Lynn & David travelling in South America travel blog

Wax Palms, Valle de Cocora, Salento, Colombia

David crossing bridge, Valle de Cocora, Salento, Colombia

Valle de Cocora, Salento, Colombia

Bird (as yet unidentified), Valle de Cocora, Salento, Colombia

Bird (as yet unidentified), Salento, Colombia

David picking coffee, Salento, Colombia

Valle de Cocora, Salento, Colombia

Jeep - car for Jacob, Salento, Colombia

Willys - car for Jacob, Salento, Colombia

Sunday 4th May 2014

Bogota to Salento, Colombia

This morning we had breakfast and left the hotel in Bogota. There was very little traffic early as it was Sunday. On Sundays in this city, many of the main roads are turned over to cyclists and even at 7:30am, we saw many cyclists taking advantage of the otherwise traffic free areas. It was fine and cool today as we headed south. Bogota is extremely large and extends for many kilometres to the south of the city centre. Houses are built on every hill, seemingly no matter how steep. There are thousands of new apartments being built and the city has quite a deal of manufacturing industry within its boundaries. About two hours after we left the city limits we struck a major traffic jam due to some landslides – not sure whether they were caused by rain or maybe an earthquake – we were delayed quite a while as we headed into the mountains through beautiful scenic countryside with steep sided green canyons that were often totally cultivated from top to bottom. We stopped for lunch at a viewpoint/café/truck stop. After lunch we climbed higher and higher. The government is building major new roads in this area and part of the construction entails bridging deep chasms and constructing many tunnels. We climbed right to the top of the mountain range, experiencing absolutely stunning views on the way, and then down the other side through the cloud forest – there were hundreds of trucks on the road. At around 4:00pm we arrived in Salento, a historic hilly town with a large square, where we stayed in a very nice hotel. We went straight out for a walk and to have a look around the markets. The town was very busy today with day trippers and local people. After we bought a few things, we headed back to the hotel for a short briefing about tomorrow’s activities. We then went out to dinner and shared a beautiful trout meal in a temporary restaurant out in the square. Then back to the hotel and to bed around 11:00pm.

Monday 5th May 2014

Salento, Colombia

Today we planned a walk and a visit to a coffee plantation and at 9:00am we (12 of us) were picked up by 2 Willys vehicles (like Jeeps) and driven out to the Valle de Cocora. At the Valle de Cocora there are stands of wax palms, the national floral emblem of Colombia. These trees are very tall – up to 60 metres high and up to 200 years old – and they grow on very steep hillsides. The view of this landscape was very beautiful, green and lush. Once we were dropped off with Pedro, an English speaking guide, we walked on a track down into the valley with Pedro telling us about the trees, birds, and local people. We then crossed two flimsy wooden bridges across streams and then up a steep hill to a farm where we had sugar cane juice served to us. The juice was hot and sweet and not really Lynn’s taste at all. After resting there for a while we walked back the way we had come, then were transported back to the town and our hotel. By this time it was about 1:00pm, so we walked up to the town and had a light lunch then walked up a steep flight if steps to the town lookout for the view. We then went back to the hotel to meet up with the group again and were transported to the coffee plantation for a tour. We heard about the plantation and were then allocated wicker baskets which we tied around our waists and were sent off into the bushes to pick ripe coffee beans – which was fun. We then followed the process of how coffee was made in the various farm sheds. It was very interesting and the plantation was a beautiful place. The visit concluded with us being shown the correct way to make coffee and we all had a cup before leaving. A heavy rainstorm came while we were driving back to the hotel. Had a bit of a break then out to dinner for a trout meal and back home at about 8:30pm.

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