In today´s post I want to continue with my little serious Visit Colombia. The post will focus on the three places mentioned above. Valle del Cocora and Salento are laying very close to each other, so you can easily visit this places in one day. Manizales is worth a whole day trip to really enjoy the city without watching the clock all the time.
Let´s start with Valle del Cocora. This valley is located in the department of Quindío. It is a protected area and is one of Colombia´s National Natural Parks. This place seems almost surreal and very mysterious, because of the huge palm trees and the fog which is like a veil over the green hills This is reinforced by the silence. A treat for the ears and mind after days of being in noisy and hectic cities. These palm trees are a special species which are called wax palms. This palm is not just the symbol of the Quindío department but also the official national symbol. The palm trees are really huge. They can get up to 60 m and are the world´s highest palm trees. Don´t mind if there is this thick fog all over the valley. This is the normal weather situation there. Seeing this place in bright sunshine is extremly rare. But I think this what gives this place its magical atmosphere.
The tour through the valley starts with a walk across meadows, along a little creek. Really idyllic.
It takes about one hour until you get to a forest which transforms you into another world. We didn´t go any further because the following path would have taken too long and we all didn´t have the right equipment to do a proper hike. So we turned around and went back, enjoying the amazing view. If you want walk the complete trail until the top, where you have an amazing view, you need about 6 hours for the whole trail. But again, the trail is not easy. Some parts can be very steep and you overcome approximately 1500 meters of altitude. So you musn´t underestimate this fact. But when you get tired you can take a break and rest. We also did this a the bank of the creek. My boyfriend even took a bath. I didn´t because the water is very chilly. If you want you you can discover the course with mountain bikes or on horseback. You can book the tours for example in Salento.
This leads to the next stop: Salento! Salento is the oldest community of Quindío and a tourist a tourist magnet. The houses are very authentic and super colorful. If you are on a hunt for unique and beautiful souvenirs, there you will find some beautiful pieces. I fell in love with the little cafés which are so cozy to sit in. When you are hungry you can eat trout there. The city is famous for this fish dish, especially with a lot of garlic. It is really pleasant to walk around and soak in the cheerful atmosphere. A bit outside of the city there is a viewing platform where you have great view over another, smaller valley. Unfortunately is was raining heavily and the there was a lot fog, but still it was an amazing view.
The view that you have at some points in Manizales, are just as breath taking. The city is the capital of the department of Caldas. And the urban design is one of a kind. The city center is on top of a hill. The best way to get there is by cable railway which connects the lower suburbs with the city center.
We took the bus from Pereira. It takes 90 minutes from Pereira to Manizales and costs about 6 € for two ways. The road to Manizales is pretty windy, so if you tend to get travel sick, be prepared. When we arrived at the bus station we took to the cable railway to the final destination which is also the city center. Again we did a relaxed walk around the area and we visited the cathedral. At the final destination you will see a huge mall. It´s called Fundadores. There is a small café on the third floor with a enormous window. There you can enjoy a coffee and you can gaze upon the landscape. After that we took a bus and went to the mall, Cable Plaza. There was this supermarket Carulla which provides more exclusive foods and products. I wanted to buy wild coffee from the indigenous Kogi tribe. They collect the wild coffee and process it to ensure an income for their families. Your not just buying an honest sustainable product but also a very rare product you can´t find at every corner. Nearby there a lot of restaurants, where you can eat very well for fair prices. After our lunch we took the bus again and crossed the city to get to the Chipre, a panorama tower where you have the most wonderful view over the city and its surroundings. We stayed quite a while there and enjoyed this exceptional panorama. If you have luck and the weather is not cloudy you can see the volcano Nevado del Ruiz, one of the most active volcano of the Northern hemisphere. Unfortunately we didn´t see the volcano from the tower but from the way back Pereira coming from Armenia I could get a glimpse on the volcano with a snow crown. What a beautiful sight. Although the volcano seems so peaceful, it is a real threat because of its high activity. Tourist agencies offer guided tours. Of course they will not take you to the peak, because this would be way to dangerous. But people who already experienced it said that it was peerless. The time I am visiting Colombia I also want to climb the Nevado del Ruiz. After the tower it was time to get our bus home to Pereira. We took the cable car and we said goodbye to Manizales. The city answered us with a beautiful sunset and the with the twinkling city lights.
I really hope you enjoyed the read and please leave a comment down below which of this places did you find the most interesting.