One of the most famous sights to see outside of Salento is the Cocora Valley, which you can hike through and it is wonderful. In this guide, I will tell you everything you need to know to enjoy this hike to the fullest and not get lost on the way. I loved my experience here and hope you will do the same.
Shout out to Carrie from Trains, Plains, and Tuk Tuks for helping me absolve this hike and giving me all the details I needed to know beforehand. If you need any more information after this article, go check out hers here.
Cocora Valley Hike Basic Information
When I first read about this hike I was a bit intimidated. I was not a big hiker in the last couple of years and was afraid I would not be up for the 5 hour round hike. However, have no worries, you do not need much skill for this hike. All you need is good energy and a bit of endurance. Everyone can definitely do the round walk.
Further, it did not take me 5-6 hours, which is what they say. I did not do the Colombri house (I will tell you all about what it is later), so that would add another hour to your trip. Without it though I did it in 4 hours including an about half an hour break for lunch.
Since the hike does take a while and you might get hungry, make sure you bring some food. I bought myself a packed lunch from the amazing restaurant, Brunch. They have a smaller package for 15000 pesos which includes a sandwich, a small brownie, water, homemade granola, crackers, homemade peanut butter, and a cute note. I was super happy to have this and be able to eat it once I reached to Cocora Valley.
How to get there
The only way to get to the beginning of the Cocora Valley Hike without a car is to take a jeep. You can buy a return ticket at the little booth on the main square of Salento and it costs you 4000 pesos one way. Make sure you buy a return ticket since sometimes jeeps charge you more on the way back or they let people with tickets on first. The ride should take about 45 minutes, although if you go on the weekend and you are not super early it could take longer due to traffic and popularity.
Clockwise (Left) or counterclockwise (right)
If you are looking into the Cocora Valley Hike or are talking about it with people, this is a debate you will hear frequently. Since it it a loop, you can start either way and see the same things but both have advantages and disadvantages.
Clockwise means you will see the Cocora Valley first in the morning when it is still completely empty and you can take all the photos. You will also have a wide and nice path to walk up to the viewpoint. There is one very steep part that you will be able to walk down instead of up. Downsides are that you will have seen the thing you can to see at the beginning so now you just hike to finish. Plus you are with the crowd since this is what everyone does.
Counterclockwise you will walk through the forest along a river on your way up. It is nice and shady and relatively quiet since few people choose this path and not many have made it all the way around yet. You will have to walk up a steep part, but it only takes about 20-30 minutes and it is doable. This way you will also see the Cocora Valley at the end of your hike and therefore feel like you have been rewarded for your journey.
I decided to go Counterclockwise and would always do it this way. It was emptier and more calm of the way up and I enjoyed the view at the really end. I will be writing the article in this order, so if you walk the other way you will see all these in the opposite order.
Walk through the lower valley
You will start your walk the same road that everyone walks on and then turn right to walk through a big light blue gate. You will walk by a restaurant in the first ten minutes. You will eventually reach a checkpoint where you will have to pay the 3000 pesos entrance for this part of the Cocora Valley hike. If you decide to hike up to the Colibri farm, this fee will go up to 5000 pesos but include some refreshment up there.
The walk through the valley will take about one hour. If you look up in the first half an hour you can see the Cocora Valley from the bottom, which is a really strange but interesting sight. This is one of the only parts of the hike that is in the sun, so sunscreen is suggested. It is relatively flat, but the path is narrow so not the simplest to walk.
The climb up
There are two parts to this climb. The first is relatively easy and not much steeper than before. It will take you about thirty minutes to reach the more steep part. Follow the sign towards the Colibri house. It is still the same path here. You will notice where they separate. You will come across about four or five bridges while walking along the small stream. It is great walking up here since it is shady and cool because of the water.
Once you reach the point where the road to the Colibri house road turns to the right, the climb to the top starts. This will take you another thirty minutes and will be quite difficult. Make sure you take enough breaks and drink water whenever you need it. While it is really tiring and the road is not too wide, once you reach the top, the view is gorgeous.
If you are worried about this part of the trip, there is no reason to. As long as you are somewhat active in your normal life, you should have no problem walking up. If you decide that it is too much, you can always do it the other way around and walk down.
The walk down
Once you have reached the top, you will have to walk back down. This is the easy part of the trip so no worries. The path from here on is wide and proper. You will meet many people on the way up. Make sure you look out since the views around are gorgeous. it should take you around one hour to walk down through the forest to reach the Cocora Valley.
At the end of this part, you will reach another gate where you will have to pay 4000 pesos to go through the Cocora Valley. You will not be able to continue without paying this fee.
Cocora Valley Hike
The last twenty minutes you will be walking to the actual Cocora Valley. If you have brought lunch, this is a great place to stop to eat it. There are many miradors along the walk where you can sit down for another ten-fifteen minutes or longer to enjoy the view you walked three hours for. Once you reach the bottom, you just follow the path back to the jeeps and take it back to the center.
You will also see many people stopping to take pictures. I would suggest you take some too at least to show family and friends because they look so strange. This part of the trip will be really busy if you do the walk this way round, but still not too bad. If you want to see if completely empty, start the walk this way around.
Those are all my tips for the Cocora Valley Hike. I hope this guide will make it simpler for you to do the hike during your trip to Salento. If you need more ideas on what to do in Salento, check out this blog post, and look out for more to come in the next few weeks.
If you have your own tips for this hike, I would love to hear them in the comments below.