Cocora Valley Hike – One Of Colombia’s Prettiest Hikes

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Nearly every visitor to Salento will want to go on the Cocora Valley Hike. It is one of the best things to do in Salento and no trip would be complete without going on it.

I had seen many pictures of the famous wax palms online before visiting. To be honest I thought that it looked a little overrated. But after visiting I have to admit I was wrong.

The wax palms towering over the valley is a truly beautiful hike and it is a very unique place to visit.

So keep reading to find out all you need to know about the Cocora Valley Hike.

How To Get To The Cocora Valley Hike

The Cocora Valley Hike starting point is located just a 15-minute drive from Salento. Luckily because Salento is such a touristy town it is super easy to get there.

Simply head to Plaza Bolivar which is the main square of Salento. At the square, you will see a lineup of colorful jeeps called Willys. These Jeeps are the transport to the Cocora Valley.

A lineup of colorful jeeps parked at a town square in colombia that are the best way how to get to the cocora valley hike

There is a ticket booth located by the Jeeps at the square to purchase tickets to the Cocora Valley. A ticket costs 4500 COP or just over 1 USD each way.

You can return at whatever time you like simply just turn up the the parking lot by the hike and jump on the next Jeep. The last jeep returns to Salento at 5:30 pm.

TIP : It is quite cramped in the back of the Jeeps and you cannot see out the windows very well. If you want a good view you should hang on to the back of the Jeep. Every Jeep will have two or three people standing on the bumper. The view is way better from there. You just have to be ok with hanging on to the back of the Jeep while it drives!

Cocora Valley Hike Map

If you want to see a Cocora Valley Hike Map before you leave I recommend dowloading maps.me before you go.

If you have never used Maps.me before it is an awesome app that allows you to download offline maps.

It is much better than Google Maps if you go hiking. Quite often the smallest dirt trails are on Maps.me and they can help you navigate when you are in the middle of nowhere.

We had Maps.me and it helped us big time on the trail. Despite the Cocora Valley being the biggest tourist attraction in the area the trail is not signposted well at all in some sections. So you can easily take a wrong turn if you do not have a Cocora Valley Hike map with you.

The cocora valley hike map
A Cocora Valley Hike Map that you will see at the entrance to the Palm Forest.

When you arrive at the Cocora Valley Hike by the entrance to the wax palm forest you will also see the above map. It is a useful illustration to show you what to expect on the hike and the different options that you have.

Cocora Valley Hike Starting Point

Hike Time: 5-6 Hours
Length: 10 km 0r 6.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Clothing: The path is muddy so bring shows that you do not mind getting dirty. Rain can also come at any moment so bring waterproof clothing.

If you do the hike clockwise then the starting point is at El Bosque De Los Palmas or the palm tree forest. But if you do the hike anti-clockwise you will need to start on the path further down which is marked as Cocora Valley Trail on Google Maps.

Cocora Valley Hike Clockwise or AntiClockwise

The biggest decision you have to make when starting the hike is whether to do the hike clockwise or anticlockwise.

The hike is a loop so if you do the hike clockwise you will see the famous palm tree forest at the start. But if you do the hike anticlockwise you will see the palm forest at the end.

On Alltrails and other sites, we saw many people recommend doing the hike anticlockwise. The reasoning was that if you did the hike anit-clockwise you would see the best part at the end.

A view of the cocora valley with the very tall palm trees in the foreground

But I think this is a bad idea. Because we spent 10 days in Salento and so often the weather was much cloudier in the afternoon than in the morning. So if you go clockwise you will have a higher chance of seeing the Palm Forest in sunshine.

Plus if you go anti-clockwise you will go up a steep valley to start. The path here is very steep and muddy and we saw quite a few people struggling. So if you go clockwise you will have a tougher climb and will arrive at the prettiest part of the hike tired at the end of a hard hike.

It’s up to you but I think clockwise is the way to go!

Cocora Valley Hike Entrance Fee

Entrance to El Bosque De Las Palmas the Palm Forest at the start of the Cocora Valley Hike is 20,000 or 5 USD. If you do the hike clockwise you pay this fee right at the start of your hike. But if you do the hike anti-clockwise you will pay the fee at the end.

There is also another fee to pay near the end of the hike to pass over private land. There is a hut where you are supposed to pay 6,000 COP or 1.50 USD to pass through.

Although when we walked through there was no one at the hut so we just walked straight through. So maybe if you go late in the afternoon it will be free for you too!

If you do the hike anti-clockwise you will pass the hut that charges 6,000 COP first and then pay the 20,000 COP fee at the end of the hike.

El Bosque De Las Palmas

El Bosque De Las Palmas is where you will start the hike and it was easily my favorite part of the hike. The wax palms are super beautiful towering over 60 meters.

There are a few cheesy attractions such as jeeps and angel wings to take your photo with. But the best part is just to admire the amazing palm trees swaying in the wind.

The path up to the middle of the palm trees is quite steep but only takes 5-10 minutes. Many tourists only come to this point and return to their cars.

So if you are feeling lazy or short on time you can do that too! You will have seen the most beautiful part but the rest of the hike is worth it.

FACT : The wax palms are the national plant of Colombia and the Cocora Valley was designated a National Reserve specifically to protect the palms. They were in danger of becoming extinct because of their use in religious celebrations. But luckily the Colombian government stepped in to protect them for future generations.

A hand holding a 100000 COP colombian bank note with palm trees on a hill in the background
The wax palms of the Cocora Valley are also on the 100,000 COP bill

To continue on the hike you need to follow the path up the hill behind the palm forest. The path here is quite steep and will take you to another lookout point where there is another beautiful mini palm forest.

After this lookout point the road continues uphill for quite a long time. This is on quite a wide road so it is easy terrain but it is a long grind and if you are not used to the altitude you may get a bit out of breath.

At one point you will pass a hut that sells snacks and drinks if you feel like stopping to refuel.

A hut on the cocora valle hike trail that sells snacks and drinks
Hut selling drinks and snacks along the trail

The path will continue for quite a while until you reach another building with a nice view over the valley. At this point, the path will go steeply downhill.

The path down the hill is easy to follow and fairly straightforward. But once you get to the bottom there is a turning point that is not obvious.

A man in a purple t shirt and blue hat walking down a steep winding trail on a green grassy hill
The start of the steep trail downhill into the valley

We came to a muddy section and it was not clear whether to turn left or right. The right didn’t look like a path to us as there were logs over the path and it was very muddy.

But at this point going to the left will take you to the hummingbird house, more on the below. While going to the right will take you to the end of the hike.

I am sure the hike can change a lot depending on the seasons. But there is a picture of a puma on a tree where you need to turn right so you can use that as a guide.

Hummingbird House

At this turning you will have the option to go to the hummingbird house. This is a property in the middle of the park where you can see hummingbirds and have a drink.

Although it sounds like a cool place to visit I would recommend not visiting. They charge 20,000 COP or 5 USD to enter and included in the price is a drink.

Two humming bird sitting on top of a red plastic feeder with trees in the background
There are just a couple of plastic feeders to see hummingbirds feeding at the hummingbird house.

But I think it is not worth the money. Although 5 USD is not much in other countries it is expensive in Colombia and they do not offer much in return.

There were a few hummingbird feeders scattered around the property. But most of them were not clean and many of them were empty.

It is also quite a big detour to go here. It takes about 40 minutes in total. So I recommend skipping the hummingbird house as it is not worth the time or money.

Hiking Down The Valley

After making a right downhill you will follow a river down the valley. This path continues downhill for about another 1.5 – 2 hours.

The path can be quite muddy and rocky. So you will see why I recommend going down here rather than up. We passed a couple of people who looked super worn out after battling their way up the hill.

A woman in a rain jacket crossing a wooden suspension bridge on a hike near salento colombia

There are multiple rickety wooden bridges to cross the river as you make your way down the river. Many have signs saying one person at a time. I would follow these instructions because many of the bridges look like they can barely hold one person!

They are good fun to cross the rivers on and are not that high off the ground. But they will most definitely sway a lot as you cross.

The path down the valley is heavily forested so you will not have much of a view of the valley. But towards the end of the hike you will enter some farmland and the views of the valley here are beautiful.

Farmland in the cocora valley near salento colombia
The view back down the valley at the end of the hike

Not too far from the end of the hike, you will have to pay the 6000 COP or 1.50 USD fee to pass over private land.

The end of the path will take you to the road right next to where the Jeeps are parked. So you can just jump straight on for a ride back to Salento.

Cocora Valley Hike Tour

If you would like a guide to ensure you do not get lost you can book a Cocora Valley Hike Tour for 78 USD.

In my opinion, it is best just to do the hike by yourself. It is not too difficult and it is always a sense of accomplishment if you do something by yourself.

However, if you are not a confident hiker the tour could be a good idea. We had no trouble finding our way but we met multiple people who got a bit lost or were having trouble with the difficulty of the hike.

750*350

Where To Stay In Salento

Yambolombia Hostel

Yambolombia Hostel is a great hostel if you want to be out in the countryside. It is about a 35-minute walk from Salento but is located in beautiful peaceful farmland. There are plenty of common areas and a breakfast is offered for just 15,000 COP or just under 4 USD.

Dorms can be as low as 8 USD per night and privates are as low as 28 USD.

Hostel Tralala

If you are looking for a hostel closer to town then I recommend Hostel Tralala. It is just one block from the main square and has excellent reviews.

You can book a dorm bed for just over 10 USD so it is great value for money.

Salento Hotels

La Posado De La Plaza

If you are looking for a budget hotel in Salento then La Posado De La Plaza is a great option. They have double rooms for around 45 USD per night.

It is centrally located and also has a shared kitchen if you would like to make your own meals.

Now You Know How To Get To The Cocora Valley Hike

The Cocora Valley Hike is a must-do while you are in Salento. It is a spectacular place and worthy of all the attention it gets.

There are also many other cool things to do in Salento so make sure to read our article. Also, make sure to read all our other Colombia articles below.

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Travel, health and fitness fanatic from New Zealand. Co-founder of Happy Healthy Nomads and always on a hunt for good food.

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