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Happiness is Clean Feet

COLOMBIA | Friday, 9 January 2015 | Views [263]

Woke up bright and early for our big trip to Valle del Cocora, Colombia's treasured landscape. In order to get from Salento to the valley (where your long hike begins) you have to jump into one of these Willys Jeeps from WWII. These Jeeps, which comfortably hold about 6 people, will not leave until they have about 12 tourists on board. This means cramming people in as much as possible and having about 3-4 standing on the back bumper. It's part of the experience and quite fun. Footage to come later.
 
Arriving at the valley, we had no idea what a long day would be ahead of us. We got there around 8.20 (after grabbing a packed lunch from 'Brunch,' this great restaurant run by Jeff from Oregon). We got back to Salento around 8pm. Yes people, that is a 10 hour hike. And boy was it beautiful.
 
The hike was strenuous, most strenuous hike I've ever done (yes Pad, even steeper than the Batona Trail). To me, it felt like the entire hike was uphill. Our altitude ranged from about 2500-3000 meters, so the air was thin and it was quite difficult to breathe. We took it very slow though, and made out just fine. We visited a Hummingbird sanctuary at about 2800 meters. We climbed up a steep mountainside to El Mirador at about 3000 meters, and we ate out lunch relaxed on the side of the peak of a mountain staring ahead at another mountain. When we thought the journey was over and we just needed to head back to Cocora for our Jeep ride back, it turns out we still had another 6 or so kilometers to hike back (to complete the loop). This is where the real prized sites were. Striking valleys of all depths and shades of green with fast moving, wispy fog creeping through. The mountains that encased the valley were adorned with tall palm trees, in fact the tallest variety of Palm trees in the world. These are Colombia's national tree. We sat for a while and enjoyed the view, which has by far been the most amazing of the whole trip (amongst tons of amazing views) and then continued on back to Cocora to catch our crammed Jeep back to Salento.
 
In Salento we went in search of a hotel with hot water. Matt and I agreed that after our 10 hour hike, we deserved one (not to mention it gets chilly in Salento at night since it is situated at 2600 m). Btw none of these altitude numbers mean anything to me, but they do to Matt and they will I'm sure to some of you. All I knew was that my shampoo exploded everywhere and I could never really take a deep enough breath. We settled on Tralala, a fancy little hostel but really well-priced. Got my warm shower and cleaned my feet. Don't think I've ever been so elated by clean feet. What a lovely thing.
 
Salento had its huge annual New Years festival going on while we were there which we got to enjoy. Salento was a quaint little town with colorful shops an street musicians everywhere. Then in the big center square there was the proper party/club scene. Let me tell you, these Colombians know how to party. We just explored, observed, and then went back for a good nights sleep. Exhausting but fantastic day.

Tags: hiking, hummingbirds, salento, trekking, valle del cocora, wax palms

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