Catie and I made a plan to get up fairly early and make our way to the Cocora Valley to hike to the wax palms, the national tree of Colombia. I got up a little later than I anticipated, while Catie met a new friend at breakfast. Our duo quickly became a trio. Catie, Heather, and Kim headed out of La Serrana into town to pick up a Willy.
Heather’s friend knew of a place where we could also get sacked lunches for our hike. So, we stopped there first and picked up some yummy and super sweat sacked lunches before we climbed the hill to the Willy pick up spot.
What is a Willy, you ask? A Willy is a jeep-like automobile that traverses the mountain roads of Salento. They cost 3.600 to get you to Cocora Valley and back. I accidentally got pulled towards the first one and therefore was separated from Catie and Heather temporarily. The drive was cramped, but with the wind running through the open windows and the bumpy windy roads, it was an adventure. And I didn’t wait long at the other end for Heather and Catie to join me. We had water and sandwiches and a great desire to conquer the mountain.
We started along the little trail, paid our entrance fee, and enjoyed the stunning scene before us. Horses grazed along the green hills. The mountain’s summit glistened in the sun, beckoning us to continue on. We even met a miniature donkey, similar to one that Catie told us about at her farm back home. I swear we need to make a children’s book about this donkey. The day was perfectly beautiful and we were enjoying our time together. A couple walked towards us and we asked them how the hike was from here. Apparently, the first hour sucks and then the rest level’s out. Well, that was coming from the other side. For us it became mud, rickety bridge, more mud, horse and donkey poo, another non-up-to-code bridge, and a slight incline. In total, there were eight suspension brides that definitely could not hold all of us at once. And we had so much fun crossing them. We were all doing really great on this hike! About two hours into our hike we hit the mother of all inclines.
Now, I’m a tortoise when it comes to hiking. I am slow and steady and thankfully I was with two people who were totally cool with this. We slowly trudged and trudged and trudged, stopping here and there for some water and picture taking. Although it felt like an hour, we made great time up the hill. Thirty minutes later, we made it to the summit. And it was glorious. It was like a completely different world. I was sweaty and panting and I was in my super happy place looking over the valley. We sat on some grass, opened our sacked lunches and enjoyed sitting in silence watching the clouds rolling over the mountains around us. A little dog came and played around us. Chickens pecked at our feet. And I opened my sandwich to the sweetest note I have ever gotten in my lunch. And this is from someone whose mom wrote notes in her lunch all the time. I highly highly recommend getting some lunch for take away at Brunch de Salento!
With our tummies full and our spirits lifted and our pulses back to normal, we made our way back to the trail and down the mountain. Walking down is so much easier. I recommend doing the wax palms last as you do the loop. It makes it much more special when you aren’t huffing and puffing when you come across them. And come across them you do. They loom out of nowhere, like something from The Lorax. We took some killer pictures of the view and the trees, gave them a little hug, met some cows and had the best afternoon just laughing!
The Cocora Valley was one of the highlights of my trip. The company was amazing, the views incredible, and the challenge satisfying.