Google search Valle de Cocora & you’ll be flooded with stunning images of Colombia’s national tree, wax palms stretching 60 meters up into the sky. Like this one.
Ta-Da! so worth it
I found it surprising tricky, however, to dig up logistical info in one consolidated place (which of course, makes the journey more rewarding in the end). But for those who might find it helpful, here’s a brain dump of practical information, tips and resources for hiking Valle de Cocora & traveling to Salento.
Getting there by bus:
I took the bus from Bogota to Armenia. Most people, local Colombians included, had recommended booking on Bolivariano – I believe it’s just slightly more expensive than smaller companies, but is the most reliable & comes with TV, wifi, bathroom, AC and all your first world amenities.
The bus ride takes about 6-7 hrs, with a 30 min lunch break in the middle, and cost about $48k COP (~$15 USD). They drop you off at the main bus terminal, and from there you’ll need to take a local bus out to Salento. Buses fill up & leave fairly quickly so no need to book ahead. It’s an hour ride and will cost around $5k COP (~$4 USD).
Getting there by plane:
Fly into either Armenia or Pereira airports (both part of Zona Cafetera), and from there take a bus or cab to the Terminale in order to take the smaller bus to Salento. Then it’s the same as above!
hopping on the local bus at Salento, heading back to Pereira.
If you book on VivaColombia, tickets are usually only slightly more than the long bus ride. My flight out of Pereira ended up getting cancelled though, due to weather conditions (fog?? I still don’t even know) and I ended up taking the bus back. Just something to keep in mind – though I guess you can say that for all travel in general 🙂
Where to stay:
La Serrana eco-farm & hostel. It’s a little out of the way – about 15 min walk from El Centro, but it’s chilled out vibe and lush scenery make it worth it. You can either bring your own supplies and “glamp” or stay in their dormitories. Breakfast is included (best hostel breakfast I had in Colombia) and there are communal dinners & fire pit hangouts every night. This spot fills up fast so if you’re able to, definitely book ahead!
wine bottle decorations in the La Serrana living room