We did a transfer of half a day in steep and hilly Manizales, and then catched the bus to visit two little towns in La Zona Cafetera. The first one, Salento, is quite touristic, as it’s the starting point for most hikers to La Valle de Cocora. It was also ‘fiesta del pueblo’ when we were there (again 🙂 ), so it was very crowded with both national and international tourists. We were lucky to camp a little bit out of town, in the garden of Hostal La Serrana. Read: in a meadow with horses. Unique camping spot 😉
Also for us, Salento was the starting point to discover La Valle de Cocora: a natural reserve with wax palms, the highest palm trees in the world (up to 60 m high). We took a Willy Jeep in the centre of Salento at 6:30 am, and we spend almost the whole day there. The first part of the walk was climbing up the mountain, in a landscape similar to a tropical rain forest. At the top, we visited a hummingbirds farm, where we could photograph them from very close!
The second part of the hike was a walk downhill, into the wild and precious valley full of ‘palmas de cera’…
Filandia is a neighboring town, much more quiet and local, with well conserved Colonial houses. This is also the town where artisans make the typical woven baskets, originally used to collect coffee beans, and now the symbol of the coffee region in Colombia. Helena Adentro is a great place to taste coffee (and cocktails, depending on the hour)!