Hiking in Salento’s Cocora Valley

If we had to describe Cocora Valley, we’d say it’s like the island in Jurassic Park. With its stunning views of the mountains and freakishly tall wax palms, we were half expecting to see a T-Rex during our hike.

Cocora Valley (or Vallé de Cocora) is one of the main draws for people visiting Salento, so we were really excited to see it and its famous forest of palms. We met some people doing a 5 day hike in the valley and camping at fincas along the way but we just did the one-day hike which is the most popular option. Even then, you can do a short hike of just the palm forest or a 5-6 hour hike which includes the river and a hummingbird reserve. We went for the second option and we’re so glad we did, it meant we got to see more of the valley as well as the palm forest.

When we were in Salento, it tended to rain in the afternoons so we jumped on one of the 4×4 jeeps in the main square at 7:30am to get to the valley (3000 pesos per person, about 75p). We did the anti-clockwise route, which gets the steep uphill hiking out of the way so you can enjoy the gentle downhill through the palm forest. It also meant the best bit was saved till last!

Our hike started along the river heading into the valley and it was an easy flat route, but a bit muddy at times. We had fun trying out the various makeshift (sketchy) bridges over the river before taking a slight detour from the main route to visit the hummingbird reserve.

Visiting the reserve is optional and if you want to go, it adds on about an hour to the hike – 15 mins each way plus time to see the birds. The detour to the reserve starts when you see this sign.

Follow the path to the right and carry on until you reach the reserve. To get back to the main route afterwards, you head back down the same path and follow the uphill path to the left of this same sign.

The hummingbird reserve itself was ok, 5000 pesos for entry which includes a hot or cold drink (hot chocolate with cheese, anyone?), but the bird feeders encouraged the hummingbirds to be there so it wasn’t quite the ‘reserve’ we’d had in mind. Still, it’s a good spot for a break before tackling the steeper uphill climb to the top viewpoint.

And we sure were treated to an amazing view!

We headed along the route towards the palm forest but by this point the clouds were rolling in and we were worried we wouldn’t even see the tops of the wax palms! However we didn’t have to worry – we got incredible views of the palms!

We loved walking through the palm forest! We even had a go of hugging the trees and spent quite a bit of time singing the Jurassic Park theme tune. We also sat and enjoyed the views while we had our picnic lunch. Top tip – take lunch and plenty of water with you because there’s nowhere along the hike to buy food.

The hike finishes just out of the palm forest and back at the start point, where there are jeeps for going back to Salento. Easy! We managed to do the whole hike in around 5 hours and made it back to Salento before the afternoon rain started.

Visiting Cocora Valley was definitely the highlight of our trip to Salento and we’re so glad we did the longer hike to see more of it.

Have you visited Salento? What are your favourite hikes? Leave us a comment below and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for more travel photos.

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