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Colombia: Tasty Trout, Tall Trees and Tejo in Salento

Ah Salento, I cannot recommend this place highly enough. We spent 3 nights in her comfortable albeit cold bosom and I won’t lie, I was reluctant to go.

Maybe it was the fact that it was one of our last stops in mi querida Colombia, which I was not too happy about leaving, or maybe it was the friendliness of the people.

It could have been the rolling green glens, the otherworldly giant palm trees of the stunning Cocora Valley or the local dish of fresh trout with patacón (a giant plate of flattened fried plantain).

Maybe it was playing the local sport of Tejo, which involves throwing rocks at gunpowder while drinking beer, or touring local coffee farms, One thing’s for sure, Salento has nustled herself into my heart like a cat in a warm lap, and she has no intention of moving anytime soon.

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From Medellín to Salento:

So we took the bus from the South Terminal in Medellín with a company called Flota Occidental for 40,000 Cop pp (€11). They were the cheapest of the companies that were going. The bus was one of those 16-seater shuttle buses. The journey was about 6/7 hours and, once we made it past the roadworks, it was a beautiful journey.

Accommodation in Salento:

Hostal Estrella de Agua. Located a handy 3-minute walk from the main square and 5 minutes from Tejo, this was the perfect little spot to base ourselves.

Colombia: Tasty Trout, Tall Trees and Tejo in Salento

Prices range from 10,000 COP pp (€2.80) a night for a tent, right up to 70,000 (€20)for a private bath, and everything in between. As always, everything is negotiable in Colombia!

The staff were friendly and helpful, there’s a big outdoor common kitchen and dining area and LOADS of hammocks kicking around, plus free tea or coffee. Score.

For the record, the small private room with a private bath is cheap, but you couldn’t swing a cat in it, and ironically the shared bathroom was nicer and bigger than the private one so we ended up using that. So save yourself a few quid and go for the shared bathroom option!

 

Things To Do in Salento:

Cocora Valley:

Colombia: Tasty Trout, Tall Trees and Tejo in Salento
Look Ma! I’m a treeeeeeeee

To get to the Cocora Valley you will need to take a collectivo (public 4×4) for 3800 COP pp (€1) from the central plaza. There’s one every half hour. You can’t miss them when you get there, just make sure to get there early as they fill up pretty quickly and you may end up hanging off the back of one (close your ears, Mom).
Once you get to the valley (approx 30 minutes), there are various lengths of hike you can do from 1 hour to 5 hours.
As we had arrived a little late and were both feeling a bit rough, we opted for the 1 hour (which took 2).

As you walk up the path towards the valley, you will see on the right-hand side there’s a gent who can let you through a gate into the valley itself and onto the path to the Mirador de las Palmas (this is where all the photos you see online are taken). It’ll cost you 3000 COP pp (€0.90), but if you’re stuck for time (or feeling like ass), it’s totally worth it. There are various trails you can do guided on horseback if you fancy too. I’m not too sure of prices but from one sign I saw it was approx 10,000 cop (€3ish) for 15 minutes.

Trout:

Colombia: Tasty Trout, Tall Trees and Tejo in Salento
The trout? You can’t HANDLE the trout!!

I know what you’re thinking… I talk about food a lot. But trust me when I say, if you like fish, you’re in for such a treat. Myself and Katie are normally big advocates of not eating out to save money (especially as a couple, it’s just cheaper to shop ‘n’ cook), but you have to try the local dish. It’s called ‘trucha marinera gratinada’. We ate it 3 days in a row. It’s a huge fillet of trout served in a tray, drowned in white wine, garlic and cheese sauce, with prawns on top and a fresh patacón (fried plantain) on the side for dipping… My mouth is watering even writing this.

There are loads of restaurants, so you can shop around for a price/locale that suits you, or, you can take my advice and head for the main square and eat at a stall called Carpa la Mona. Your taste buds will love me forever and at 15000 COP (€4) a plate, you can’t go wrong. Viva la Mona! Coming into the square from our hostel it’s the last stall on the left!

Tejo:

In any other context in the universe mixing drinking, heavy stones and gunpowder doesn’t sound like the smartest idea, but in the game of Tejo, it’s the perfect combination. Little paper triangles of gunpowder are placed on a metal circle which is buried in clay. You proceed to take turns hurling metal weights across the room to hit, and hopefully ignite, the gunpowder.

The best part? You can only play if you’re drinking! Head to Los Amigos Tejo, on Carrera 4, and have a blast. It costs 2000 COP (€0.60) to get in, but as long as you’re drinking you can keep getting more gunpowder triangles (that’s one of the most fun sentences I’ve ever written).

Take a look here.

Mirador:

Walk past the artisanal markets (on your right-hand side) and up to the mirador for a bird’s eye view of the town. Why not grab a beer or a soft drink from one of the vendors to wash down the beautiful view? After all the steps you might need one.

Once you’re up here there are a few trails you can walk and various miradors. Ask the charming men selling their crafts and they’ll happily send you on your way with a smile and a blessing!

Markets, Markets, Markets:

Colombia: Tasty Trout, Tall Trees and Tejo in Salento
Market Street on the way to the Mirador

Whether it’s coffee, souvenirs or artesanía, there are loads of cool little markets dotted around Salento. Why not get your shop on? And don’t forget to haggle.

Coffee Tours:

Colombia: Tasty Trout, Tall Trees and Tejo in Salento
We were recommended this coffee tour, but we didn’t make it past the first finca…

If you follow Carrera 5 with the park on your left and walk for about 40 minutes you’ll end up at El Barrio Palestine. This is where all the coffee tours are based. There are several fincas all offering different experiences at different prices. Tours vary in price from 8000 COP to 15000 COP (€2 – €4) and in length from 40 mins to 1.5 hours.

We did our tour at Finca Las Acacias, 40 mins, 8000 cop and 2 free coffees. Although the tour itself was nothing to write home about, the 2 coffees more than made up for it. Yum.

We squeezed quite a bit into our few days in Salento but it didn’t feel rushed. Leaving Salento left me with the sensation of leaving an old friend, you know you’ll see them again, you just don’t know when.

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