Cocora Valley Hike – The highlight of Colombia

I remember we were in Ilha Grande, Brazil when we first started reading about Colombia, and amongst all the beauties featured in Lonely Planet, it was Cocora Valley in the Zona Cafetera that caught our attention. Looking back at our time in the country considered too dangerous to visit not long ago, Cocora Valley was the absolute highlight.

Cocora Valley, the highlight of Colombia.

Cocora Valley, the highlight of Colombia.

Cocora Valley, the highlight of Colombia.

To hike or not to hike

When visiting Cocora Valley, you have the option to hike for a few hours, or you can take the shortcut and witness a beautiful view very quickly. Since the journey is half the fun, and I don’t really like shortcuts, together with Bertrand, we went for the hike.

From the beginning, you are surrounded by beautiful landscapes, and if you go early, you won’t meet many people along the way.

After two good hours, you reach the hummingbird sanctuary where you can catch your breath and have a drink. Or, in the case of Bertrand, you just snap 800 pictures of the lovely birds :).

From the hummingbird sanctuary, don’t go back on the same trail, but follow the path and go up. You will reach a hacienda with a great view over the cloud forest. This was one of my favorite moments during the hike. 

Cocoa Valley, the highlight of Colombia.

The view from the hacienda Don't miss the mockingbirds, the view from the hacienda and the walk down. If you don't do that, you miss out.

Cocoa Valley, the highlight of Colombia.

The beauty that is Cocora Valley

As you start going down from the hacienda, you begin to see what the hype is all about. Why people rave about this place and its beauty. Because of the clouds, at least in the beginning, it was hard to have a good view of the valley. However, as we were descending, the sky cleared and we were blown away by the views.

Hosting the Colombian national symbol, the wax palm tree which can reach up to 60 meters, Valley de Cocora is a must when visiting Zona Cafetera in Colombia.

I have seen my fair share of beautiful landscapes in South America. From Salkantay in Peru to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, and Quito in Ecuador. However, Cocora Valley is one of a kind. 

Cocora Valley, the highlight of Colombia.

Cocora Valley, the highlight of Colombia.

Cocora Valley, the highlight of Colombia.

Cocora Valley, the highlight of Colombia.

Cocora Valley, the highlight of Colombia.

Cocora Valley, the highlight of Colombia.

How and Where to

Where to stay: We stayed at Casa de la Ciencia in Salento, which is about 25 min by car from Cocora Valley.

How to get there: By 4WD’s from the main square in Salento. They have a morning schedule which starts pretty early. This might have changed since we went there in March this year, so do double-check before waking up at 6am :).

Hike/no hike: I recommend the hike. It’s not that difficult to do and you don’t need a guide. I saw some people doing it in reverse, so starting with Cocora Valley and then making their way down. I wouldn’t recommend this. First, because you start with the highlight, and second you would be walking with your back at all the beauty this place offers.

Duration: Allow a full day for this experience. From the car ride to the hike, complete with breaks for resting and taking photos.

Safety: When we were planning the hike, we had read that some years ago, people got robbed on the trail. Some people were suggesting that this might happen nowadays too. I don’t know if this is a way for guides to get more work, or if indeed there is any danger. What I can say, is that we had no problems along the way, and at no point did we feel unsafe.

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Cocoa Valley Hike - the highlight of Colombia.

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11 Responses
  • Christine K
    November 16, 2016

    I had not heard of this area so was delighted to read about your experience. It looks like a very peaceful place as well. Your photos give a real feel of being there. Nice post.

  • Kate @ Love From Scotland
    November 17, 2016

    This is beautiful and your photos are lovely. What a gorgeous valley and i’m so glad it is open to visitors now. Do you think it is getting busier?

  • sabrina
    November 17, 2016

    Colombia has been on the back of my mind for quite a long time, but I’ve always pushed it away as I’ve been scared of travelling to South America – even though I have spent three months in India!! But, now, thanks to your post and pictures, I feel like I am ready to explore that part of the world. I’ve also recently discovered my love for hiking and this one sounds like a great one to do. Bookmarking this in my SA folder. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • Mike Cotton
    November 17, 2016

    Wow, Cocora Valley looks amazing. That opening photograph captivated me, I love the low lying fog.

  • Emily
    November 17, 2016

    I love your photos!! It’s so green and the layers with all of the trees really make it pop!

  • Marina
    November 18, 2016

    I have never heard about it before and I really enjoyed the reading today!
    Those are the kind of experiences I’m really looking for when traveling the world. Head to the off beaten path and explore the wild area outside the tourists traps and wifi connection.

    I read you have also hiked Salkantay in Peru? I’m gonna jump to it right now since I’m planning to hike it next March. Moreover, I would like to ask… how much time do you need to hike Cocora Valley? I read something about “half day”… does it include the way back or just one way to the top?

    Nice post, thanks for sharing!

  • Prasad Np
    November 18, 2016

    Absolutely gorgeous images.. the blue sky and the tall palm tree images totally win and make me travel

  • Hendrik
    November 20, 2016

    Wow, such amazing pictures and good quality. I really like since it gives way better impression of the place and here it seems everything very quite and peaceful, even a bit magical. Thanks for sharing this, great tip. Happy travelling 🙂

  • Nikki
    November 21, 2016

    Some truly stunning photos there! It looks so peaceful! Colombia is definitely somewhere I would love to explore one day 🙂

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