Cocora Valley Colombia – Wax palms, coffee and volcanoes

Everything important about Cocora Valley at a glance

Another highlight of our trip to Colombia was the visit to Cocora Valley or Los Nevados National Park. The valley, which is known for its seemingly endless towering palm trees, is located in Colombia’s Central Cordillera (Cordillera de los Andes) relatively in the middle of the triangle between the 3 major cities of Medellin, Bogota and Cali. The Cocora Valley is also part of a larger national park – the Los Nevados National Park, whose hikes we can also highly recommend! In this article, however, we dedicate ourselves exclusively to the Cocora Valley and the town of Salento, which serves as an ideal starting point for the hikes in the surrounding area.

Quindio wax palms

The highlight of the Cocora Valley are the wax palms, which are up to 60m high. The Quindio wax palm is considered the highest palm species and is the national tree of Colombia. The palm is native to altitudes between 2,000 and 3,000 meters above sea level. The wax palm, native to the Andes of Colombia, is one of the endangered species. The ever-expanding agriculture is a particular threat to the plant, as animals eat the seedlings of the plant, thus preventing its perpetuation. The fruits themselves are not edible for humans but for various animal species. The name “wax palm” is given to the plant because of a thick layer of wax that covers the trunk.

Directions to Cocora Valley

The approach from Salento to the Cocora Valley is quite simple. From 5:30 in the morning, the so-called “Willy Jeeps” -. The departure is at Plaza Bolivar every 30 minutes. Tickets are sold in the square. The colorful jeeps are also the transportation of choice to get back to Salento after the hike. A one-way ride costs about € 1.

Willy Jeep

The hike through the Cocora Valley

The classic route through the Cocora Valley takes about 4-5 hours and leads you through farmland, past grasslands, through jungle and of course through the picturesque Cocora Valley with its up to 60m high giant palm trees. If you don’t feel physically fit for a hike through the whole valley, you can also just hike clockwise for about half an hour to an hour and then you will already have a great view of the valley. If your physical fitness allows it, we recommend you to walk the whole route. You can choose between clockwise and counterclockwise. We recommend hiking counterclockwise, because you will keep the unmistakable highlight of the hike – the view of the Wax Palm Valley – until the end. The hike in this direction is a bit more strenuous, as it is quite steep uphill for a while, but in our opinion it is worth it. On the map you can see the routes again.

You walk counterclockwise for about 3/4 of an hour along fields before entering the jungle. After about another hour you will come to a fork. Here you can decide if you want to make a short detour to the hummingbird house or if you want to continue directly to the left. Now comes the most strenuous part. It goes quite steeply uphill until you finally come out at the Finca la Montana, a small accommodation with many colorful flowers and also some collibris buzzing around here. We treated ourselves to a cold coke here before we hiked on.

Herumschwirrender Kolibri

From here on the hike is very relaxed and it goes steadily downhill until you pass the viewpoints and have a breathtaking view of the valley. The landscape looks especially dramatic on somewhat overcast days with some fog. But since we were not only interested in the Cocora Valley, but especially the “Los Nevados” National Park, we did it all in a 3-day hike.

Blick in das Cocora Valley

Cocora Valley on your own or with a tour?

If you want to visit Cocora Valley, it is best to do so without a tour. Jeeps depart from Salento every morning, heading for the entrance of the park. From there the hike begins. To be on the safe side, have or another offline map with you. But the trail is easily recognizable even without it.

How much does the hike to Cocora Valley cost?

The good thing about Cocora Valley is that it has remained very cheap despite its immense popularity. The ride with the jeep to the beginning of the hike costs 4,000 – 5,000 COP (+/- 1€) each way and the entrance fee to the park also costs roughly another 2 €.

Cocora Valley Packing List

  • Hiking boots possibly rubber boots (depending on weather conditions it can be very muddy)
  • At best a filter bottle e.g. LifestrawWindfeste und warme Jacke
  • Rain jacket
  • Breakfast (e.g. sandwiches, bananas and Snickers)
  • Sunscreen
  • Headgear
  • Offline-Map


Salento is a small town with almost 10,000 inhabitants, which exudes a special charm through the preservation of the Bahareque architecture typical of the eje cafetero region. Particularly eye-catching are the colorful house facades. Salento is a good starting point for visiting the coffee plantations, the village of Filandia and the Cocora Valley. The town is located at an altitude of 1,900 meters above sea level and has a surprisingly fresh climate. Especially in the evening hours it can get quite cool. Salento has a few hostels and restaurants. No wonder, after all, the place is visited by over a million people a year. The center of the city is (as in almost every Colombian city) the “Plaza Bolivar” from which also the busiest street of the place, the “Calle Real” leaves.

Hiking clothes rental in Salento

Those who have mainly packed their summer clothes and have no warm clothes with them can fortunately borrow them on site, depending on availability of course. We easily rented rubber boots and gloves on site for our hike in Los Nevados National Park. Especially if it has rained, the path can be quite muddy, so you need at least shoes that are reasonably waterproof and go up to the ankles.

Directions to Salento

The easiest way to get there is by bus. From Medellin, Bogota and Cali there are daily direct connections to Salento.

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About Us

We are Julian & Naomi and we love to travel the world and immerse ourselves in other cultures. We have an adventurous, spartan, sustainable and reflective travel style. In our opinion, the greatest adventures are experienced when you do things on your own and try to live like a local. The taste of a country is best captured on the road
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