I was never a big hiker until I undertook a multi-day trek in Nepal a few years ago. While I still can’t really claim to be a hardcore hiker, I do take time for hikes a lot more often now. The distances, the physical challenge and the long hours don’t scare me anymore… In fact, it’s now what I’m drawn to!
Ten years ago, when I visited Colombia, I spent the little time I had in the country visiting my local friends instead of visiting the country. Though I never regretted that decision, I was bummed to have missed out on what seemed like one of Colombia’s highlights: the Cocora valley. “I’ll just have to come back one day” I said…
And come back I did! Ten years later, I finally had the chance to visit the Cocora valley in Colombia! What was even better, this time around I was actually into hiking!
This hike was not only a highlight in Colombia for me, it was one of my favourites of all times. Not too long, not too strenuous and full of gorgeous and unique views.
We headed to the town of Salento, the hub for hikes in the valley. I found the town itself to be very touristy but extremely charming. We spent our first day in Salento wandering around, walking in and out of little boutiques, eating tasty dishes and drinking incredible coffee, straight from the source.
The next day we woke up shortly after dawn to start our hike. From the town square, a bunch of jeeps were waiting to bring hikers to the valley. The ride to the valley in itself was absolutely stunning! I would have loved to walk there like some people did, but I figured walking those extra kilometres would be pushing it. Besides, a ride hanging from the back of a willy jeep seemed so much cooler!
Because it had been raining the days before our arrival, we rented some rubber boots from a kiosk at the beginning of the trail. They turned out not to be necessary but I was happy I could walk freely, jump into mud pools and cross small creeks without a second thought.
The scenery kept changing as our hike progressed. From farms, to jungle, over hanging bridges, through flower fields…
Finally we arrived in an exotic fairy tale setting…
The tall wax palms skyline. Just incredible!
I never really understood how it was possible that we didn’t see any of the other hiker during our whole time in the valley. Especially because we started out with so many. We did the somewhat shorter version of the hike, skipping the hummingbird station, Acaime. No regrets here as we saw lots of humming birds on the way.
A word of advice for anyone thinking about doing this hike, leave as early in the morning as possible. You’ll have magical morning light to start your hike with, you’ll be less likely to get caught in the rain (it often comes down pouring the afternoon) and you’ll avoid the crowds. Just check when the first jeeps leave and make sure you catch one. It’s a half day hike so don’t forget to bring water and some snacks!
Did you know about the Cocora Valley? Would you put it on your bucket list?