Salento – Lush and Lovely in Colombia’s coffee zone

I had heard so much about Colombia’s beautiful coffee zone – zona cafetera that I admit its one of those things about Colombia that made me want to travel to this country. The zona cafetera is the area south of Medellin, where the eye is met with various shades of lush green as far as the I can see. The region is incredibly mountainous and studded with small towns and villages and a few big cities as well.

The travel grapevine in all our previous stops led us to the town of Salento, a little village thats quite hard to find on google maps. Its not the most straight forward to get to as well, but once you do make the effort, you’ll want to stay, just as we did. We had originally planned this to be a 2 to 3 day trip and Christmas in Cali (wanted to have a reservation for Christmas), but ended up staying here until Christmas due to all the awesome people we met.

We had checked into the lovely hostel La Serrana, which is basically a farm with a hostel building in it. Its a good 15 minute walk on a country road from the center of the town to this hostel, which we’d often end up doing in groups, sharing travel stories along the way. Imagine our surprise and joy when we ran into Neal (the traveler we met in San Gil, Colombia and had fun times with. Check out his neat Colombia travel video here). And then we met other travelers from so many places here – Alaska, New Zealand, Canada, Kenya, Tennessee just to name a few.

At some point I noticed that the hostel was hosting a Christmas dinner. They had the menu and a sign up sheet listed at the front desk. We’d look at it every time and think ‘how cool’, but never really made the jump to stay back for Christmas. I guess not celebrating Christmas at home makes us think differently than  others. Over the next couple of days, I saw every single person and couple add their name to the list. They were all staying on for Christmas! Now the pang set in for us. “Ah, Swami! shouldn’t we stay here too? Sounds like so much fun. And look at that menu!! Even for a vegetarian, it was an impressive menu. We’ll adjust a couple of days down south”, I’d tell Swami. Extending our stay was difficult as they were totally booked out, but we moved into a dorm and stayed back for Christmas – thanks to a lot of effort from the staff and owner of the hostel.

Here is a snapshot of our stay in Salento. If you are ever in Colombia, visit Salento.

Near the central plaza a road filled with artisan shops will lead to a series of stairs (about 300 steps). If you climb up there, you’ll be treated to fantastic views and a swing set. Get on the swing set to gaze down at the city:

The panorama view from the top of the hill:

Another view from the hostel:

Goofing around the bonfire lit by Ben (he did it nearly every day he was staying there – he is the guy who is making the smiley in the photo).

 On our hike to the sacha mama eco tour:

Pedro leads us to his house on the hike to Sacha Mama (the name of his property):

This cow totally digged the attention. She stood their enjoying everyone’s ministrations.

Eating lunch with Pedro and his lovely family at Sacha Mama. A pasta lunch never tasted this good. 

Enjoying a Kenyan dinner at the hostel. One of the volunteers was from Kenya, so she cooked a Kenyan meal for dinner night once.
A superb coffee shop in Salento – Jesus Martin.
Christmas dinner with fellow travelers. Hunkering down to celebrate amidst peregrinations.

And last but not the least, the incredibly beautiful Valle De Cocora. (I’ll have a seperate post about this and Sacha Mama later).

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