Medellín being surrounded by mountains, we need to reach a col to leave the city. There is nice road going down hills towards the little village La Pintada before to go up hills again in the mountains.
The most famous coffee production area in Colombia is located in the triangle made by the cities of Manizales, Pereira and Armenia.
The little village Salento is in the heart of this triangle. Salento is a touristic village, also famous for being at the entry of the Cocora Valley where excessively tall palm trees are growing.
Salento kept a colonial architecture. On the main square, there is the departure spot of the Jeeps to go trekking in the valley. After crossing the streets with artisans, we can go up hill to reach the mirador for enjoying a panoramic view over the village and the surrounding mountains. When going back down, we invite you to stop at the bar “Los Amigos” to discover a local game named the Tejo while tasting a craftbeer from the area.
Around Salento, there are many coffee farmsnamed “Finca” in the mountainside. There are farms of all sizes and for all tastes. So, do not hesitate to get more information to visit the right one! We have opted for the “Finca Acacias”, a small family exploitation where we have discovered, between the coffee plants, the secret of this brown gold before to enjoy a coffee tasting.
The trekking in the Cocora Valley is a true breath of fresh air, starting with a journey holding the boot of a Jeep. Once arrived at the bottom of the valley, we went up to reach La Casa de los Colibris (the Hummingbird’s House) by crossing many rivers with rope bridges. This houseis reached after a 2 hour climbing. It’s possible to drink a hot chocolate with cheese whilst enjoying the hummingbirdsflying around us. Once relaxed, we climbed again to reach the second refuge, the highest point of this hike. Then, there is a nice slope until the starting point, in the middle of the huge palm trees named wax palm trees are impressive with their 70m high!
We carried on our journey on the Pan-American Highway and we reached Popayan. This Colombian city is also named the “White City”. The historic town Centre kept its colonial architecture with white-frontage houses. Churches are indeed numerous in Colombia but they are one at each corner of this city. They have the specificity to be colourful and to have altars with beautiful gildings.
Just before the Ecuadorian border, we did a stop in Ipiales. The city is a bit austere but located on a strategic point. The border is only 10kms away towards South. In addition, 7kms away towards East, there is the sanctuary of “Las Lajas”. This is a beautiful basilica built in the heart of a canyon. The first religious building dates back to the middle of the 18th Century and was built after the discovery of a painting on the rock showing the Virgin Marie holding Jesus in her arms.
This building has been increased over centuries to create a majestic basilica which has been finalised in 1953.
The next day, we left Ipiales at the dawn as we wanted to cross the border the quickest possible.
We arrived at the border at 7am but many Venezuelans were already in the queue. Travelers that we met on the road told us about this, and indeed it’s very hard not having any feelings about this situation. They are waiting patiently and don’t saying anything when they see Europeans passing in front of them as there is a specific line for European citizens.
We managed in less than an hour to get the stamps proving that we left the Colombian territory. Plus, gave back our temporary Colombian importation document for the sidecars (only 5mins for this). Then, we crossed the bridge separating both countries before to go to the Ecuadorian immigration desk to get our visas for the next 90 days. Here again, in only 5 mins we got our stamps for the visas. We needed a few more minutes for the importation of the sidecars. Overall, crossing this border took us 2 little hours. All the paperwork have been done by a nice and smiley staff.
Let’s go to Ecuador for our next adventures!
OUR FAVOURITE PLACES
What to visit?
La Casa de los Colibris (the Hummingbird’s House)
We won’t hide it from you too long… if you wish to visit the Hummingbird’s House, you will need to make a small detour of 2 kms during your hike in the Cocora valley. But this additional is well worth the effort to worn your shoes a little bit more! First, because a drink is included in the price of the ticket and enjoying a hot chocolate (you can opt for El chocolate con queso – which is a Colombian speciality!) for a break during the hike is great! But above all, watching the show offered by the hummingbirds flying around is impressive! With their trajectory, their high speed and when they are hovering over to. We could stay hours. A delicious moment for eyes and taste buds.
Finca de las Acacias
This is maybe not the most beautiful, the biggest or the easiest to access but we recommend this “finca” without a doubt as we have been very well-welcomed. This visit has been done in a simple way but in a good and communicative mood with the wish to share a passion more than a job. A true moment of sharing which ended with the tasting of a treasure: a Colombian coffee!
Where to eat?
El Patio de Mi Casa
This is an enjoyable place where to eat the local dish which is the trout named here “Trucha.” The place and the staff are nice, and for the most important: the garlic trout is delicious! The only bad point is the price which is still accessible but expensive, probably due to the city being very touristic. We still highly recommend it!