My final stop in exploring Colombia was the small town Salento in the region of Quindío. During my travels I’ve been blessed with more often than not good weather. With this in mind, it wasn’t a disappointment to be met with a few days of rain and cloud. Founded in 1842, Salento was one of the first Spanish settlements in the Quindio region of Colombia.
My host family had warned me that the town is normally full of gringo’s due to the beautiful landscape – including the Cocora Valley, and the charismatic town nestling in the hills at 1800 meters above sea-level. As it turned out, there were very few Westerners in the town, so my experience was of the place was more authentic than i was anticipating.
My friend Toby and I decided to stay at an Eco-Farm named La Serrana. What a wonderful hostel it was. Located 1km from town, it had great views of the surrounding valleys. Hills and trees just rolled into one other. Beautiful. Regarding the hostel, the biggest compliment I could pay it was that my dorm bed was the best bed i’ve had on my trip. Big shout. Believe me, after a while on the road, you really appreciate a little more comfort, no matter how it presents itself.
Another great surprise was that my friend Tess was also in town. We enjoyed a lovely evening wondering the town, having a few drinks and admiring fine Colombian music. Not to mention laughter in bucket loads. You cannot beat great company, sharing stories and getting a little bit merry. These times are appreciated whenever and wherever.
Toby and myself decided there was no better way to see the town and the lushious green landscapes than horseback . On reflection, we chose wisely. It was the perfect way to see the Cocora Valley.
The Cocora Valley is particularly well known because of the hundreds of towering wax palms that decorate the valley side. The palms are also known as “Quindío wax” – Not only is it the tallest palm tree in the world, but they are native to only this area of Colombia, aswell as being the country’s national tree.
Previously, the leaves were extensively used for ‘Palm Sunday’. This led to laws being enforced in the mid 80s with the aims of preserving the tree. Mission accomplished by the looks of things which is great to see. Quite a lot of history for a tree right?
To be honest, they are very weird. Seeing such grand palm trees at nearly 2000 meters is just a strange sight. But, i like strange. The area is simply unique. Mystical is perhaps the most appropriate word to describe them as the palms stand tall as low hanging clouds meander their way through the hillsides.
When it rains in these tropical countries, it pours. The raindrops are huge. We took refuge from the torrential rain on a small farm. Despite being complete and utter strangers, the farm owners welcomed us with open arms. A few minutes ago I’m sat on a horse trotting through sweeping rain, almost losing my ability to hear because of defeaning thunder, now i find myself relaxing in an arm chair, with a Coca-Cola getting ready for a nap until the weather clears. Unbelievable. That folks, is Colombian people in a nutshell. If the chance ever arises, come and see for yourself. You won’t be disappointed wherever you go in this wonderful country. Colombia, i’ll be back …
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