Oh Salento! Every time we think about this town we make those heart eyes. 😍
We had the most crazy and surreal journey to get there (border crossings, cancelled flights, and chartered planes) but once we arrived, it made all the stress worth it. We actually arrived in Salento on my birthday and I think it was the best birthday ever – all we did was eat and drink! Perfect!
There’s so much to do in Salento and we spent four days exploring the area, which we thought was a good amount of time. Enough time to do the main sights as well as a few extras and PLENTY of chill out time.
Here’s a list of our favourite things to do in Salento.
Vallé de Cocora
I don’t think any blog about Salento couldn’t not mention Cocora Valley!
It’s famous for its huge wax palms and stunning views of the mountains. 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, we loved exploring more of the valley!
Read more about our hike in Cocora Valley in our other blog post.
So tejo is the national game of Colombia and is a bit like boules… but with gunpowder!
You stand a few metres from the metal ring target and take turns to throw big stones at the gunpowder packets on the metal ring. You get points for hitting and exploding a packet, or for being closed to the ring, or for landing your stone in the centre of the ring. It’s a lot of fun, especially with a few cervezas, but even if you don’t fancy playing you should go to watch the locals, who are AMAZING!
We played at Los Amigos tejo hall against three other gringos and we’re pretty chuffed to say we won! I’m really glad to say that my big 9-pointer, where I landed my stone in the centre of the ring, won us the game. Beginners luck? Or could I be the next big star in the tejo world? Only time will tell…
Curry at La Eliana
This was my birthday treat (thank you to my beaut pal Eilidh!). I’d read about La Eliana in a travel memoir called Bolivia Tried to Kill Us by Tony Hastie, who said they had the best curry in the whole of their South American travels at La Eliana. We also met a German couple in Ecuador who said the same. A big reputation to live up to!
And the curry was lush! If we’re being honest, not quite as good as Delhi Masala in Buenos Aires, because it was lacking bhajis, pilau rice and flavoured naans (mmm garlic naan), but it was still a yummy curry! A perfect birthday treat for tikka massala’s biggest fan.
Salento is so pretty and we loved walking around, browsing the artsy shops, and checking out all the colourful doors! We could have quite happily mooched around for days.
Visit a Coffee Finca
Salento is in the heart of the coffee region and even if you’re not a huge coffee fan (yes, guilty), a visit to a local finca is a must. We walked out from the centre of Salento for around 45 minutes to visit Don Elias’ finca. There are also a few other fincas on that route. Don Elias’ do tours in English and Spanish and cost around 10000 pesos (£2.50) per person.
We really enjoyed being shown the plantation as well as the full process from harvest to cup. We both tried our first cup of real Colombian coffee and we were both fans!
Cycling to Waterfalls
So this trip almost prematurely ended the honeymoon.
We hired bikes for the day from Acaime café for 50000 pesos for us both (about £12.50) and set off up the hill behind Salento to find the waterfall at Finca Sestillal. It was a tough uphill cycle, mainly because it a rocky dirt road, and we carried on for a while even though we thought we had already passed Sestillal. We came to a waterfall hidden just off the road then turned back.
It was only when we got to the point we thought was where Sestillal was located that we realised we had got it wrong. Turns out that we should’ve gone 10 minutes further after the hidden waterfall to find it! Bloody typical.
We then decided to go down through Salento to the bottom of the hill and along to another waterfall, Cascada Santa Rita. The downhill was speedy but long and we were already dreading the uphill cycle back to Salento. We paid 5000 pesos (£1.25) each as entry to the waterfall and had a 20 minute hike to get to it. And it was a pretty good waterfall! We didn’t fancy a swim so got some long exposure photos instead.
Then as we started our cycle back, a torrential downpour began. Within minutes we were drenched and cycling through flooded roads. Mental. We managed to hide out in a café and have lunch until it died down. I’ve never been so happy to have a hot chocolate.
Once the rain had eased off to a drizzle we started the uphill cycle back. And it was tough!! I’m not a fan of cycling at the best of times (unless it involves wine, like in Mendoza ) and this hill almost broke me. Emotions ran high and I may have said the dreaded “I want to go home now”. But we carried on like troopers and we made it. We had a well-earned lemonade afterwards. Wild.
Although it was gruelling we’re glad we did it. We got amazing views of the countryside and it was good to see the waterfalls. Top tip for Cascada Santa Rita – consider getting a jeep back to Salento!
And last but not least, we can’t finish the blog without including Acaime! We discovered this café after our visit to Don Elias’ coffee finca and we had amazing salads for lunch. The next day we went back for dinner and the food was even better. I had steak and Joe had trout with the local specialty, crispy patacón (fried plantain). We also got a free dessert with it being my birthday a couple of day before and we LOVED their homemade lemonade. So lush!
The café itself is really cute, the staff are so lovely, and they also offer horse riding tours and bike rental (which led to our waterfalls escapade).
Is Salento on your bucket list? Or have you already visited? We’d love to hear about it! Leave us a comment and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for more of our travel photos.