Posted by Cameron Sumpter on Jul 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Connect with nature in an urban oasis south of Medellin

El Salado, Envigado

Perched high on the hill above Envigado Square, where weathered old Colombian grandpas sip aguardiente and reminisce about the town’s turbulent past, sits the tranquil oasis of El Salado Ecological Park.

Nestled in the Aburra valley sits Envigado, a municipality that neighbors Medellin. For centuries locals have been basking in the waters of the Sancocho stream which snakes through the valley and which legend tells, enhances the fertility of women.

In 2006 Envigadeños (and their many children) asked for the area to be turned into a nature reserve and, with local and regional funding, the Salado Park was born.

Today 100,000 people from across the country visit the park’s 17 hectares annually, to enjoy the waters, well-kept gardens, and to cook up a hearty pot of a slow-cooked stew known as “sancocho” over a wood fire. For forgetful picnickers, the park provides kiosks selling all the ingredients needed to rustle up the traditional dish.

While offering a sanctuary for families and people escaping the bustle of Medellin, the park prides itself in preserving and enhancing ecological diversity and has miles of well maintained paths with lookouts for trekkers and bird watchers.

Park director Jorge Mario Cadavid told Colombia Reports that “the environment and ecology are extremely important to our lives, and the park represents this.”

“The main focus of the park is nature; we have native trees, including many Amazonian varieties, and endemic species of bird such as the endangered casique candela (red bellied grackle),” Cadavid said.

El Salado encourages visitors to get up close to the nature while sailing through the forest canopy on one thousand meters of zip line which intersect seven sections of the park and help to broaden the appeal of the reserve.

The zip lines are just one example of many facilities and attractions available in the park, such as a basketball and micro-football court, a skateboard park, guided tours, a restaurant, cafes and seventeen picnic/bbq areas (each catering to fifteen people).

The days of a simple fertility bath and bean stew have been updated for the 21st Century.

Admission is COP4,000 for adults and 2,000 for children. A zip through the canopy runs at COP13,000, while a bundle of firewood is COP3,000.