Wax palms are the tallest palm tree in the world. They can be found deep within the Andes in central Colombia outside of the neat little town of Salento.
This small colonial town is full of colorful buildings, shops, restaurants, cafes and TONS of old Willy’s jeeps! In fact, the Willy’s is how one gets around. These classic taxis will take you to the Cocora Valley where you can go on one of many hikes to explore these strangely tall palm trees. This is the main attraction of the area and an absolute must-see.
You can walk along the river, or head up into the hills. We did the hill hike and took a break on the most curious and comfortable grass I have ever sat on, even better than a hammock! The weather can change quickly up there, be sure to bring a rain jacket!
Things to do in town
Despite its small size, you will find plenty to do in town! The central square is surrounded by great restaurants, including many food trucks serving trout. They all seemed to be rather similar but we ate at several and they were all delicious. Just order the trucha and patacón! Colombia loves trout and they prepare it right!
One can find all sorts of trinkets, hats, clothing or anything else on this festive street. If you have people on your souvenir list, this is the place to find them something neat. At the end of this street, there is a tall staircase leading up to the Mirador. Great exercise and an excellent place to watch the sunset.
Now if you came to Salento without playing the national sport of Colombia, you’re making a big mistake. This game involves chucking stones across a room to try and explode paper packets with gunpowder in them… for points! You’ll find plenty of locals playing as well as many other gringos, don’t be afraid to buddy up, this sport is more fun in teams! We played at Los Amigos, but there seemed to be a few options around town.
The coffee region should definitely be part of your Colombia trip plan. If you are in Medellin, Bogota, Cali or other big cities, you may want to consider a flight to Pereira. It can take a really long time to cover ground in busses, but sometimes you can find great last-minute price deals between the bigger cities. Once you are in Pereira it’s only a short bus ride to Salento and from there it is all Willy’s or walkin’! Enjoy 🙂