Visit Salento travel guide: the most famous village of the cofee region

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Salento is one of Colombia’s most beautiful villages, but certainly one of the best known and most visited, located in the department of Quindio, a few kilometers from the sublime Cocora Valley.

Quindio is a paradise for the soul. The overriding impression here is one of harmony. These green landscapes, these small villages, this majestic mountain, this Cocora Valley, these coffee plantations, these horses, these hats, these people..

Everything here lends itself to taking a deep breath and letting down the armor.

I can’t think of anything better than walking, walking and walking through these fantastic landscapes. Simply enjoying every step, passing young people getting off the bus in a western village by the side of the road, a goat with a slight squint sitting quietly tied to a tree, a tree with flowers so pink they deposit their reflections on your skin..

Roll around in the grass, drink the best coffee in the world, discover passionate people, happy to share their love of their land and tradition.

General information Salento

  • Founded: 1842
  • Population: 9529
  • People: Salentinos
  • When to go: all year round
  • Temperatures: 18° C average
  • Climate: Temperate and humid
  • Altitude: 2000 m avg.
  • Region: Andes
  • County: Quindio
  • Distances: 25km from Armenia, 35km from Pereira

Disclaimer: we apologize in advance for any grammatical or syntactic errors, as our native language is not English (we're a Colombian-French couple), so we hope you'll forgive us and still enjoy the information we share with you! Please note that all the information on our blog is based on our own experience, and is checked and updated regularly.

Salento, a must-see village

WHY DISCOVER THIS COLORFUL COLOMBIAN VILLAGE

Visit Salento travel guide: the most famous village of the cofee region

Salento is one of the many colorful villages typical of the coffee region. Why has Salento come into the limelight more than other equally beautiful villages? Probably because of the nearby Cocora Valley, a natural splendor that attracts many visitors. Salento is its base camp, and the village has made the most of it.

Despite an increase in visitor numbers, the village has managed to retain a semblance of authenticity. The village remains a popular weekend destination for Colombians themselves, and despite the crowds, foreign tourists can enjoy a typically Colombian atmosphere in the central square, with bodegas filled to the brim and music blasting.

The main street, despite its clearly commercial orientation, has lost none of its charm, and the houses compete in color and beauty. The handicrafts on offer are often of a high standard, and some bars and restaurants are still going strong, but tourism is starting to bring in its share of concepts aimed at foreigners, and the soul of Salento may well be starting to take a beating.

The traditional stroll will take you to the central square, its bars, restaurants, Willis jeeps and small market. On the corner, men in ponchos and chains chat in an epinal image of the South American dream. In the square, as the hours go by, you can choose between a huge fresh fruit juice, a cafe negro or a cold beer. At weekends and during Colombian vacations, the square takes on a fairground atmosphere, with each bar offering its own musical playlist on an outdoor sound system, a classic in Colombia.

Then your steps will naturally lead you to Salento’s main street. As you make your way up this shopping street, you’ll find yourself going back and forth to find the little gifts you want to bring back to your loved ones, drawing pictures of the multicolored wooden doors, and managing to tear yourself away to get ready to relive the passion of Christ!

Mirador de Salento

Visit Salento, Quindio

Visit Salento travel guide: the most famous village of the cofee region

At the end of the street, staircases invite passers-by to climb the hill, while remembering Jesus’ ordeal. Catholicism in Colombia is no laughing matter. ” Gracias a dios” is certainly the most popular phrase in Colombia. Step by step, this mystical climb to heaven takes us to the Mirador Alto de la Cruz.

From up there, on one side, the village reveals itself from a different angle, the explosion of colors comes to an end, the geography of the streets takes shape and the tile and sheet metal roofs unify the whole.

On the other side, chlorophyll landscapes stretch as far as the eye can see, with the mythical Cocora Valley in the distance, indistinct but present.

From here, seated on his swing, the budding adventurer can decide whether to continue his stroll to the right, following this little path along the ridge path, or head left towards the official Mirador de Salento , offering a spectacular view of the valley.

Leave the main street

Step aside

Visit Salento travel guide: the most famous village of the cofee region

Don’t turn back from the Mirador de Salento, as you’ll discover other, less-frequented streets on your way back down to the village. The streets are deserted, with no shops, and the houses less ornate, but just as charming in their color and simplicity.

At the end of the road, like us, you may come across this tiny, unpretentious shoe store and fall for a pair made in Colombia!

It certainly won’t take you 3 days to visit the village. But having spent 1 week there, Salento is also about relaxing in the piazza with a fresh fruit juice. Repeat the experience with a cup of coffee. Repeat the experience with a fresh Aguila.

Salento is also about discovering coffee fincas, horseback riding and walking around the village. It’s also the Cocora Valley and its incredible wax palms. Salento also offers superb high-mountain treks in Los Nevados National Park..

AlternatiVes to Salento

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds, don’t hesitate to explore the region’s other colorful villages. These include nearby Filandia, Pijao and Marsella.

Best things to do in Salento

IDEAS FOR ACTIVITIES AROUND SALENTO

Visit Salento travel guide: the most famous village of the cofee region

As you can see, Salento is a base camp for a wide range of activities around the village. A place where it’s entirely possible to stay for a week or more without getting bored for a single second.

So here are a few ideas for activities, excursions, visits, hikes and walks around Salento.

Play Tejo

Tejo is a traditional Colombian game originating from the indigenous culture, which consists of throwing a metal puck at a clay target. In the center of the target is a circle of small explosive packets that explode when the puck hits them – and you win!

This popular game is a great opportunity to drink, chat and have fun with friends. Most of the time, they’re found in unattractive sheds, but they have a very special atmosphere that immerses you in one of the distinctive features of Colombian culture.

CANCHA DE TEJO “LOS AMIGOS

  • Address: Carrera 4 #3-32
  • Opening hours: 3pm – 11pm (?)

Visit a finca cafetera

This is of course the number 1 and easiest activity to do around Salento. Most hotels will offer you two main options with the advantage of being within walking distance: Finca El Ocaso or Finca “Las Brisas” Don Elias.

During my two visits, I never visited the El Ocaso finca, as I always preferred the smaller, more modest Don Elias finca, which is resolutely oriented towards organic farming, which I think is a good thing to support.

FINCAS IN SALENTO

Finca el Ocaso
According to our information, the El Ocaso finca offers an immersive tour in the shoes of a coffee grower, extremely well thought-out for tourists. Although they claim to be responsible, we know that the finca is not organic. Tours last 1h30 and groups can be up to 30 people.

  • Price: $35.000 COP

Finca “Las Brisas” Don Elias
This is a much more modest home and estate. The tour at Don Elias will take you through the entire coffee-making process, from plant to cup. The part I found most interesting was the intelligent way they farm, in a spirit akin to permaculture, with total respect for plants and soil.

  • Price: $25.000 COP

[UPDATE] Readers have told us that in high season, it’s best to arrive in the morning to take a tour, otherwise groups are enlarged to 20 people in the afternoon, which probably makes the experience less enjoyable… Also, they may run out of coffee to sell at the end of the day, in which case they may direct you to a village store that sells their excellent coffee.

Walks around Salento

There are a number of walks you can take around the village, simply by grabbing your shoes and setting off. For example, the simple path to see the fincas cafetera is in itself a great walking map. But it’s also possible to take longer walks, such as the well-known one to the Santa Rita waterfall.

This is the classic walk that you can do on foot, horseback or mountain bike! Personally, I did it on horseback, and my body still feels the after-effects. I’ll have to find out why horseback rides make me suffer so much… But it was a great experience.

On site, at the waterfall, the water is cool, but it’s quite possible to swim, so depending on the weather, don’t forget your bathing suit.

RIDING

You will always find information on these activities in your accommodation, but to give you an idea :

  • Price for a 3-hour horseback ride at San Pablo: $65.000 COP

Trekking in the Cocora Valley

This is, of course, the must-do of any stay in Salento! Many of you visit the village just to see the Cocora Valley, one of Colombia’s most famous landscapes.

Local guide for the Cocora Valley Trek

Trek to Los Nevados Park

Mountain lovers, this is one of Colombia’s top mountain tourism destinations. The Los Nevados Natural Park offers an infinite number of high-mountain treks that will delight amateurs and enthusiasts alike. Multi-day treks are possible, with crossings, climbs, mountaineering, hot springs… in incredible landscapes!

Local guide for a trek in Los Nevados National Park

Trek to the Carbonera Valley, the other Cocora

And no! There’s more to Salento than the Cocora Valley! A funny “surprise” awaits you if you choose to discover the Carbonera Valley, a sort of big sister to the Cocora Valley.

Here, you’ll find similar landscapes, but with the greatest concentration of wax palms in the world! Far more than in the Cocora Valley!

Local guide for the Carbonera

Trek to Cerro Morrogacho

Cerro Morrogacho is a great alternative for sports enthusiasts looking for a real day’s sporting challenge starting out from Salento, combining hiking with the discovery of a “Cloud Forest”.

Little-known to the general public, Cerro Morrogacho offers the chance to trek to the summit of a mountain dominating the Cocora valley at an altitude of over 3450m.

On the way up from the Cocora valley, you’ll gain height, go deeper into the forest, and end up with a spectacular panorama at the summit of Cerro Morrogacho!

Local guide for the Cerro Morrogacho Trek

Local guide to trekking in Salento

There really are so many possibilities for walks, day treks and multi-day hikes around Salento. It’s a bit of a hiker’s paradise!

But to make the most of it, a local guide is often a good companion. And in the case of high-mountain treks, it’s downright essential in our opinion.

There are several guide agencies in Salento, but we really advise you to use the services of our local partner, who, in our opinion, is probably the best guide agency in Salento.

What our partner offers in Salento

They offer a wide range of 1-day and multi-day treks around Salento, for all levels and tastes:

  • Treks in Los Nevados Natural Park
  • Cocora Valley
  • Carbonera Valley
  • Cerro Morrogacho
  • Pijao and Buenavista
  • Filandia and the Barbas Br