Curious about the highest palm trees in the world? Valle de Cocora (Cocora valley) is home to the Palma de Cera de Quindío (the wax palm), the tallest palm tree on the planet. This tree has an average height of 50 to 60 m. Valle de Cocora is one of the most beautiful areas in Colombia to go for some lovely day-hikes. Read more about a visit to the Valle de Cocora and everything you need to know, in this article.
Valle de Cocora
Valle de Cocora is located in the department of Quindío. The first time I visited this place, I was so impressed by the colors and couldn’t believe my eyes. There are so many different shades of green that it looks almost surreal. The area lends itself perfectly to a number of long and short hikes. And if you don’t feel like walking, there are also possibilities for horseback rides.
Tip: Bring enough food and water and take a full day for your visit. Find a nice spot to sit down once in a while, have a picknick and take in the impressive surroundings.
Hiking in the Valle de Cocora | the short hike.
Both the short hike and the long hike start in the village of Cocora. The short hike will take you to two beautiful viewpoints. The first part of the hike can be a bit intense as you’re going to be climbing a lot and the altitudes range between 1900 m and 2500 m. I would recommend to take your time and don’t start off too fast. Once you have arrived at Mirador 1, you have two options. You could either walk another 15 minutes to Mirador 2, or sit down for a while and make your way through the valley, back to your starting point, afterwards. This hike will take about 2.5 hours to complete and is doable for everyone.
Hiking in the Valle Cocora | the long hike.
You can approach this hike in two ways. The first way to go, is to first do the short hike, walk up to Mirador 2 and continue your way to Finca La Montana, where you can sit down for a drink and enjoy an amazing view. You follow the path along the river with several suspension bridges down to the blue gate, your end point.
The other option is to start at the blue gate in the village of Cocora. You will be hiking uphill. Some parts can be a little steep but it’s doable. During your hike, you can visit the hummingbird reserve. Once you arrive at Finca La Montana, follow the trail via the “Miradores”, down to the valley. This route takes you through different landscapes: the jungle, the cloud forest with its orchids, ferns, bromeliads and the valley with its wax palms. This hike will take about 5 to 6 hours to complete, and it’s worth every minute.
How to get to the Valle de Cocora?
In Salento you will find Willy jeeps on the main square. They will drop you off in the village of Cocora within 30 minutes. From here it’s just a couple of hundred meters walking to the official entrance of the National Park, where you pay a small entrance fee. And then, you just follow the path. I would recommend to take a picture of the map on display or download google maps/maps.me, before you go hiking, so you have an overview of the different trails. I’ve included the map at the bottom of the article.
If you want to know more about the different species of birds, it is recommend to bring a guide from Salento. Colombia is known for its diversity of special birds, and this place is a bird watching paradise!
The weather can change at any time during the day, so it is important to prepare yourself for these different weather conditions. One minute, you’ll be walking under a clear sky, and suddenly the rain will be pouring down. Moreover, the climate in the valley is very different from the climate in the village 10 minutes away.
- day backpack
- hiking boots
- sufficient amounts of water and food
- wear layers of comfortable clothes that you can easily take on and off during the day
- rain gear
Salento is the perfect starting point for a trip to the Cocora valley. In this little town, you will find several hotels, restaurants and possibilities to book a guide. Read here more about bohemian Salento.
Map of Valle de Cocora
This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch)