So if you have been following me on social media, you know that I'm currently traveling through Colombia. This country has experienced a huge growth in tourism over the past couple of years and it is clear to see why. One of the most visited places in the country is Salento, Colombia, a small town in the coffee region. Here is everything you need to know from getting here to when you are here.
Note: This post is written about my trip taken in August 2019, so prices will reflect that time. They might change unexpectedly or over time. If this is the case, please leave a comment, so the information can be updated.
How to get there
There are two major ways to get to Salento, Colombia. One is through Armenia and the second through Pereira. Both of these are about 1-1.5 hours away from Salento, Colombia, and have airports you can fly to. Armenia is closer but Pereira tends to have cheaper flights. I traveled over Pereira so I will describe that process to you.
You fly into Pereira and need to get to the bus station. It is about 15-20 minutes away and should cost you about 15000 pesos. They will usually go by meter, so no worries. Also, there might be people coming up to you after you ask, checking to see if you want to share. I had this happen, which was great because it saved me money. At the bus station, you can buy a ticket to Salento, Colombia, for between 7000 to 8000 pesos. If the bus is leaving within minutes the bus driver might just make you walk with him and get in. You can then pay when you get off. The bus ride takes about an hour and a half and you reach the main square. Be careful when planning your trip, since busses only run from 6:30AM to 6:30PM.
There is plenty of hotels, hostels, and B&Bs to pick from here in Salento, Colombia. Many are smaller with few rooms, and all are close to the center. I decided to stay at the "El Viajero Hostel" which has great reviews online. It is approximately 40000 pesos per night for an eight-bed dorm. They provide breakfast and many activities. I had a really great stay and meet some great people at the hostel. You might want to check out their website if you are looking to stay here.
Things to do
There are about five things that are really common to do in Salento, Colombia. I have done most of them and will give you a detailed post about at least two of them in the next couple of weeks, which I will link here once they are posted. But until then use this to plan your trip.
This valley with palm trees is one of the main attractions. It is located about 90 minutes from Salento, Colombia and you can take a jeep to get there. From the base, you can take the short 2-hour loop to walk through the valley up and back down. The other option is the larger loop that officially takes 5 to 6 hours. It only took me around 4 including breaks, but just plan for a bit more to be safe. The long round will cost you a total of 15000, with 8000 for the jeep return tickets and 7000 total for different sections of the hike. I suggest doing the hike counter-clockwise through the blue gate, to walk up through the forest and down through the valley. I have a detailed post about it that you can head here.
The other big thing is to visit a coffee farm. There is a couple around the town, of which three are close together and the most popular ones to visit. I visited one of these and absolutely enjoyed it. I knew very little about coffee before coming so it was informative and the guide was great. It will take you about one hour to walk there or half an hour by jeep. The tour costs somewhere between 10000 to 20000 pesos depending on the farm. I will put all the details in an upcoming post, so nothing gets missed.
Walking in old town
While Salento, Colombia, is a small little town, there is still a cute street or two to see. They are very colorful in the style typical for Colombia and they have cute little shops. You will need no more than about 1 hour to see it all, but it can be a great plan for the afternoon if you are not up for long hikes or anything. There is also a mirador (lookout) at the end of the street, which you can climb and get a view over the whole town, which can give you a great idea of scale. It is not a must-do, but if you have the time, it can be a nice activitiy.
There are many companies around town offering horseback riding to the coffee farms and you can also do it in the Cocora Valley. Most of the horses looked healthy, but the road is steep and not someplace I would feel comfortable riding. Riding experience doesn't seem to be an issue although I would not do it if you are a complete beginner. If you want to do it, ask your accommodation where to book to get a proper service.
Hiking in the Sierra Nevada
The last thing that people decide to do in Salento, Colombia, is a multiday hike. Salento, Colombia, is located right at the base of the Sierra Nevada region. This region is perfect for a three- or four-day hike and to enjoy nature. There are gorgeous views and amazing nature. I have not done the hike myself, but have heard much good from people who have. The weather up there is quite cold, so make sure you pack accordingly.
One of the other great activities that you can enjoy all over Colombia is Tejo. While it is more played in the center, if you do not make it here, there is definitely a way to find it even on the coast. Many travelers coming through Salento, find this a great place to try this interesting local game. While it is the equivalent of playing billiard in Europe since it is historically played by men in beerhalls, it has nothing in common with the European version. Tejo consists of a slanted board made up of clay at the center of which there is a metal ring. On this metal ring, you place paper triangles filled with gunpowder. The aim of the game is to hit the center of the metal circle with the stone you are throwing while also making the triangles explode. I assure you, it is more fun than it sounds now and definitely worth spending 5000 pesos on.
Those are all the main activities you have to enjoy while in Salento. I loved my time here and I hope you do too. Please leave any of your own tips for the region in the comments for others to have an even better experience.