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Colombia is famous for its coffee, so especially the main coffee region gets a lot of visitors each year.
Located in the coffee triangle of Armenia, Pereira and Manizales, many choose to go to Salento, just about 45 minutes away from Armenia, because of its nearby spectacular valley with its wax palms.
The Cocora Valley
The wax palm is Colombia’s symbol and national tree and can grow as high as 50 meters (165 feet) or sometimes even up to 60 meters (195 feet). In the Cocora Valley (Valle de Cocora) you can see hundreds of them darting up in the sky.
Walk on a nice loop for about 10 – 12 km (6 – 8 miles) enjoy the view and visit a hummingbird feeding station.
Cocora Valley is located in a natural cloud forest so don’t forget your rain jacket. Although it seems like a climate that is a bit cooler, we found it very pleasant.
The village of Salento offers colorful houses, a nice look-out over a valley, good restaurants and many, many souvenir stores. In the evenings it is popular to play Tejo near the square (ask for it, everyone can show you the way), a traditional game where you throw a metal disc.
If you’re going to Salento, plan at least 2 days for your visit. One for Cocora Valley and the second one to visit a coffee farm and get some cheap souvenirs. Of course, we found that many stores offer the same items but it’s worth to explore the ones that seem more unique.
We visited the coffee farms “Don Elias” and “Ocaso”, they are both worth a visit and we learnt a lot about coffee – the plants, the process and the preparation!
From Armenia there are frequent buses to Salento (usually every 20 minutes), it will take you around 45 minutes. You can catch them at the bus terminal or hop on along the way. There are also some direct buses from Pereira and Medellín.
To Cocora Valley take a shared jeep in the morning at 7:30 am or 9:30 am from the main square in Salento. If you can find 6 – 8 people then the jeeps will leave at any time. The ride takes about half an hour.
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