5,000
- Hostal Ciudad de Segorbe, Calle 5 No. 4-06, ☎ +57 (6) 7593 794 ([email protected]), . checkin: 7:00; checkout: 13:00. A tranquilo place, not yet discovered by the backpacker crowd. Run by a friendly Spanish-Colombian team, this hostel provides cozy, wooden floor rooms with clean bathrooms and steaming hot showers. The owners have good knowledge about the region. Breakfast is included and is, for once, not a synonym for cheap cereals or eggs and arepa. COP 50.000 double with bathroom; COP 22.000 dorm bed. (4.664327,-75.497704)
- Hostal La Casona de Lili, Calle Real 3-45 (Just off the main square), . Warm welcomes. Colombian owned. Great tourist advice.
- Hostal Tralala Salento, cra. 7, 6-45 (stay on the bus until the last stop. Facing the bus office you walk right, about 75 mtrs.), ☎ 314 850 55 43, . Hostal Tralala Salento is in a typical Paisa house that has been completely renovated up to modern standards. There is room for 19 guests in 4 double rooms, a dorm for 3, and a dorm for 8 persons. Two well equipped kitchens, a garden with sun terrace, a TV lounge with lots of quality DVD's and showers with steaming hot water make life easy. The beds have quality matresses, soft pillows, white linnen and comfortable duvets. All guests get a towel and there's personal lockers in the dorm. The atmosphere is warm and personal.
- Hostería Las Nubes, . One of the most beautiful places to stay during your visit to Salento, Quindío. Bead and breakfast place with excellent landscapes and services.
- La Serrana, Via Palestina km 1.5, ☎ 316 29 61 890, . Finca that is located 1.5km outside of Salento. This place breaths quietness amidst slopes of farmland. The hostel is beautifully decorated, has a cozy living room with couches and the owner has an excellent music selection playing through the old speakers. There is also a large movie and book (English and Spanish) selection. La Serrana only opened April 2010 and screams to be discovered. Call the owner on his cellphone for a pick-up from Salento or let them pay the Jeep (6.000 COP from the main square) when you first arrive there. COP 80.000 triple with bathroom; COP 20.000 dorm bed. Breakfast included.
- Plantation House, Calle 7 #1-04 (Get off at the fire station by the entrance to Salento), ☎ Spanish : 315 4097039 / English : 316 2852603 ([email protected]), . Nice hostels with big gardens - one dormitory style, one with private rooms. The hostels offer kitchen use, fireplace, free coffee, laundry facilities, bookswap, mountain bike rental and have good trekking maps of the nearby parque Los Nevados and a map of Salento showing restaurants, supermarkets, etc...
- Yambolombia, ☎ 301 296 01 01 ([email protected]). 3 km on the way to la Finca de Don Elias this colorful, columbian run hostel has a spacy dorm with 5 beds and two private rooms, a quiet surrounding and wonderful views. Dorm 10.000 COP, Private 26.000 COP
- Don't miss Valle de Cocora. Here grows Colombia's national symbol, the 60 metre high waxpalms (palma de cera). Every day trucks or jeeps (also called "Willies") go from the plaza Salento to the valley at 7.30AM, 9:30AM and 11.30AM and go back at 5PM (more in weekends). People who miss these trucks, can sometimes find room on the jeeps leaving the local elementary school at 2PM, bringing students back to their fincas. Likewise, tourists have the option of paying 24,000 pesos (approximately $14 USD) for jeeps that leave whenever they want. Once at the park, there is a nice halfday hike up to finca Acaima through the cloudforest and back through the valley. The scenery is quite exotic and beautiful due to the wax palms and lovely jungle plants.
- The nearby Parque Natural Nacional Los Nevados provide ample trekking opportunity. The way of life in the fincas in the park hasn't changed the last 200 years. Most of the fincas in the park offer food and beds for a bargain price.