Valle de Cocora
Have you heard of the Valle de Cocora in Colombia?
It has become a traveler’s favorite due to its amazing greenery and nature. It is located in the department of Quindío, in the Central Cordillera of the Andean Mountains.
The main reason for the creation of the park was primarily for the Ceroxylon Quindiuense, aka the Quindío Wax Palms; which are actually the national trees of Colombia. They are the tallest palm trees in the world; stretching up to 60 meters tall. However, years of deforestation and improper harvesting techniques put the lives of the trees in danger.
Laws became implemented in September of 1985 to prevent the extinction to the Wax Palms. That is also when they opened Valle de Cocora as a preservation park for the trees. The park was actually named after the Quimbayan princess, Cocora, which means Star of Water. There is another park inside of the Valle de Cocora, that is called Acaime, which was actually the name of the princess Cocora’s father-the chief. This park is a hummingbird sanctuary, and also the only place to get refreshments within Valle de Cocora. For those that are thirsty, there’s nothing more refreshing than the traditional Colombian drink of hot chocolate with cheese.
The park doesn’t offer many thrill seeking activities. Practically the only thing to do within the park is go for a walk or maybe a picnic you pack food. Nonetheless, foreigners, and even locals, love it! The views and wildlife are absolutely amazing.
Getting To Valle de Cocora
One of our teachers here at Whee Institute recommends taking a Jeep ride from Salento to the entrance of the park. It only costs about 3,000 COP per person, and it’s about a 30 minute ride. At the entrance, there is the option to either rent horses to go through the park, or to just go by foot. There are two main routes; a shorter and a longer. The shorter lasts about 60-90 minutes and goes directly to the area with the Wax Palms and then back. The longer path is about 5-6 hours long and it goes throughout the park, stopping at Acaime, passing through the palms, and then back to the entrance.
Valle de Cocora is also nicknamed the Cloud Forest; they say it is where the palms speak to the clouds. The park is very thickly covered in fog, which creates its cold and damp atmosphere. It is suggested that one wears mud boots when deciding to go walking through the park. Also light, warm clothes are advised. Basically, be prepared to get dirty!
If you are interested in learning more about this amazing park, feel free to visit their page at http://www.valledelcocora.com.co/index.php.