Salento is a quiet and relaxed little town that has retained its traditional colonial architecture. This colourful town is located 24 km northeast of Armenia and its streets are filled with vibrant buildings, lights, craftsman and local artisans. There are many cafes to visit as Salento is an infamous coffee region so you might end up finding your dream brew. Despite being a little town, Salento is jam-packed with fun things to do, incredible places to visit and the most wonderful people.

Everything you need to know for backpacking Salento, Colombia: awesome and fun things to do, places to see, where to stay and how to get there.
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10 Awesome Things To Do In Salento, Colombia

1. Hike Through Valle De Cocora (The Cocora Valley)

Hands down, the best thing to do in Salento is hiking through the Cocora Valley – a natural cloud forest that is home to the tallest palm trees in the world. This alone warrants a visit to Salento – seriously. The full loop of the Valley is a 5-6 hour hike that takes you through a range of diverse landscapes.

You’ll traverse through muddy paths, waterfalls, rivers and hanging bridges before eventually, finding yourself among giants. Towering at over 60 m (200 ft) high, the gigantic wax palm tree is the national tree of Colombia. At the peak of the hike, we watched the clouds roll over the sky before hiding absolutely everything in sight.

To get to Valle de Cocora, take a jeep from the centre of town to the start of the valley. At the end of the hike, all the jeeps collectively wait in one area. You pay for a return ride at the start so you can just hop on any jeep to get back to town.

LVV Travel Tip: Get a pair of mud boots from your hostel or hotel. The hike going to be muddy and wet – not the best combo for regular sneakers. We saw many hikers slipping and sliding!

Cost: FREE + 7,400 COP / $2.50 USD per person for the jeep ride 

2. Visit Acaime – The Hummingbird House

Acaime, the hummingbird house is nestled away along the Cocora Valley loop. The house is about 2 hours into the hike deep in the forest. Stay as long as you like and enjoy watching the hundreds of hummingbirds flutter around and stop for water. There are plenty of signs that will lead you up to the house so you can’t miss it.

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Cost: 5,000 COP / $2 USD which includes a free drink

3. Stroll Down La Calle Real

A street full of Restaurants and cafes, local crafts and art shops that’ll tempt you to purchase a few souvenirs. Stroll through in the evenings when the night comes alive with bright lights, live music and dancing.

Cost: FREE

4. Then Walk Up Mirador Alto De La Cruz

At the end of La Calle Real make your way up the colourful stairs to get a panoramic view of Salento town and a view of green fields and farms that surround the town.

Cost: FREE

5. Visit a Coffee Plantation

Coffee addict? Not finding coffee good enough in South America? You’ll find out why at a coffee plantation. And yeah, it comes down to the fact that the best coffee beans are exported! The region has a few different fincas (farms) that offer coffee plantation tours so ask your hostel or hotel for the most up to date information. The most popular finca in the region is Finca Don Eduardo

Most tours should demonstrate the process of growing and roasting coffee. You’ll see how the seeds are planted, the beans are picked and roasted. At the end of your tour, you’ll be invited to taste a cup of their delicious freshly roasted coffee.

Cost: 30,000 COP / $10 USD

6. Play an Explosive Game Called Tejo

Salento is a well-known coffee region in Colombia but being tea drinkers, the biggest draw for us wasn’t the coffee – it was a game called Tejo. Tejo is a very unique (and a little crazy) game involving gunpowder and clay. Here are the ‘rules’:

  1. Put some gunpowder in a piece of paper and fold a little triangle. Make a few of these.
  2. Place dangerous gunpowder filled pieces on a small metal ring target in the middle of a 1×1 metre clay filled pit set at a forty-five-degree angle.
  3. Throw a metal puck (approx 1kg) from a few metres away aiming to hit the firecrackers.
  4. Have a cracker of a time (see what I did there).

There is only one place to play Tejo in Salento: Los Amigos. You play for free if you buy beers. If you’re questioning whether gunpowder and alcohol is a good combo, it is – your aim can only get better! The game is definitely more enjoyable with a group, so gather some people and make a party of it.

Cost: FREE with beer. We spent 15,000 COP on a few beers. 

7. Go Horse Riding to Santa Rita Waterfall

With the gorgeous landscapes of the Cocora Valley exceeding our expectations, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see more of the verdurous countryside. The ride to Santa Rita waterfall is led by a local guide and takes you through idyllic green fields and river streams resembling that of the English countryside.

After 1.5 hours, we arrived at an isolated location where we could only hear the sound of rushing water and singing birds. We took a deep breath of fresh air and dived into the icy water. Paradise.

Note: The horses are treated with a lot of love and care and we inspected the area they were kept before riding with them. We recommend you do the same and check that the horses aren’t being mistreated before going on a tour.

Cost: 44,000 COP / $15 USD for the 3.5 hour tour. 

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8. Enjoy The Opportunities For Landscape Photography

Salento and The Cocora Valley have many captivating sites to see and visit. Be sure to take the longest hiking paths and try not to miss a thing while you’re exploring around Cocora Valley loop. You’re guaranteed to find beautiful compositions for landscapes, waterfalls, green pastures, hummingbirds and tall palm trees. If you’re into serious photography, get your self a travel tripod and a decent ND filter kit to capture those beautiful long exposure shots.

9. Meet Locals and Practise Your Spanish

On our first night in Salento, we went to a bar to listen to live music. We met a lovely couple who invited us to sit with them and with our broken Spanish, we struck up a friendship and spent the next day with them and their family. They taught us that Colombians love their country and are so proud of it so they just want people to see it for themselves and love it too.

10. Visit Neighbouring Towns like Armenia or Filandia

Like Salento, the neighbouring towns are full of colour, coffee and little boutique stores. You can take a bus to the towns, hitchhike or drive there if you have a car. You won’t need more than a few hours in each town.

Where To Stay In Salento

Yambolombia Hostel – an eco-hostel a 20-minute walk outside of town with dorm and private room options. A bed in a dorm room is 25,000 COP and a private double room is 50,000 COP.

Hostel Tralala Salento – a hostel located in the heart of Salento town for convenience with a bed in a dorm room for 27,000 COP and a private double room for 65,000 COP.

Casa La Eliana – a boutique guesthouse with a restaurant that serves very decent non-Colombian food (if you just need a break – we get it). A bed in a dorm room is 26,600 COP and a private room is around 60,000 COP.

How To Get To Salento

To get to Salento, you’ll need to travel to Armenia from any of the three main cities: Cali, Bogota and Medellin. From Armenia, you can take a bus to Salento.

From Armenia to Salento 

By bus:  The cheapest option from Armenia to Salento is a minibus that departs every 20 minutes and takes around 1 hour. The bus is 4,400 COP per person / $1.50 USD.

By taxi: You can get a taxi from Armenia bus terminal to Salento. If you’re keen to share a taxi with other fellow travellers, that’ll help save money. Don’t hesitate to bargain with the taxi price.

By car: You can rent a CAR in Armenia City, the drive is about 25 min, 27km. Renting a car gives you more options to explore around Salento, something to think about if you’re planning to do and see everything in a short amount of time.

From Cali to Salento by bus

Cali bus Station address is Vías Internas Terminal Cali, Valle del Cauca Colombia. There are two bus companies that go to Salento from Cali: Bolivariano and Coomotor. Bolivariano is cheaper and leaves in the morning while Coomotor leaves in the afternoon. The bus ride will take about 3.5 hours and tickets can be booked online or at the station in advance. Once you arrive in Armenia you can take a bus to Salento.

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Cost: 20,000 COP / $7 USD

From Bogota to Salento

By bus: You’ll first need to take a bus from Bogota to Armenia from Terminal Salitre. Buses run from 8 am to 10 pm and take around 7 – 9 hours. Buses are comfortable and most have wifi, air-conditioning and a toilet. Once you arrive in Armenia you can take a bus to Salento.

LVV Travel Tip: Book an overnight bus to save yourself money on accommodation. 

Cost: 45,000 COP / $16 USD

FlyThere is an option to fly from Bogata to Armenia Airport or Pereira for a few more dollars if you’re not to keen on a long bus ride, the flight is about 1.5 hours long. Colombia has budget airlines so you’re likely to find a pretty decently priced flight.

From Medellin to Salento

By bus: The 6-hour bus departs from Medellin at Terminal Medellin del Norte every hour.

Fly: Flights are available from Medellin Airport to Armenia if you have the money to spend and don’t really enjoy a long bus ride.

If you’re questioning whether or not you should go to Salento – just do it. We were so surprised that Salento became one of our most favourite spots in Colombia and loved being out in nature.

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14 thoughts on “Guide To Salento, Colombia: Everything You Need To Know

  1. mayuri says:

    Love all of your pictures. Makes me want to visit Columbia. I have a few S American countries in mind that I wish to visit, this post makes it easier to book for Columbia! Thanks for sharing

  2. Bangali Backpackers says:

    Those hummingbirds are stunning! And I love the landscape…so green, so many waterfalls.

  3. philippa says:

    Haha so funny – I’m Welsh and loving in Colombia and say it reminds me of Wales a lot! People who don’t know Wales think I’m bonkers, glad to see someone else thinks it too!!

  4. Lydia@LifeUntraveled says:

    I’ve been twice to Colombia but didn’t make it to Salento (it wasn’t very popular back then) but I plan on going back as I really want to see the Cocora Valley. Good thing you (mostly) got over your fear of heights & bridges allowing you to experience the beauty of the valley. And your gumboots are really cute!

  5. Janine Good says:

    I would love to get to Colombia one day. The game with the gunpowder sounds very interesting and combining that with the beer sounds like quite risky business 🙂 It is nice to see that Colombia has returned to the tourist map as for many years it was too dangerous to get there. The bird also looked magnificent.

  6. Ivy says:

    Are gumboots the same as rainboots? 🙂 It’s so sad that so many places in Central and South America get such a bad rap. We had a similar conversation with the people we met in Guatemala and they said the same thing, that they wish more people could give them a chance.

  7. Natasha Welch says:

    wow this is one incredible trip! i’m actually in awe of your photography, those landscapes and bird shots are unreal, amazing work. Never heard of that valley before but now its well and truly on the bucketlist! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  8. Ticker Eats The World says:

    Awesome adventure. Tejo looks like the perfect game to play after a few drinks, even though it is a little dangerous. Thanks for the video. The greenery in Colombia is amazing and the waterfall looks mighty refreshing. Loved the colourful architecture of the houses in the end.

    Salento looks like a wonderful charming place. I love when locals are so friendly and they invite you over to their houses on the spur of the moment, That’s what traveling is all about.

  9. Abigail says:

    Sounds like quite the Colombian adventure! That trek looked worthwhile though. I’ve been wanting to explore more of South America and Colombia is something to consider.

  10. TravelingMel says:

    I’m not a coffee drinker either, but I would love playing Tejo, difficult as it may be. More than that, though, the hike and horse ride look amazing (and I love the colorful boots you found). I’m definitely putting this on my list of places to visit (and buy boots)!

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