Salento and the Cocora Valley: hike under the palm trees
> Environment: mountain, river, forest
> Difficulty: easy
> Suggested season: December to March
> Average duration:1 day
> Total distance: 15 km
> Total elevation gain: 760 D+ and 760 D-
The reason why most travellers come to Salento is to admire the famous Bosque de la Palmas which is located at the entrance to the national park. But the most interesting option is to go hiking on a one-day loop to explore the Cocora Valley in its entirety. This route takes a path that climbs up to the house of the Hummingbirds, before descending to the forest of palm trees.
An early start is recommended for this loop that stretches across about 15 kilometres and takes several hours to cover. However, there is actually only one challenging section on this hiking trail: the climb that leads to the finca de la Montaña. Although the effort required is quite intense, it doesn't last too long.
During this one-day trek, which can be combined with another itinerary, you will have the opportunity to cross a wide variety of landscapes. You will start in quasi-alpine settings, where only the tops of a few giant palm trees betray your true location. Continuing the ascent along the path, you will reach a "cloud forest", i.e. an ecosystem typical of high-altitude tropical forests. You will then walk right through the centre of a lush jungle, and across various suspension bridges. Beware of vertigo!
As you gain altitude, the scenery will continue to develop and unfold. Before reaching the finca de la Montaña, a round trip to the hummingbird house is highly recommended. Colombia is home to nearly 120 species of this iconic bird of the steamy tropics. Retrace your steps to the finca de la Montaña, before completing the circuit towards the bottom of the valley.
This very easy hiking route, that is for everyone, can be done without a guide and without any particular physical preparation. Don't forget to bring some water and your picnic for the lunch break.