Founded in 1842, Salento is a small town located 24km east of Armenia. It’s a well-known tourist destination for its beautiful nature, the striking colour of its colonial building, famous for its coffee production and trout farming. The town located at an altitude of 1,895 meters above sea level, and during our stay of four days three nights, the daily lowest temperature was about 15°C and highest around 25°C.
Getting to Salento from Cali
To get to this beautiful little town from Cali, we travelled to Armenia first before getting another bus to Salento. We didn’t get to buy the bus ticket directly from a ticket counter, instead, while on our way to locate one, a lady shouted the destination, and it caught our attention. After paying 20,000COP per person to her, she immediately ushered us to the bus without giving us the bus tickets/ receipt. Shortly after that, we left the terminal, and I didn’t even get the bus name which would be helpful because when we arrived at Armenia after two hours thirty minutes journey, I left the bus without taking the bag of drinks which I had stored on the compartment above our seats.
In the terminal, we explained things to the staff at the bus counter which we thought to be the one we’d boarded earlier and the officer let the security know. The security in charge allowed us to roam the transport parking space, and thankfully Mike recognised the bus, and we arrived in the nick of time just before they were about to leave for Cali. The bag was still at its original place where I’d place it earlier. We thanked the officer by giving him a can of Club Colombia, and then immediately rushed to find our next bus.
In the transport terminal, we searched for the bus counter to Salento, but there wasn’t any. We asked random staff, and they pointed on the right side of the building. It wasn’t hard to locate it as there’s a sign sticking on a pole next to the bus, and no pre-purchase of tickets needed. They only start collecting the fare when we’ve already left the terminal about a few kilometres away. It cost 4,700COP per person, and at the place that they stopped, we tried Empanada de Cambray, a unique pastry from Valle del Cauca. It’s unlike the usual Empanada we had where it filled with either chicken, meats or cheese. This one with a sweet filling tasted like guava jam.
Art Velez Hostel
After an hour journey up and down the hill, we arrived in Salento. Our accommodation – Art Velez Hostel located close to the square, about 3 minutes walk, it’s the main reason why we chose this place at first. The Private Room COCORA comes with a private bathroom, the wall adorned with beautiful decorations, and green light illuminated under the bed – showing off its artistic design.
Our room located on the ground floor with the view of balcony/ staircase, and because we always had the window closed, we could feel the dampness in the room; especially having no fan or air-conditioning inside the room, also, during day time or night time, it didn’t feel warm at all. The staff in this hostel were friendly, and Mike got the chance to talk to the chef of this place. He told Mike that there’re over 200 restaurants in this little town, and in the meantime promoting the cooking lesson they have. But I still find it weird that they don’t serve breakfast!
The thing I disliked about the room was that the bathroom floor often flooded with water from the shower, and without floor mat, the room’s floor often wet and slippery. There’s also no housekeeping service throughout our stay of four days three nights here. I’m not sure if it’s because we didn’t hand over the key to the reception whenever we headed out, or because we didn’t tell them to make the bed.
The Amazing Thing About Salento
So far I’ve travelled to quite a few places in Colombia – Cartagena, Santa Marta, Medellin, Cali, Bogota, Pereira, Santa Rosa Del Cabal, Manizales, Anapoima, Girardot, Acacias, San Francisco and La Vega. However, this is the first time that I see a town without beggar, homeless persons or people trying to sell us things whenever we’re seated in a restaurant, bar or at the square. It’s unbelievable and amazing!
Hiking Cocora Valley was the highlight of our Salento trip. But besides that, there’re still plenty of things to do in this little town. I’ve listed a few others thing we did while we’re in this place.
Traditional Colonial Architecture
Take the time to stroll around this little town, the building especially closer to the square were very well maintained and beautiful with its striking bright colour.
Mirador Alto De La Cruz
A famous place to watch the sunset. There’re people selling light food and drinks on top and also some handicrafts. When I went there, it was afternoon, and while walking up the stairs, I count it, and there’re about 242 steps in total.
Salsa Dance in La Fuente
I loved the music selection in this place and enjoyed watching couples dancing on the floor. If you up to it, you could also show off your talent. If I not mistaken, the beer price for Club Colombia or Redd’s were 4,500COP per bottle.
Our favourite drinking place was the booth opposite of La Fuente, but I have no idea what it called, however, it offered a great view of the Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Carmen, and we got to see the parade from this place. We came to this booth every day throughout our stay even though the price of beer slightly higher compared to La Fuente. It cost 5,000COP per bottle of either Club Colombia or Redd’s.
Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Carmen & Plaza de Bolivar
Hangout in this plaza and admire the church design. While I was there, I also saw people drawing the church. If you come during Semana Santa week like us, get ready to watch the band and the parade around 6:30 pm to 7:00 pm at the square. They also put the light on at 7 pm, and it was beautiful.
While you’re here, don’t forget to try out the famous Trout. It’s easy to get it because almost all of the restaurants in this town serve this fish. The most popular seemed to be baked in a creamy mushroom, garlicky sauce and topped with cheese. It also comes with Salad, Rice and a huge Patacone. My honest opinion, I prefer grilled to this way of cooking because the sauce just overwhelmed the taste of the fish.
Carpa Maria Restaurant (Slightly Cheaper)
I had the trout meal in Carpa Maria Restaurant which located on the square. The food and drinks prices in this place are as follows:
Bebidas / Drink 2,000COP - Sodas / Bottled Juice 2,500COP - Bottled Water 3,000COP - Natural Juice 4,000COP - Beer / Juice in Milk 10,000COP - Pitcher of Juice in Milk
Platos Tipicos / Typical Plates 4,000COP - Soup 8,000COP - Beans Caserole 13,000COP - Bandeja Paisa
Fish 12,000COP - Fried Trout Fish 14,000COP - Trout in a Creole Sauce / Hawaiian Trout 15,000COP - Trout in Garlic Sauce 16,000COP - Marinara Trout / Fried Whole Mojarra Fish 17,000COP - Mixed Trout / Gratin Trout 18,000COP - Trout in Garlic Sauce with Mushroom / Mixed Trout in Garlic Sauce 19,000COP - Mixed Gratin Trout
Patacones / Green Plantains (All plates come with Cake) 4,000COP - Toston with Sauce 6,000COP - Toston with Cheese 7,000COP - Toston with Beef / Hawaiian Toston 10,000COP - Toston with Chicken, beef and Cheese 11,000COP - Toston with Mushroom 12,000COP - Toston with Shrimp
Porciones / Extra Sides 2,000COP - Hogao Sauce / Sweet and Sour / Rice
Fritos / Appetizers (All Plates come with Cake) 4,000COP - Pork Sausage / Bofe (Cada Plato Viene Acompanado de Arepa) 5,000COP - Pork Skin 6,000COP - Ribs 10,000COP - Grilled Steak Beef or Pork
Restaurante El Portonazo De Juanchos (Good View)
We had our dinner in this restaurant, and the view overlooking nature was soothing and harmonies. On the left side, we could see the zip line activity took place, and in the centre, the horses and cows were grazing the grass, and on the right side, yellow birds resting on the branches.
The food and drinks prices in this place are as follows:
Drinks 2,000COP - Bottled Water 2,500COP - Sodas / Bottle Juice 3,000COP - Natural Juice 4,000COP - Jarra Limonada Natural
Liquors 4,000COP - Poker Beer 5,000COP - Club Colombia Beer 7,000COP - Cup of Ron / Cup of Aguardiente 8,000COP - Cup of Wine 50,000COP - Wine 60,000COP - Bottella Aguardiente 65,000COP - Bottle Rum
Fish 12,000COP - Simple Grilled Trout 14,000COP - Grilled Trout Fist 17,000COP - Fried Whole Mojarra Fish 17,500COP - Trucha al Vapor 19,000COP - Trout in Garlic Sauce 21,000COP - Trout with corn and Mushroom / Shrimp Ceviche 24,000COP - Marinara Trout 26,000COP - Mixed Trout 30,000COP - Portonazo Trout
Meat 15,000COP - Grilled Chicken Fillet / Carne a la Plancha 19,000COP - Barbecued Ribs 22,000COP - Haunch Tip
Typical Plates 17,000COP - Pasta Portonazo 19,000COP - Bandeja Paisa
Children Menu 10,000COP - Chicken Nuggets/ Salchipapas
Others 3,000COP - Rice 3,500COP - Portion of French Fries 4,000COP - Additional Soup / Agua de Panela Pitcher with Lemon 9,000COP - Home Lunch 12,000COP - Portonazo 13,000COP - Vegetarian Menu
Cafe / Bar Danubio (Sort of Sports Bar)
Play Tejo, Billiard, watch the live performance or watch the football/sports showing on the TV. Upon request, they also turned on the sound for the match instead of the background vallenato music.
Casa Willys (Good View)
This restaurant has a fabulous view, and they have a big balcony where you can take pictures. We had a late breakfast at 10:30 am, and the place wasn’t busy anymore. However, to be honest, we didn’t quite like the meal that we ordered. It was so plain, but to be fair, we only had this one meal, and so it wasn’t right to judge it so quickly, maybe the other choices were great?
Some of the food and drinks prices in this place are as follows:
Breakfast 8,900COP - Caldo de Costilla - Solo fines de semana. 9,900COP - Casero - Huevos revueltos o pericos, arepa paisa, mantequilla, queso campesino y bebida caliente 10,900COP - Frances - Huevos revueltos, croissant, mermelada, mantequilla, queso campesino y bebida caliente 11,900COP - Full Paisa - Calentado de Frijoles, Huevos al gusto, arepa paisa, mantequilla, queso campesino y bebida caliente 13,900COP - Napolitano - Huevos fritos en caserola con tomates, queso y oregano, tostadas, mantequilla, mermelada y bebida caliente 14,900COP - Santafereno - Changua con huevo, almojabana, queso campesino, mantequilla y chocolate santafereno 15,900COP - Ranchero - Huevos revueltos con chorizo y queso, arepa paisa, queso campesino, matequilla y bebida caliente. 16,900COP - Americano - Huevos fritos con tocineta, tostadas de pan, mantequilla, mermelada y jugo de naranja
Algo Ligero 7,900COP - Macedonia de Frutas - Mango, Papaya, Pina, Banano, fresa y mandarina (Addicional - Queso fresco @ 2,000COP, Helado @ 4,000COP , Crema de Leche @ 2,000COP) 8,900COP - Cereales o Granola - Con leche, bababo y fresa 9,900COP - Parfait - Yogurt natural, dos frutas a elegir, con miel o dulce casero
Bebidas 4,900COP - Aromatica con Frutos 5,900COP - Juga de Naranja or Mandarina 6,900COP - Milo Frio or Caliente / Capuccino or Moccacino 6,900COP - Jugos de Fruta - En agua o en leche: Lulo, Pina, Guanabana, Mora, Maracuya, Fresa, Curuba y Mango 9,900COP en Pulpa de Coco
Antojos 2,000COP - Almojabana o Pan 3,900COP - Arepa con Queso 5,900COP - Aguapanela / Chocolate con Queso 7,500COP - Tortas / Sanwich Jamon y Queso o Vegetariano 7,900COP - Patacon con Hogao 10,900COP - Empanadas Caseras x 6 11,900COP - Chicharron Paisa / Chorizo Santa Rosano
Before leaving to our next destination, Pereira, we had hot drinks in Casa Willys. However, we didn’t go up to the restaurant section, only to the cafe, and it was slightly cheaper there. 5,000COP for Mocaccino & 6,000COP for Cappuccino.
Travel Date: 15th ~ 18th April 2019