Our last stop in Colombia was two nights in Salento before returning to Bogota for our next flight. We’ve been moving fast and have had a lot of great experiences. We have spoken to many backpackers on our route who had great things to say. After learning that we enjoy small towns better than big cities, would we enjoy Salento as much as everyone else?
Getting to Salento
From Jardin, you will need to take two buses to Salento. The first bus takes you to Rio Sucio, where you have to purchase seating on a second bus to Salento. The first part of the ride is through the mountains over some bumpy roads, while the second trip is smooth over mostly nicely paved roads. The total trip time was approximately 6.5 hours.
The first bus we travelled on was an open-air old school bus. There wasn’t assigned seating and no bathrooms on the bus. So what happens if there is a potty emergency like Mateo had? Luckily, he only had to pee, so we called out to the bus driver, Mateo jumped off the bus, found a tree, watered the tree, and returned to the bus no problems. If you can hold it for a bit longer, there is a bathroom stop Midway through the trip. Just be warned, the line up can get long.
The bus is an old school bus, and seats are limited. Since we are a group of 5 and wanted to make sure we had a place, we purchased our tickets two days before. If you read my last post, you’ll know we decided to stay in Jardin a couple of days long. We went back to the ticket office, and they said it was no problem. They did not issue us a new ticket, they transferred us to the new bus roster, and all was good.
Where did we stay?
La Casa de Lili Hostel is a great location we found on booking.com that is approximately a 2-minute walk to the Central square and located on the second floor of a building with a business underneath.
Like most hostel’s La Casa de Lili is set up with an area for guests to sit and talk, a communal kitchen, as well as shared showers and bathrooms. Our room had two bunk beds, and a shared balcony overlooking the street.
When we arrived, they explained to us the instructions for the house, which is a pretty standard thing. They also gave us a rundown of the facilities, and when the kitchen was open for our use. We were also told that the children must be in the room at 9 pm sharp. I found that a bit unusual, but I get it, you get kids at hostels, but mostly it’s for adults.
What neither Charo not I realized was they expected the kids to be sleeping at 9 pm. Promptly at 9 pm the first night, there was a knock on our door. Telling us the kids needed to be sleeping now, and they couldn’t make any more noise. I know my kids move around a lot. I also know they talk a lot. But, they were in there beds talking to each other. Uggghhh.
We’ve now been to a lot of hostels, and this was new to us. What else was new? Lights out in the hostel was 9 pm. If you’re not out checking out Salento, they expected everyone to be in their room for 9, not only the kids. They made sure to turn out all the lights as well. Usually, this was the time for Charo and I to meet other backpackers, hear their stories, and share ours.
If it were Charo and I just travelling, it would have been easy to work through the restrictions. We could have easily spent more time away from La Casa de Lili and enjoyed more of Salento. As a travelling family, I found it unenjoyable. For only the second time in our travels, I felt like our family was unwelcome. I would not recommend Casa de Lili for this reason.
What to do in Salento
Bosque De Palmas
We found a “bus” to take us to Cocora Valley. The bus was more of a Jeep with seating for about nine people with space for four more to stand on the bumper while driving. We all had a seat on the way there. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t my definition of the word comfortable, but it got us there. On the way back, I chose to stand outside on the bumper. Mateo and Marco wanted to be the ones standing outside, but if you know them as well as I do, that would have meant unscheduled stops to pick them up. While I was out there, I had a conversation with a fellow backpackers from Montreal who quit her job to travel, and she’s doing it solo.
What’s so special about this place? The short answer is the palm trees. The longer answer would be the height of the palm trees; they boast the tallest ones on record over 60 feet high.
Once we arrived at Cocora Valley, we walked for about 1 km to the entrance to Bosque de Palmas. As you can see above, we followed the red route on the way up and improvised the blue route on the way down.
The red route has a couple of great viewing points and of course, is all uphill. On our way up, we met a mother and daughter combo who were exploring Colombia. After learning they were from San Francisco, I quickly made a “We the North” comment and added we are from Toronto. Good news, no grudges were held 🙂 We stopped for a few minutes and had a great conversation hearing about their travels and sharing our stories. We stopped at the viewing points, snapped a couple of pictures.
At the top of our route, I tried to give a call to my friend Mr. Nicholson. Over the year we are going to try and call them and answer any questions they have about our trip.
And then we descended. Usually, the walk down is pretty quick, but at the advice of some folks sitting on the hill, the kids decided to go down in style. Needless to say, it was memorable.
Miss Palma de Cera
How is it everywhere we go we luck into some festival? Here we go again. We were sitting in the hostel getting ready to go out when all of a sudden, we hear a band playing walking right down our street. Charo ran down the stairs to see what was happening; I took a short cut to the balcony.
If you made it to the end, you’ll notice the beauty that should have won the contest. I think they excluded in fairness to all the others participating. Goes Here
Thoughts on Salento
I have to admit, not one of us were big fans of Salento. After exploring the rest of Colombia, we didn’t need to explore it any more than we did. The town itself is very touristy. I think we would have had a different experience if this was the first place we came to visit after leaving Bogota. Our stay at Casa de Lili didn’t help. If Charo and I were travelling without kids, or I was travelling single, I could see the allure of Salento. However, with the family, this is a place I would gladly skip next time.
After our Two nights in Salento
Salento is a town most travellers do first after Bogota, we did a little bit of a reverse, and this was our last stop before returning to Bogota.
When we returned to Bogota, we found a great Airbnb to stay. It was quiet, clean, and new. It was the ideal place to go and chill for a couple of days, waiting for our flight out to Cusco, Peru.
Next stop Peru! Lots to see, and to visit the places Charo has told me about all these years. We can’t wait.
Thanks for reading and happy adventuring!
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