Adventures in the Coffee Region

Trip Start Jul 27, 2004
Trip End Dec 13, 2006

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Where I stayed
Mountain House Hostel

Flag of Colombia  ,
Wednesday, September 27, 2006

After leaving Medellin I took a bus to Manizales where I stayed in the friendly Mountain House Hostel. On Saturday I visited the Parque Los Yallmos which is above the town and has short paths through the forest as well as a small museum of regional animals and insects. Bizarrely it also has an ice-skating rink and lots of the local children were having fun whilst trying to stay on their feet. Saturday night I again mixed with the locals and had a few beers - my Spanish is okay on the subject of my travel or football but still gets a bit limited beyond that - must find somewhere for some lessons soon! The following day I headed off (via Pereira) to a small village called Salento. The scenery around this area is absolutely stunning and Plantation House is a great place to stay with views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. For such a small place there were a lot of fellow 'gringos' staying here and on the Tuesday a group of us hired a jeep to take us into the Cocora Valley. The valley here has the best scenery of all and the landscape is dominated by scores of wax palms - huge palm trees that grow mainly in this area and which tower over the coffee bushes. After the jeep had reached the valley we walked for 2hours to a Finca up in the cloud forest, crossing rickety wooden bridges and waterfalls along the way. At the Finca we drank hot chocolate and dipped chunks of cheese (a typical Colombian snack) whilst all around humming birds drank from feeders filled with water and sugar. The humming birds were very tame and so we were close enough to see their vibrant colours - greens, blues, pinks and any number of other colours. We then retraced our steps along the path to a junction where we headed higher along a muddy path up to a viewpoint over some of the highest mountains - all covered in green jungle. We then slowly walked back into the valley, following a couple of caballeros (cowboys) and there horse. After taking the jeep back we had spent the evening in the hostel, chatting about the day and playing games with the owners stepdaughter Valeria, who despite being only 11years old manages to boss everyone about in Spanish and English! This is one of the most beautiful areas of Colombia and it would be easy to spend more time here but I managed to drag myself away today and headed off to look around the nearby town of Armenia before I head South to Cali.
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