Salento – getting all Zen in the mountains

I’ve arrived in what is probably the most beautiful, most relaxing spot in Colombia. After a pretty intense couple of weeks it’s good to make camp in one spot for a week and chill out comfortably.

I’m staying at a farmhouse a mile outside the small village of Salento. It’s perched on a ridge about 2,000 meters high with a spectacular view of the surrounding valleys. Every evening we are served a 7 course dinner made from 100% fresh and local produce. Chef Joseph, an exiled Spaniard, takes simple ingredients and creates food that puts most fine restaurants to shame. His avocado and trout sushi will forever have a place in my heart.

Because this place is quite a bit out of town and not advertised anywhere, the audience is very much unlike the usual backpacker crowd and it feels more like I’m staying at someone’s home than at yet another hostel. I had been planning to chill out here for a few days anyway, but did not expect this place to be so perfect.

The landscape is truly like being in Eden. Look a little further and you’re rewarded with so much. Colorful dung beetles pushing their loads down the hill, wild fruits that don’t even have English names (but taste delicious straight from the tree), gorgeous rolling hills all around, friendly locals more than happy to show you around their coffee farm, everything. One day we hiked up a mountain into a cloud forest until we ran into a small hut where we got hot chocolate with hummingbirds buzzing all around us. Then the path led us under the clouds again and we were greeted with a unbelievably huge green valley opening up to us. Cows grazed on pastures scattered with 50 meter high palm trees. Pictures simply won’t do it any justice.

You’ve probably noticed that I keep saying ‘we’ instead of ‘I’. Since arriving in Bogota three weeks ago, I’ve spent no more than a day by myself. I keep running into new wonderful people who are traveling in the same direction. Especially in the last week I’ve been especially lucky with the people I’ve met. 2 Parisians and 2 Londoners who I will remember for a long time and hopefully see again at some point.

I’m going to stay in Salento for a couple more days and head to Cali for the weekend. It’s the world capital of salsa and I hope that a couple of nights of practicing will be enough to keep me from looking like a complete fool…

Pictures! The complete set of Salento is here

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