Salento and Cocora Valley

Our Travel Video

Cocora Valley

One of the main attractions of Colombia is the Cocora Valley. The Cocora Valley comprises of rolling hills with grass at lower altitudes followed by cocora palms amid forests at higher altitude. The Cocora valley is named after its Cocora Palms which are endemic to this place and do not grow anywhere else except parts of Peru. They can grow upto 200feet, twice as tall as coconut trees! The altitude of this national park varies from 1800 meters to 2400 meters ensuring year around mild weather. The Cocora Valley has a 5 hour round trip hike which consists of 7 river crossings followed by Acaime (humming bird garden) and then La Montana and lastly the Cocora Palms. So we decided to go in the opposite direction, as we were mainly interested in Cocora Palms. A 15 min walk in opposite direction leads to first sightings of the Cocora Palms. This trick saved us a lot of walk and gave us more time to enjoy the Cocora Valley. From the first sightings we went all the way up the hills for another half an hour. The views were absolutely breathtaking. The mighty tall palm trees rising over the lush rolling hills and cloud sweeping in, made for some unforgettable moments. We were in Salento for 3 full days and nights, so we visited this valley on two different days. One day it was super sunny while the other day was cloudy. This is a rainy area, so usually it is cloudy and sometimes due to heavy rain, the valley is closed. So plan to stay in Salento for a few days just in case it rains out!

The jeeps in Salento Main Square takes the visitors to the Cocora Valley which is just a 15 min ride one way. A left turn from the Willys/Jeep drop point leads to a blue gate. The path to the right of the gate is a 5 hour round trip hike. We took the path to the left of the blue gate straight to the Cocora Valley. This path continues for miles and you have the freedom of choosing your own spot for a picnic! You can't go wrong with this route as long as you can afford a half an hour hike to one of the peaks/vantage points. This national park is not crowded at all, so one often feels secluded in this mighty landscape without much effort.


To the west of Bogota is a mountain town Salento. We took a flight to Pereira from Bogota, and took a taxi (an hour drive) to Salento. Salento is famous for its coffee plantations and also serves as gateway to the famous Cocora Valley.

We stayed in a beautiful hotel El Jardin 5 min walk from the main square. The town is very beautiful and has lot of tropical fruits especially a 10 months supply of mangoes.

Coffee Farm Tour in Salento

We took the Finca Don Eduardo Coffee Farm tour at Plantation House in Salento. The Coffee tour was very informative. We got an insight into the process of production and roasting of coffee beans. We also tasted 3 different roasts (light, medium and dark ) of 2 different varieties of coffee.

Coffee timeline: Bean (green)-> ripe beans (yellow for Caturra, red for Tipica) -> de shelled beans-> dried-> roasted-> ground coffee-> ready for Coffee!

Roasting the Coffee Beans

Roasted Coffee beans

Powdering the roasted coffee beans

Creamy coffee is due to the freshness of the powder!

Birds of Salento and the Cocora Valley

Colombia is rich in bird bio diversity. It is home to 20% of bird species found on earth. Andean Motmot can be seen in picture above!

Some more colorful birds we found were Golden-fronted whitestart , Beautiful woodpecker (Melanerpes pulcher) endemic to magdalena river valley of colombia, Turquoise dacnis (Dacnis hartlaubi) which is an endangered species endemic to Colombia and a rarely seen, Buff necked Ibis , Grey-Blue Tanager and Sparkling Violetear Hummingbird. Tropical Kingbird can be seen in picture above.

Rufous-collared sparrow

Sparkling Violetear Hummingbird

Grey-Blue Tanager

Turquoise dacnis (Dacnis hartlaubi)

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