A family adventure in Salento
After a few days in Bogotá it was time to get out of the city and into the mountains. This was one of the main reasons we wanted to visit Colombia… the coffee region! So we headed for a family adventure in Salento!
Salento was mentioned as a tourist town. And yes, I did get that feel but it wasn’t over done as had a local feel. I actually loved all the brightly coloured houses and the ‘Main Street’. Just a shame I had no money for shopping! So much gorgeous stuff, but it was nice to look.
But there’s plenty to do around the area and we even managed to squeeze in a couple of Spanish lessons. I could definitely have stayed a little over here. It felt very safe and the people were so friendly and engaging.
Getting to Salento
We booked a Bolivariano bus through www.busbud.com. It was an easy transaction and cost $13.
The journey takes us through the Andes to Armenia, taking approximately 8 hours. It wasn’t too bad and the time passed quickly. We had one stop about 4 hours in but there was a toilet on board. We also met two lovely fellow travellers, Jordan and Emily! The boys loved talking travels with them (as did we!) 🤗
The latter part was the slowest as there were traffic jams en-route.
When we arrived at Armenia we walked through the bus terminal to the other side. We asked for directions and someone pointed us outside and more locals directed us to a white minibus with ‘Salento’ in the front – perfect!
Basically, when it’s full it goes and believe me it was full!
The cost (I think) was COP 4,500 and took only 45 minutes. The shuttles run every 20 minutes until 8pm. There’s no need to stay overnight in Armenia.
Places to stay in Salento
We arrived in a thunderstorm though, so wet & tired.
When we arrived at the hostel (Hostel familiar jerico) the owner told me that I’d booked for tomorrow night, but that the room was available tonight! Thank goodness – Geez… 17 months and it’s the first time I’ve done that 🙄 Tomorrow will be a new day!
The next day we sat down to chat with our homestay owner, Marta Luisa. She was soooo lovely & gave us a long list of activities and restaurants. It was like being part of the family.
The place was a homestay, not a guesthouse. A traditional colombian house with squeaky floors and all. It was also chilly, but homely.
Our room was huge with 2 rooms – 2 double and 3 single beds! But it was basic but we had everything we needed and the homestay owners kept checking all was well.
The boys really enjoyed playing with their son, and Marta Lucia even got Lego out for them.
Places to eat in Salento
There’s lots of places to eat in Salento and our hotel owner kindly helped provide some options.
Cumana Bistro Food Venezuelan – it was the closest place to our hostel, it was raining and it was late so we dove in. I’m so glad we did – it was a bit of a treat and very delicious food. We ordered falafel salad, beef stew and erapas. The lovely lady explained (in broken English) that these were local Venezuela dishes and how to eat them. It was a small compact restaurant
5-43 Al horno – a lovely place with delicious Spanish good, including paellas and burgers at a reasonable price. The owners were so friendly and keen to encourage more people to visit. They were so nice and spoke some fairly good English.
We even got to enjoy it twice! Once with these lovely gents, Juan & Alex @letstravelstories.
Restaurante La Gata Carola – unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to go as it’s mainly a lunchtime place. But they have a daily 3 course menu for a cheap price. This came recommended by a couple of people.
Brunch de Salento – this felt like a backpacker style place. The menu had an American feel and was famed for its ‘huge’ nachos. The prices were reasonable, but actually I found the food to be bland and average at best. The staff were attentive though. Maybe we just got a bad night at the reviews were quite good.
Things to do in Salento
Coffee plantation tour
For our first day we decided to head straight out to the coffee tour. We decided on Finca El Ocaso.
The tour was an hour an half and we walked for an hour to reach it (joined by this friendly dog which the boys names latte!).
The walk was on gravel/dusty roads and easy to follow – it’s just one road out of town. If you don’t fancy walking you can grab a Jeep in the plaza and it should cost COP4,000 pp. I highly recommend riding on the rails at the back if you get chance!!
The coffee tour was in English. In fact there are set times for English and Spanish tours. It was very informative, easy going and pitched at the right level for us access the kids. We picked coffee beans, were taught the different types of beans and roasting process.
It was great, we really enjoyed it and the walk there was fantastic! It feels so good to get out walking.
Cost was COP15,000pp for 1 ½ hour tour.
Wandering around Salento
Salento is on a hillside so wherever you walk it will be up a hill. The town has a lovely square with lots of cafes and restaurants around it and a beautiful big church.
Next to this is a long street with more cafes, restaurants and shops. It’s a great area full of life and although it’s a bit touristy it just felt nice – not pushy.
I loved it and all is brightly painted house. They really brighten your day.
Plus one day we were wandering around and there were some Willy’s in the square doing their thing! It was crazy and very, very noisy! It’s basically a Jeep doing a wheelie with lots of shouting!
Corcora Valley trek
There are lots of options here, you can do a short walk up to the tall wax palms, you can take a horse ride or you can complete the full loop. We chose the latter! The full loop takes around 5-6 hours.
In order to access the area you need to catch jeep ride from Salento town centre. Our lovely homestay owner provided us with a hand drawn map to show the route along the river, through the forest, over 7 bridges, up to the hummingbird view point and along the ridge to the palms.
Some people walk the alternate route, but I liked this way, as the wax palms are almost like a reward at the end 🙌.
Ethan noticed a large bird in the sky and immediately identified it as a condor! It was huge!! But it was a bit too far away to get a photo. Wow! I wasn’t expecting to see one. A fabulous day out!!
Total cost of the day was COP 20,000 which is about £5 per person! Bargain 😆
Mirador de Salento
Take a few beers, maybe some snacks, and enjoy the sun setting across the valley and Salento town.
It’s very popular so get there early. In fact there’s a nice view from the other side of the hill. It’s a short walk down the hill at the back. We visited there first and then went to sunset. Immediately we got catching to other travellers – such a nice evening!
While we were in Salento, Colombia we decided that we had a bit of time in our hands and booked into some 2:1 Spanish lessons for Keith and I and also for the boys.
We really are struggling with the pronunciation & basic conversation! And as English is rarely spoken we need to up our game! I’m embarrassed that we don’t know another language so this is us starting a goal to become more knowledgeable in Spanish.
We booked to attend with Language home Salento. After a couple of lessons Keith and I had a better grasp on some conversation and have much more learning to do. But it’s a start!
If you fancy learning some Spanish while travelling in Salento I highly recommend “language home Salento“. They were engaging, fun, interactive and very knowledgeable. But above all they were patient. I walked away feeling much more confident
We caught a Jeep across the valley to the other town. Whilst similar to Salento, it’s definitely not as touristy or as pretty. But they’re was quite a bit of development going on there.
There’s a lookout (Mirador de Filandia) from a nearby hill, but at cop 8,000 the reviews suggested it wasn’t that great for the money. Instead we walked to the edge of the town to look down at the valley.
As I mentioned the set up was the same as Salento with a lovely plaza and colourful church as the focal point. But it definitely had a more local feel about it and was a much bigger town.
Having seen both, I actually prefer Salento even though it’s more touristy as it’s not off the scale and still feels authentic. I actually like the colourful buildings and the sunset viewpoint!
Tejo (local game)
One late afternoon we decided to head out with some friends, Jordan and Emily, to enjoy an explosive game of Tejo. It seems to only be a ‘thing’ in Salento – so while here 🤷🏻♀️. We went to a place called Cancha De Tejo Los Amigos. It’s a bar so children can only stay until 6pm (they are very strict!)
The game is fairly straight forward. You have a heavy weight which you have to throw into clay. If it lands on a white triangle there’s a firework type bang and little spark – whhaaattt!
It was quite thrilling, but rarely did we get it to go bang! There’s a point system and the first one to 21 wins. Funny little game 😂
We just loved the feel of Salento, it was so friendly and relaxed. And yes, whilst a little aimed towards tourists it wasn’t over the top or over developed. The colours in the town made me smile it really brightened my day!
We just enjoyed exploring the forests and trails around Salento, but nothing competed with the Corcora valley walk – just amazing, but also a little tough.
And the coffee… well! I think Keith and I could definitely had stayed a little longer to your all the coffee shops in the area – ha ha! You have to put Salento in your itinerary 💛❤️💙💜💚🖤🧡