Updated February 7, 2021
Salento is a small town located in the heart of the Coffee Triangle (Eje Cafetero) region of Colombia. Don’t let the size fool you, though, as there are a lot of fun things to do in Salento, Colombia. This colorful little town of 7,000 people is incredibly beautiful. Salento has retained its old-world charm with a distinctly laid-back attitude. It’s a great place to recharge and refresh from visiting the large cities of Colombia.
The UNESCO World Heritage organization called this area ‘The Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia’ It’s a popular destination for tourists as well as for vacationing Colombians. Here is a list of things to do in the area:
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Hike the Cocora Valley (Valle de Cocora)
The Cocora Valley is the #1 reason that people go to Salento Colombia. Part of the Los Nevados National Natural Park, the Cocora Valley is the primary location of the distinctive Quindío wax palm, which is Colombia’s national tree. It is also the tallest tree in the world and has a fun cartoonish quality to it.
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Ride a Willy
To get to the Cocora Valley, hop on one of the shared jeeps, known as Willys, in the town square, Plaza Bolívar. It costs 8k COP ($2.60 USD) for a round-trip ride. Depending on the time of year, rides start as early as 6 a.m. and run until around 6 p.m. Six people fit comfortably inside the willy, 8 can fit uncomfortably inside, and there are the exciting “jump spots” holding onto the back that can be exciting on the bumpy roads. For the arm workout, you get the most incredible views of the valley.
There are two hiking options: the full loop takes around six hours to do (assuming you don’t veer off the well-marked path accidentally and climb a rather aggressively-steep incline heading towards a waterfall, but more on that in another piece). It leads you through some gorgeous cloud forest (high-elevation rainforest) areas, over a number of “dodgy” suspension bridges, and through open fields of wax palm trees. It’s a challenging hike in parts, but manageable with a moderate fitness level.
Acaime Hummingbird House (Casa de los Colibris)
One of the highlights of doing the full Cocora Valley loop is a visit to the Acaime Hummingbird House. It’s a short in-and-out hike (ten minutes or so) and worth a visit, both to have a break from the hike (you are around 2 hours in at this point if you are doing the counter-clockwise loop) and to see hummingbirds. There are several different kinds that you can see up close on the many feeders around the building.