Valle de Cocora, Colombia – Switzerland with palm trees

It is a landscape like in the summerly Swiss Alps (perhaps like the Tetons?): high mountains, forest covered flanks and fertile willows where black-and-white and brown cattle stuffs. But stop, something’s wrong in this picture – palm trees. Up to 60 m high wax palms, the palmas de cera, grow with their skinny stems from 2500 m / 8200 ft elevation on. Their delicate tops are often caressed by clouds. That’s why we can’t see but only hear the squawking parrot swarms that help themselves freely to the hanging fruits. The wax palm belongs to the world’s highest palms. Colombia’s national tree isn’t found anywhere else in higher concentration.

Between Pereira and Armenia the town Salento is located. To the hamlet Cocora it is another 13 km / 8 mi up onto the mountain on a narrow paved road. From here guided tours on foot or horse start, but it’s easy to scout out the palm slopes under your own steam (no entrance fee). Several steep and arduous trails start uphill on the right side of the road. Ask locals or just follow the horses’ paths. Don’t miss the trout farming truchera. A visit would cost you 2,000 Peso what might be interesting or not, but trout fillets are sold for 12,000 COP per kilo / 3 $ per lb, four whole trout for 5,000 COP (2.75 $).

Camping is possible in Cocora at the restaurants for 8,000 Peso pp, our pick is the Bosques de Cocora (N 04°38’18.2’’ W 75°29’16.7’’). Who wants to take a closer view to the village Salento can park at the hostel The Plantation House for 18,000 COP in front of the door beside the street, including use of bathrooms, kitchen, and Wi-Fi. (Coming from the west turn right in the beginning of town at the fire station bomberos, turn right into the next lane, then it is after 100 m / yards on the left side. Not very convenient to park at the street, but the town centre is within walking distance.) Another camping option presents itself at RV-Park Monteroca near the main road Pereira-Armenia, 4 km / 2.5 mi in front of Salento, 17 km / 11 mi from Cocora. There are maximum two lots, the access height looks o.k. for at least 3.5 m / 11.5 ft. There are nice pick-nick tables at the river. Incl. bathrooms, hot outside showers and use of kitchen 15,000 COP pp are due (N 04°38’36.5’’ W 75°35’01.8’’).

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