Salento On a Budget
SightsThere are many miradors throughout Colombia, and a lot of them offer spectacular sights. The mirador in Salento is absolutely stunning and breathtaking. When you are done with views, hike up on the little hill to the right of the mirador, and hang out with the locals on swing sets as you drink a cold beverage and take in the view of the town itself from the opposite side of the valley. If you visit in the late afternoon try to take in a sunset from this spot. It is in Colombia's small towns that the truly vibrant and friendly nature of the country shines through. Head to Salento's small but vibrant town square to see everyday life unfold. Vendors selling local foods, teenagers flirting with one another, children playing, adults taking a breath to relax and let the time pass.
ActivitiesExploring the Valle de Cocora is a must-do during your stay in Salento. The valley tops the list of things to do in Salento, and any traveler would be remiss to not visit it. Part of the Los Nevados National Natural Park, the Cocora valley is the primary location of the distinctive Quindío wax palm, which is Colombia's national tree. It also happens to be the tallest palm tree know to man. There are plenty of activities in and around the Cocora Valley including adventure sports, a number of hiking and camping opportunities in the valley, and in the surrounding Los Nevados National Natural Park. You can also indulge in some bird watching, mountain biking, rafting, and general revelry of the emerald beauty that is the Cocora Valley. Salento is located in what is known as the Zona Cafetera, the region of Colombia that is famous for growing incredibly high quality and delicious coffee. When in town take a taxi, bus, bike, or walk a few kilometers outside of town to Finca El Ocaso where you can see first hand how coffee is grown, harvested, processed, and brewed. Try the local sport Tejo, which consists in throwing a metal disc across an alley about 15m long, to a one metre by one metre board covered with clay set at an angle. The metal disc is the tejo itself and the aim is to use the tejo to his small parcels of gunpowder which are placed on the clay. These parcels are usually triangle-shaped envelopes which are set on the edges of a metal ring within the clay. On impact with the tejo the parcels explode loudly in a puff of smoke. Different shots are awarded different points but, most importantly, tradition dictates the game should always be played whilst drinking beer. Head to Beta Town, a local hang-out in Salento, for some friendly Tejo instruction and some pretty decent food.
Food and DiningFresh trout is the iconic food of Salento and much of the coffee region, and there are myriad places to enjoy the tasty fish throughout the town. Order the fried local trout and a typical plate of rice, beans, plantains, and salad. The price ranges from about USD$4 to USD$9 depending on the type of the restaurant. Even if you're on a tight budget make sure to find some wiggle room to eat fresh trout in Salento. How better to pass the time than sample some of the local coffee. There are plenty of places to choose from. Although, it is worth mentioning that the best of the coffee crops are usually for export, meaning the local coffee for domestic use is not quite as good.
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