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Salento and Valle del Cocora – Traditional village, coffee farms and the highest palm trees in the world

Have you ever been to a cosy sweet little village in colonial style, where inhabitants painted their entire houses, windows, doors, balconies and shutters in every color that you can imagine, next to a valley that looks like in a storybook – lush green grass, grazing cows, little fincas, and additionally the highest palm trees in the world? No?

Then it´s time to visit the village Salento and the nearby valley Valle del Cocora in the middle of Colombia!

Valle del Cocora

Valle del Cocora in Colombia

On a glimpse, what to see and do in Salento and Valle del Cocora in Colombia:

– visit the village Salento, wander around and climb up to the viewpoint
– visit the Valle del Cocora, where you can gaze at the highest palms in the world (it´s a one day trekking tour through the village and the jungle)
– visit one of the coffee fincas, where they cultivate and produce first class organic coffee (coffee tour incl. a coffee tasting at the end)

Village Salento

Village Salento

View from the viewpoint

View from the viewpoint

Coffee Finca

Coffee Finca

Salento

Salento is a municipality (Minicipio) of the department Quindío in the Colombian so called coffee-region. Here you can also visit coffee fincas, where they show you, how to cultivate and process organic coffee. In the whole municipality live about 7000 people, almost 4000 of them live in the village Salento.
The village lies at already 1895 m.a.s.l. in the Colombian Andes, and the yearly average temperature is 17 °C. The altitude here ranges from 1300 to 4750 m.a.s.l.

 

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Church of Salient

Church of Salento

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The village was able to keep it´s traditional architecture from the Colombian coffee region. Especially in the Calle Real, the “main road” of the village are the most old traditional houses placed. The center if formed by the Plaza Bolívar with the church Nuestra Señora del Carmen.

It´s amazing to just wander along the streets and gaze at the very colorful houses, that look like arisen from a fairytale – walls, doors, balconies, windows, shutters – all in different colors, in colonial coffee region style and very beautiful. Wander along the main road and you will get to some stairs, that lead you up to a viewpoint. From up there, you have a nice view to the village and the surrounding lush nature.

 

Calle Real

Calle Real

Some dogs followed us that morning up to the viewpoint! :)

At the viewpoint

At the viewpoint

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View on the village

View on the village

How to get to Valle del Cocora

From the main place “Plaza Bolívar”, you can catch a traditional jeep in the morning. The jeeps, are serving traditionally for almost everything, that you can imagine: transporting of farm stuff, milk, grocery, people, animals, equipment, etc. So don´t wonder, if the jeep will be fully packed, and you have to stand at the back of the jeep. But like that you will have a way better view to the great sceneries around you 😉
As soon as the jeep starts, a around 30 minutes drive through wonderful landscapes, passing by traditional fincas, stopping now and then for loading/unloading, awaits you.

Traditional jeep

Traditional jeep

Main place from where the jeeps start

Main place from where the jeeps start

Once you reached the point in Valle del Cocora, from where you can start your hiking tour, you will be so amazed, that you can´t wait to wander along and under the highest Quindio wax palms that reach up to 70 meters and are partly 200 years old. They just look like unreal. Grazing cows in the middle of the scenery form such a contrast, that the impression, the landscape should be unreal, will just be strengthened. A wonderful experience!

Valle del Cocora

Valle del Cocora

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We started our way, and walked first through the valley, along some paths, that let you feel like you were in Switzerland, just with plenty of high palms around you.

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Later, we came into the jungle, and the path began to lead upwards. It was a great walk into the lush jungle, along a mountain river, that we had to cross now and then.

In the jungle

In the jungle

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After some time of walking, accompanied by butterflies, we saw a sign, that has shown us the way to “Finca Acaime – House of Hummingbirds”. We read before, that we can get something to drink there, and decided to follow the sign. Because we were already a bit tired, and a strengthening drink, wasn´t a bad idea :)

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Drinking hot chocolate and aqua panela at the finca

Drinking hot chocolate and aqua de panela at the finca

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The owners were very nice and prepared a hot chocolate and a aqua de panela for us. It was very delicious! Around us were indeed a lot of hummingbirds in every colour flying. It was amazing to observe them, and how they enjoyed the sugar water that was prepared for them by the owners of the finca.

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We continued our way higher and higher, and the vegetation changed visibly. The climate also became cooler and cooler.

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On almost 3000 meters

On almost 3000 meters

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Finca in the clouds

Finca in the clouds

On the top, at almost 3000 meters, we found another beautiful finca, a sheep grassing and some horses, that also belonged to the finca. It was a very calm and easy-going place.

On the other side of the mountain, we came back down, again into the Valle Del Cocora. In the meantime, many clouds were there, and it rained a bit. But it didn´t hold on for a long time, and the palmtrees emerged again slowly slowly out of the clouds and the fog. It was a magical spectacle!

Palmtrees emerging out of the clouds and the fog

Palmtrees emerging out of the clouds and the fog

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Back at the end/beginning of the trail, we took a rest and drank a delicious Colombian coffee!

Tired but happy about the experiences in Valle Del Cocora

Tired but happy about the experiences in Valle Del Cocora

How to visit an organic coffee farm

The next day, we visited a traditional Colombian coffee finca, by food around one hour from the village Salento. The coffee is cultivated a bit lower than the village Salento – one could feel here the hotter and more tropical climate. At the finca, we participated in a coffee tour, to see and learn, how organic coffee is produced in Colombia, from the nursery of the plants, until the tasting of delicious coffee. Everything was very well explained, and we even had to harvest by ourself some coffee seeds :) We enjoyed it a lot!

Way to the coffee finca

Way to the coffee finca

First we had a little workshop, where they tour guide explained us, that coffee is a perennial crop, that can be harvested for around 12 to 15 years, if taken care of. Coffee (Arabica) grows best in altitudes of between 800 to 1200 m.a.s.l. – so this region lies within the best altitude for coffee and has an optimal climate. That´s why this region is the famous coffee region of Colombia.

Coffee grows well without direct UV radiation, so within shade. That´s also provided here, since coffee grows in the forest within many other trees. This also helps to maintain biodiversity of flora and fauna, the leaves of other trees form a humus layer. And hence fertiliser on the ground, and the workers don´t have to harvest in direct sunlight. The shells of peeled coffee seeds are used again as fertiliser for the coffee plants. Everything works in a proper, sustainable cycle!

Coffee seedlings nursery

Coffee seedlings nursery

Coffee seeds

Coffee seeds

The red seeds are ready and should be harvested.

Collected coffee seeds in the basket

Collected coffee seeds in the basket

Harvest of coffee seeds

Harvest of coffee seeds

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Coffee plants among other trees

Coffee plants among other trees

Seeds are tried

Seeds are tried

Processing of seeds

Processing of seeds

Coffee tasting

Coffee tasting

Coffee tasting :)

Coffee tasting :)

After the whole process, there was a coffee tasting. And the real Colombian coffee need nothing to taste good, no milk or sugar – just the black, delicious coffee :)

These amazing days, full of pleasure, new knowledge and experiences, came to an end and we had to leave Salento again.

I say thanks for everything, and see you hopefully soon :)

Bye bye, Salento

Bye bye, Salento

Mot-mot sitting on the head of Simon Bolívar :)

Mot-mot sitting on the head of Simon Bolívar :)

Thanks for reading, and as always, if you like this post, spread it into the world!

– Sarita

 

Below a gallery with all the photos! Enjoy!

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Hello, I´m Sarah! Welcome to my blog! I will give you tips and tell stories about responsible traveling, while taking care of our beautiful flora and fauna, and cultures.

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