Salento is more than just a base for the Valle de Cocora. It’s a town of colorful buildings that line imperfectly charming little streets that lead to the mountains. It’s a town where dogs laze about on the sidewalks and car drivers share the roads with horseback riders. It’s a town where Colombian city folk throw on ponchos and cowboy hats and unwind for the weekend. It’s a town of farmers and others who make a living from the land who trudge into the city in rubber boots after a hard day of work. It’s a town where people stroll the streets in the evening just for the sake of strolling and spending time with friends and family.
Just outside of town is a land of jewel tones, of ruby red coffee berries and lapis lazuli flowers, but mainly of brilliant emerald mountains, trees, and farms. It’s a land where the clouds never let go of mountain tops and rain is always moments away. It’s a land where you can take a walk and see more cows, goats, and horses than people. It’s a land of rippling terrain and rich soil and rapids. It’s a land of grandeur and grounding that sucks many travelers in for longer than they anticipated.
On my first cold and rainy night in Salento, I imagined I’d stay for a maximum of three days. As I got settled, I added another day and another day. I ended up spending five nights in Salento — three in town and two at an eco farm and hostel outside of town. Salento and the coffee region countryside proved to be worth the extra time: