Salento – the heart of Colombia’s coffee region

No other country is probably as famous for its coffee as Colombia. Thus, and because everyone that has been there told us how marvelously beautiful it is, we simply had to visit the “eje cafetera”, Colombia’s most important coffee region. An especially scenic place in the area is Salento. This small town is located in the midst of green hills where coffee is cultivated on farms that warmly welcome visitors to show them how coffee beans are grown and transformed into what we can eventually buy in the supermarket back home – notably, back home, as we learned that all the good stuff is exported, whereas only the low quality produce remains in Colombia. Due to that fact, most Colombians prefer hot chocolate for breakfast – no surprise for anyone who has tasted the gray water that is served in most places as coffee around here.
However, back to Salento. Already the town itself is totally worth a visit. We strolled around between the narrow but intensely colorful little streets and hiked up to various view points before enjoying a trout, the local specialty, for lunch. Later in the afternoon, we went to visit Don Eduardo’s coffee farm which is one of the smaller ones in the area but focused on organic production. We opted to go there on horseback, as it sounded like a more romantic way to explore our surroundings than a bike ride or a hike. When we got there, the owner, Don Eduardo, welcomed us warmly before our tour started. Afterwards, we could relax for a wile, sipping some freshly roasted and brewed, literally homemade coffee, before mounting our horses again in order to return to town.
Another one of Salento’s main attractions is the beautiful Valle de Cocora. Everyone visiting should take a day to go see the breath-taking wax palms that grow up to 60 meters into the sky. To get there, people typically take jeeps to the trailhead from where it takes about five hours to do the whole trail in a pace that allows to enjoy the wonderful scenery.
From the smooth and relaxed hills of Salento our journey then went on to the busy streets of Medellín.

When in Salento
What to do: Learn how to grow and make coffee at one of the farms around town. For example at the Finca Don Eduardo.
Where to stay: You find plenty of hostels in Salento. We stayed at La Casona Hostel Salento. It’s basic but clean. What else does a backpacker need?
What to eat & drink: Go to one of the many restaurants that offer trout. You can’t go wrong with that, they all know how to cook it to perfection!