We spent our last weekend in Colombia in the midst of the famous coffee corner of the country, and based ourselves in a small town called Salento. The 7-hour bus trip from Medellin was - let’s call it “adventurous” - and left us questioning whether our weekend trip away was worth it.
Learning all about coffee in Salento
As soon as we stepped off the small bus and took in the gorgeous surroundings we knew we made the right decision. We quickly found our hostel, checked in, freshened up and had some food before heading out the door again to check out one of the many coffee fincas around.
Jump on a Willy if you need a ride
We learned that the taxis in town are jeeps called Willy and that the drivers also let you stand on the step and hold on to the car. Needless to say, it was already an adventure riding to the finca where our friendly local guide Fernando explained everything you need to know about coffee while giving us a tour of the premises.
A little tasting in the end of the tour was the icing on the cake. I usually drink my coffee with milk but since Colombia I swear by sipping my uplifting hot beverage black. No milk or sugar needed.
The start of our Cocora valley hike was already picture-perfect
Exhausted but very content we sat on our balcony, cold beer in hand, overlooking parts of the town. We couldn’t stop gazing towards the lush green mountains dressed in clouds. Soon we’d fall into our bed waking up early the next day for our real adventure: the Cocora valley hike.
Most important item for the hike: rubber boots
We already prepared our bags the night before and added a very important – maybe the most essential – piece of clothing: rubber boots because we heard from multiple sources that the path would be VERY muddy.
Wading through mud wasn't a problem thanks to our rubber boots
They were right. We changed into our boots immediately after jumping out of the jeep. From the get-go the valley mesmerised us. Cloud-clad mountains, sky-high wax palms, lush greens wherever you looked and the occasional group of horses or donkeys passing by.
We stopped at a small hut and had sweet coffee and a pastry before starting our 5- to 6-hour hike. The landscape was out of a fairy tale as we waded through partly shin-high mud, passed some content looking cows on the way and took what felt like 300 pictures in the first 30 minutes.
Landscapes out of a fairy tale
The slight drizzle added to the mystical mood and we pulled out our cheap ponchos to avoid getting completely soaked. The path made its way into the jungle and we enjoyed climbing over wooden hanging bridges and criss-crossing the creek, leading us past waterfalls and up a hill to a hummingbird sanctuary.
The landscape kept mesmerising us
This place was as magical as it sounds. We were able to look at – and listen – to hummingbirds of all different colours from up close. Lachlan took a video and played it back in slow-mo, which left us speechless.
Unusual but tasty snack: hot chocolate and coffee with cheese
The lady of the house prepared hot coffee and chocolate for us, which she topped off with cheese (in the drinks). We’ve never tried anything like this before and even though hot chocolate with cheese sounds appalling, it tasted amazing.
We rested up a bit and headed down the hill again into the jungle where we climbed over tree trunks and up the stream. Then the path lead us suddenly uphill and we had to slow down to catch our breath once in a while.
Towards the end of our hike we were surrounded by wax palms
As we popped through the vegetation we felt the cool mist on our faces again, and when the rain picked up a bit we thankfully reached another hut on top of the hill. As we entered our shelter we saw some other hikers warming up with coffee, sweet bread and cheese. Before we knew it we sat amongst them with our own delicious snacks.
Breath-taking landscapes with beautiful wax palms
After exchanging some advice about the hike we all parted ways, apparently the hard part was already behind us, which strangely left us feeling a bit sad, as walking this adventurous terrain was a fun challenge. Now we strolled down the broad winding street, stopping at various points to take pictures of the breath-taking landscape and the signature wax palms that grow up to 60 m.
All smiles when we reached the end of our hike
As we reached the starting point of our hike 5,30 hours had passed. We were muddy, wet, tired but one incredible experience richer. That night at dinner after a long hot shower we couldn’t wipe the smile off our faces.
If you get to visit Salento I can highly recommend the Cocora valley hike. It’s pure magic.