Salento and its surroundings exude a great deal of peace. To me, exactly the right place at the right time. Because sometimes far away, is really far away…
I travel from Cali to Salento by bus, with a transition in Armenia. Since a couple of days I’ve been in close contact with friends in the Netherlands, sad new unfortunately. Tears roll over my cheeks while the beautiful landscape passes me by. In my previous blog you didn’t read anything about this, but I decided to let you in on the story. It’s part of my trip. It’s a learning process about accepting, releasing and learning to deal with sadness in a new situation. Funny enough I’m also grateful for that, it’s very instructive, but also very tough every now and then. And if new sadness brings up old sadness, it can be more intense than expected. Allowing yourself to be sad in an environment where you’re not alone. In a dorm, in a bus, at an airport. And at the same time I also enjoy all the beauty around me. It feels a bit like I’m in a rollercoaster of new impressions, peace and sorrow, and finding a way in all this.
La Serrana Eco Farm & Hostel is the perfect place to unwind. It has a beautiful view and it’s only a 10/15-minute walk to the village Salento. The next day I decide to take a day for myself. I just sit in a chair and enjoy the view in the morning. I don’t do anything, just admire my surrounding and rest.
View from the front side of the hostel.
In the afternoon I walk a little and sit on a grassy hill with a beautiful view. A nice place to do some yoga and meditate. Fortunately, this night there’s a private room available. I also treat myself to a (therapeutic) massage. A special experience, which makes me feel completely charged again.
After a fantastic conversation with an (somewhat older) American couple, that has been traveling in a camper van for 2,5-year now, we go into town to have a dinner in a vegetarian restaurant. The food is delicious and the live music makes it extra special. I notice that this day did me good, I feel recharged and I can enjoy everything to the fullest again. Of course, this is apart from the fact that the situation in the Netherlands is on my mind a lot.
Salento lies at 1.900 meters altitude and has 4.000 inhabitants. It’s a beautiful town with cheerfully colored houses and a cozy atmosphere. Because of all this, Salento is also very touristic. Many Colombians come here during the weekends.
If you want to visit a coffee plantation, I recommend Don Elias. I haven’t been there myself, but others say that the people there are very welcoming. It’ll cost you 10,000 COP and the tour takes about an hour. Don Elias is located just behind the famous El Ocaso. Both a 45/50-minute walk from La Serrana. You can also walk to the lower village, have a lunch and take the bus back.
I keep finding it funny every time I walk through a supermarket and hear the songs I usually dance to. Or just a spontaneous dance (bare feet) with the boy from the Hostels front desk.
After a delicious breakfast the next morning with baked eggs, a sandwich and pancakes, I’m ready for a hike in the mountains to Valle de Cocora (The Cocoraval). From the square in Salento you can take a Willy (a 4×4 Jeep taxi). They depart when all the seats all filled. This usually means 4-6 people in the car and 3-4 people standing in the back. It’s a 20-minute drive to the entrance of the valley. This is the starting point of all the hikes.
Another Dutch girl and I decide to do the 5/6-hour hike. After two hours climbing and crossing many bridges, we’re still the only ones on this trail. We’re pleasantly surprised, but find the climb pretty tough. The sun is hot and we’re sweating. Then we meet a Canadian couple that indicates we went the wrong way, just like them. And that this is the route of a 5-day hike. Ai… That means we have to go all the way down again.
After a while we run into a different group of people. We explain them our situation. They tell us that this trail goes to the top first en then down again through the valley with its wax palms. To get there and back it will take us about 3,5 hours. We decide to join them and start climbing. Some animal sounds make us laugh. For example when we hear the sounds of a zipper from out of the rain forest. I’ve no idea what kind of animal makes this sound, but we call it the zipper bird.
We also come across five horses (without saddle and rider). The path is very narrow and it’s hard to pass the horses, especially with the steep abyss on one side. Animals and me don’t mix well together, but we have to do something. I concur my fear and pet the first horse while I decide it’ll be the smartest to pass them along the mountainside. The horses probably smell our fear and two of them run past us. This makes me jump. Two gone, three more to go. When we pass the other three, I feel relieved. Pfff, succeeded! On top of the mountain we’re at 3000 meters altitude. Not much later, we reach a field from where we have a beautiful view over the Valle de Cocora. We decide to rest and eat a bit. The other three haven’t brought any food and so we share our packed lunches, bag of peanuts and cranberries. A beautiful spot for a picnic!
Not much later we reach the ‘normal’ trail, this is about two meters wide and well doable. After different viewing points and photos, we decide to leave this trail and walk down through the valley with its narrow grassy paths.
Somehow we manage to have to cross some barbed wire, but at last we can see the starting point of the valley. After completing the hike, we pay a visit to the first café we see for a well-deserved beer. We walked for 6 hours, but lost track of the official route. When I look back at the hike it was fun, I like things a bit different 🙂
Suggestion: Make sure you take enough food and especially water with you. It’s also handy to pack a raincoat, as the weather can suddenly change.
In the evening we enjoy a delicious Mexican meal at our hostel. You can sign up for this very reasonably priced meal. The tables in the breakfast area are nicely covered and the only light in the room is the light of candles. It’s super cozy and the food is really delicious! We have a nice table and chat until they kindly request us to continue our conversation outside.
The next morning I decide to face my fears and go horse riding. Many people recommended this tour to a waterfall and the horses seem very well looked after. I’m together with an American man and our tour guide Alfredo. The first ten minutes I wonder what I got myself in to. Respect for all horse-riding people. I know how to steer to the left and right and how to stop the horse. But when it turns out that we’re mainly going to ride at a trot, I feel very uncomfortable. No, I don’t think I looked like a bag of potatoes, but not very charming either. It never was clearer to me where my seating bones are. But giving up is not in my nature, so I just keep on going.
At the top of the mountain we have a beautiful view over the valley. We descend through narrow paths and hairpins curves. It’s very steap. You can imagine that I was still thinking about goig further by foot, but I just held on tight and tried to relax. And with succes, until…we have to cross a river. With my camera in my hand I make a last-minute photo and hold on tight to my saddle. The first part of the river is deep, I seriously thought the horse had to swim. Feet up and try to keep my camera dry. Succeded! 😉
After that we cross the river one more time and walk over narrow paths, through grass, rocks, mud and through two tunnels after which reach the waterfall. Remarkably, I was getting used to the horse riding and I was really enjoying myself. The nature is so increadably beatiful! Just surrender and rely on the arts of this beautiful creature. But secretly I took pity of the horse as well, so every now and then I petted him on the neck. No idea if the message was received.
Enjoy the moment! This is so beautiful!
At the waterfall you could swim. I didn’t know upfront, so instead of a refreshing dive into the water (it’s 12 degrees) I admire the many colored butterflies. Wow, there are so many different kinds here! Beautiful! After this stop we take the same route back.
I’ll never forget his new experience, which I physically carry with me for a few more days 😉
In the afternoon I’m chatting with a Dutch couple on their private terrace. At La Serrana you can either camp with your onw gear or rent a tent. A tent with a beautiful view and a normal bed and closet. Glamping it’s called nowadays isn’t it? We enjoyed a beer and the view!
After that, I have dinner at the hostel again. This time it’s a barbecue. The meat is already baked and together with delicious salads and jazz music there’s a very special atmosphere. Having dinner at long tables amongst a cozy atmosphere. Love it! After dinner we enjoy the campfire.
Tomorrow morning I’ll leave this very special place. It’s special for various reasons… I’m heading to the city named Medellin and its flower festival this weekend. It’s suppose to be one of the biggest festivals in Colombia, so I’m very curious! I didn’t know upfornt, just found out by coincidence yesterday, so it already feels like a nice bonus!
Hilarious ai-moments in Salento:
- When you’re working on your blog in Colombia and big flying insects are drawn to the light from your computer screen.
- When you’re heaving a tough time hiking for 2 hours and find out you took the wrong path.
- When you’re just getting comfortable enough to take a picture while horse riding and the horse suddently crosses a river.