Siesta in Salento - Salento, Colombia

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February 29th 2016
Published: March 30th 2016
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After my trials and tribulations in getting to Salento I checked into my hostel (Hotel Las Palmas $11) and knew that this was going to be a special place. My first day here I wandered around the town to get my bearings and to see the routine here in this sleepy village. Apparently this region is known for its wild trout - trucha en espaniol - that flourish in the Rio Quindio in the valley below Salento. I have had wonderful grilled fish for lunch here in town ($4). After lunch I walked up the hill to the Mirador that is perched above the Valle de Cocora and was rewarded with this stunning panorama.

After seeing the view I knew that the next day I would go into the Valle de Cocora and see everything first hand for myself. This was the main reason why I had come to Salento. Nothing could prepare me for what I was about to see. I went to the main square in town and booked a jeep ($1.50) to take me to the trail head in the Valle. On the ride there I met Tomas - a German, his girlfriend Sonya - a Colombian, Tim - English, and his girlfriend Julia a Canadian living in London. These were to be my hiking buddies for the day.

The Valle de Cocora is famed for its wax palm trees that shoot strait up from the rainforest and meadows some 60M high in a vain attempt to brush the cloud forests above. These trees are hauntingly beautiful. The mountains and valleys in this area of the world are like nothing I've ever seen and are the most striking and dramatic landscape I've experienced to date. I've never witnessed anything as beautiful as this. I hope to be able to say that many more times before this is all said and done.

This is why I've come. That feeling is what I've been chasing and days like this help reinforce the notion that I've made the right decision, although I still struggle with this. Hiking through the valley and into the rainforest I could not help feel like I was in Jurasic Park and I had more than a few Indiana Jones moments.

At the end of the trail at the top of the mountain there is a nature preserve that has quite the hummingbird population. Wonderful creatures these are to watch. For the entrance fee of $2 you also get a piping hot cup of hot chocolate and a hunk of cheese to break up and put into said hot chocolate. Strange combination, but it was really good. Right about then a massive rain shower came over the mountains and into the valley bringing quite the deluge. The five of us waited it out at the reserve. I could have sat there all day.

This would be a day that I won't soon forget. What a great experience. The hike was 5K each way up steep and uneven terrain. It was not easy by any means. My knee held out very well and is only a touch sore. A good confidence booster for the Ciudad Perdida hike to come later this month.

My day was capped off by another delicious trout dinner and a few Aguilas at Donde Mi Apa Fonda which is a quaint little bar overlooking the central square in town. They play traditional Colombiano music via record player. The place has over 20,000 vinyl records. I've made this my local joint and at $1.25 per beer you really can't beat it. My company for the night was two sisters traveling Colombia together. One from Denver, the other from Orange County. What are the odds? Small world. I'm finding it hard to leave here. I was going to leave today but I think I'll stick around for a bit. Maybe I'll take a horse ride to a coffee plantation. That sounds nice.

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