To get to Valle de Cocora you have to pass through the small and charming town, Salento. It was an amazing drive through the mountains first on highway 50 to Manizales continuing on highway 29 before turning of to Salento. During the week it is quiet, and it is easy to spot the locals in Salento.
In the weekend people gather from both Bogota and Medellin, and the small town gets really crowed!
In contrast we walked the staircase (yellow, green and blue) you see in the upper picture on a weekday, and had coffee in one of the restaurants… we had it almost to our selves.
The best thing about visiting in the weekend is that the local park comes alive. Small restaurants pop-up around the local park, and we tasted two of the local specialties.
Okay, it is hard to see what it is. In the left picture it is trout in some kind of sauce, and in the right picture it is a deep-fried plantain made like a really thin plate with meat and cheese on top. DELICIOUS!
The kids can get a ride in a small Willy’s Jeep, and we enjoyed a “cafe granizado”, which is slush ice with coffee flavor. I also think they mix in a little bit of milk/cream – this one is white dark chocolate sauce (we are so hooked on those!).
The small town is very well maintained and worth a visit whenever you are nearby. Go for a walk and just take in the pretty and colorful buildings.
Keep an eye out for the details – like this staircase (click on the picture for full size and quality)
We spend four nights in Valle de Cocora – we left with the goal to reach our next adventure in the Desiertio de la Tatacoa the same day. We had to drive out of the mountains, down in elevation and enter the dessert in just one single day. It became a challenge, because of the many curves, hairpin bends and heavy trucks. In the right picture a truck is coming around a hairpin bend. One of the locals is directing the traffic because the truck takes up both lanes due to the tight turn, and the locals earn a little bit of money.
Keep an eye out for passing trucks, and stay in the right side – all the way to the right!
A new road consisting of many bridges and tunnels were being built, but the road was not even close to being done. According to the road construction signs the roadwork started in 2007, which is 10 years ago!
They are still working on the new road, and some places it is looks finished (right picture)
Then we met the police – are you allowed to pass the police, when the road is marked with a double-line?
Screw up the double-lines, even the trucks didn’t care and the police didn’t care
Meet the locals
Everything takes longer, but in the afternoon it started to look more like a dessert.
Driving on a dirt road which once had been an old railroad – the bridge was more scary then the tunnel
We were finally in Desiertio Tatacoa just half an hour before sunset. We decided to camp behind the Observatorio Astronómico de la Tatacoa, because when the sky is clear they have astronomy classes using three tripod telescopes – but the sky was not clear when we arrived, so no stars tonight . Will we see the stars in Desierto de la Tatacoa? Read the next post.