Salento Colombia and Cocora Valley is arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Salento is a small town, nestled in the Andean hills of Colombia’s famous coffee growing region. It’s rural charm, colorful buildings, and welcoming “salentinos” are just part of what’ll leave you wanting more.
With breathtaking views that overlook the beautiful Cocora Valley below, a quick hike up to the Mirador de Salento (lookout) is a must do for anyone who visits.
Be sure to carve out time to visit the shops on the Calle Real!
This is the route that will lead you up to the Mirador. Once there you will find the most beautiful displays, and local arts and crafts made in a nearby pueblo and artist colony. Every colorful doorway you enter leads you into another gallery, so bring plenty of pesos!
The most popular dish to eat in Salento is fresh rainbow trout.
If you’re lucky, it will even be caught in the nearby Quindío River. For a taste of this delicious dish, tropical drinks, mouth-watering desserts, and equally astonishing views, el Camino Real Parilla & Bar is the spot to go. At night, make a mandatory stop for a canelazo at the coffee shop next door to Camino Real. They have great live acts from local and traveling musicians every night of the week. If you’re tired of the traditional rice, beans, and arepas of Colombia, check out Brunch! It’s gringo owned and operated, so the plates are huge and the style of comfort food is just like home.
Salento Colombia and Cocora Valley happen to be one of the most visited spots in Colombia.
While you are there you inevitably meet people from all over the world. This means that there are restaurants to suit everyone’s unique taste: vegetarian, vegan, and world fusion. When you visit Salento, plan to drink a lot of coffee and bring your appetite.
Of course no trip to Salento would be complete without a trek through the picturesque Cocora Valley!
Here you will find the world’s tallest and oldest wax palm trees. It is seemingly straight out of a Dr. Seuss picture book. Although the full 18k hike can be a little grueling (depending on the weather and your fitness level), the views at Finca la Montaña are well worth it. It is also the halfway point on the hike, so if you choose to go up from the valley, it’s all downhill from here. The trail to the hummingbird farm seems like it will never end, but once you arrive, you can refresh with a typical chocolate or agua panela con queso. We saw at least 25 different kinds of colibríes (hummingbirds), which was just what was needed before hiking down and out of the valley. If you decide to do the full hike, I highly recommend you do it with a guide. We did not, and it was sketchy – especially the mountain lion warnings! You can also opt out of the long hike and take a quick hike up to one of several lookout points.
Another Salento must is a horseback riding tour.
Diego with Caballos Salento and his dad have some of the best horses you’ll find. They can take you to waterfalls, coffee farms, and even chocolate farms. Whichever option you choose, you will not regret, plus the scenery is unreal. For the faster adventure seekers, take a ride with Mountain Bike Salento. First they drive you up over 10k feet high into the mountains. Then you hike through the emblematic wax palm trees, before enjoying a bag lunch (from Brunch!). All of this at a traditional finca surrounded by hummingbirds. The owners will treat you to a tinto (generally an overly sweet coffee) or a hot chocolate. Then you will descend full throttle down the mountain. They are building new extreme routes as we speak, sure to get your adrenaline flowing. You can also choose to go on a glaciar trek, either hiking, jeeping, or on horseback. There is no shortage of fun in the Colombian Coffee Axis.
Salento Colombia and the Cocora Valley are filled with surprises.
It’s the kind of place that makes you want to keep coming back. Personally, have been 10 times, and each time I visit I find another treasure. Carve out a few days to really see all Salento Colombia and the Cocora Valley, one of my favorite places in the world, have to offer. Want to learn more about Colombia? Check out this blog on Cali, just a short drive from Salento.