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Four things to do in Salento

Salento is the ultimate tourist destination in the “coffee triangle”, popular with backpackers likewise Colombian tourists as well.

We arrived there after visiting Jardin, the place we enjoyed the most during our time in the country, in other words, this put the bar high for Salento.
In the end, we had a good time and the town lived up to its fame.
In short, experiencing this place means chilling in the village, eating some trucha and playing Tejo, but on the other hand, as well exploring the hills and the surroundings.
Like that you will understand why this destination is a sensation for people visiting Colombia.

Here’s our simple guide so you can make the most out of your visit.

#1 Visit a coffee Finca

Firstly as you already know we are coffee lovers and we couldn’t resist visiting another coffee plantation, even if we already had explored one: la Victoria in Minca.
However this time we were looking for a different experience, a small scale unique type of farmstead.
Consequently, we chose to visit Finca of Don Eduardo, this small tour is not the one that your hotel will recommend to you, but it is definitely the one you should think to visit.
Above all, they make things different from other tours in Colombia, quite original, modest scale and this was very cool for us to see.
Tim and her wife bought the terrain a few years ago and they keep it as a compact family business, in addition, they run a hostel, The Plantation House, which was the first hostal of Salento.

colombia green finca banana plantation café

The actual visit

There are two options, firstly one at 9 am in English (with Tim the owner) and secondly another one at 3 pm in Spanish.
We chose to take the one in “Español”, ran by Don Jose, we were the only ones to take the tour of the plantation that afternoon so we had the finca just for us! (If you understand Spanish we strongly advise you to make the visit at this time, therefore you can avoid the hoard of gringos looking to take the English option).
Don Jose made us walk all around the property, after that, he explained us the process of the coffee, meanwhile, he prepared different types of brew, each one with a different roast. To sum up, it was a world-class cafe degustation!

finca coffee maker
finca coffee workers portraits
finca sunset plantation
coffee roasted hand finca

We were lucky to see some workers handling the coffee, which certainly mad the visit an original experience.
The next afternoon we went back to roast our own coffee to take back home after the trip.

Cost : 30 000 COP / person for the tour (around 2 hours)
25 000 COP / person for roasting your coffee.

#2 Hike the Cocora Valley

On everyone’s to-do-list for Salento, this hike is truly remarkable, the landscapes you will find here are unique in the whole world.

Featuring the wax palm tree, a Colombian national symbol, you will be surprised by mountains and a valley covered by this 60-meter giants.

Cocora valley green palm tree
colora colibri flower
palmtrees
palmtrees cocora

You will have a few options to walk:

  • Make the 12 km road, finishing by the river which gets really muddy (around 5 – 6 hours)
  • The short walk, just around the palm tree forest. (Around 1 – 1h30 hours)
  • Do whatever you want! That’s why we decided to do the circuit completely on the other sense. We went up to Finca la Montaña, had a warm coffee, and went back down the same way. As a result, we were alone during all the walk, therefore no photobombs and we had the chance to see the good views before all the fog and low clouds covered the valley. (We took 4 hours including coffee and lunch breaks).
colora valley map

Practical Info

Cost : transport (8,000 COP / person)
Entrance had a cost of 3,000 COP / person.

How to get there ?
4WDs leave the main square at the following times :
6.10, 7.30, 9.30 and 11.30 in the morning, 2 and 4 p.m. in the afternoon and take around 30 – 35 minutes.
We advise taking the earliest trip, like that, you will avoid large amounts of people and most importantly lighting conditions will be better !

palmtree

#3 Play Tejo

Do alcohol and gunpowder sound like a good combination? Not quite! But actually, you can spend your afternoon drinking beers and blowing things up! This is possible in Los Amigos, a Tejo court in the middle of Salento.

What is Tejo you ask ? Well, this is a typical sport / pastime in Colombia, we didn’t know about it until we visited the coffee triangle, specifically Salento where this activity is promoted for the tourists.

How you play it? Basically, you throw heavy metal balls to a target, with the objective of making a gunpowder sachet explode. if you hear “boom” and spot some smoke coming out you have made yourself some points !

tejo
tejo
tejo
salento

Cost : This is a play as you drink sort of place, and it pretty much only sells beer and Aguardiente.
Each person who wants to play has to purchase a beer (3500 COP per beer), plus pay a supplemental 1000 COP per person for the little sachets of gunpowder and rights to use the Tejo court.

#4 Eat and drink amazing coffee

Food

The food was not a highlight for us during our trip to Colombia, that said Salento was the place where we enjoyed the most our meals.
Actually, the area is famous for a dish: the trout or trucha in Spanish, we ate one at Fonda de los Arrieros, who proclaimed to have the best trout in town.
The decoration of this restaurant is just a good reason to enter to eat or just have a beer. Think about ordering as well the meat stew, it is delicious!

Price list: around 10-15 000 COP the meal.

food fonda hat

If you are looking to eat cheap, El Rincon de Lucy is the place  to go,
for 8000 COP, you will have a soup + a meal (meat, trout or veggie) + a beverage. Decent food for the price you pay.

Having trouble finding this place ? Just look for the little Fonda where all the backpackers are eating.

On the other hand, if you need a small change from arepas and truchas and if you are feeling fancy, Bernarbe is a good option for tapas and wine. (don’t expect the best wine of your life and remark the word fancy!)

Coffee

By far our favorite joint to eat and to have a coffee was Le K’fee.
They serve a really nice espresso, good healthy breakfast, and international lunch with açai bowl, avocado toast, salad, and quiche.
Certanly a paradise for Floriane and for those looking for a break from the Colombian fried food.

street salento

A nicely decorated place, kind staff, and most importantly one big name in the coffee world Cafe Jesus Martin, is an institution and pioneer of the coffee serving process.

Two steps away from the main square you will find this awesome cafeteria, where you can spend an afternoon sipping on good cortados and eating delicious cakes.

Above all, the WiFi connection was probably the best we found in Salento.

coffee

How to arrive to Salento ?

Wherever the place you arrive from, firstly you will cross Armenia or Pereira where you can take a cheap collectivo (urban bus) for 1 hour to Salento.

For us, coming from Jardín it was a real mission to get there :

Bus1: Jardin > Rio Sucio at 8 am, 4 hours road to make 50 km (16 000 COP)
Bus2: Rio Sucio > Pereira at 12:30 pm
Bus3: Pereira > Salento 4:30 pm (collectivo, or urban bus)

man with a hat red street
city man portrait salento

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4 things to do in Salento

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