20 January 2014

Guest post: Why Salento, Quindio, Colombia?

Posted in Blog

We would like to thank Phil for writing this article and sharing with us and our readers his experience travelling to Salento in the Colombia's coffee region.

If you want to see more Colombian travel insights from Phil, you can follow him on twitter @philipcorrigan.

Happy travels!

The Uncover Colombia Team.

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We left Casa Quimbaya at 9.30am on Sunday morning. I had known that Sundays were by far the busiest days to visit Salento. Nevertheless, I decided to try my luck and pick the bus up at the top of the town on its route from Armenia's bus terminal. This proved unwise as each bus as we waited at the side of the road was full.

Luckily a willy(local term for a jeep, not a man's private part!) passed by and then stopped to pick us up. We agreed a 4.000 COP each fee ( just 200 COP more than a bus fare) and jumped on the back.

How lucky did we get?! The driver brought us via the back roads through some breathtaking mountainous terrain. Have a look! http://youtu.be/6DnA5uREKrM

Uncover Colombia Blog - Coffee region - Farm Don Elias
Farm " Don Elias"

Lady luck was definitely on our side for this journey as we also passed by the coffee farm (Finca Don Elias) which we had planned on visiting. We jumped off, briefly chatted with surrounding locals before walking down a laneway to be greeted by the wife of Don Elias. Indeed, after a short 10 minute wait, we began the tour given by Don Elias himself, an older , charismatic man. There were just two other visitors with us.

farm

Tour at the farm "Don Elias"

It's worth noting that a decent knowledge of Spanish is required to enjoy the tour fully as there is no english translation.

Don Elias, explained each part of the coffee production process during the 45 minutes, as we walked through his farm. For the final quarter ,we sat down with the man himself and enjoyed one of his coffees.

For just 5.000 COP I would certainly recommend this tour. We were shown ,albeit briefly, each part of the process. We left with a better understanding and appreciation for the work that goes into a cup of coffee and still had time to discover Salento's 'not so sleepy' village.

To get there, we walked on a back road through the mountains. It took us the bones of an hour overall.

Uncover Colombia Blog - View of the Coffee Region's Landscape
View of the Coffee Region's Landscape

We were extremely hungry by the time we reached Salento and although there were numerous eatery options at our disposal, we quickly decided on one and ordered the trout. When in Rome (Salento!)

Uncover Colombia Blog - Salento
Salento

Uncover Colombia Blog - Trout in Salento
Trout in Salento


The place itself was packed, with a great atmosphere and for the main course and a beer, we paid just 18.000 COP each.

Uncover Colombia Blog - Salento main street
Salento main street

Uncover Colombia Blog - Restaurant in Salento
Restaurant in Salento

Unfortunately, the weather took a turn for the worse but it never dampened the spirits in the town. We wandered in and out of arts & crafts shops, which sold affordable gifts of great quality and Colombian heritage. We stopped for coffee and some more beer and took in the atmosphere, complemented by live music.

I thoroughly enjoyed the town and although it is branded as very touristy, I never once felt claustrophobic or under pressure to buy something.

At 7pm, we returned to Armenia on the bus, getting off at the top of the town, just 10 minute walk from Casa Quimbaya.

Another day will be needed to hike to nearby Cocora Valley.

Until then,

Philip

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