Wax palm trees watching over the Cloud Forest
This out-of-the-world-scenic valley stretches to the east of Salento. Jeeps starts early in the morning from there and after 30 minutes drop you off at the trail head. The first hour of the hike takes you through a narrow valley with slopes and ridges dotted with mega-tall wax-palm trees. Although we started off on a very sunny morning, big clouds of mist floated through the valley hiding the palm trees, but soon setting them free again. The other part of the trek takes you straight through the cloud forest, the canopy immediately closes overhead and you feel completely immersed in green, lush rain forest.
The trek is relatively easy but partly muddy and can be explored on foot or on horseback. Mostly it runs along the Rio Quindio, which needs to be crossed at least six times, mainly on a couple of trees thrown across. Once we used a real bridge, which could have been out of an Indiana Jones movie, unstable with rotten blanks.
While the Columbian tourists prefer to move around on a “caballo”, the few “gringos” vigorously march the 5km up to the Acaime reserve, basically a farm. There, at 2.710 meter, an elderly indigenous lady awaits the weary trekker with a mug of hot chocolate accompanied by a huge junk of cheese. Sounds like a strange combination, but it actually tastes delicious. While we rested on the steps of the farm house, a bunch of fearless hummingbirds zipped by us like fighter planes.
Fit wanderers climb even further up, an agonizing, lung-bursting 5km to Estrella de la Aqua, before heading back to Cocora. Since we heard mixed reports about the maybe not so great view from up there, Heidi opted for the less painful version and Gilles happily joined in.