We arrive in Salento just before sunset, and when we wake up, clouds are enveloping the pretty town and rain makes us wet on our climb of the stairs to the viewpoint. After a while, the clouds lift a little, giving us a view over the town, but when we try to look into Cocora valley, we see nothing but greyness. A little later, we drive through the valley and see that clouds are lifting a little. At the end of the road, we see lots of cars parked, and realise that this is a primary destination for visitors. We park at the far end on a muddy field, get into our hiking boots, and head up the mountain. The weather turns out to be perfect. Cocora valley is best seen with clouds, and they are low enough to wrap up the top of the hills, yet high enough to show forests of the quindío wax palm trees that are endemic to this region.
Apart from being endemic, the wax palm trees are the national tree of Colombia, and therefore the valley was incorporated into the Nevados national park to protect them. We climb the gentle slope of the hill, passing under the tall trees that dwarf us; some even disappear into the clouds above. The higher we go, the more the crowds thin out. We get to viewpoints where the only view we have is of the tall trees piercing into the thick clouds above. We leave the wax palm trees behind, and reach a barrier in the forest much faster than indicated on the maps of the area. We decide to continue, have a short break at the highest point, the Finca la Montaña. The path leading down from here is at parts very steep and muddy, and we are happy to reach the floor of the valley where we take another trail up to the Acaime Hummingbird reserve.
The sun is now shining through openings in the forest. When we reach the end of the trail, we have a break and are offered a drink which is included in the admission price of the reserve. Few people make it here, we share the place with two others. It does not take long before we see hummingbirds, and I struggle to take a picture of the nervously flying birds that never seem to sit still. When we start descending to the valley, it is raining again. We cross the seven rickety wooden bridges spanning the Quindío river, and when the landscape opens up again, we see hills with the quindío wax palm trees towering above meadows with cows. At the very end of our hike, we find a restaurant right next to a trout farm, and have the freshest trout imaginable as a reward for our hiking. The sun is again burning through the clouds when we are back at the main road which is still crowded.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Cocora valley (Colombia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Cocora valley. Read more about this site.