Wed 19th Feb
Super efficient morning. Up at 5:30, taxi at 6, checkin at airport 6:30, flight 8:30, landed 9:40, taxi 10am, bus station 10:20, bought tickets and on bus leaving for Salento 10:35, in Salento and hostel 10:45 !! Wow, like clockwork.
Headed out to explore Salento and went straight into Brunch de Salento and had an amazing lunch of french toast with jam, peanut butter & maple syrup, with a mango&banana yoghurt smoothie !
Explored the streets, and the main square and Calle Real are really pretty - beautiful colours, and all tourist shops the whole way - may have to do some souvenir shopping while we're here !
Walked up to the mirador for some lovely views of the valleys and hills, and back to hostel at 4.
Had a mahoosive dinner at a restaurant on the plaza - so big that even us piggies couldn't finish it and that will shock a lot of people that know how much Brandon can eat !
Thurs 20th Feb
Up at 6:30, picked up our lovely packed lunch from Brunch in town, and got on a "Willy" jeep at 7:30 to the start of the walk in the Cocora valley. They pack people in - 8 in the back, completely squashed, and 3 standing on a narrow metal platform at the back, holding on for dear life. Guess where we were placed ?! It was actually ok, got better views, not all squeezed in and a good breeze but did have to hold on tight ! Started the trek around the Valle de Cocora at 8, walking alongside a lovely river with the odd waterfall here and there. Got up to the hummingbird stop at 10, had a welcome hot chocolate and some of our packed lunch (as skipped breakfast to get going early), and watched the incredible hummingbirds flit in and out and fight over the feeders.
Got to the top of the steep hill at 11, just as the thick white cloud/fog swept in, obscuring any view !
Carried on past the next couple of miradors/viewpoints but still couldn't see anything, but it finally cleared for the last viewpoint. Stopped and ate our packed lunch (including a peanutbutter&jam sandwich and peanutbutter brownie!), before the clouds came back in, so headed off again.
Not quite the blue skies we've gotten used to, and was quite a change to have heavy cloud, rain, and even need a layer and rain coat !
Beautiful rainforest though throughout, and incredible tall wax palms - so tall they barely fit in the photos !
Back on a jeep at 2 just as the rain got heavier, so luckily were inside this time.
Had another hot choc & slice of cake in town, and back to hostel quite weary at 4.
Headed out at 6 to play an interesting game of Tejo - throwing a heavy metal stone at a mound of clay, with 5 little paper packets filled with gunpowder, whilst drinking beer - what could go wrong ? ! Played for about an hour, getting a few good explosions, and I even got the bullseye - right in the middle of the 5 packets, but none went off - gutted ! What a strange game, but Brandon got well into it.
Fri 21st Feb
Walked for 1.5hrs down to Finca El Recuerdo coffee farm at 9am and had a really interesting 2hr tour all about the history of coffee, how it came to Colombia, and a tour around the bio-diverse farm, with a nice sweet coffee to finish at the end.
Got a jeep back up to town, and had a relaxing lunch on the plaza, then chilled & admin jobs back at the hostel as the weather was very grey, cool, and drizzly.
Headed into town for dinner, and wandered around the plaza and Calle Real (main street) afterwards. Being a Friday night, everyone was out, including cowboys with their horses getting them to prance with quick steps down the street !
Sat 22nd Feb
Caught a "Willy" jeep to Filandia at 8:40, and had to do a double take when we arrived 30mins later as its a carbon copy of Salento ! The plaza looked just the same, same position of church, shops, even ATMs !
Really grey and cloudy so headed off of the mirador/viewpoint structure just as a massive bank of fog rolled in, obscuring everything ! Hung around until it cleared, then had really good 360 views of the surrounding hills and far away mountains.
Back into town for lunch and mooch about the shops, then caught another jeep back at 2. Really love the ease of getting around here - hop in the back of an open-aired jeep for a 30min ride for about £1.50 !
Headed back to Los Amigos for another game of Tejo (throwing metal rock at packets of gunpowder). Thought it would be heaving as its Saturday, but we were the only ones there ! Had a couple of beers, played 3 games lasting 1.5hrs and still only ones there as the rain was hammering down so no-one came out.
Final great dinner of huge burger, and even bigger chicken salad dinner at our favourite place "Brunch", then headed home in the continuing rain.
Its felt very strange to have to wear long sleeves, trousers, jumper, coat and trainers again and feel cold. Have been getting used to strappy top, shorts, and flipflops ! And Bogota is going to be even colder tomorrow :(