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Day 4 – Armenia, Salento, Valle de Cocora

Our flight to Armenia (AXM) was at 6:35am from Bogota airport (BOG), so we called the taxi from the hotel at 5 am, that took about 20 minutes to reach the airport.

The flight of 40 minutes was very comfortable with personal entertainment monitors, breakfast and great seats. After arriving at 7:40 am, we took a taxi from the airport to our hostel – Casa Quimbaya, which was on the north part of the city. The El Edén International Airport (AXM) is about 15 km south of the city center ad actually resides in the city of El Edén.

Upon reaching the hostel we met a fellow traveler who was about to go for a tour to Salento and Valle de Cocora. Her driver, Juan Agudelo, was picking her up at 9 am for the tour. His company ‘Experiencia Cafetera‘ offer tours to Salento and Valle de Cocora for COP 90,000 per person that includes the tour, lunch and evening coffee. We signed up with our fellow traveler and right at 9 am we set out for a 45-minute drive to Salento.


Casa Quimbaya Backpackers Hostel

casa quimbaya

Breakfast included: No.

Address: Calle 16 Norte # 14-92, Armenia
Phone: +57 312 590 0066
Email: info@casaquimbaya.com
Website: www.casaquimbaya.com

Although located at the north end of the town, which makes it far away from the bus terminal and airport, this cute hostel is located in a quiet neighborhood and is not a party hostel. They also have a cafe downstairs that serves breakfast, dinner and drinks.

We had a double bed room (two separate beds) which was very comfortable and had large windows that let air flow in the room all the time. The rooms don’t have a fan or air-conditioning. If you are in a room without ensuite bathroom, then you will be sharing one of the three bathrooms in the hostel.

Breakfast is not included in the price of COP 60,000 a night per person. The hostel has the fastest wifi of all the hostels/hotels we stayed at in Colombia.

The staff is extremely helpful and friendly; and keep the hostel secure by locking the front door.




Capital city of the department Armenia, Salento is a sleepy, tiny town where tourists flock from Armenia and Pereira on weekends. We stopped at the center square and got fridge magnets. Walking around this small town is the best way to explore.

Carrera 6 is the main street lined with souvenir shops and cafes. This street also leads up to Alto de la Cruz, the lookout point – considered as the best view in Colombia. It’s an easy hike up the 250 stairs that have fourteen Stations of the Cross spaced at intervals along the way. The hill has two swings, and indeed a splendid view of the Cocora valley and many of the mountains of the Los Nevados National Natural Park.

[Main square Church]

[Colorful stores and restaurants along the main square]

[Beginning of Carrera 6]

[Colorful buildings lining Carrera 6]

The restaurants, particularly those in the town square, specialize in trucha or freshwater trout that is cooked in a variety of sauces and served on a large patacon (a fritter of green plantain).

We had some lunch at Mankala Cafe on Carrera 6, also known as Calle Real. And then hiked up the mirador, spent about an hour up there and walked back down to explore this tiny town.

[Calle 6, with staircase leading up to Mirador]

[View of Cocora Valley from Mirador]


Valle de Cocora

We started driving from Salento to the Valley of Cocora, and stopped by the Rio Quindio (Quindio River) for a quick photo-shoot and reached the valley in about 30 minutes.

[Rio Quindio]

[On way to Valle de Cocora. Stopped at Rio Quindio]

[Juan Agudelo – Our fantastic guide]

Colombia’s national symbol, the 60 meters high wax palms (palma de cera) are protected by the Los Nevados National Natural Park. “Cocora” was the name of a Quimbayan princess, daughter of the local chief Acaime, and means “star of water”. The two best activities to do in the valley are horse-riding and hiking.

[Valle de Cocora]

[Valle de Cocora]

[Wax Palms in Valle de Cocora]

[Wax Palms in Valle de Cocora]

[Wax Palms in Valle de Cocora]

[Wax Palms in Valle de Cocora]

We started with a one hour ride on the horses around the ragged road in the valley. Going past a wooden bridge, it was time to head back to the base. Later we went for a hike along the same path for about an hour. It costs COP 10,000 per person for one hour horse-riding and another COP 10,000 for a guide, if you prefer not to ride alone.




Starving after all the activities, we headed back to Salento for some trucha (trout) lunch and our guide brought us to a local restaurant serving the best trucha in Salento.

[Bean soup with trout, chicken, salad – lunch in Salento]

And of course, you cannot leave coffee zone without having coffee, so post lunch was a stopover at Cafe Jesus Martin – considered one of the best cafes in Salento.




It was almost 6pm by the time we reached back to our hostel. And after all the walking, hiking, and horse-riding, we decided to relax at the hostel for a while before heading out to dinner at one of the local restaurant on the main street (from the hostel).

Calling it an early night, we were excited to be going on a tour through the coffee zone’s towns of Pijao and Buenavista.



Note: All values in USD, unless otherwise mentioned, are approximate and based on the exchange rate of USD 1 = COP 2200 at the time of publishing. Each cost is for one adult.

What Cost Notes
Hostel Casa Quimbaya $27.27 COP 60,000 per person, for two nights, double bedroom, shared bathroom.
Coffee at hostel $0.90 COP 2,000 per person for Coffee with milk.
Wakecup Tour $34.10 COP 75,000 per person for Salento & Valle de Cocora.
Fridge magnets $3.63 COP 4,000 per magnet. Bought two.
Dinner at Armenia restaurant $1.95 COP 4,300 per person. Buñuelo, empanadas, sandwich.
Water & snacks $0.90 COP 2,000 per person.
Total Costs $68.75 Per person
Overall Costs $1,644.43 Per person


« PREVIOUS – Day 3

Bogota, Zipaquirá

Salt Cathedral, Cerro de Monserrate.

Day 4

Armenia, Salento, Valle de Cocora

Colonial architecture town and valley of Wax Palms.

« Sixteen days in Colombia

Day 5 – NEXT »

Pijao, Buenavista

Prime towns in the Eje Cafetero.


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