Mountain climbing The Valle de Cocora in Colombia: A How-To Information for Travellers

Most individuals journey to Salento for the aim of mountain climbing the Valle de Cocora – a surprising trek with cartoon-like bushes dotting the panorama. Colombia’s nationwide tree is the Wax Palm, which at 60 meters excessive is the tallest palm on the planet. This trek is stuffed with them! When you’re searching for a ravishing day of mountain climbing round Salento, the Valle de Cocora is for you.

Right here’s our how-to information for visiting the Valle de Cocora (Cocora Valley).

travel to salento hike the valle de cocora in colombia
Oh ya, this hike was wonderful!

Getting There

To get from the city of Salento to the trailhead, you’ll have to catch a trip. The journey is about 30 minutes by car, so that you most likely received’t wish to stroll all the way in which to the Cocora Valley and then begin mountain climbing!

Catch a shared willy (jeep) to the valley from the principle sq. in Salento. The fee is three,600 COP ($1.00 USD) / individual. Theoretically, jeeps to the Valley depart from La Posado de la Plaza six occasions per day: 6:10am, 7:30am, 9:30am, 11:30am, 2:00pm and four:00pm. These jeeps then return to Salento an hour later.

When you miss the scheduled time, simply go to the plaza and also you’ll most likely discover that there are sufficient individuals wanting to go to the Valle de Cocora. When you ask properly, more than likely the willy drivers will make an exception. (Word: not as soon as had been we ripped off by willy drivers in Salento. They had been at all times tremendous sincere and extremely pleasant!).

travel to the valle de cocora in salento colombia
A jeep (willy) in the principle plaza – that is the place you’ll catch a trip to the trailhead

Willys can maintain about 7 individuals comfortably. However, it may possibly additionally maintain 11 (considerably uncomfortably) if four individuals stand on the again bumper whereas holding on to the roof rack! A bit sketchy, however enjoyable ?

When you don’t wish to await the jeep to replenish, or there are not any spots left on the scheduled jeeps, you possibly can pay for a non-public trip. We had to do that on the way in which to the Valle de Cocora as a result of all the willys had been booked up and we had been anxious to get mountain climbing! The price of a non-public trip was 35,00zero COP ($11), however we cut up the fee with one other couple. In the long run, we paid $5.50 for the each of us to get to the trailhead.

The Mountain climbing Routes

Initially, there are technically 4 methods that you would be able to hike the Valle de Cocora. I’m assuming that you just’re a reasonably match hiker, so I’m going to interrupt down all 4 choices, from most troublesome to best.

5 Hour Loop, Counterclockwise

Although that is essentially the most troublesome route, in our opinion, that is one of the simplest ways to hike the Cocora Valley. It took us nearly 5 hours to finish the loop with a lot of stops for pictures, movies, and admiring the surroundings (with out visiting Acaime or Estrella de Agua).

The best level of this route is at 2,860m (9,383f). The City of Salento is at 1,900m (6,217f) that means that you just’ll achieve about 1,000m (three,166f) in elevation.

travel to salento colombia valle de cocora
Stunning waterfall on the Valle de Cocora hike

Why counterclockwise?

1) You’ll get extra train mountain climbing straight up a steep mountainside to the very best level at Finca La Montaña.

2) Mountain climbing downhill on a steep incline is tough on the knees.

three) In case you are beginning your hike round 10:00am, the lighting in your views can be just about excellent while you finally arrive on the valley stuffed with Wax Palms round 2:30pm.

four) Our hostel, La Serrana, instructed we do it that method!

travel to salento hike the valle de cocora
Whoo Hooo! Let’s get mountain climbing

Instructions for the 5 hour, counterclockwise loop (with out veering off to Acaime):

  1. Proper the place you get dropped off you’ll see a blue gate. Flip proper and enter by means of the gate. Instantly, you’ll see a picket signal saying “Bienvenidos, and so forth”. You possibly can’t miss it.
  2. Proceed strolling straight, whereas descending down the hill.
  3. After about 40 minutes, you’ll arrive on the picket signal submit with “Fundacion Herencia Vero”, amongst different indicators. Keep to the correct of it.
  4. Even when it seems like there’s a fork within the highway, when you take the flawed method, it’ll be apparent inside minutes and you may backtrack to the principle path.
  5. You’ll cross quite a few rickety suspension bridges (5 or 6).
  6. Arrive at an precise T-junction within the highway with a picket signal saying “Acaime La Casa de Los Colibris” and one other signal with an enormous pink arrow pointing proper. That is the way in which to go for hummingbirds, earlier than backtracking again to this similar junction.
  7. When you don’t wish to go to the hummingbirds (we didn’t), then proceed up the hill on the left.
  8. You’ll go up, up, up for about an hour.
  9. Arrive on the Finca La Montaña with nice views. You possibly can cease right here for a drink and a break. Carry a picnic!
  10. Descending down from the Finca, you’ll hike for about an hour and a half on a large dust highway earlier than reaching the Wax Palm Bushes.
  11. Word: On the descent down, there are quite a few little “facet steps” that you would be able to take which lead you off the path to the left hand facet for only a few meters. When you see some apparent little paths, take them! The views of the valley are elegant. Additionally, there could also be a closed fence on the trail down, simply jump over it.
  12. After gawking on the palm bushes, full the loop to the left hand facet and stroll again to precisely the place you began.
travel to colombia hiking the valle de cocora
Having fun with the attractive views of the Valle de Cocora

5 Hour Loop, Clockwise

We seen that when you select to hike on this course, it’s important to pay some kind of entrance charge to see the Wax Palms (three,00zero COP, or $1). When you’re searching for a better hike (you’ll be happening that very steep mountain that we went up), then that is the route you’ll wish to take.

Go to the Wax Palms first and make your method as much as the Finca La Montaña. Sure, it’s nonetheless an incline, nevertheless it’s extra gradual than the out-of-nowhere, steep mountain from the counterclockwise route.

When you attain the picket indicators with the pink arrow and the itemizing for “Acaime La Casa de Los Colibris”, you’ll make a proper hand flip to proceed on with finishing the total circle. If you wish to go to the hummingbirds, simply proceed straight on for about 1km (zero.62 miles) to Acaime.

Mainly, do precisely as I listed within the first set of directions, however in reverse!

We met extra individuals doing the counterclockwise route than the clockwise route, however each are fantastic.

travel to salento colombia hiking the valle de cocora
The suspension bridges had been fairly rickety, good factor they weren’t that prime up!

Visiting Acaime and Again

If you wish to hike by means of the valley, over some suspension bridges and benefit from the lovely, lush surroundings…however with out mountain climbing as much as the perspective Finca La Montaña at 2,860m, then this route could be for you.

Comply with alongside as I listed in #1 above and while you arrive on the picket signal with the massive pink arrow pointing proper and the signal that claims “Acaime La Casa de Los Colibris” (the home of the hummingbirds), flip proper.

You’ll stroll for about 1km earlier than arriving at Acaime. Right here you possibly can see quite a few hummingbirds and have a drink of scorching chocolate with cheese.

Entrance right here is 5,00zero COP ($1.70).

After you’re completed on the hummingbirds, make your method again to the signal and switch left to return the way in which you simply got here.

The one drawback with this route is that you just haven’t been to the star attraction but – the Wax Palms.

The Wax Palms within the Valley, and Again

If in case you have been to the hummingbirds and now wish to see the bushes, OR when you simply wish to see the magical bushes, snap a couple of pictures and return again to Salento, then that is the route for you.

When you get dropped off by the jeep, you possibly can stroll straight alongside the paved highway and proceed till the highway turns to a mud path. This path is extremely apparent and after 30 minutes or so that you’ll arrive on the open valley with a great deal of Wax Palms surrounding you!

hiking the cocora valley in salento colombia
To present you some perspective – are you able to see me on the backside of that huge wax palm?!

Getting Again to Salento

After a beautiful 5 hours of mountain climbing by means of the Valle de Cocora, we made our method again to Salento by jeep. There’s a very small parking zone the place the jeeps will arrive and wait to replenish with passengers, earlier than heading again to city. They are going to wait to have eight individuals earlier than departing again to Salento.

When you end your hike and nobody is round to share the jeep with you, simply wait at one of many 4 or so small outlets serving drinks and primary fare – the contemporary fruit juice is scrumptious!

The final jeep again to Salento from the Valle de Cocora is at 5:00pm.

 

What to Carry

We didn’t deliver a picnic with us, however actually wished that we had. A terrific spot to cease and eat is on the Finca La Montaña, or at one of many small lookout factors on the left-hand facet on the way in which all the way down to the Valley. And really, among the eating places on the town will create a boxed picnic lunch particularly for the trek. Take a look at Brunch or BetaTown.

When you don’t wish to deliver a picnic, a minimum of deliver a couple of snacks (fruit, plantain chips, nuts, and so forth.). We introduced 2.5L of water every for the hike, and we stuffed up our empty bottles on the Finca La Montaña.

hiking the cocora valley colombia
Views from the summit at La Finca Montaña.

The solar could be very intense at this altitude. When you’re fortunate sufficient for the solar to be shining, be certain to deliver sunscreen with you.

Talking of solar shining. This space is a cloud forest that means that it receives fairly a little bit of rain year-round. Based on Wikipedia, the Valle de Cocora is the driest in July when it receives three.74 inches of rain that month. The wettest month is October when it receives 10.98 inches of rainfall.

We had been there on the finish of November. Quite a few days main as much as our hike, the valley was lined in low-hanging clouds, it was pouring rain and the paths had been extremely muddy. However, as a result of we determined to remain in Salento for every week, we had been in a position to wait out the rain and had one of the best climate for our hike!

hiking the valle de cocora colombia
We’re so glad we had sunny climate! Take a look at these bench views ?

Hold the rains in thoughts when planning your journey. We met a pair who took 9 hours to finish the 5 hour hike as a result of they obtained misplaced as a result of thick cloud protection! Additionally, you could have to deliver a rain jacket and waterproof footwear.

A Spotlight of Colombia

The Valle de Cocora is thought for being not solely a spotlight of a visit to Salento, however Colombia as a complete. This hike was in contrast to another ones that we’ve accomplished prior to now and we cherished the various surroundings alongside the way in which. We suggest tackling the Cocora Valley in your subsequent journey to Colombia and hope that you just discovered this information helpful ? Glad and (hopefully) dry trails!

To get a greater concept of the trek, take a look at our video from the Valle de Cocora:

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Hiking The Valle de Cocora in Colombia- A How-To Guide for Travellers

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