#ColombianSeries: Things to do near Salento

If you are traveling to Colombia, you might be planning a trip to Salento. A beautiful town nearby Cocora Valley. Once you’ve explored the valley (READ : “What is it like to horse-ride all the way up the Cocora Valley?“) and wandered around Salento, what else is there to do? Here’s a list of some main activities to do near Salento to make the most of your trip to the Valley. Enjoy 🙂

 1- Bird Watching around Cocora Valley

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Bird lover or not, do not miss the opportunity to go on a bird-watching trek, walk or stroll around. You will be surrounded by the magnificent nature, mountains and forests surrounding you, home to hundreds of bird species, most of them native to the Valley.

You can get close and personal with hummingbirds and gaze colorful species like the Tangara Azul or the Bichofue… my now personal favorites!

Best times for Bird watching are after sunrise and before sunset, when the forest is calm and the air isn’t too hot yet. Be patient, it can be a rewarding experience.

2- Visit post-card town Pijao

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Maybe you’ve already heard of the ‘Slow Cities’ or the ‘CittaSlow’ movement… or not. This idea was born in a little town far way from Colombia, in Tuscany (Italy) fostered by citizens convinced that it was necessary to re-think urban our cities development arount the concept of of life quality. Rapidly, the idea gained adepts in Italian cities looking to install the “slow” trend into a way of living. Today, CittaSlow is a network of hundreds of cities around the world, concerned with citizens’ health, the authenticity of products and food, valuable traditions and unspoiled landscapes

What does this have to do with Colombia? Well, hang on… Colombia hosts the first and only CittaSlow town in Latin-America: Pijao.

Not far from Salento you can explore picture-perfect Pijao on a day-trip to experience a low-rythm, sustainable and respectful life where boutiques signs are wooded and music is still played on authentic LPs.

More Info about the Citta Slow project : http://www.cittaslow.org/

3 – Ride a Willys (or Yipaos)

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When exploring Colombian coffee valley you cannot miss these vintage and surprising Jeep-kind-of-vehicles riding all over the valley charged with bags of coffee, vegetables and… tourists!

Going back in History, the Yipaos or Willys arrived to Colombia by the 1950s from America, where these vehicles had been produced in the 1940s to serve as 4×4 during WW2. After the war, Americans found in Colombia’s valleys, climbing mountains and hazardous roads the perfect clients to sell these cars, useless in the States. Coffee-farmers owners initially bought them to carry heavy materials though hostile paths but they quickly became an integral part of the coffee-production system. Thanks to these toys, the region’s production grew benefiting to national economy and led Colombia to become on the world top coffee producers.  Today, many zones of the Coffee Valley are still topographic nightmares and Yipaos and Willys are still used to transport bananas, flowers and coffee beans.

Beyond that, Yipaos are considered as their owners like true little (big) toys: colorful, personalized and even pimped they keep the coffee traditions alive. When visiting the Cofee Valley you will mostly be transported in Yipao and if not… ask for one! You can hail them in Salento’s Plaza Bolivar or have they pick you up at your hotel. It will be like traveling in time… through hazardous routes. Don’t hesitate: jump in!

4- Visit the Quindio Botanical Garden

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If you want to know everything about the hundreds of species of palm-trees in the world, if you are a botanist amateur or if you have a day to spare, try visiting the Quindio Botanical Garden. The entrance-fee includes a local guide who will walk you trough an almost 2-hour walk to discover everything there is to know about local vegetation. Do not miss the absolutely great ‘Mariposario’, the butterfly farm filled with hundreds of butterflies to get, litteraly, in touch with. This visit is also perfect if traveling with kids !

More info : www.jardinbotanicoquindio.org

Picture Disclaimer: All the photos featured in this blog belong to myself. Do you like them? Great! Be kind and link them back here and/or credit. Thanks 🙂

Did you play Tejo in Salento? Did you ride motor-squads? Did you try your breakfast on Aguardiente? Please share! Your thoughts on the comments box below 👇

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