The Valle de Cocora, just a short jeep ride outside of Salento and the reason why we came to the peaceful little town. This valley was scenically one of the most beautiful places I've seen yet, so this post is going to be picture heavy.
Our jeep ride leaving the main square. Locals with jeeps do regular runs from the city square up into the valley, and it's really cheap to catch a ride. They even have stand pads attached to the back bumper. We packed 13 people into and onto our jeep at one point thanks to the driver picking up some local farmers for part of the way. Gotta love the Jaguar hood ornament by the way.
There is a small community of farmers and trout fisherman up at the entrance to the park. We started our hike here.
Our first glimpse down into the relatively people-free part of the valley. The tall palm trees that you will see throughout are wax palms, the tallest species of palm on the planet and Colombia's national tree.
Our hike in started along a ranchers road. There are cattle roaming the lower valley and a trout farm at the creek near the small community.
Up in the valley is what we call a "cloud forest" due to the practically ever-present, low-lying cloud level that shrouds the forest-covered mountains. All the rain makes for a beautifully green landscape, which contrasts nicely under the dull gray clouds. The grassy patches just seem to glow too.
We ended up hiking for around 5 hours (at a nice leisurely pace with plenty of stops to take in the surroundings) and covered around 14 kilometers.
At a certain point, the trail entered the forest along the creek, and we were treated to this nice waterfall...
and several creek crossings over a series of bridges, the quality of which got progressively worse as we went.
We turned around at this place: Acaime. Here, two old ladies apparently live and collect the entrance fee (US$2 incl. hot chocolate, coffee, or a pop and fresh cheese). They have a ton of hummingbird feeders around and...more hummingbirds than I've ever seen in one place. There were at least a dozen of the quick little guys flitting about, totally fine with our presence there.
The coolest thing was that no two hummingbirds were alike. This guy had the little white tufts at his feet, another was jet black with a white throat, and yet another had a brilliant blue and very, very long tail!
The steep climb up La Montana, at the top of which was a ranchers house. The rancher's family was really nice and brought out a guest book for us to sign. They got a kick out of where everyone was from that stumbled through.