For us, a visit to Colombia’s coffee region was a must in a country that is the second largest producer of something we are so fond of, especially in the mornings – coffee! Salento ticked all of the boxes when we were looking at where we’d like to stay, lush, green rain forest, a traditional town, excellent hiking in the area & of course coffee.
Our time in Salento was magical, after being in the city of Bogota for a week it was a very welcome change in vibe, pace, scenery & climate & of course for us it’s always cool to hang out in the mountains for a while!
Here’s exactly what we got up to in our 3 days in Salento, which we think makes for a pretty top notch itinerary!
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Getting There & About
Coming from Bogota we took the bus to Armenia (8-10 hours, 70,000 COP per person for a VIP bus – basically the nicest you can catch) then changed there for a local bus onto Salento (4,150 per person, 1 hour) arriving at Salento’s main square.
Coming from/going to Medellin you can either get buses directly to/from Salento or choose to change at Periera. We took the bus onto Medellin from Salento (70,000 COP, 8-10 hours).
At Salento’s main square you will see lots of “Willy’s Jeeps” parked up, these are the main form of transport in Salento & a great & really fun way to get around! You can choose to share them for certain routes or take them privately, the place we were staying was 20 mins out-of-town & cost us 12,000 COP by jeep to get to!
A good jeep ride down a rather bumpy road, we arrived in the dark at a bamboo gate with nothing but rain forest in front of us. We strapped our head torches on & off we set in the dark down a small trail into the jungle. This is the stuff adventures are made of & why we love to travel so much, we joked as we were walking that if our parents could see us walking alone, through the jungle, in Colombia, at night, they would freak! That’s what made it even more exciting though, it was an adventure & a half!
We arrived at Kasaguadua and just wow! A hobbit-like house right in the middle of the jungle with the most warm welcome from our hosts Carlos & Nick. We sat down to dinner along with the 3 other people staying there & chatted away about travels & life, it was perfect!
Living totally in harmony with your environment is the idea at Kasaguadua, the house is actually named after the bamboo it is mainly made of, a type which is native to Colombia & that Carlos & Nick have a part of their forest filled with that they will happily show you around. The grounds themselves are pretty big & these guys offer tours daily at 9am, to guests & non-guests to talk you through their jungle project & educate you on the surroundings. The tour, led in English is excellent & a great way to further understand & respect the nature that surrounds us, Colombia being the second most bio diverse country in the world is the perfect place in which to do this. As guests there we took the tour by donation & gave what we felt was sufficient at the end of the stay, if you are not a guest at Kasaguadua you can arrange tours through most guest houses/hostels in town & we would highly recommend doing so.
Costs for staying at Kasaguadua are excellent value for money at 30,000 COP for a bed in their 4 bed dorm including breakfast (private rooms in their bamboo pods are also available) if extras are taken such as lunch, dinner or use of their washing machine the amount paid is down to your discretion. You can also use the kitchen there to cook for yourselves & they even have full WIFI if you feel the need to disconnect from the nature & back to the “real” world for a while. As with any eco-lodge there are rules for staying there, what we would strongly point out is to read these fully before staying there, just to check you are happy to abide by them, we most definitely were & found that a more simplistic way of living if only for a few days was a like a little slice of heaven!
Carlos & Nick, having lived in the area for a number of years now are a fountain of knowledge on Salento & its surroundings & are more than happy to give suggestions & help with booking any tours or transport where they can.
Once we heard of the tour that the guys at Kasaguadua could book for us including a full coffee tasting as well as a tour we were well up for it. The full experience at 55,000 COP was a little more than we’d normally be looking to pay but wanting to have the full coffee experience we decided to go for it.
We took the tour at Finca Ocaso, a 30 minute walk from Kasaguadua & set in the most beautiful grounds. The tours in English run at 2 pm every day so we stopped off for lunch at a small restaurant, set back off the road, again with the most spectacular views – if you haven’t gathered by now Salento is pretty good for them!
Arriving at the coffee finca, we were introduced to our guide then taken around the coffee plantation for a full explanation of the growth, production & exportation process. With this tour they get you involved by picking beans & planting them but most importantly by going into the “coffee lab” for the full coffee experience. Similar to a wine tasting where you smell & learn to identify flavours, this was a good way to really get to know our coffee!
The most popular trek in the area & a big draw to Salento is the Cocora Valley, dotted with wax palms that can grow anywhere from 45 – 60 m in height, they make for a stunning backdrop & are absoultely fascinating to look up at, just blowing away in the wind. There are 2 options to see the main area where the palms are concentrated, both require taking a shared jeep from Salento’s main square which leave every morning, once full for 4,000 COP per person (getting there for around 9 am latest is recommended). Option 1 is to take the path straight up from where the jeep drops you, around 1 km, 15 minute walk to the wax palms. Option 2, the one that we took is the 4-5 hour moderate hike, 7km through the valley, up to a finca & back down the other side to the palms. For option 2 there is a small payment of 2,000 COP each for entering the hiking trail, this trail can be taken by turning right just after the last shop, through a gate after leaving your jeep.
The hike is fantastic, cutting right through the valley itself, a lot of stops for photos & just general gazing at the scenery is a must. Farmers on horses will pass by, cows are grazing in the fields & there are numerous rickety bridges to cross. Using Maps.Me for this hike is what we would recommend as it will show you when to take a left turn up hill, a steep climb up to a finca where you can stop for refreshments before heading back down hill, past numerous viewpoints for a rest & of course to take it all in before heading into the valley dotted with wax palms.
After having our fill of wowing scenery for the day (ok maybe not our fill as we can never get enough of the views!) it was back to the main car park to catch another Willy’s Jeep into town. You can choose to ride right on the back of these if you’ve got the nerve, we did, loved it & would just recommend holding on tight if you decide to too!
Never lose your sense of wonder ???? Hiking in Colombia’s Cocora Valley amazed us, even with the rain & mist we experienced, the views were epic! The wax palms you can see can grow anywhere from 45 – 60 m in height & are native to the Andes of Colombia & northern Peru ???? What have you seen recently that’s amazed you? @thenorthface • • • • • #waxpalms #tree_brilliance #cocoravalley #valledecocora #salento #colombia #colombiavibes #ig_colombia #igerscolombia #hikingadventures #hiking #naturephoto #artofvisuals #awesome_earthpix #landscape_captures #natureaddict #awesomeearth #nature_prefection #fantastic_earth #unlimitedplanet #adventuretravel #adventurecouple #adventuresforever #goexplore #neverstopexploring #exploreshareinspire #leicacamera #leicacraft #explorationinspiration #destinationaddict
The people of Salento are friendly, warm, welcoming, genuine & full of nothing but smiles – like the majority of Colombian’s are 🙂 This meduim sized, “homely” feeling town has a relaxed vibe to it that is certainly worth soaking up for a few hours. There’s the main plaza which is the hub of all activity & is a great place to watch the world go by – it is also the place where most “food stalls” are located, serving mainly patacon, a flattened, fried, giant piece of plantain with your choice of topping & trucha, or trout to you & I, the main catch of the day in this area wiith some inventive & unique flavour options available on all of the menus.
As well as the main sqaure there is a street running off of it where most restaurants, coffee shops & shops are located & is a nice street to take a stroll up & down for a while.
We left Salento with smiles on our faces & more adventure under our belts! We crammed a lot in for our 3 days there but really felt in this way we really got to experience the town & it’s surroundings. Salento for us was a great all round experience & for us staying at Kasaguadua made it extra special as we arrived as strangers & left as friends!
We hope you have enjoyed reading about our Salento experience!
If you have any comments or questions at all please add them just below as we’ll be more than happy to answer 🙂
You can also checkout the rest of our epic Colombian adventures HERE
Happy adventuring 🙂
Kelly & Adam x