Salento & Valle de Cocora

 

After spending 4 weeks in Medellín, Sam and I were craving some nature. Medellín is a beautiful city, but I am afraid I haven’t fallen in love with it – at least not like I thought I would. The digital nomad hub I thought this would be, turned out to be quite hard to integrate in on my terms. More and more I am beginning to realize what my success factors and requirements are for a great city and area to live in. Medellín has a lively vibe, great food, is safe and has beautiful neighbourhoods, so it is however a great city to spend some time!

One thing I find super important in a city, is nature. Crickets and bird songs when I wake up in the morning, sunsets in the evening and trickling water in a brook somewhere in the background.

I’m actually describing Salento here. A city 7-8 hours by bus from Medellin, from where you can start hikes, see amazingly colourful houses and where there are superb airbnb’s that are close to mother earth. Where the nicest people in the main square smile at you, are interested and laugh with you for your lack of Spanish when you enter a crowded bus, but then they try to talk to you anyway. What a breath of fresh air Salento was, literally!

 

How to get to Salento from Medellín?

Medellín has two bus terminals. A terminal in the North and a terminal in the South. For Salento, you need the Terminal Del Sur; the terminal in the south, next to Poblado. There are two ways to get to Salento: with a direct bus and with an indirect bus.

The indirect bus is bigger and we heard from other travelers that it is more comfortable. This bus goes from Medellín to Pereira, where you have to transfer on the smaller bus to Salento. The trip takes approximately 8-9 hours, depending on traffic.

The bus we took was with Flota Occidental, a bus company that has a ticket booth in the Terminal del Sur. We booked our tickets the day before as the bus has different travel times, and we wanted to take early morning bus that leaves at 9 AM. This bus takes around 7 hours depending on traffic. The bus to Salento took us 9 hours, but from Salento to Medellín it took us only 6,5 hours. We think that was because we were traveling on a Sunday the second time, therefore, weekend 🙂 this bus was good for us because it was comfortable, there were toilets in the back of the bus and there was a short break after around 3 hours, where we were able to buy some snacks for on the road.

Our first impression

And there we were! After a long trip we were ready to check into our Airbnb. We took the first taxi we saw, since our Airbnb was located around 10 minutes driving from Salento. When we entered the premises, we were stunned. 

A cabin near the river was waiting for us. We’re not talking about a babbling brook, but about a full-powered river. Our Airbnb had no lock on the door, but it was super safe as we were in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by the most beautiful flowers, grass, mountains and hummingbirds. It. Was. Amazing. Our bathroom was separate and the cool breeze touched my naked skin after taking a shower, practically, outside, in nature. In the evening, we realized that there was only one downside: the WiFi was bad.

And how we worried. How we worried that we had to go back to Medellín because we were really dependent on WiFi. It was 9 in the evening and we were worried sick. The air was humid and we crawled closely against each other under the blankets of our bed. Then something amazing happened: we started to laugh. We laughed are asses off. We made a joke about everything, laughed about the tiniest things until we were almost crying and then we slept like babies. The next morning we went to one cafe that we were told about by another traveler, the Jesus Martin Cafe.

We were so pleased when we found out they had 30 mb/s WiFi. Oof, these digital nomads were SAVED.

Salento surprised me with her colors.

Red, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink… all these amazing colors we were wowed by when we first entered the town! We walked around in awe, took in every street view and were also surprised by how little tourists were walking around in this stunning city. We saw almost no tourists! On each of the edges of the city you will find Miradores: a viewpoint over the mountains and vast nature that surrounds Salento. If we ever were to go back, we would do a multiday trekking into the mountains surrounding Salento. We did not have the time or funds for this now, but we both have the idea we will be back someday.

Hiking the Valle de Cocora

Our 3rd day in Salento we spent hiking the famous Valle de Cocora trekking.

We got up at 06:30, packed some breakfast and walked to the main road, waiting for the bus to take us to Salento. In Salento there would be jeeps that would be able to take us to the Cocora Valley.

That WOULD have happened, if it weren’t for the car that stopped in front of us! A Colombian girl asked us if we needed a ride to Salento. Yes, please! In the car we quickly realized she was going to the Valle de Cocora as well, so we could drive with her all the way there! That was so kind and a great begin of our hiking day!

The trekking took us 4,5 hours. We did the route clockwise, where the normal tourist route is anti-clockwise. This way we avoided a steep climb of 45 minutes.
I was very happy with that decision.
I freaking hate climbing.

The best part of this hike for me was not the part with the big palm trees, but the scenery all around during the hike and the idyllic wooden bridges we came across near the end of the hike, crossing them in full jungle surroundings. The fog that appeared over the valley during the day was breathtaking and took care of my desire of unique photos (:

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