Tuesday 13 August 2019.
Highlights: Cocora Valley Hike, Playing Tejo (Colombian traditional sport).
We started our day with an included breakfast at our Armenia estate and it was then off on a 50 minute drive to Salento for today’s activities – basically hiking and later trying to cause explosions!
Our hotel in Salento was Hotel Salento Real. A nice hotel in this small town. We couldn’t check in until 3 pm but that suited as just fine as today was about hiking in the nearby Cocora Valley.
After a quick city familiarisation walk we need up in the town square we’re Miguel and our local guide organised a 4×4 vehicle ride to Cocora Valley. These vehicles are from World War 2 that the USA donated to Colombia after that war.
The valley is part of the Los Nevados National Natural Park, and it is home to the national tree and symbol of Colombia, the Quindío wax palm and many horses and has an altitude between 1800 and 2400 meters. From our drop off point we hike about 50-60 minutes, including some stops for explains on flora and local history, to get to a swing that overlooked a portion of the valley.
From this point onwards it was mostly hiking upwards, not to difficult but still at this altitude and with only small level areas it could be a strain. As we went higher we found two very good look out points that showed off this beauty of this national park.
While heading back it just started to rain but not enough to brother us much before getting to a local restaurant at which I order the local specialty trout with tomatoes and a local beer – Poker.
At short 15-18 kilometre 4×4 drive back to Salento and it was time to check in and get a shower after sweat of the hike. This followed a visit back to the centre of the town to buy some food and drinks for tomorrow’s 8 hour drive. Others used this time to purchase some of the famous Colombian coffee but as a non-coffee drinker I wasn’t interested.
After a group dinner Miguel took as to a tavern / Tejo venue. Tejo is a traditional throwing sport in Colombia. You throw small metal weights at a clay area with a group of small white satchels containing gunpowder, which explode on impact, that are on the edges of a metal circle. You throw against one other person. Closest to circle gets one point, make a satchel explode three points, get in the circle without exploding a satchel six points, get inside the circle and explode a satchel nine points. First to 21 points wins. We created groups of three against three.
This was a very fun sport. I managed to explode one satchel and once I got in the middle without exploding a satchel. Ultimately my team lost our best of three matches 2-1 despite the good throwing from our team captain Sean. Our opposing team captain Eric got to explode the remaining satchels in victory.
A very fun game that only cost 5,000 pesos (around $2 AUD for 1.5 hours of fun 🙂