Salento & Valle de Cocora

I’ve been hearing about the little town of Salento since arriving in Colombia making me more than a little curious when I roll into town one sunny afternoon. The holy week of Semana Santa (Easter) is in full swing, so thousands of people have descended on the town to celebrate. The atmosphere is amazing, with street parties all day long and parades in the evening. The town square has a carnival atmosphere with rides for children and street vendors all over the place.

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Salento in the early morning

Nearby is the beautiful Valle de Cocora, which actually touches into the western side of Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados. I set out on a small hiking loop, following a river up a lush valley into the mountains. At the end of the trail a family farm has taken advantage of the tourist potential and for $1.50 I get a drink of my choice and viewing of the hummingbirds that are too numerous to count. I sit and watch as the father and two sons load a horse with gear to take down the trail, which they do in the most untroubled manner.

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Hiking along the river in Valle de Cocora

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Hummingbirds in action

From the farm I hike up to a lookout on a mountaintop which is totally socked in with clouds before looping back to the start. On the way I pass through an extremely green valley filled with the famous wax palm trees – some are over 200 years old. A torrential storm rolls in complete with thunder and lightning, an event I get used to over the coming days. Every morning I get up at sunrise to beautiful blue skies and warm weather and by two or three in the afternoon a huge storm moves over town, dumps enormous amounts of rain then clears again by nightfall.

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The amazing wax palms in Valle de Cocora

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Wax palms in Valle de Cocora

I love the atmosphere and friendly people so much I stay for five days, wandering around town and the surrounding hills. The farmers here are a dedicated bunch, farming hills so steep it’s a challenge to walk up and down them and it’s great to see the mixed agriculture in the area. In one plot I spot coffee, bananas, pineapples, avocado and bamboo which is used a lot for construction here.

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We all loved it when one of these guys had a try at the carnival game with a pellet gun. Hilarious.


3 Responses

  1. Quinton says:

    this is great man ! you always hear of problems in other countries and the danger, never the pure awesome-ness of them.. most people would assume Columbia is a big bad scary place when really its amazing
    i have to say im a little jealous, keep on having a good time man

  2. Frank says:

    Hi Dan,

    Finally found your blog.
    Back in Germany since three weeks where lots of work waited for me. This weekend I started to sort and edit my pictures from the trip and recalled our hike in Salento. Looking back it was one of my favorite places in Colombia, I really enjoyed it.
    Seems that from there on I’ve been some days ahead of you. Neither saw you in Popayan nor in Tierradentro or in San Agustin.

    From now on, I’ll check your website on a regular base. I look forward to seeing pictures of your jeep on the Death Road and Salar de Uyuni. :)

    Que te vaya bien!


    • Dan says:

      Hey Frank,
      Great to hear you got home safe. Colombia really was an awesome time, despite all the rain.
      All the best.

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