Down in the valley

So we got to school on Tuesday and got some fantastic news- no work until next Monday! You gotta love the Colombian education system. Since me and Elena both wanted to get away for the few free days we had, we packed our bags, bought the tickets and took the ride to Salento, a town in the department of Quindio, about 3 hours west from home.

Salento is a small tranquil town surrounded by lush green mountains in constant light mist. It perfectly represents the preserved spirit of an old colonial town, with its incredibly friendly people, traditional brightly coloured houses and elderly men in typical gaucho attire strolling the streets.

Our first night in Salento was spent exploring the picturesque streets and spontaneously getting involved in a salsa class that was being offered in the at restaurant we were sitting in.

      

Dance the night away

The main reason tourists come to Salento is to visit Valle de Cocorá, home to Colombia’s national symbol the wax palm that stretches up to 60 meters high. Our journey there started by getting a lift to the valley’s entrance in jeeps which are called ‘Willys’ here. From there a simple 12km hike was waiting for us. Depending how often you stop to take photos or catch your breath since there are some pretty steep hills there, the walk takes about 5-6 hours to complete. Or, as we realized at the end of our hike, you can just take the trail on the left and end up at the bottom of the valley in about 20min… But you won’t get to see the spectacular scenery, so it’s your call. There’s plenty of information on the hiking trail, however bringing a map is a good idea as it can sometimes get confusing which fork in the trail to take next. You can also take a quick detour to the Hummingbird House, where you’ll get a change to admire the hummingbirds zooming past you. It took me alot of patience and focus to actually take a decent picture of these beautiful birds, but I am quite proud of this photo.

 

Thank you for posing
 
From the hummingbird house it’s another 2 hour hike up and after you begin to make your way down to the valley. The view you get to see makes the at the moment agonizing hike worthwhile.

  

The towering palm trees, with tiny Elena to scale
Hiking has never felt more rewarding😊

However, now me and Elena were pretty much starving, so as a treat we went to eat at a place called Brunch, the most non-colombian cafe in town. Run by an American lad, the menu is very much gringo orientated, but oh God is it good. From a full American breakfast to Philly cheese steak sandwiches to peanutbutter brownies with homemade ice cream. And while you wait for your meal, you can read the messages travelers have left on the once clean white walls.

   
   After lunch and a nap at the hostel we went for a few beers and a game of pool to an old fashioned bar where we were the only two female species there. If you crave attention, Colombia is the place to be. 
The evening then lead us to the hostel/bar we went for our salsa lesson the first night in Salento. Long story short, we met a few Colombian guys who played guitar and drums and before you know it we ended up partying in the town’s plaza with the boys singing and playing music and us dancing to the tunes in the middle of the night, with random travelers joining in. This is probably my favourite part about travel, dancing with strangers, exchanging conversation and stories, having the time of your life, becoming friends for the nigh, saying goodbye and then wondering if you will ever cross paths with these people again.

And on that note, the short but great trip was over and we were on our way to Ibagué. More photos coming soon 😊

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