Coffee is one of the things Colombia is famous for, so we had to visit the coffee region, Eje Catero. We decided to stay in a small town, Salento. This small town is popular with backpackers and holidaying Colombians and is unbelievably busy at the weekends.
Where to stay
We stayed in a hostel called Posada Martha Tolima which was possibly the friendliest place we have stayed at so far, the location is great, its located a couple of blocks down from the main square, rooms have private bathrooms and breakfast is included in the rate. The staff offer advice about anything from the best things to see to where the nearest laundry is. We paid 60,000 pesos (£15.00 or $20) night for the two of us, which we thought was a great price.
What to do
We lost our first day in Salento due to an unexpected delayed arrival into the town so we only really had one full day to explore.
Valle Del Cocora
We decided to visit Valle Del Cocora. To get there you have to take a 4X4, the pick up point was in the main square. A lot of the advice online suggested that you had to get there very early otherwise the 4x4’s will be full, we arrived at 1030 and we were ok. The agency will wait till 10 or 11 people are ready to go and then call another jeep, they are jam packed with people standing holding onto the back and nearly sitting on each other’s laps, but it was a fun journey and the drive is beautiful.
As Dani didn’t get to do the horse riding she wanted to in Tayrona we decided to do it here. Depending on how long you want to ride depends on the cost. We opted for the 2 hour ride which was 40,000 pesos (£10 or $13.70) it was a little bit more than we wanted to pay but we really wanted to do it.
The scenery there is beautiful from the minute we arrived the views were amazing. After an hour of riding our guide stopped for us to walk down to a waterfall that we weren’t expecting. The majority of the ride is flat but there are parts that are very steep, we both nearly lost a limb and Danielle’s ray bans were nearly destroyed by a horse shoe but we survived and were so glad we did the ride in Valle del Cocora instead of Tayrona.
There are plenty of tourist coffee farms to visit that offer the tours in English or Spanish teaching you about the coffee production. From our hostel you could walk downhill to one coffee farms or catch one of the 4x4’s in the square again. We thought the 4x4’s were a little bit expensive to get to the farms at 50,000 pesos (£12.82 or $17.24) this price is for the jeep not per person so its ok if there are a few of you but just for us two it was too much, the jeep will also stay with you the whole trip.
Parque Del Cafe
There is also a coffee park in Montenegro, this is more tourist than the other attractions in the area. Whilst you will learn about the coffee production it’s also an amusement park. We didn’t go this time as we wanted to stay in Salento but Dani has been a few times.
You have to try Trucha (trout), this dish is famous in this region. The best way to eat it is with lots of garlic sauce, it’s so tasty. There are plenty of restaurants in Salento that will serve the dish but we tried it in Valle Del Cocora after horse riding. It costs 8000 pesos (£2.05 or $2.75) and the portion is huge, it comes with rice and patacones (which were the best Danielle had tasted yet).
How to get there
We came to Salento from Bogota, the bus ticket was 50,000 pesos pp (£12.82 or $17.24) a journey that we thought was 7 hours turned into a 10 hours journey leaving us in Armenia at 9pm and the last bus to Salento was 8pm. This was the first time we had travelled during the day and if we can prevent it, it will be the last time, we wasted a whole day travelling. Plan accordingly make sure you’re in Armenia before 8pm or it means extra cost of a taxi which costs another 50,000 (£12.82 or $17.24) but if you take the bus its remarkably cheaper.
Next up is Cali for the Festival Petronio Alvarez.