Day 3: Cocora Valley & Las Acacias Coffee Farm

I had a great sleep despite waking up in the middle of the night a couple of times because I kept hearing bugs and mosquitoes flying around me. For majority of the night I submerged myself into my blanket but I had to come up for air and the breeze.

Aside from getting a misquote bite, I had a great sleep. I liked waking up to the sounds of nature. The sound of leaves, birds and bugs. It was perfectly tranquil.

We had free breakfast at the hostel and decided to walk to Salento instead of taking the Jeep since it was early.

Once we got to the plaza, there was a huge line of people queuing for the Jeep service to Cocora Valley. We were packed in the back of the Jeep and had three people standing at the rear of the vehicle holding onto the roof.

The ride from Salento to Cocora Valley took around 30 mins. We got dropped off in an area with restaurants, basically where everyone who wants to hike Cocora Valley would start off and end.

We took the counter clock wise hike, which was recommended because there was less steep decline. I believe that was the main reason why it was recommended. The hike was going to be 5 hours, and we ended up finishing it in 3.

The beginning of the hike wasn’t too bad. It was mostly flat and we were surrounded by good views. It wasn’t until we got deeper in, scenery started to change.

Eventually the hike was mostly incline and I am so out of shape that it was honestly one of the hardest hikes I have done. It didn’t look hard, it physically was hard because I haven’t exercised in so long. The views were definitely worth it though.

I love the gigantic wax palm trees. I’d imagine it was the same feeling as being towered by dinosaurs.

We were exhausted and hungry but proud that we finished the hike 2 hours early. We got some refreshing cold drinks before we took the Jeep back into Salento.

We got lunch at some restaurant below Fika Cafe Salento and I ordered the Bandeja Piasa.

Bandeja Piasa is a big plate of rice, beans, shredded meat, chicharron, chorizo, fried egg, avocado and plantain. It’s A LOT of food but its delicious. I couldn’t finish it myself if I tried to. It’s an insane amount of food. Would definitely recommend this dish if you’re in Medellin.

After a good meal, we had time to kill before we took the bus to Pereira to spend the night before our flight to Medellin. Salento was known for coffee farms and we decided to go to Las Acacias Coffee Farm to do a tour.

I enjoyed learning about coffee, how it’s grown and all because I LOVE drinking coffee. The tour was very informative and I wish we had the time to do multiple coffee farm tours. If you’re in Salento, you have to do at least one coffee tour.

After the tour, we took a Jeep back to our hostel to pick up our bags and head to the bus terminal to Pereire. We caught the 5:50 bus out of Salento and the ride itself was around a hour long.

Pereire was way different from what we saw of the city when we were in the car heading to Salento. It didn’t feel exactly the safest, especially when the hotel we got was in a really bad neighborhood. We were lucky that our hotel was safe at least.

We only had to stay in Pereire for the night as we were flying out 6-7am in the morning. We only went out for dinner because we were starving and uber was the safest option. We got pasta at an Italian restaurant across the city which was actually pretty good.

There wasn’t really much for us to do in Pereira at night, so we went back to our hotel and just relaxed. We’re flying to Medellin the next day!

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Day 2: Exploring the Gorgeous Town, Salento!

We checked out of our hostel around 7am and got breakfast at El Secreto del Amor. We just had to try ajicaco (chicken potato soup, top right on the pic below) popular dish in Bogota.

Ajicaco was good, but the Changua (Colombian egg and milk soup) was my favorite. It was creamy and hearty but the cilantro gives it a fresh taste.

We went straight to the airport after breakfast and flew to Pereira. We ended up Ubering to our hostel in Salento which took us about a hour.

Salento is a small town known for the coffee estates and the scenery. Our hostel was 20 minutes away from the city area, accessible by a Jeep service or a 30-40 minute walk.

We stayed at the La Serrana Eco and Hostel, which had a beautiful view.

It felt like we were at some paradise getaway because the hostel was surrounded by nature and amazing scenery. The hostel had a main lounging area where reception and majority of the rooms were. They also had “glamping” tents which was a 5 minute walking distance from the lodge.

I’m putting “glamping” in quotations because they weren’t luxurious at all. Just two beds, a closet and a couple of chairs.

There was no wifi either which explains the lag time between each of my blog posts. Uploading pictures takes forever and most of the time, it would fail. I don’t blame anyone, it makes sense since we were in some “remote” area and a really small town.

After checking in, we decided to walk from our hostel to Salento. The Jeep would’ve taken us to the main plaza within 10 minutes but we wanted to get the best experience and walk.

It took us around 45 minutes probably and you can see the transition as we got closer to the city.

The city was pretty small and since we walked from our hostel, we actually explored a good amount of the town before we got to the main plaza.

For lunch, we want to a local spot called Saber Casero, where we had a hard time communicating with our waiter since none of us spoke Spanish. One bystander helped us get the rice dish, which was really good. It was tomato-ey and reminded me of another dish but I just can’t put my tongue on it.

The other two dishes we got was the porcion chicharron + patacon (fried pork + fried plantains) and the trucha con champinoes (trout with mushrooms in milk sauce).

The trucha dish was very creamy and reminded me of the changua. It seemed like trout was a popular dish in Salento because we kept seeing it everywhere.

Definitely recommend getting lunch at Saber Casero. It was really cheap for all the food we had and it seems like only locals eat there. One thing to keep in mind is that it takes a while for the food to come out because the kitchen is REALLY small and there’s only one cook.

After lunch, we walked around the main plaza of Salento. The town was alive and colorful. You can hear the music and smell the food. There was so much going on that it felt like we arrived in Salento at the right time.

I got a limonada de coco which is a drink with lemonade and coconut. The one I got from the fruit stand above, wasn’t exactly what I wanted. It was not limonada de coco at all, the vendor probably put his own spin on it.

After walking around the plaza, we decided to take a coffee break at Fika Cafe Salento. We got a nice seat on the second floor by the window, relaxed and people watched.

Right after our quick break, we walked on Carrera 6 where all of the stores and much of the people of Salento were. We stopped by a couple of stores, listened to street artists sing and hiked up the stairs to Mirador Alto De La Cruz.

We got a great view of the town at the viewpoint. It’s just crazy how small the town is. The other view was the view of the surrounding mountains.

From Mirador Alto De La Cruz, we hiked to Mirador de Salento and stopped by Frutal de Salento for some snacks. In the order of the pictures, we got cholao, obleas and limonada de coco.

Cholao is a beverage made with fresh fruit and condensed milk. Obleas was a thin wafer sandwich with jam filling in between. This time, the limonada de coco that we ordered was the right one and it is now my favorite drink in Colombia! There’s a good balance of flavors – the richness of the coconut and the acidity of the lime makes this a refreshing drink.

Right when we got our order, it started to pour. We got lucky that we had seats inside the small icecream stall. We sat in there until the rain passed.

We walked back to the main street with all the vendors. I tried really good cold brew at Cafe Jesus Martin Calle Real. Then we noticed people sitting on the patio and we were able to find that same restaurant (El Patio) to take pictures from the patio.

At this time, we were exhausted. Instead of walking back we decided to take the Jeep service back to our hostel and settle in. It was getting dark and I was able to get some nice snaps of the clouds before the sun was down.

We were physically exhausted at this point and decided to relax in the main building of the hostel. We watched half of Juno and made a friend.

It was around late 8ish, when we decided to get dinner before we called it an early night. We took the Jeep service back into Salento and at this time, most restaurants were closing. The only place we wanted to try that was open was all the way back near the stairs where you head up to the Mirador.

Dinner at Camino Real Parilla Bar was okay. We tried a sampling platter and steak and overall it was just too dry for us. The bacon chorizo however was delicious.

Once we were done, it was past 10pm and there was literally no Jeep service. We thought about calling a taxi but ultimately decided to walk all the way back to our hostel. It felt kinda sketchy at first because we were literally the only 3 tourist walking in the city at night. Then once we were out of the city it was just pitch black and we used our phones as flashlights. Good thing we walked to the city from our hostel in the morning or else we wouldn’t have been familiar with the path at all.

We got back to our hostel safe and sound. We’re hiking Cocora Valley early next morning!

Day 1: Bogota

We landed in Bogota around ~5am-ish and got to our hostel around 6am. It was too early for us to check in and get our rooms so we just freshen up and left our backpacks at the hostel’s storage room. The first thing we needed was coffee but there wasn’t one open at 7am so we decided to get breakfast first at La Puerto False.

We got tamales, huevos con jamon, chocolate completa and almojabana. We definitely over ordered as we didn’t know that the tamales was going to be THAT big and that almost every dish came with a bread.

The chocolate completa is a traditional drink that Colombians love and they get it for breakfast, lunch and even as a snack. It’s hot chocolate with cheese. You’re suppose to cut up the cheese into tiny bits and drop it into the hot chocolate, let it melt and eat it when it’s melted onto the bottom of your cup. Maybe we didn’t do it or it could’ve been better elsewhere, but we didn’t like it. Our cheese didn’t melt well and the chocolate was a bit bland. The star of our meal was the tamales – it was flavorful and I loved the texture of it.

After fueling up, we explored Bogota with no real plan in mind. We went to the Bolivar Square, saw the National Capitol building and the Cathedral of Colombia.

The square was pretty empty since it was fairly early so it was a perfect time for pictures. It almost felt like a wasteland if it wasn’t for all the pigeons walking around.

We walked around the city for half a hour, just admiring the architecture and the colorful walls with graffiti art. Since no one was really out yet, it gave us a different experience of the city that what we had later on the day.

We couldn’t believe it was only 9am after all that. Our 3 hours in Bogota already felt like it would be noon. With some time to kill before our free walking tour, we want to get our first cup of coffee at Azahar Cafe.

Azahar Cafe looked like a hipster cafe you would find in Williamsburg. We chilled with our cup of coffee for almost a hour before we went to meet our walking tour guide in front of the Gold Museum.

The free walking tour was with Beyond Colombia and here’s our tour guide Juan!

Our group was largest walking tour group I ever been on. There was probably more than 30 people and it was 3 hours long. It was a great way to see most of the city and learn about the history of Bogota.

  • Parque de Santander
  • Gaitan’s corner
  • Casa Galeria
  • Miguel Urrutia Art Museum
  • Bolivar Square
  • Teatro Colon Bogota

When we were on the walking tour, we started to notice the city getting more alive and robust. The streets were fill with people, music, and aromas of food.

We got to try chicha (fermented drink) which tasted like kombucha… probably because the one we tried had was only 4-5%. At the same cafe, we also got chucula which is a drink you can only find in Colombia. Chucula contains coco, cinnamon and a couple of other spices. It reminds me of chai but a little more unique.

Fun fact: did you know that Justin Bieber was the reason why Bogota legalized graffiti? (That’s what the tour guide told us and I’m taking his word for it.)

Juan was a great tour guide and we learned a lot about Bogota from him. I highly recommend it if you visit: Beyond Colombia

It was 1pm-ish when we were done with the tour. We had a lunch reservation at Mesa Franca which was half a hour away from the city. We were starving and there was so much traffic that we ended up being late for a couple of minutes but it was fine. The food was AMAZING, we got 3 entrees, 2 appetizers, drinks and 2 deserts to share.

Honestly one of the best meals I ever had and it didn’t break the wallet. It was around ~$60 total. HIGHLY recommend Mesa Franca.

The last activity we had before settling in back in our hostel was taking the tram up to Mount Monserrate and get the view of Bogota. Unfortunately the cable car was closed but the tram still worked so we took that up.

It whole ride up took around 5 minutes. You get a pretty nice view of Bogota on the first half of the ride up and the rest was mostly just the tram in the tunnel.

There’s a church at the top and a pretty damn good view. It would’ve been nice if it was less cloudy so you could see more of the city but it was breathtaking nonetheless. The only thing to keep in mind is that walking around takes a lot of energy because of the attitude.

We were on the top of Mount Monserrate for a good amount of time just taking in our environment and the view. We went back to the hostel to check in and shower afterwards.

We were going to go to a popular night life restaurant for dinner but we were exhausted from being active for 14 hours. We opted in to make a food run at McDonalds for dinner because we all love to try country exclusive menu items.

We went to bed around 10pm. I was the last one to pass out as I was trying to finish this post, but couldn’t. We had to wake up at 6:45am in the morning so we can checkout, get breakfast and fly to Pereira.

(P.S. uploading this post without WiFi and it’s taking forever… even with WiFi it’s pretty slow. It’s just the slow upload of pictures that’s taking forever so I need to come back and caption them :(. )

The adventure continues… in Colombia!

Hey all! It’s been awhile since I was active.

After my Malaysia/Singapore trip, I got a new job and things have been pretty crazy as it was a big change for me.

I didn’t get the chance to blog about my short getaways to Maryland, Austin and Portland, Oregon – but expect to see some posts about Portland in the near future.

Right this moment, I’m typing this post on some uncomfortable chair at an airport lounge. If you’re still reading this – follow me on my adventure to Colombia!

First stop – Bogota!