The Cocora valley is located in the central cordillera of the Andean mountains, about 20 minutes by Jeep („Willy“) away from Salento.
It’s a mystical scenery -
high mountains with their tops wrapped in clouds...
...soft green hills to your left and right...
...and majestic wax palms that seem to end in the sky.
The valley is part of a national park and the principal location of the national tree and symbol of Colombia, the Quindío wax palm, called Cocora. Cocora was a princess of the Quimbaya, the civilization that inhabited the area until the 10th century, and her name means „Star of Water“.
Being sick for almost all of our time in Salento, we left the 5 hour hike through the Cocora valley for the last day. We got on one of the Jeeps, that leave to Cocora from the main plaza in Salento (10 people plus driver on a car for 6) and got to stand on the footboard at the back. Magically the jeep did NOT topple over in the curve and we arrived alive.
Then we set off to the walk through the valley. It’s not very steep at the beginning but still constantly going up. After around 2 km we had to stop every 10 meters to catch breath, and we sadly noted, that we wouldn’t make it, being still too sick. So we walked back.
I still wanted to see the wax palms in that great scenery, but obviously I needed someone to carry me up that mountain. Markus was not in a good shape either and therefore not an option ;-)
I took a horse. Markus preferred to stay on save grounds remembering still vividly our scary horse experience in Patagonia.
Happy to be carried the 500 meters of altitude difference I tried to do some shots from the horse’s back, which turned out to be a real challenge as the horse seemed to have a natural aversion against slow walking. He was running almost all the way - forcing me to hold on tight and leaving my hat and the camera flying (ouch!!!).
Close to the top of the mountain the guide made me get off and walk the rest of the way. As I finally got up - panting and sweating - he smiled broadly: „She’s more exhausted than the horse!“ - Vicious old mountain man ;-)
Coming back from our trip we were more than exhausted.
But Salento rewarded us - with a spectacular sundown at the hostel.
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