Overview of Valle De Cocora:
A short trip from Salento, Colombia lies a beautiful valley filled with native wax palm trees and picturesque views. Hiking the Valle de Cocora isn’t particularly challenging but there are a things to know before you start on your adventure. Valle de Cocora is a natural cloud forest which is close to the equator and elevation of 1800-2400 meters. Near the bottom the temperature can be warm, however towards the top it will likely be damp and misty. Expect a lot of mud on this hikes, so it might be worth renting mud boots if not properly equipped.
- Budget: Hostel Ciudad de Segorbe through HOSTELWORLD.COM
- Splurge: Hotel Salento Real through HOTELS.COM
Time and Cost:
- Entrance to Park: Free
- Entrance to Acaime: COP 4,000-5,000 (Includes Hot Chocolate or Coffee)
- Transportation Costs: COP 3,200-3,600 One Way
- Time Needed: 5-6 Hours
- Distance: 7KM/4.34 mi
- Trail Type: Round Trip
- Water (There is only water for sale at the start of the trail)
- Spending Money
- Rain Coat during the rainy season
- Lunch to enjoy while viewing the canyon
To start your adventure you should arrive in the center of Salento between the hours of 6 and 11:30. The jeeps that you take to the valley leave at 6:10. 7:30, 9:30, and 11:30, however they leave when they are full. Ideally you need about 5-6 hours to complete the hike so its best to grab the earlier jeeps. The last jeep to head back to Salento is between 5 and 6pm. The price one way and per person is COP3,200-3,600.
Once you arrive to the park there is really only one loop to take, which likely everyone in the jeeps will be taking. The trail is well marked and very safe, so don’t worry about getting lost or being robbed. You start the hike at a blue gate and descended downwards into the valley. For this part of the hike expect to get dirty as the path is constantly being cut up by horses! Its a fairly flat path however does gradually ascend as you hike along. Half way through you will reach the Quindío River and will be hiking through the the forest. You will pass over numerous wooden bridges heading upwards towards signs posted for Acaime.
As you get closer to Acaime you will see a sign post for Finca La Montana. Keep this post in mind as you will be back tracking in a bit!
After about 2.5 hours from the start you will reach Acaime. Acaime is a beautiful finca in the mountains that is home to numerous amounts of humming birds. The entrance fee to Acaime is COP 4,000 a hot chocolate or coffee is included in this price. If you want some cheese (queso) to go with your hot chocolate bring another COP 1,000!
After you’ve rested up a bit its time to backtrack and head towards Finca La Montana. Finca La Montana is high up in the mountains and leads you to the beautiful views of the valley and wax palm trees. The path is strait up hill, .8km from the sign post, and will take about an hour from Acaime. As mentioned, you should’ve noted this post already during your hike to Acaime.
Note: Ignore the sign posts for Estrella de Agua, this is for hiking in the Los Nevados and shouldn’t be done in a single day.
After you’ve climbed uphill take a break and relax, you now are at the highest point of the hike and its straight downhill from here. As you descend you will see the beautiful native wax palm trees and gorgeous views of the valley. The distance is about 4.5 km and will take about 1.5 hours to get down. Hopefully you haven’t eaten your lunch yet as there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy the view.
Overall the hike is relatively easy and provides some amazing views. Once you reach the end you can spend some times in the town and spend some extra in the shops if you see something that interests you.
Note: It is possible to do this hike in the reverse, which we’ve done. You will have to hike up longer but you avoid the steep uphill hike to Finca La Montana and see the Valle in the morning. We thought the views were the best around 1-2pm though, so we recommend using the above guide.
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