Our day started out normal enough for an activity day. One of us is always drawn to something in particular. Today it was me…wanting to see the supposed ginormous palm trees. So, we hopped in the Jeep transport in Salento and took off to Valle de Cocora which was to be 45 minutes away. One thing we’ve learned about Colombian guesstimations is that they usually side toward the weakest link. Times always lean toward the slowest person or slowest transport possible. So, even when our Jeep broke down on the way, and after being picked up by the next Jeep, we still made it in just a half hour. The trees did not disappoint.
We were accompanied by two fellow hostel mates in the Jeep and since none of us knew exactly where we were to hike, we decided to brave it together.
Beth and Jason from California, who had been traveling throughout South America for 9 months, were great hiking companions. Not only were they great sources of info for locations we were planning on visiting, they were also willing to continue braving the trails with us even after it started to rain.
After an hour or so of this misty jungle like hiking, we stopped to rest at an area that we heard served hot chocolate or perhaps some water. No luck, the only thing they wanted was for us to sign their guest book and be on our way. Further indicators that we were not welcome were the 3 rabid like dogs barking incessantly and a little girl wagging her finger at us in a “No-no” fashion. Fine, we’re out! We continued our hike here through the gate and animals…obviously this is the trail, right?
Yes it is, unbeliveably. We really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into at this point. The nice grass and trails gave way to what I thought might turn into a mudslide similar to the one in Romancing the Stone. The movie was set in Colombia afterall.
After finally making it down what felt like a mountain but was probably a hill, we had evidence of a tough fight.
The movie resemblence continued as we traversed sketchy bridge after sketchy bridge.
Finally, finally!!! We reached pasture and civilization, we thought. Nope, more muddy trail however this one was sandwiched between two barbed wire fences.
This lasted for another hour. Beth got smart and jumped the barbed wire to make things easier by walking in the pasture. This was a great idea until Dusty tried to copy her and grabbed a wire. Unfortunately it was electrified and he received a nice ZAPPPP! Luckily he was fine, just a little more alert! Enough to enjoy this beautiful view at the end of the hike.
At this point, after hiking, climbing, falling, slipping, sliding, ambling, jumping, fence hopping and electric shock, we were ready to head home. We jumped into another Jeep for the ride home. This time we found out how it could possibly take 45 minutes to make it back to Salento. It takes that long when you maximize rider capicity and have to take the road slow. Our Jeep packed 13 people for the return ride including one dude sitting on top of the Jeep and Dusty and Jason hanging off the back.
To be honest, I think we could have fit one more on the roof and one more hanging on the back if we really wanted to be cool.
Valle de Cocora located 30-45 minutes outside Salento
fitness: we hiked 12 km although there are different trails and distances
getting there: Jeeps leave Salento’s square regularly
costs: Jeep ride is $3,000 COP or $1.63 USD per person, hike is FREE