Five Things To Do When You’re In Salento
Salento was one of the highlights of my visit to Colombia. Set in the country’s Zona Cafetera, or coffee district, Salento is a charming little town where you could easily find yourself extending your stay. It’s beautiful, the people are friendly and it’s where you go to take a look at the tall wax palms. While I spent most of my 5 days in Salento relaxing after Medellin, here are a few things to try out.
Hike the Valle de Cocora
Easily the most well known attraction in Salento is the nearby Cocora Valley, where you can hike to see a valley of wax palms that look to be straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. This is a full day affair, so make sure you have the time to really appreciate it. Of all the things I did in Salento, the Valle de Cocora was my absolute favorite!
Play A Game of Tejo
After a beautiful day of hiking the Valle de Cocora, we piled into the local bar for an exhilarating game of Tejo. Tejo, a game of gunpowder and beer, is probably one of the best games I’ve ever played.First, the barman will get you a drink. Then, you’ll be allowed to choose a weight that you feel comfortable with and he’ll explain the rules of the game. Basically, you throw your weight from a distance and attempt to make it hit both the horseshoe and the pocket of gunpowder, all of which have been stuck in a clay pit.
There’s a whole points system based on where the weight lands but obviously the main goal (and clearly the most exciting part!) is making the gunpowder explode. It’s surprisingly difficult, addictive, and warrants a deliriously happy screech any time you make an explosion. Coming from a Canadian province filled with rednecks, I think I could make a killing opening a Tejo bar back home.
Watch the Sunset
From the center of town you can see a bunch of brightly colored steps up a hill. Head in that direction before sunset and climb the stairs to the top (or, there’s a road one block to the left of the stairs that you can walk up as well). Once you reach the final stair, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of a valley on one side and the town of Salento on the other. If you’re traveling with a partner, it makes for a super romantic activity. I saw a few happy couples taking in the sunset and was only slightly jealous.
Go on a Coffee Tour
You’re in the coffee region of Colombia so you really should take in a coffee tour. From town, you can walk over the yellow bridge towards the dirt trail that will lead you to a few coffee farms. You will pass by La Serrana hostel and from there, it’s another 4km to the farms. I highly recommend the small, family-run organic farm of Don Elias. For just 8,000 COP we were given a tour through the finca and shown where the coffee beans are dried, etc. and finished off with a delicious, freshly-made brew. The other option is the much larger farm, El Ocaso.
Check Out the Waterfall
From the nearby town of Boquia, you can access the Cascada Santa Rita if you’re in the mood to find some waterfalls! We all know that I LOVE to chase waterfalls in any destination that I can, so it was extremely disappointing that I didn’t actually go to the waterfall myself. But, I’ve heard it’s extremely cold (but refreshing after a sweaty hike!) and pretty to see, so you should go. You can even make a full day of it by going on a coffee tour in the morning and, instead of hiking back the way you came, keep going until you get to Boquia and then, from Boquia, continue over a yellow bridge and through a finca to Cascada Santa Rita.
Considering I spent about 5 days in Salento, most of my time there was relaxing after two weeks of crazy in Medellin. So, whether you’re looking for tons of activity, a chill place to relax for a little while or a nice balance of both, Salento is the place to do it.
The streets are lined with shops for your shopping pleasure – or, window shopping pleasure, if you’re on a serious budget like me. I did manage to score some cheap jewelry to curb my shopping addiction, though. And when you’ve had enough of those, there are plenty of cafes for the moments when you need to just have a good chat or read a good book with some tea and cake.