Salento, Colombia

Lush and beautiful Valle de Cocora

View of Valle de Cocora

View of Valle de Cocora

We were warned that the loop trail to Valle de Cocora is long, muddy, steep, and slippery. ‘It’s 5 hours long. Wear sturdy boots and be prepared to get muddy.’

The loop that everyone, from the jeep drivers to the hostel people recommend, looks like this: Trailhead – Acamai – La Montaña – back to trailhead.

After finishing the hike, Jack and I couldn’t help but think: the best part of the trail was definitely towards the end. Way towards the end. You know, the part where our camera battery ran out? AAAaaargh!

Anyway, it’s unfortunate that there seems to be an implication that unless you have 5 hour to spare, you won’t be able to see the palm trees at all. A couple of people at the hostel didn’t feel like they would be up to such a tough hike and were quite bummed at the fact that they might not be able to see the trees.

But see, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Acamai, a collection of huts with a population of resident hummingbirds, was nice, but unless:

– You really like hummingbirds and have never seen one before in your life
– You like a strong cardio workout (the stretch between Acamai and La Montaña was quite something)
– You’re feeling adventurous and in the mood to do multiple river crossings, some on very slippery logs
– You think your shoes are too clean and will improve with some mud stains

we’d recommend NOT doing the loop.

Instead, go towards La Montaña directly from the trailhead. 5 minutes on the nice, gravely, AND dry path you’ll see the famed wax palm trees that you came to Valle de Cocora for.

Keep going uphill until you see a bench (30 – 40 minute hike), then turn around back the way you’ve just come.

Be prepared to be continuously stunned by the beautiful sceneries.

Take tons of pictures.

Enjoy the admiring glances of the people back at the hostel at your still clean shoes.

One of the many river crossings in Valle de Cocora towards Acamai

The things you'll be missing out by not doing the loop: one of the many river crossings in Valle de Cocora towards Acamai

Valle del Cocora

– The jeep leaves the main plaza in Salento and costs 3000 COP ($1.75) per person.
– If you do decide to go to Acamai, for 3000 – 4000 COP they sell drinks served with a hunk of cheese.
– Horses are available to do the loop, but we were warned that due to the nature of the trail some horses have fallen on the trail and injured the hikers along.
– On the jeep ride back to/from, get a place in the back, stand up during the ride and feel the breeze on your face, enjoy the scenery, and laugh like little kids. Super FUN!