A Day Trip To Cocora Valley from Salento, Colombia
Salento is a small town located in the heart of the Colombian Coffee Region. This small town is packed with colorful buildings, charming streets and cute cafes everywhere you turn. During the weekend you will find the town very lively with lots of people and lots of music. One of the main reasons why you are probably in Salento is to visit the famous Cócora Valley! A green lush valley as far as the eye can see. This valley is home to Colombia’s National Tree, the Quindío Wax Palm. These super tall giants can grow up to 60m tall! The Cócora Valley is an easy day trip from Salento. Here’s everything you need to know before visiting the Cócora Valley!
How To Get There
The coffee región in Colombia is known for its famous Willy’s or Jeeps that are used as transportation. You will see them all over Salento and you will probably be riding one if you visit the Cocora Valley. Colombian farmers refer to their Willy’s as “mulitas mecanicas” (mechanical mules). You might see them loaded with everything from bags of coffee to fruits, veggies and of course tourists! You can easily get to the Cócora Valley by Willy. All you have to do is go to the ticket booth in the main plaza of Salento (where all the Willy’s are parked) and buy your ticket. The cost is $8,000 COP ($2.56 USD) round trip per person. As soon as the Willy gets full, they are off to the Valley. Save your ticket as you can redeem it once you are ready to come back. There will be a Willy stand in the Cócora Valley ready to bring you back to Salento.
Ways to Explore the Cócora Valley
There are a few different ways to explore the Cócora Valley. You can get a guide, rent a horse or explore by foot. Our preferred method was to explore by foot. It is one easy path and you really can’t get lost! The total hike can take anywhere between 4-5 hours depending on how much you stop to rest and for pictures.
Now for the BIG tip!
There are 2 main entrances to the Cócora Valley:
Blue Door (where the Willy’s drop you off)
Finca La Esperanza (walk 10-15 min past the blue door)
The blue door is where EVERYONE starts their trek. For this same reason, it is very full most of the time. We met some locals who recommended we start our hike at Finca La Esperanza for two main reasons 1) you will be walking down the steep part vs walking up 2) you will have the path almost all to yourself.
Boy were they right… we were so glad they gave us this big tip! The Cócora Valley is NOT a walk in the park. There is a part which is very challenging and you are almost crawling your way up a very steep hill. Not to mention the bottleneck of traffic from everyone trying to cross the path. Now if you are going the opposite way, you won’t experience this at all. Starting at Finca La Esperanza allowed us to reach the amazing viewpoints before anyone else and have them all to ourselves! Do yourself a favor and start your hike at Finca La Esperanza so you have the energy to really enjoy and take in the beauty of the Cócora Valley. BUT, if you are fit and up for the workout start at the blue door.
If you start at Finca La Esperanza you can also make the hike shorter if you’d like. Looking at the map above, you start your journey following the red arrows and come back following the blue arrow route. If you don’t have time, this route will allow you at least get a chance to see the Palm Trees and take some great pictures.
There is also an option to visit Acaime Casa De Los Colibries (House of Hummingbirds). You can eat here, have a coffee or refreshing drinks while enjoying the hummingbirds. This place is located an additional 20-30 minutes out of the regular Cocora Valley trek. We did not visit this place, but we did hear from others it is a cool place to check out if you have additional time. (Please see map for location of Acaime).
Cost of Cócora Valley
Depending on what you want to see, there will be different costs for each person who decides to visit El Valle Del Cocora. The following are the costs:
Entrance to Finca La Esperanza: $3,000 COP ($0.96 USD) per person. If you decide to enter here, there will be a guy charging an entrance fee.
Entrance to Acaime Casa De Los Colibries: $5,000 COP ($1.59 USD) per person. This is the fee to access the Hummingbird House and enjoy the views they have to offer.
Entrance to Bridges: $2,000 COP ($0.64 USD) per person. We had to pay a fee to use the bridges that are located towards the end of the Cocora Valley trek. There will be a person waiting to charge you after you complete the walk though the bridges. (If you decide to start your trek at the blue door, you will be charged before you enter.)
What To Bring
SPF: the Cocora Valley is much higher than Salento making the sun that much stronger. There is some shade on the hiking path, but some parts do not have shade at all. Bring plenty of SPF.
Water: we brought a liter of water for each and that was plenty for us. There are shops and restaurants before you start the hike where you can stop to buy a refreshing drink or water. There is also a restaurant when you reach the Finca de la Montaña where you can stop to rest and enjoy the views.
Good walking shoes: it was not raining when we visited Salento, but we did hear it does rain a lot. Some areas of the trail were muddy so bring some walking shoes you do not mind getting dirty. You might also want to bring a rain coat if you are visiting during rainy season.
Snacks: there are so many beautiful areas around the trail that all you will want to do is sit down, enjoy the views and eat your snacks!
Cash: if you are looking to buy anything on the trip, make sure to bring cash as cards are not accepted. Also, bring small bills to pay for the entrances.
If you are planning a trip to Colombia, make sure to make time to head down to Salento. Once you are in Salento, a day trip to the Cocora Valley is a must! Enjoy the trek and wonderful views!
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