Sunday, November 13, 2016

Eje Cafetero: Salento

Salento church

Salento is a small picturesque town in the Eje Cafetero region. It is easily reached by bus from either Pereira or Armenia.

Although the town is very much set up for tourism, it still retains a traditional country town charm. As in many country towns in Colombia there us a Tejo court, and because the town has many tourists, the locals are keen to teach visitors about the traditional game.

Tejo consists of throwing metal weights at a clay filled box to try and land the weight in a metal ring embedded in the clay.

Tejo weights

To spice up the game, the metal ring has small packets of gunpowder which explode when hit by the weights (gaining the player extra points). 

The court is in Carrera 4 just outside of the town centre - just ask for "Amigos Tejo". The games are free with purchasing drinks. I started by drinking beer but the locals told me that drinking Aguardiente (the local anise-flavoured liquor) would improve my game - and after a few shots, I was rewarded with several explosions.

After a few more drinks we amped up the game by adding more explosives

The town has two lookouts in the surrounding hills that give a beautiful view of the town and the cocora valley behind the town.

Salento

The Cocora valley

The Cocora valley is famous for its tall wax Palms and there are several walking trails through the valley to see them. The best trail is the 5 1/2 hour trail through the jungle in the surrounding hills.

To get to the trail you need to take one of the jeeps from the main square for $COP3000 (about $A1.50). The best time to go is to catch the 7:30am cars before the trail gets too crowded.

The trail starts through farmland

Farms with the wax palms growing on the hills

before entering the jungle.

A bridge crossing the river

The trail leads up into the mountains until it reaches a small hummingbird sanctuary where for $COP6000 (around $A3) you can enjoy a hot chocolate and piece of the local cheese.

Hummingbird

The trail then continues up the mountain until you reach a farmhouse at the top of the hill.

The top of the hill

The road then leads back down the hills until it passes the majestic wax palms.

Wax palms


Wax palm in the mist


Farmland with wax palms

The trail then leads past more farmland until you reach the dropoff point where you can take a jeep back to Salento.

The last stand of palms before catching the jeep