We left San Cipriano the next day, this time we didn’t have to fight with the driver, the price had already been agreed. Once in Córdoba we tried to hitchhike without much success. We were thinking about going on the small pickups from town to town, but right there a bus on the way to Buga crossed our way. We were exhausted, the day before had been between an extraordinary adventure and a nightmare and we both fell asleep.
After about 3 hours of travel, we arrived to buga with the usual question, continue the way or stop? We wanted to see some things around but everything was outside the city and the city as such was nothing different than another city. We made the decision to keep moving and try to reach our next big stop, Salento and the Cocora Valley. Finally, we could only find a small bus that would take us to Andalusia where we arrived at sunset.
After searching in the small town for a place to sleep we found a hotel in which, as always, after negotiating, we got a private room almost without ventilation for 16.000 pesos. We went out in the rain, everything was closed, luckily we found a little street vendor selling arepas with honey and chorizo.
The next morning we took a local bus direction to La Paila full of people, from there we took another to Armenia and finally, after waiting for an hour while the champions played on the tv of the bus station, we took a buseta that would finally take us to Salento. Since we entered Colombia it didn’t stop raining, it wasn’t going to be that day the exception.
How to reach Salento from Armenia or San Cipriano
San Cipriano – Córdoba = 45.000 per person
Cordoba – buga = 8.000 per person
Buga – Andalusia = 8.000 per person
Andalusia – la paila = 3.500 per person
La Paila – Armenia = 7.000 per person
Armenia – Salento = 4.600 per person
We arrived at the colourful Salento already in the afternoon, our main concern was to find a place to sleep. Salento is one of the most touristic places in the country, and therefore, one of the most expensive. A couple of fixers came to offer us accommodation (as soon as the bus arrived) we tried a couple of places that we had recommended but the prices were out of our budget. Finally, a boy who offered us his accommodation, El Hostal los colobríes.
It was a simple but a nice place, we ended up in a 4 people room but there was a problem, there was only one bed empty in the whole building. After talking to the owner, a very kind man, and to consult the other occupants of the room, they allowed us to stay both in that bed for 20.000 pesos. A bargain if we compare it with the prices we had heard so far.
At the hostel we met adorable people, a German girl travelling through South America accompanied by a pretty particular Peruvian guy. A Spanish girl, a couple from Argentina and some others who came and left while we stayed there. The night first was quiet, the rain kept happening, we took a walk around the village and we prepared to leave early in the morning to the next destination, The Cocora Valley.
The Cocora Valley
Cocora is the name of a quimbaya princess, daughter of cacique Acaime, her name means water star. The Wax Palm, the main protagonist of the valley, is one of the national symbols of the country, and what a symbol! A huge palm tree up to 70 meters high that rises above mountains giving the place a touch of another planet.
How to go from Salento to The Cocora Valley
In order to go to the valley, you have to take a jeep that comes out of town square at very strict hours, about 6 times a day 6:10 am, 7:30 am, 9:30 am, 11:30 am, 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm. They make the tour back an hour later. During the high season, it is most likely that the jeeps will leave the square as soon as they are full and do not need to wait too long for the next one.
The ideal thing is that you ask at the hostel or just when you arrive at the village to be up to date as they may have changed the leaving times. Get ready ride for about 30 minutes hanging from the back of the jeep, you can go sitting, but sure it’s going to be much more interesting, if you have some adventurous soul you can enjoy the show, is a funny experience with very good landscape and a little fresh air, hopefully, without rain. The journey costs between 3000 and 4000 pesos per person. (prices updated in March 2018)
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Walking paths in the Cocora Valley
Once in the valley, there are a couple of options, the short walk thru the Cocora Valley for those with less time (about 70-90 min round and back) and another longer for those who enjoy the landscape and nature. The first one will take you straight to the palm trees, the second will take you around the área and show you nature in its pure state (in addition to the palm trees at the end)
If you want to take the short option walk straight along the road, don’t take the way to the right. It’s a clearly marked path about a mile long.
For those who prefer the walk then we certainly recommend the path we did, it took us 5-6 hours round and back but it was worth it, keep in mind that if you travel during the rainy season the landscape will be cloudy and no doubt wet, still nice yes, the mud will be your friend.
To take the long way to the Cocora Valley you have to follow the signs to “Los nevados parque nacional“, or you can walk straight, pass through the palm trees and turn around this way. On the way you can visit the hummingbirds’ house more than 2000 meters high, the entrance when we arrived was a donation and there you could enjoy a hot drink to regain strength. We have data that tell us that currently (March 2018) is charged 6000 pesos for the entrance and includes the drink.
In the past the walk was free, but recently we got a message from a reader with new data indicating that at March 2018 3000 pesos were charged the entrance per person on both routes.
To return to Salento the last jeep leaves the valley at 6 PM.
What to take to the Cocora Valley?
- Wear a jacket or a little sweater
- Enough water for the road
- A hat, or a raincoat if visiting during rainy season
- Your mobile phone with GPS and the maps.Me app
With this said, we hope you enjoy the walk, we have updated the post and the comments have been deleted, but as always, this guide has been updated thanks to the travellers who have used it. If you have new data leave it in the comments and we will make changes to this information if required.
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