To reach the coffee region, we flew from Medellin to Pereira and decided to stay one night. We arrived in the evening and didn’t want to take a late bus to Salento plus we thought we would visit Bolivar Square and see the Cathedral before leaving. Unfortunately our hotel was located on a walking street, so the taxi couldn’t take us right to the door and we had to walk a bit with our luggage. This is not a great situation at night in a strange city and to make matters worse the Hotel wasn’t well advertised. We actually walked right past it and ended up asking for directions from a waiter at a nearby restaurant who then just randomly yelled out into the street, at anyone passing by, if they knew of the hotel – yikes! An older fellow on the street showed us where it was…what a relief! I was starting to feel a bit panicky about our situation and made a mental note…’no staying in hotels on a walking street from now on’.
The next morning we walked to Bolivar Square and visited the Cathedral. The Centro area here looked and felt very rough, we were happy to get back to the hotel to check out and head to the bus station for our short ride to Salento.
Salento is in the heart of Colombia’s famed coffee region. A big part of the ‘Coffee Triangle’ (an area between Medellin, Bogota, and Cali) has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Salento is also the jumping off point for visits to the gorgeous Cocora Valley which is part of the Los Nevados National Natural Park.
What would a visit be in the coffee region if we didn’t visit a traditional Finca? We opted for a visit to the Ocasa coffee farm and we walked there from town, it was around 10 kilometers round trip and the scenery was really pretty.
The Finca offered tours that lasted around an hour for the cost of 10,000 COP. Our guide spoke great english and she was really funny and entertaining. We enjoyed the tour and would recommend it.
The next day we drug ourselves out of bed early so that we could get into the Cocora Valley for some trekking. The Cocora Valley is the main area to see the ‘Dr. Suess’ trees – the Quindio Wax Palm (up to 60 meters tall) which are the national symbol of Colombia.
The trekking is a bit challenging because the trails are muddy, the bridges are not very stable, and some of the climbs are long and steep. It’s all worth it though, the valley is stunning. The weather can change fast in the Andes, we had sun at the beginning of our trek and when we reached the cloud forest it rained on us the entire way back. I should mention that it’s super easy to get a collectivo to and from the valley. They leave regularly from the main square in Salento and to return just catch it in the same spot that it dropped you at.
On our last day we visited the viewpoint/mirador. The views were great.
We walked around town, browsed in the shops, and of course had coffee.
On our last evening, we enjoyed some live music in a local cafe on the main street.
We really enjoyed our time in Salento and the Cocora Valley was awesome.
Where we stayed in Pereira: Hotel Condina 👍
Where we stayed in Salento: Hotel Real 👍
Written by: Tammy Hermann…Live~Love~Travel