Salento – A Taste Of Colombia’s Coffee Region

Enjoying views over the Cocora Valley, Salento, Colombia

Salento, Colombia

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 Salento 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 To Salento

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!

Where To Stay In Salento

Eco-Lodging

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.

You can check out Kasaguadua’s avaliability here. We would highly recommend this place!

What To Do In Salento, Colombia

Coffee Tour In Salento

Once we heard of the coffee 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 Salento 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 Salento 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!

Visit The Cocora Valley

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 absolutely 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.