colombian diary - 3rd chapter - salento: fifty shades of green

With this title I'm only trying to lure you into reading this chapter. In reality there are millions shades of green here in Salento. Before creating this place, God must have had a good night sleep and in the morning his favourite breakfast. And then he tossed countless trees and bushes and flowers on majestic mountains and created a paradise outside of paradise.

Sunrise over Quindio.
(Caspar David Friedrich was a wimp.)
After finishing his work, God felt a bit tired, therefore he quickly invented coffee plants of the highest quality and added them to this region that we call Quindio. It is Colombia's smallest departamento and its coffee region.

The other man's mountains are definitely greener. 

Coffee cherries 

Then good people came and constructed a chess board of cute little houses, and since they were in such a good mood being in this rich and lush environment and animated by their third cup of coffee, they painted them in bright colors. And they gave the place the Italian name Salento, because Italian is world's most beautiful language, and this place deserves only the most beautiful.

Salento's busy high street carrera 3

Salento by night

In Salento, food is synonymous to trout. At every restaurant you can order about five types of preparation; there are even trout burgers.
This one here is "trucha dorada" with "patacon gigante", a giant chip made of green plantain. 

As things go, pretty attracts tourists, consequently there are packs of backpackers occupying the small place, and many shops and restaurants jumped on this global fusion-vegan-yoga-bandwagon. As a side effect, local people are much less friendly than in other places. Because, have I told you that Colombians are the most polite and friendliest people ever? Because they are. They are warm and welcoming and sweet.
Another very traveller friendly custom is that they don't cheat, take advantage, try to sell you everything or talk you into something. Having been to quite many other places where people are also very friendly so they screw you over with a smile, I really love Colombian vendors, cab drivers, bus conductors, receptionists - basically everybody I had to deal with by now.

Valle de Cocora
(It looks so mushy 'cause it's way up in the clouds)

For obvious reason, activities around Salento are all about nature: hiking, horse back riding, more hiking, swimming at a waterfall, hiking uphill, hiking downhill, and when you're tired, there's still hitch hiking.

The most unique and superb part is the Valle de Cocora located about 7.5 miles from Salento. Once you get there, there are several trails through the jungle that are not designed for couch potatoes. Because they are not designed at all. You have to climb over rocks and roots, wade through mud and horse dropping (because couch potatoes can do most part of the track riding), cross improvised bridges and climb pretty steep parts.

Creek Crossing 

Almost halfway up you can make a rest at an enchanting hummingbird reserve containing different species of hummingbirds as well as other birds and wildlife. That sounds cozy but the detour up to the reserve was for me the hardest part. Finally reaching there I was soaked in sweat and freezing in my sopping wet shirt once I cooled down a bit. Nevertheless the short break is refreshing before the last bit of mountaineering.

Going downhill you are rewarded for all the hardship by fantastic views of the Valley: On a bright green velvet grass carpet stand hundreds of wax palms that grow to a height of 150 to 200 ft. And since they grow only in the Andes of Colombia (and a small part of Peru), they are named after the region Quindio "Ceroxylon Quindiuense". A majestic name for a majestic tree.

Green on Green 

On the serpentines around Salento Willy-Jeeps are the most common, comfortable and fun way to get around - and to school.

Did I inspire you? Planning on going to Colombia?
Get detailed information on the most interesting destinations that I've travelled bye:myself.

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