Maybe because it has the same name as home, I had a very good feeling about Salento. Still, this little town managed to exceed my expectations!
Located in the hearth of the zona cafeteira, the coffee region of Colombia, this town has so much more to offer than coffee farms, including hikes, a colourful architecture and awesome food.
Things to see and do in Salento:
- Visit the town and enjoy its colourful architecture
- Go up the Mirador
- Visit a coffee farm
- Hike Valle de Cocora and Los Nevados
- Play tejo
- Have a meal at The Brunch
Salento is such a nice town to just have a stroll through. We spent our first day there just walking around looking at the colourful houses and walls, having a coffee in the main square and chill. There are few spots to just relax here, so just grab a coffee and sit in the main square or have a long walk in Calle Real. Often there will be kids dancing or people playing music. There are also a few markets where you can buy (or simply look at) artisanal products.
After this very nice walk, we went up the Mirador del Alto. Although the 250 steps are tiring enough, the view you’ll get at the top will repay you for your effort. On the top we just spent some time looking at the mountains around, while sitting on a swing located on the top. Once on the top, you have two options: you can either go back down from the same steps, or you can continue your walk going down from a small and slippery platform on your left, which leads you to a “jungle” where you can descend all the way down to a river. Obviously, after you have gone down to the river you need to walk back up and down the stairs again. We really enjoyed the walk in the nature, Even though we could only go back down half way, due to the heavy rain.
One of the main things to do in Salento is a day trip to a coffee farm. We went to El Ocaso coffee farm and it was a lovely day out. There are three ways of getting there: a) you can walk there – it’s only a 2km downhill walk; b) get a jeep from the main square for 7,000 COP (return); or c) take an organised tour with your hostel. I think there is no need to go with an organised tour, and, if you do decide to walk, it is better to walk there and grab a jeep back, since going back is a lot of uphill. If you go on your own, you can just enjoy the landscape and the spaces, but you can also have a tour of the finca that costs 15,000 COP. I do recommend taking the tour, especially if – like me – you love coffee! It is an interesting you where they make you pick coffee seeds and show you the hole production process. However, the best part of the of the tour is at the end, when you get to try a very nice cup of coffee.
The main reason why most people visit Salento is to hike Valle de Cocora and, once you go there yourself, you understand why. Since this has been one of my favourite hikes, I will soon share a separate post about this, so stay tuned!
If you are looking for a way to spend your evenings in Salento, you have to try Colombia’s national bar game, Tejo. All you need to play this game is a stone, gun powder and a decent aim. There is a section filled with mud where you set up a circle made of small triangular bags containing gun powder. The goal of the game is to hit the triangles with your stone and make them explode. There is a perfect spot in Salento to play this game, a bar called Los Amigos, where you can play it for free. Gun powder and beer, what could go wrong, right? However, this game is not as easy as it sounds, and it becomes very addictive/ frustrating after a while.
A very popular place in Salento, and a must visit for when you are very hungry, is the Brunch. We read very good reviews and we decided to try it but after that we couldn’t stop going back. This place offers breakfast, lunch and dinner all day and it has such a big menu that even the pickiest mouths like me will find something they love, including lots of vegetarian options. Portions are huge and prices are low!
OTHER BITS AND PIECES
If you are looking for a place to stay in Salento, La Serrana seems to be the most popular and a must in Salento, despite being a bit outside the centre. When we were there, however, we stayed in a hostel called Tralala and it has been one of the best hostel experiences we have had during our travels. Definitely not a party hostel, it has a nice and relaxed vibe where you can still meet people! The staff is incredibly nice, they have laundry, a book exchange service, a dvd room and a big fluffy black cat. We ended up going back to Tralala also the second time we went back to Salento.
Colombia is famous for good coffee and, in the eyes heart of the coffee region, one would expect to have the best coffee of her lives. This really isn’t the case though, as most places will serve you instant coffee. However, one of the day we came across a little cafe I’m the corner called La esquina del sabor, where not only they serve a delicious breakfast for only 3,000 COP, but they also have delicious coffee and they let you choose if you want it light, medium or strong… definitely go for the strong one!
There are a few buses leaving for different places from the Salento bus station. We were going to Medellin from there and, even though it was low season, most buses were full. So, it is better to book your ticket at least the day before, since it looks it would be impossible to get a seat if you just show up on the day.
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