The Cocora Valley, high in the Andes and surrounded by mountain peaks, was named a wildlife sanctuary in 1985 by then-President Belisario Betancur, to prevent exploitation of the wax palm, Colombia’s national tree. The valley is located in the Quindio district and belongs to the Parque Nacional de los Nevados.
When in the Cocora Valley, a horse riding trip is an absolute must. To get there, catch a jeep (the “Willy’s”) from the central plaza of Salento. The ride will take around 40 minutes.
Once at the valley, the trip on horseback will cost approximately COP30,000 and take three hours. The journey through the beautiful landscape starts with a green valley, filled with the famous palm trees, followed by a stop to view a breathtaking waterfall.
The next stop is the hummingbird farm. The name is misleading, as it is not an actual farm of hummingbirds, but there are many opportunities to view the tiny creatures. This costs an extra COP3,000, which includes a drink, and the climb up to the farm will make you realize how lucky you are to have a horse doing most of the walking for you.
Experience in horse riding is not necessary, as a guide will be there to provide assistance for the entire journey, and there is also the option of walking.
Temperatures in the Cocora Valley can get fresh, with an average of 59 degrees, so be sure to bring a jacket. Wear old and comfortable clothes, and bring an extra pair of socks, as the horses will carry you through rivers.
There have been many cases of robbery during horse riding trips. Take care of your belongings and never leave your bag unattended. Don’t leave any of your possessions behind when you go to see the waterfalls or the hummingbird farm, even if the guide guarantees it is safe and he will keep an eye out for you. But this should not stop you from visiting the Cocora Valley. Take care of your belongings and enjoy the fantastic views.