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Travels in Columbia Part 2 – Coffee, Armenia and Solento

Travels in Columbia Part 2 – Coffee, Armenia and Solento

Coffee, Armenia and Solento

Tallest palm trees in the world, Cocora Valley, Colombia

coffe beans, Salento, Colombia
So I had spent a few days in Bogota alone. The next part of my journey was on a group  tour. Again if you have the time it’s possible to travel independently.I had just travelled independently through Panama and Costa Rica and had some time to explore alone at the start and end of the tour. I wanted to see as much of the country as I could in a short space of time, so a tour seemed the best option. It also included the 5 day Lost City trek with an indigenous guide. It was a 22 day tour with G Adventures.

I met up with my fellow travellers, an eclectic mix of ages and nationalities. The next day we flew to Armenia and the coffee region. En-route we stopped off at a local market. There were lots of fruit and vegetables, flowers and hot dishes and the biggest avocados I have ever seen, they tasted wonderful. We got to try lots of tasty morsels and local fruits. 

lovely fruit at Salento marketPoinsettia Salento, Colombia me sampling fruit at a market, Salento, ColombiaAvocados, Salento, Colombia          I was a little ambivalent about visiting the coffee regions. I’m not a coffee drinker, I’m a builder’s tea drinker. If there was an option to skip this part I probably would have and I would have missed some of the highlights of the trip! A lot of the Haciendas/ranches are now provide accommodation. We stayed at Hotel Mi Monaco and it was idyllic. The views were spectacular especially from the restaurant, it was tranquil and quiet, the family were very welcoming. I had my own little cabin with a hammock outside. We’d stopped off at a supermarket in town for supplies – alcohol and snacks – and relax. In a hammock at the hacienda in Salento, ColombiaPool at out hacienda in Salento, ColombiaDining room at our hacienda in Salento, ColombiaThe food was delicious too and plentiful too. In the morning I got up very early, before anyone else. I love watching the forest come to life. There were Agoutis and so many birds. It was a lovely way to wake up and I appreciated the stillness and solitude 

An agouti in Salento, Colombia
Beautiful bird in Salento, Colombia
Lovely bird in Salento, Colombia
Christmas tree at our hacienda in Salento, Colombia
We were off to visit a coffee plantation. Colombia is the 3rd biggest producer of coffee in the world after Brazil and Vietnam. It was quite an experience.
Me and the Colombian flag Salento
View from the coffee plantation in Salento
Me picking coffee at the plantation in Salento, Colombia
Us dressing up at the coffee plantation Salento, Colombia
Dressing up in Salento, Colombia
It started with a coffee and for me a little dancing. Then a very informative tour around the farm with stunning vistas. We had a go at a bit of coffee picking, the slopes are very steep, then it was time for a bit of dressing up and more dancing. We played a game that was like dancing musical chairs. Lunch was fabulous food and lots of it, lots of local specialities. Some of the group went coffee tasting, for the rest of us a couple of beers and an amazing view. We had a lot of fun!

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A beer with a view, coffee plantation Salento, Colombia
In the afternoon we drove to a fantastic little, very colourful town called Pijao. Colourful houses, lovely ice-cream and no tourists. Also one of the best bars I’ve visited. The elderly owner had an ancient record player on which he played some salsa songs, cue more dancing.
Bar in Pijao, Colombia
Cowboy in Salento, Colombia
us at a brilliant bar in Pijao, near Salento, Colombia
View over Pijao, Colombia
What better a beer in one hand and an ice-cream in the other. Tonight at the Hacienda was more fine food, music and more dancing. It was sad to say goodbye to the Hacienda and the lovely family that owned it but there are lots more adventures to come. We were off to Solento, a colourful, funky little town. There are so many artists here, it’s full of individuality and quirkiness. Tonight we to the equivalent of our local bowling alley to play a popular game that involved throwing rocks at pieces of paper filled with explosive to try and detonate them.
Playing a local game in Salento, Colombia
It’s was also coming up to Christmas and they do love their Christmas lights in Colombia.
Christmas lights, Salento, Colombia
Hummingbird Christmas lights, Salento, Colombia
Church lit up for Christmas, Salento, Colombia
Christmas lights in a Salento street, Colombia
The following day we were hiking the Cocora valley, home to the tallest palm trees in the world. Transport was in open backed trucks, either standing or on the tailgate. It was a tad bumpy and there were some sharp bends and chicanes. I still didn’t spill a drop of my beer on the way back and managed to finish by the time we got back to the hotel.
Travelling in style, Cocora valley, Colombia
Standing room only to the Cocora valley
The scenery was spectacular and a little eerie. We had a fantastic local guide who told us all about the flora and fauna of the valley. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any tapirs, spectacled bears or pumas, all of which live in the national Park. It was though incredibly beautiful with an accompaniment of bird song.

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Me at the Cocora valley, Colombia
view over the Cocora valley, Colombia
The tallest palm trees at the Cocora valley, Colombia
Group photo at Cocora valley, Colombia
Enormous palm tree in the Cocora valley, Colombia
Me withe highest palm trees in the world, Cocora valley, Colombia
Tree hugging, Cocora valley, Colombia
Horses at the Cocora valley, Colombia
Lunch was trout caught locally from the river, it was fantastic. It was a great hike and a memorable day. When we returned to Solento there was time for a hike up to the hill overlooking the town. Fortunately there was a little stall at the top selling local hot spiced rum. I loved this funky, colourful little town. It has a fantastic feel about it. There was time for a little shopping and some beautiful handmade jewellery. Individually designed, it would have cost a fortune in a shop in London, here it was a few pounds. Happy to help the economy and local artists, I went back and bought more. More amazing food tonight and said a sad goodbye to Solento. We were leaving the following day for the long drive to Medellin. Part 3 to follow soon!

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