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!

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!