Coffee paradise : Salento and Cocora Valley
If you want to experience the culture of Colombian coffe and the amazing landscapes of the famous region called“ coffee triangle “ you should go to Salento and the spectacular Cocora Valley
Where is located?
Salento is located in Colombia’s coffee triangle region, is one of the most touristic towns of Quindio ( province ), you can go to Salento by car from Cali, you will take around 3 to 4 hours and it will cost you max. 20USD (Colombia’s bus companies that go to Salento: Bolivariano , Velotax and ExpresoPalmira ) .If you are in Bogotá D.C , you can take a 45 minutes flight to Pereira or Armenia and then take a 1 hour bus to Salento( recommended airlines : Avianca , VivaColombia and LAN ). Twenty mins from
downtown Salento you can go to Cocora valley home of Colombia’s national tree , the wax palm “Palma de cera” is everywhere and the landscape is breathtaking. In the main square of Salento you can find Willys jeeps that can take you to Cocora Valley , the Cocora Valley Natural Park, is part of the great national park Los Nevados. Composed of a series of landscapes of unique biodiversity.
What to do in Salento and Cocora Valley ?
These are the must do in this magic place :Coffe tasting
You are in the region of Colombia where the best coffe comes from, and moreover, you are in a country with a great coffe culture so definitely you have to go to a coffe farm where you can see how is the transformation process of the best coffe in the world. My favorite coffe farms is “Hacienda San Alberto “, this magic place is located in Buena Vista and there you can taste Café San alberto , proclaimed one of the best premium Colombian coffe , make sure to participate to a coffe tasting in the farm’s laboratory and take a long walk through the coffe plantation, you will have a unique experience making real contact with nature . Before you go please do not miss drinking a cup of coffe at the terrace , you will have one of the best views of the plantations and the outstanding Quindio’s landscape.
Horse riding in Cocora Valley
A horse ride through the Valle de Cocora in Quindio Salento is the experience you can not miss once you are there, a unique landscape in the world surrounded by wax palms in the middle of the mountain. The wax palm is Colombia´s national tree , these palms can grow up to 50 m (160 ft) , you can find this type of palms in south America beaches but the real home of this specie is Cocora Valley in Colombia , I suggest you to rent a horse they will charge you around 10 dollars for 1 hour of horse riding you will go throw forest , rivers and if you take the long horse riding you can go up to the moorland (paramo) a unique thermal floor you can only find in Colombia.Wow! the landscape is breathtaking . Remember to put on sunscreen , bring with you a bottle of water and confortable clothes and prepare to have a lot of fun in one of the most surreal places on earth.
Drink “ agua panela” at Salento´s main square
Just before the sunset when temperature goes down got to the Salento`s main square at this time you can see all the locals , coffe farmers and tourist sitting around the square having a cup of a really typical Colombian drink : agua panela is prepare with sugar cane and you can drink it hot with some cheese from the region , this is a must do if you are in Salento.
Baptize a wax palm while you eat “ trucha al ajillo” and Patacones
The typical dish to eat in Cocora Valley is trout with garlic ( “ trucha al ajillo” ) and fried green bananas( “patacones” ), there is a restaurant located in an strategic place of Cocora Valley where you can sit and eat between the wax palms and moreover you can “ baptize “ a wax palm with your name, you just choose it and they give you a certificate with a picture of the wax palm and your name on it. The restaurant is called Donde Juan B and I can assure you : the food is delicious.
Go shopping to Salento`s craft market
Salento is full of art and creativity , take a walk in the “ calle de los artesanos”, is a street full of shops and craft markets, you can find local hand made products such as bags, clothes mugs , jewelry and furniture, I bought a beautiful necklace made with coffe beans… fantastic!…. if you want to take a rest and have a cup or coffe or just a cold drink go to Mankala Café Arte , is a beautiful coffe shop where you can sit in one of it colorful balconies and admire the beautiful colonial architecture of Salento.
Have drinks at “ Cantinas” in the main square
Colombia was ranked as the happiest country in the world in 2015, and let me tell you something people from Salento are super friendly and as all Colombians: like to party a lot . Around 5 pm in the main square of Salento, locals and tourist take their stereo out and start drinking and dancing in the streets; the music, the sunset and the stars make the perfect atmosphere to have drinks and dance . If you don’t know how to dance the local music , not worries! for sure you will find a friendly colombian willing to teach you. To drink I recommend you to taste the local beer “ Club Colombia”, or the local liquor “ Aguardiante Antioqueño”.
For having a great experience in this region you will need 2 or 3 days, the best time of the year to go is between march and june but also december is a great choice, Christmas and new years eve in this region is real fun , in general we have nice weather since we are a tropical country.