Next stop for us was Salento. A small, quiet town in the Zona Cafetera (The coffee region) of Colombia. Although very small and can be fully explored in a couple of hours it still manages to be one of our favourite places in Colombia so far. There are lots of hostels, cosy bars, restaurants and colourful gift shops but despite this, it’s still very laid back and quiet. It didn’t start so well though. The first hostel we checked in to wasn’t too fresh and that’s putting it nicely. Our room was very damp and mouldy, but we stayed there for the two nights that we booked and moved into a much nicer hostel across town.
The main reason tourists come to Salento is to see Cocora Valley, which is just 20 minutes down the road by jeep. We did just that on our third day, walking the standard 5-hour (more like 3 hour) trail through and around the valley. It was a very enjoyable walk, just about right in terms of duration and difficulty. At the highest point (2400m) we stopped at a hut and sipped hot chocolate while we watched five or six different types of hummingbirds flying around us. Back down in the valley were the Quindio wax palms – the national tree and symbol of Colombia, also the highest palm trees in the world. The trees can grow up 60m tall and are sparingly dotted throughout the valley. A very scenic and unique place and apparently one of the only places on earth to see the trees in their natural habitat.
Unfortunately, one of us (you can guess who) took a turn for the worst later that afternoon and the next five days were not so eventful, hiding away in bed. We did manage to take a couple more walks into town to look at all the colourful doors and to people watch. So, despite the illness, Salento was still one of the better places we have visited in Colombia. A calm and cosy town in the Andean mountains…. What more do you need?