Five great things to do in Salento
Salento is located within Zona Cafetera in Colombia and is the perfect base to explore the magical Cocora Valley. The town is small enough to explore by foot, the main square is the central meeting point, dotted with local restaurants serving trucha y patacon (trout and fried plantain) and busy bars where typical South American tunes played with a lot of energy every night. The main area is a collection of artisanal stores selling colourful bags, jewelry and hats. What makes the town even more pleasant are all the houses painted in bright colours, creating a beautiful rainbow effect.
Our four days in Salento were some of the best we have had in South America. Exploring the stunning natural surrounding, sipping lemonada de coco, learning about coffee making and a little bit of downhill cycling. An unmissable stop during your Colombian travels!
On day one, start with an introduction to all things coffee through Finca Don Edurado coffee tour. Leaving from The Plantation House, Don Eduardo takes you on a walk to his coffee farm explaining and showing how the coffee is grown, harvested and transformed into the black coffee beans that we are all familiar with. All of this with a good dose of hilarious English humour and outstanding knowledge. The tour ends by roasting freshly picked beans and drinking the best coffee in town.
On day two, make your way to Cocora Valley, where the oldest wax palm trees in the world grow. You can catch a jeep from the main square that takes you to the entrance of the valley (3,000 COP entrance). The green hills roll in soft shapes, dotted by the thin and tall wax palms, beautiful in their elegance. The landscape is unique and the hike is very simple. Be prepared for quick weather changes!
On the last day, keeping the best for last, take the Salento Cycling tour to La Carbonera. This was definitely the highlight of our time in Salento. This incredible private property of 17,000 acres is home to millions of wax palms and the last remaining flock of yellow-eared parrots, which live in symbiosis with the palms and ensure their reproduction. The tour is fun, informative and allow you to see a side of Colombia which is wild and untamed. Read more about the tour here.
Ever heard of ‘tejo’? We didn’t either until we came to Colombia! It's a game where you throw a metal disc (called a tejo), across an alley at a distance of approximately 18.5 meters, to a board covered with clay with a gunpowder-filled target in the middle. If you throw it right and hit the target, the gunpowder explodes and everybody cheers. In Salento there is a Tejo area where you can grab some beers and either watch the locals have a go or give it a try yourself.
At night, make sure to bar hop around the city. The atmosphere is electric, everyone is out and about and many bars have local bands playing. We had one of our best nights sipping on caipirinhas in Kafé Del Alma while listening to the sounds of guitars.
The combination of coffee & extremely tall wax palms is something special.
Where to sleep in Salento
Recommended by a friend of ours, we booked at The Plantation House Hostel and had a really wonderful and relaxing stay. Run by an Englishman and his Colombian wife, The Plantation House offers simple, clean and comfortable rooms with bathrooms. The kitchen is also available for use by guests. Don Eduardo (aka Timothy Edward) is the owner of the coffee plantation which produced several varieties of coffees and is used by him to run is famous ‘Finca Don Eduardo coffee tour’, the number one coffee tour in Salento on Tripadvisor.
What to eat in Salento
A beautiful combination of trout and cooked banana.
Trucha con patacon
A must try in Salento is the most popular dish in town: trucha con patacon. In the main square you will find several stalls serving this delicacy in a very informal setting. You will also find several other stalls selling typical Colombian snacks: arepas, corn-on-the-cob and sausages. While, during the blazing hot daytime, you can always count on two fully loaded fruit stalls preparing refreshing juices along with the one and only limonada de coco, which is a must try.
Where to eat in Salento
If you are looking for vegetarian options, the town has one vegetarian restaurant called El Punto Veggie. It is a very small restaurant with only six tables and it’s always pretty full. The menu provides simple and tasty vegetarian recipes, try the hummus, it is delicious!
For a fancier dinner and carefully crafted cocktails visit the beautiful La Herreria. Stylish, with a modern interior resembling some of the best London’s restaurants, La Herreria is an upmarket place serving fusion cuisine. Make sure to ask the bartender for his speciality cocktail.