A place that is heavily talked about in Colombia is the village of Salento and Valle de Cocora in Quindio. This is right in the heart of the country and where a lot of the coffee is grown. Valle de Cocora is renowned for its picturesque scenery and is home to the tallest palm trees in the world. I spent 2 nights in Armenia, a small city nearby to experience this place and I would probably say it was worth the trouble.
The Absolute Ordeal of a bus Journey
Taking a bus from Medellín to Armenia was a complete nightmare. Even though the bus cost a tenner and it was very comfortable with a TV screen. The traffic was harrowing and tedious. In some places, there are very curvy roads, rather than motorways. At one point the bus got stuck in traffic for 3 hours. The bus left Medellín at 10:30 and I did not arrive in Armenia until midnight. More than 12 hours on a bus should tell you that you should fly to get to this place.
Armenia is not touristy at all and this meant I got a hotel with my own room for £10 a night. This even included a free breakfast which was a complete bargain.
Getting to Salento and Back
I looked for a taxi in Armenia to get to Salento and found one which cost £10. It takes about 30 minutes by car, but the driver had to register my details at the taxi office. He had to get a piece of paper which was checked by the police. This is something which I found absolutely nonsensical and never before experienced as the police check lasted 10 minutes. To get back I decided to just take the bus which cost a pound and it took an hour. I recommend just taking the bus both ways as it’s cheaper and less hassle.
I really don’t know why I decided to stay in Armenia instead of Salento. There are a few decent looking hostels in this small town. Salento has nice old-style houses lining the streets and it’s a fantastic place to get coffee. Before heading off to Valle de Cocora, make sure that you walk up to Mirador Alto de la Cruz. This place has a steep staircase and once you get to the top, you can see some great views of the town.
Getting to and From Valle de Cocora in Style
Right in the centre of Salento, there is a stand which you can pay 8000 pesos or £1.50 for a ticket to get to and from Valle de Cocora. The vehicle of choice is a Jeep in true adventure fashion. I waited about 5 minutes and then got into a Jeep, they pack in as many people as possible and on the way back, I rode the Jeep by standing on the step at the back and holding onto the rail. The journey is about 30 minutes and it feels like a true adventure with the breeze blowing in.
Walking Through Valle de Cocora
Once I arrived, I was unsure about where to go once I arrived, so I walked towards the first viewpoint, however this isn’t the best one, I paid £1 to see it and I recommend just walking along the road to go where the real views are. There’s a gate and once I got through I saw an upward path to where the tall palm trees were.
After walking 20 minutes up the steep path, I was up close to the tall palm trees and with great views of the surrounding environment. It’s possible to hike even further to the top of the hill, but seeing as I was only wearing my Air Maxes, I didn’t want to mess them up. If you’re going to come here make sure you wear comfortable clothes for walking and something waterproof as it could rain, thankfully for me, it did not rain when I visited.
Is it Worth Visiting?
With Valle de Cocora being right in the middle of Colombia, it raises questions of whether or not it’s worth visiting, however I definitely say it is. I highly recommend staying in Salento as there is absolutely nothing worth seeing in Armenia. Furthermore, if you don’t have much time or patience, I recommend against taking the bus from a city that’s quite far like Medellín as it takes forever thanks to the roads being an absolute nightmare.