Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cocora Valley

This is Dani...
When I heard about my cousin Mike and his family planning this trip I knew I wanted to go and see them. Luckily my friend Desi wanted to give me company on this spontaneous trip to Colombia. We had passed Colombia for a short visit some years ago at the end of 5 months traveling in South America and we were excited to return to the most hospitable Latinos and of course the Stock's on their trip. We were surprised though that the bus trip from Bogota to the coffee zone (280km) took the same time as flying from Europe to Bogota - 11 hours. Now we could really understand how tiring driving must have been for the family. There were hundreds of trucks on the windy steep road and I could not believe that is is the main road connecting the two biggest cities of Colombia, Bogota and Medellin. We were so happy to be picked up by Mike, Sierra and the landlord of the recent accommodation at the bus station and we did not have to bother any further with taxi drivers and looking for accommodation at night.
The next day we were rewarded when we woke up overlooking the beautiful coffee zone with endless shades of green and high peaked mountains in the horizon. I was so astonished by the beauty of the landscape. Mike and we, the 5 girls, went on a drive to Salento and Cocora valley which is famous for the highest palm trees in the world (they grow about 60 meters). We went for a nice walk through the mixture of jungle and forest and crossed a small river barefoot. I also really loved the variety of flowers and birds. It is so good to be back in nature and far away from daily office life again!
By the way from this valley it is possible to hike into the national park Los Nevados with mountains peaking up to 5300 meters.
We headed to Salento, this beautiful historic little town on top of a mountain for some lunch. Here you get the freshest food for little money, this makes traveling so much fun! I was also impressed by the variety of handcrafts offered in the shops of Salento, a lot of hand made jewelry and creative little things so that I could have spend hours exploring the shops. I really enjoyed spending the afternoon in this laid back cute town!
Time is running fast and I knew our few days are just too short to see the Stock's but it is enough time to adore that they are making this dream come true! Especially seeing the kids exploring new landscapes and animals every day shows that  they learn more than they ever could back home in school and on TV. Elise and Mike, thanks for being a role model to me when it comes to making dreams come true and exploring this beautiful planet!

The picturesque solitude of an imperfect bridge 

Daisy and Dani enjoying the views of the foothills near Salento

Old cars are cool in this hippy artistic area just before Salento

The wax palms of Cocora valley can grow up to 200 feet (60 meters) tall. Their size is much more noticeable when you can compare them to the home below.

No matter the age playing in the water is fun

Hiking on the trail was good exercise for all

Hallo Kassel, viele gruesse aus Kolombien 

Watching the puffy clouds pass us by

The palms grow to amazing heights surpassing the forest canopy below

Bridges here are always missing something important but that doesn't bother Daisy and the girls.

The 4Runner is a nice ride and can take us anywhere.

Cattle pasture area that was once amazing forest.

Truly beautiful spot here in Cocora valley. The wax palm is Colombia's national tree.

Dani and Daisy shopped and walked through Salento town after lunch

Every hiking adventurer needs hiking shoes like my cousin Dani wore. Oh, and the nicely painted toe nails are always a plus when crossing muddy hollows and slippery mossy rocks :) 

I believe we all had a fun day out in the woods

End of the road for us hikers

This docile goat snorted and turned his head spooking out Sierra in this perfectly timed picture.

Los Primos :)

Nature is amazing

Salento is so inviting and not pressured

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