Saturday, August 20, 2011

Soldiers, horses and 180 foot tall palm trees - Salento Colombia

As always our main intention was to go south, but, as always, Jill found us an amazing place to visit along the way.  Salento is a small town about 12 miles off of the main road between Manizales and Armenia, and is part of a tourist route called the "Coffee Highway." The entire route was beautiful, but the final stretch into Salento was amazing.

We ended up staying a few miles past Salento, in a campground on the edge of a national park. It happened that during our visit, the soldiers who patrol the national park were passing through the area, and would be sharing the campground with us for the night. We attempted to chat with them in Spanish, but didn't get very far - Colombian Spanish is faster than what we're used to in Central America, and the guy who I was talking to explained to me that Colombia is a confusing place for language, as there many local variations in vocabulary. For example, a drinking glass is called at least three different names in different parts of Colombia, so the fact that I know it only as "vaso" has made my progress in learning to get around pretty slow. We thanked them for the Spanish tips, said  goodbye, ready to set up our camp. The altitude was between 8-9,000 feet, so it would be a nice, 50 degree night to bundle up in our sleeping bags - which was a nice change from the hot, sweaty camping in Belize. Before we could turn in on a cold night we needed a nice hot meal, so we went to the campground restaurant and Jill tried the local freshwater trout, which was very good, and I had an amazing steak.

The next morning Jill talked me into going horseback riding, which, as most of you probably know, is not really my scene. The horses looked well fed and healthy, so it was a better opportunity to do some riding than many stables we've seen along the way. It's hard to get used to being up high and tilting back and forth constantly, and I can report with confidence that after two hours in the saddle it's still not my scene. Anyway, we had a great time, and got to see the countryside and jungle via a 200 year old trail.
The waterfall we visited along our ride
After  two hours of beautiful riding we headed back to the stable and ate lunch. We spent the afternoon riding around the area, and went for a walk in the national park at dusk. Along the way we made a new friend - a yellow lab who became our tour guide for the evening.
Jill making some sandwiches for dinner at the campsite

The horses from the stable turning out for the night...pretty nice digs!

The surreal landscape at dusk
We turned in for another cozy night in the tent, in awe of the beauty of this place.  Our new perro friend slept right outside the tent up against Jill's door for the entire night.  Our time in Salento was one of the highlights, if not the highlight of the trip so far, and had both of us wondering what else awaited us on this continent.


  1. Your pictures are always great, but that last one of the clouds from above is amazing.

  2. I love that area around Manizales! Glad you guys loved Colombia!
    besos y abrazos

  3. Jilly I had 8 days off in a row and sat down and read all the posts from start to finish..I am looking forward to each and every new post..I think about you every day and love you