Salento is a gorgeous town in Colombia which I fell in love with. Located west of Bogota and South of Medellin it is a must see place in Colombia and firmly on the tourist trail. Known for its coffee farms, brightly coloured buildings and the nearby Cocora Valley which is home to the worlds tallest palm trees.
We took a bus from Bogota bus station at 1.30pm for 36,000 pesos to Armenia. What we thought would be a 6 hour journey turned into 10 hours. The bus was incredibly slow, the roads were windy and the traffic was really bad. We got into Armenia at 10.30pm and all of the transfers to Salento had finished for the day so we ended up getting a taxi for 60,000 and for there around midnight.
Tip: Leave Bogota early!
Because we arrived late they had also given our beds away at the hostel as they presumed we were a no show. But it wasn’t all bad, we all ended up with private rooms with our own bathroom for not much more.
Where to stay
Coffee Tree Hostel
This hostel came recommended to us and it was one of the best places we stayed in all of South America. It was newly opened, located amongst the gorgeous rolling hills of Salento, had a great breakfast and the best dog.
What to do
Eat at Brunch Diner
This is the best place to fuel up on some home comforts whilst in Colombia. This cafe has a vast menu and is a great place to meet other travellers and share stories of past and future ventures around Colombia.
Coffee farm tour
In Salento’s main square there are loads of colourful open top jeeps that take tourists to the nearing coffee farms. Although they are walking distance the weather can be unpredictable.
Don Elias coffee farm is where we took a tour, John took us around and the whole tour was in Spanish but through sign language and my limited Spanish I understood a fair amount.
Firstly he talked about the red beans that need to be picked and how the coffee trees don’t need to be too tall but rather around shoulder height. I was then given a basket to tie around my waist and I was sent off to pick the red beans as this indicated that they were ready for production.
The coffee farm was relatively small but full of lots of other plants including avocado, plantain and banana trees (what else could you need in a farm?)
Once I had picked enough beans John showed us the next process which was taking the shell off the bean. The machine was easy to use and it was great to see them still using traditional methods rather than huge machinery. The beans then need to be dried out for two weeks before they are roasted, this is again done in a traditional method by placing them on a mat in a glass house. We then grinned up some beans that had been roasting and sat and had a coffee with John.
It was so interesting and after purchasing some beans we headed off back to Salento on foot. The views were beautiful, lots of green rolling hills and we all fell in love with Salento right there and then I think.
Easily accessible via jeep from the main square we headed to the entrance of the Cocora Valley to begin our day of walking. Everyone we knew that had been there had warned us about getting lost as none of the walking tracks are sign posted so of course we got lost pretty much as soon as we arrived.
As we were clambering up a muddy path with our hands we realised we had taken a wrong turn somewhere and decided to head back along a different path. This path took us high above the clouds and although it was a lovely walk we knew we were lost again as we didn’t see a soul for around three hours.
The walk was tough as it was all uphill and we reached an altitude of 3000m. We finally got back on to the main walking trail and reached the main attraction which was the Cocora Valley and it’s famous trees.
The trees were scattered all over the valley and it was really quite beautiful. We began our descend down and saw many many of these tall, thin palm trees. It was like no other place I’d been before and I was so impressed with these trees.
To get back in to town you jump in to a jeep and see how many people you can fit in one vehicle.
Walk around the colourful town
What really makes Salento so special is the main town which has beautifully coloured colonial buildings. This town has lots of handicraft shops and cafes and is just a really unique place to stroll around.
The next stop was Medellin which was just a short bus journey away which we picked up from a place just off the main square.