Coffee region and the Cocora Valley

If you are casually visiting Colombia, do not miss the opportunity to perceive the beauty of this region. 

The Colombian coffee Region, also known as the Coffee Triangle, is a part of the Colombian Paisa region in the rural area of Colombia, famous for growing and producing the majority of Colombian coffee, considered by many to be the best coffee in the world.

In my personal opinion, the best two bases to explore this part of Colombia are Salento and Manizales. In Manizales, it's closest to arrange a tour to the spectacular Los Nevados Park. Salento, on the other side, is a small beautifully located town near Pereira, and provides easy access to the Valle de Cocora, which I am going to talk about.

The Cocora Valley is characterized by cloud forests and diverse flora and fauna. The area was designated a protected park by the Colombian government in 1985 in response to the imminent threat of extinction of the Quindío wax palm.

The park remains to this day one of the few places in the world that you can find these immense trees which, while quite rare, are no longer under imminent threat.

Walking the loop trail is the most popular way to experience the scenery of the valley. If you are staying in the nearby town of Salento, you can catch one of the many Jeeps that leave from the plaza every hour. Another option is to stay in the small farming community of Cocora at the trails entrance.

Horseback riding is also especially popular with the domestic tourists. You can set up a guided horseback trail ride for $7 USD per hour per person, plus $7 USD per hour for the guide. The rides go just a little ways into the cloud forest, less than halfway to Acaime, a hummingbird sanctuary, and into the valley going the other way towards Finca La Montaña, and then skipping past it.

Other common activities are bird watching, mountain biking, rafting, scenic flights, and swimming in the rivers. The local restaurants specialize in cooking locally farmed freshwater trout in several ways, mainly baked and served in a variety of sauces with patacones.

Finally, the one official campground in the park is right at the entrance, behind the little roadside restaurant run by the same people. You'll need your own tent, but they do have showers and flush toilets. For an extra fee, you can get meals included at the restaurant.

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