Next up was the beautiful town of Salento. Salento is apart of the famous Zona Cafetero (coffee region) and is located at an elevation of 1,895 meters above sea level, which is the perfect elevation for growing coffee. Salento is a colourful, picturesque town filled with rolling green grass hills, cows, horses, cow boys and colourful streets. I fell in love with it immediately!
We stayed on an Eco farm called La Serrana which was a nice 20 min walk from the town. It was the perfect place to relax, drink wine, watch sunsets and make new friends over the delicious family dinners made with organic veggies from the farm and the nightly Bon fires.
We took a day trip to the beautiful Valle de Cocora which is just a short 25 minute Jeep ride away. In true South American style, they jammed 12 of us into an 8 seater Jeep. Three people hung off the back and Tom and I had to stand inside. I wasn’t happy about standing at first but it actually turned out to be a really enjoyable ride.
The Valle de Cocora is famous for having the tallest Wax Palm trees in the world, some of them reach 60 meters in height. When the jeep drops you off you can opt to get horses or you can hike by foot. We chose to go on foot. The hike started off with beautiful views of the rolling greens hills and a nice flat path, which then changed to a rain forrest type setting with rocks, waterfalls, rivers and rickety bridges to cross over the rivers. It was beautiful, I was thoroughly enjoying myself.
About half way up there is a little tourist trap. A place to see lots of humming birds and get something to eat and drink. Tom and I decided to by pass this and continue up the mountain. From that point on the hike got steep, really steep. We climbed up and up until we reached the viewing point at an altitude of 2,600 meters above sea level. With the altitude and the fact that I’m unfit, it was quite a struggle. Once we reached the top we found a little look out and sat down to have a snack.
The hike from that point is a nice down hill path that winds down and around the valley for 5km. We found a cute little dog along the way that followed us and kept going off the path as if he was showing us different look out points.
Once the Wax Palm trees come into view it is absolutely breathtaking. None of the photos I took do it any justice at all. You will have to see it through your own eyes to be able to truly appreciate it.
Another “must do” in Salento is to participate in a coffee tour, after all you are in the coffee region. We visited Finca El Ocaso which was a 4km walk down a bumpy path from our hostel. The tour was amazing. The whole farm is sustainable and they litterally use everything from the farm in the coffee making process.
The tour was done in English and involved showing us every single step to how the coffee is made. From planting the trees, to us picking and tasting the berries ourselves to the drying, roasting, grinding and tasting stage. It was extremely informative and the coffee we tasted at the end of the tour was perfection in a cup. It’s amazing how much hard work actually goes into making a cup of coffee and after all that hard work the best grade of coffee gets exported out and Colombians are left to drink the second grade coffee.