Salento is a small village located in the heart of the coffee triangle. This village is one of the favorite places for backpackers to stay. Salento is used as base from which you can head out to see the 50 meter high wax palm trees in the Valle Del Cocora, to taste coffee at one of the surrounding coffee farms, and/or to do outdoor activities such as hikes and bike tours. We stayed in Salento for two nights but often backpackers stay longer because of the many outdoor activities, the laid back vibe, and the low cost of living.
The village is famous for the brightly painted houses and the Willys, small WOII jeeps that are used as taxies. It is the perfect stop to lay back, get lost in the wilderness, and improve your tastebuds with coffee while you’re heading from Cali ← → Medellin or Bogota ← → Medellin.
– Valle Del Cocora
Take one of the Willys from the city square (middle of Salento) to the Valle. It’s a 45 minute ride and costs 3.000 COP per person. Just make sure to be on time. The Willys wait for the car to be full before they head out so keep this in mind. They leave approximately every half hour. If you want to get the full experience, hop on the back of the jeep so you have a nice view of the beautiful surroundings!
There is a 2 or a 5 hour hike through the Valle. We did the 5 hour walk in a little over 3 hours, including stops to take pictures (and to catch breath every now and then). The hike is what we like to call ‘Nike proof’ (doable on your running shoes: you will have enough grip and they don’t get dirty). We were advised to rent rain boots by the hostel but we’re glad that we didn’t because it would have been really uncomfortable. The track had some puddles but we could jump over it or walk around it.Though if it has rained a lot it might be wise to rent them.
We advise to go early in the morning (07:30am) to beat the crowd that will arrive later in the morning. All the Willys will leave Salento at the same time when filled up, so you’ll arrive with everyone at the same time at the track. Even though we love company, we prefered to do the hike by ourselves to enjoy the nature at most. Tip: the hike starts at the blue gate on the right side of the street.
– Coffee farms
There are many coffee farms in this region. We visited Don Elias, which is located about an hour hike from Salento. If you’re tired of walking you can take a Willy (25.000 COP). Don Elias’ farm provides an 1 hour English tour on their property. Don Elias is a small self sustainable farm that doesn’t export their coffee beans, they only sell them to locals and you also have the chance to buy them and take them home. Of course you’ll finish your tour with a cup of self made coffee, the best coffee we’ve had in Colombia. The tour starts every hour until sunset. (6.000 COP)
– Outdoor activities
Salento offers a variety of outdoor activities, you could rent bikes at almost every hostel, you could go dirt biking, go on hiking tours, etc. We didn’t have enough time to do other activities than the activities above but for us these were enough.
We really recommend this restaurant, it was our favorite! Lucy serves a typical Colombian dish with either meat or fish which is served with avocado, potatoes and, like every traditional Colombian dish, a lot of fried stuff. The dish is 6.000 COP and served with a plastic cup with lemonade. You’re allowed to bring your own drinks, which can be bought in the grocery store next door.
– La Floresta Hostel
Nice hostel which organizes different kind of tours and you can rent for example rain boots for the hike. They have large common areas so there is enough space to relax, especially in the hammocks in the garden! When we were there was some construction going on so sometimes it was a bit noisy. Still, a very good option to stay! (55.000 COP for a double room)
Since Salento is a really small town, everything can be done by foot, except for the hike and if you don’t have the time or the energy to walk to the coffee farms, you can take Willys as described above.
– Bus Cali – Salento
The most convenient way to get from Cali to Salento (or the other way round) is to take a bus from Cali to Armenia, and then a small bus from Armenia to Salento. The bus ride from Cali to Armenia is comfortable and takes you 4 hours. When you get to Armenia, just say that you want to go to Salento (just ‘Salento’ is sufficient) and they will point you in the right direction. You will hop on a minivan that will stop everywhere, and thus it will take you one hour to get to Salento and though it is not as comfortable as the trip from Cali to Armenia, it is fine. (Cali – Armenia 20.000 COP, Armenia – Salento 4.000 COP)
Are you planning to go to Salento? Or if you have already been there, what was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!