MY DIARY
Colombia | Pereira & Salento Wanderings
“Talk about my stomach in my throat and my adrenaline running sky high.”

Dear Diary |

December 13, 2020 – December 18, 2020

Here’s a high-level overview of my wanderings in Pereira and Salento.

The coffee region in Colombia, especially Salento, is breathtaking!
I enjoyed it more than Bogota and Medellin combined.

I… 

  • Met a lovely Danish couple
  • Experienced a new way to dine
  • Encountered massive data issues
  • Connected with other travelers
  • Got my hike on and adrenaline on
  • Almost got a Willie stuck in a rut
  • And, survived a wicked thunderstorm

I’d come back here in a heartbeat.
And, spend time exploring all the surrounding cities.

Risaralda | Pereira

  • Transportation
  • Hostel | Casa Brisa de Montana
    • I booked it on the Hostelworld app.
    • A Danish gentleman and his Colombian girlfriend owned it.
    • They were very friendly and accommodating.
  • Restaurant | Spaghetti House Pereira
    • A cute lil Italian restaurant in the main square area.
    • The outside courtyard was super charming.
    • You place your order on their website/app, and the servers bring it out. Same when requesting the check. I’ve never used anything like it before. I was impressed. The only annoying part was hearing all the chimes going off in the background when orders came through.
  • Data Issues
    • I experienced massive WiFi and Data issues here. Claro is a WiFi and Telco provider. So, when Claro is down all data options are unavailable. Not ideal when I need Google Translate [download the language you need to your phone in the app] to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak English, I need her to call a cab ASAP because the bus schedules changed due to COVID, I need to catch a bus in a massive bus terminal, and try to recharge my prepaid SIM card. I got through it, but it was 100 times harder than it needed to be.

Quindio | Salento

  • I loved every part of Salento!
  • Hostel | Viajero Hostel Salento
    • I booked it on the  Hostelworld app.
    • I finally connected with a cool group of nomads.
    • The free breakfasts were fantastic, the view was ridiculous, all receptionists were friendly, and they actually had hot water when showering.
  • Hike | Cocora Valley
    • You have to pay someone to take you in a “Willie” [jeep] from the main square, Plaza de Bolivar Salento.
      • The price was pretty cheap per person.
    • We hiked both sides. Each side has its own cost and wristband.
    • Tip | Ask to go up the opposite direction. Basically, go up the jungle/river side and come down the palm tree side. It wouldn’t be fun coming down the jungle/river side since the mud is slick in areas. I found the jungle/river side more adventurous. 
    • Tip | Definitely go to the hummingbird exhibition. It’s at the very top of the jungle/river trail, off to the side. We saw signs but didn’t know what it was, so we ended up passing it. Apparently, the hummingbirds land on your hand while they eat. I’m so bummed I missed it! Go see them for me.
    • The food options are meh, so pack snacks.
    • We ended up buying a couple arepas [cornmeal patty w/ cheese] at a stand.
      • They’re typically bland and not very good, but after 5-6 hours of hiking they were DELICIOUS!
  • Restaurants
    • Restaurante Meraki
      • It was so good, I ate here twice.
      • Such a great vibe and everything I ordered was delicious.
    • Brunch de Salento 
      • The owner is from Portland, Oregon.
      • I ordered takeout from here, but it looked super cute inside.
    • Coco Bowl
      • Grab a delicious smoothie or avo toast after you go up the stairs and take a pic with the Salento sign [Mirador Alto De La Cruz].
    • Todo Riko
      • Great spot if you want a delicious burger in a casual setting.
  • Coffee Tour | Finca El Ocaso Salento
    • Book the tour directly on their website.
    • The regular [aka shorter] tour is sufficient. 
    • I almost did the premium one, and I’m glad I didn’t.
    • Try to ride there with a friend or fellow hostel mate. The Willie price is no joke. You can walk it, but it’s a fair distance and can be muddy as shit. The driver typically waits for you at the coffee farm until you finish the tour.
    • On the way back, we got stuck in some gnarly mud. It was pretty scary actually. The driver didn’t give up though and eventually got through the giant rut. My friend and I both got out of the back, because it was getting pretty intense. I thought we were gonna have to walk all the way back. Another car attempted to make it through after us but didn’t succeed. They turned back and had to take a super long detour to get to the town.
  • Downhill Mountain Biking | Mountain Bike Tours Salento
    • Booked through WhatsApp via my friend.
    • They’re affiliated with Estrella de Agua hostel.
    • They took us to La Carbonera, which is more remote than Cocora Valley.
      • The skinny palm trees reach upwards of 100 meters tall and produce ~85% of the world’s wax.
    • It took about 1-1.5 hours to drive to the starting point.
    • We only rode the downhill portions and took the truck for the uphill parts. 
    • Talk about my stomach in my throat and my adrenaline running sky high.
    • They packed us a cute lil lunch we enjoyed right before biking back to town.
    • This was my second favorite thing I did in Colombia. Right behind the Finca La Rivera Coffee Tour in El Penol, near Medellin.

Are you brave enough to try downhill mountain biking in La Carbonera?
Drop a comment below.

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