One latte and a flat white to go, please. Avid coffee drinkers, we were really looking forward to Colombia’s coffee region. West of the capital, Salento is known for its scenery and the tall wax palms of Cocora Valley.
We opted for the 7 hour night bus from Medellín to Armenia. Night mask on, ear plugs in; we slept so well that the bus driver had to wake us. Feeling pretty smug after a good nights sleep, we hopped on an hour bus to Salento. Arriving at 6am, we walked through the sleepy farmers town to our hostel, El Viajaro, just in time for sunrise. The staff were really accommodating and invited us to breakfast even though check in wasn’t until 2pm later that day. The early morning views were incredible.
After a little recuperating in the hostel hammocks, we wandered to the square in the centre of the town, lined with colourful buildings and locals watching the world go by. Turn a corner to the main street and find an elderly gentleman in a cowboy hat playing a guitar, breath in the lingering smell of manure and browse artisanal shops selling handmade gifts and coffee. The small town will take you an hour maximum to browse. If you’ve got time to kill, sit in the square and soak up the atmosphere. If you’re lucky you may be offered a shot of Aguardiente by a local inviting you to dance salsa.
Day trip to Cocora Valley
Home to hundreds of Colombia’s National tree, Cocora Valley is a photographers paradise. Trek for 6 hours through the jungle, over rickety rope bridges and find yourself standing amongst fields of wax palms reaching for the heavens.
Take a jeep to the entrance of the park from the square in Salento, costing 4,000 Colombian Pesos per person (£1). We really enjoyed the trek, which only had steep climbs for about an hour.
Hack to a local coffee farm
Organised privately by our hostel, we hacked for an hour to a local organic coffee farm. The tour of the farm was included and took us on the journey from cherry to bean to brew. The family run farm has been producing coffee for 28 years, and 6 years ago switched to a fully organic production line without any chemical pesticides or industrial machinery.
Did you know, coffee beans are white and almost without a smell until the roasting and grinding process. At this point, nutrients from the beans become more exposed and create that beautiful smell that gets us up in the morning.
After enjoying a cup of fresh coffee we hopped back on the horses for the ride back to the hostel. Trotting through country lanes as the sun set.
The trip cost just over 40,000 COP per person (£10) and was totally worth it.
We loved our stay in sleepy Salento, drinking coffee and watching the cheery farmer folk dance salsa in the square.