Coffee, Colombia´s biggest export (legal export that is, wink wink)
02/01/10 - Armenia, Zona Cafeteria, Colombia
03/01/10 - Salento, Zona Cafeteria, Colombia
04/01/10 - Valle de Cocora, Zona Cafeteria, Colombia
We catch a bus to Armenia in the coffee zone of Colombia. It takes 6 hours. Buses in Colombia rarely leave on time. This one for example had not left according to time, but only when it was physically impossible to squeeze in anymore people. By the time we left the bus station, it had picked up half the population of Bogota, a pig or two and the entire output of a craft village.
Armenia offers little and there is nothing to see there. The main reason to go there is to visit the nearby small town called Salento and hike the forested mountains of Valle de Cocora. Salento is one hour´s drive from Armenia and is a big contrast to the urban decay of that city. It is small and beautiful. Unfortunately it is also packed full of tourists (like us) during the weekends, to the extent that you can barely move in the main square. It is here we get a tour of a coffee plantation from a nice English chap. He explains the ins and outs of growing coffee and the differences between the various variaties of coffee beans. If you taste a coffee bean (like we did) before it is dried, it tastes very sweet and sugary. Bet you didn´t know that. Or care.
The stunning Valle de Cocora is like a lush version of Switzerland, with a broad green valley floor framed by rugged peaks. The hike takes over 7 hours (both ways) which includes a drive up to the mountain base camp in a jeep. If you´re not one of the first ones to get to the jeep (like I wasn´t) you have to stand. Which is fine for 10 minutes. Even 20. But when it´s a whole hour and the driver drives like a, well, a Colombian, then it´s a little difficult!
The astonishing sight of the palma de cera (wax palm) in the cloud forests in which they thrive, make it all worthwhile.
Hunting for the biggest game of all: Man
Coffee, had no idea they grew like that. They taste really sweet before they are dried
Beginning of the trek, all happy an that...
That's me nearly falling through the bridge. Everyone on the trek thought it was hilarious, you know, me nearly falling through cracking my skull and bleeding to death. Hilarious
If we're not HERE then we're buggered...
Hummingbirds: hard to photograph