Salento is a beautiful village surrounded by eye-catching scenery and is one of the oldest town in Qunidio. This Town main relies of coffee and trout farming. Salento has earned it’s touristic attraction due to its closeness to Valle del Cocora.
Salento has a hippie vibe that every backpacker would fall in love with. Here is a list of things you can done whilst in this lovely town:
1. Visit a coffee farm (finca) – Finca Ocaso offers 1 hour tours every 1 hour starting from 9am until 4pm for COP$10,000. During this tour, you will get to understand more about the quality of Colombian coffee, and about the importance of coffee to this region. You get to be a coffee picker, and after you understand the whole process from planting to roasting, you will even get to taste the first class coffee produced in this Finca. For a more elaborate explanation, this Finca will soon start offering 3 hour tours for COP$50,000 where you get to see the processing of coffee beans.
For a detailed blog about coffee production in Colombia click here
2. Valle del Cocora – this valley has one of the most beautiful landscapes in Colombia, and forms part of the PNN los Nevados. Here up to 60m wax palm trees, which are Colombia’s natural tree, stand tall in the valley. If you like hiking (which is highly advisable) a 4 hour adventurous hike over hanging bridges takes you to this lovely valley. Before starting the trek, just after being dropped off by the Jeep, make sure that you go right and into the blue gate. If you don’t like hiking, you can still see the Valle del Cocora valley by not going into the blue gate and taking the left path. This trek can be done for free.
3. Bird watching – whilst trekking the Valle del Cocora, you can take a small detour to see humming birds at the Reserva Natural Acaime. Round about half way through the trek you’ll see signs taking you to this direction. You’ll need to pay COP$5,000 to enter this park.
4. Take a ride in a Willy – the classic WWII jeep look fantastic parked in the square. They are still used as the main means of transportation around Salento, so you are most likely to hop on 1 on your way to
Valle del Cocora or to go to a Finca. For Valle del Cocora, the Willy works as a Collectivo, whereby the jeep will wait until a minimum of 6 passengers show up, and each will be asked to pay COP$3,600. It can get quite packed, as they manage to fit up to 13 passengers in these tiny jeeps (5 people would be standing on the back bumper) – but it’s a guaranteed adventure. For the Fincas, you can also use the Willy, but it doesn’t work as Collectivo. The price is of COP$25,000 one-way. So if you want to avoid the 1 hour walk, and still go with the Willy, find some people to Tag Along with you so that you can share the fee.
5. Horse riding – you can ride horses at various parts of the park. Horses are used both as an adventure for tourists, but also as a means of transportation to the coffee farm, Valle del Cocora, or to nearby waterfalls. Prices vary depending on the location and duration.
6. Shop & Dine on Carrera 6 – this is the busiest main street in Salento, and gives the village its vibe. From artisan shops, to restaurants, to grocery shops, to clothes shops and snooker pubs – you’ll find it all in this 300m street.
7. Alto della Cruz – at the very end of Carrera 6, you’ll find a long flight of stairs that will take you up the mirador. Once you go up the stairs, you’ll see a big cross of Jesus Christ, and several stalls selling the regular street food, and art. There some nice swings for the child that still lies inside you.
8. River & water fall – when you are atop of Alto della Cruz, you can hear the sound of a stream of water. You can follow the downhill path towards the sound of the sound of the water. It should take you around 30 minutes to get there. Do not leave this as an activity for the afternoon because it gets really dark, really fast and it would be hard to find your way up after dusk.
9. Salento's Mirador – if you don’t feel like trekking much, you have the possibility to rest for a while, under the shade of a wooden structure. This gazebo provides a beautiful lookout over the valley, and is a great place to have a snack while admiring the great views.
10. La Plaza - Salento has a very large plaza which becomes alive during the weekend with bars playing salsa music and people dancing the night away. Make sure you try Patacon from the street vendors in the square.
11. For the adrenaline junkies - make sure that you go up to the Family Park; Recreaciones Salento, which is mid-way of the stairs as you are going up to de la Cruz. Here you can do a human catapult that shoots you 18meters high up in the sky, in 2 seconds at 70km/h. You will also get 3 instances of free fall, and is a great, unexpectedly fun experience overall and costs just COP$15,000. At this park, you can also find fun ride for kids, like a bouncing castle, rock climbing, trampoline and air guns. The prices vary from COP$3,000 to COP$5,000.
12. Zip line – fly over Salento’s 50 meter high valley on a zipline that spans 200m, and you get to do it twice – going and coming back. It is located at the end of Carrera 6, to the right. It only costs COP$18,000 and is an experience that will rekindle your flame that would have been slightly tuned-down by this chilled-out town.
13. Play Tejo – make sure that you enjoy a traditional gun power game of Tejo at Los Amigos. You’ll be charged COP$4,000 for each beer (COP$5,000 for the first one), but the game is free. It basically consists of throw small weights into a designated area, whilst trying to aim a target. If you hit dead-centre and get an explosion it’s 9 points. It’s great fun, and the explosions combined with beers make sure make it a fun night out.
Overall Salento is a great town away from the hustle and bustle of the adjacent city Armenia. It takes 6 hours to get here from Medellin and costs COP$42,000 for a ride on a mini-van. It’s a surprisingly bumpy ride in which you’ll only get 1 break mid-trip – so prepare your snacks and bowel movements accordingly. Leaving Salento and going to Bogota; you’d need to take a 1 hour bus to Armenia COP$4,200, and then you’d need to catch another 7-hour bus-ride that costs COP$35,000. This bus is fully equipped with Wifi, movies, and even a toilet.
Check out the video about all you can do in Salento, here!