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Valle de Cocora

May 20, 2012

One of the highlights of a trip to Colombia is to visit the highlands of the Valle de Cocora. This is where the highest concentration of the Wax Palm can be found, which is Colombia’s national tree.

The gateway to Cocora is a small colonial town called Salento. We visited Salento with the intention of spending the night but the only viable place we could find was to either park in the central plaza or on a side street so we decided to push on to Cocora (another 15km) after exploring the town.

The road to Cocora is narrow and winding but paved the whole way and when we reached the small hamlet we discovered a few small restaurants and that’s it apart from a number of scattered farms. We quickly negotiated to stay in one of the restaurants.

We arrived late but this didn’t stop us from taking a short walk into the valley and along the central river. We had to cross a very rickety bridge on our way. We saw plenty of the wax palms that make the area famous.

The next morning we got up bright and early for a long hike into the valley. As we set out we were joined by a local dog who had slept by our camper all night. He was really keen to hike with us and kept waiting for us and even coming back to check we were still coming.

The hike started off on a muddy track through farmland studded with wax palms but after a few kilometres entered a cloud forest, following a mountain river. Once in the cloud forest the path criss-crosses the river and there are a number of fairly sketchy bridges to get across. The dog following us no problem running across the shaky suspension bridges but we were a little more cautious.

There is also a waterfall on the way which is slightly off the path. The view isn’t great from slippery rocks and I managed to slip on one of the rocks trying to get a better position for a photo and slid right down into the water. Oops.

After 5km or so we reached a small homestead called Acaime which had a number of hummingbird feeders. They served us a great hot chocolate accompanied by some Campesino cheese.

We walked back 1 km from Acaime and there is a turn up a very steep path which leads to ranger station. Form here there was a nice view of the mountain tops. The walk back to the small village of Cocora was down a dirt road but unfortunately the cloud came in and we had a very foggy return journey.

Every time we go for a walk in Cocora a number of unattended horses walk past us – clearly knowing where they are going.

There is a trout farm in the village and we bought some trout from here for the fridge. It also means that the restaurants in this area serve fantastic fresh trout which we sampled a couple of ways. The first time we had it in a small mountain restaurant where it was served with Patacon and rice. Patacon is a big crisp made from Plantain. However at the restaurant where we stayed the cooking was a step up and we had some fantastic trout with great chips.

While eating at the place we were staying the owner had some friends over – including his brother in law who lived in Florida – and they spent the night singing Karaoke. Sarah joined in for a couple of songs, despite being in Spanish.

We found real peace in Cocora so stayed three nights and would really recommend this beautiful place.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 27, 2012 1:59 pm

    Looks amazing!

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