Originally we had planned to stay in Salento, in Quindio, within the coffee triangle of Colombia, for five nights. As soon as the small bus rolled into town we were questioning this decision, and when we saw our accommodation we knew for sure that five nights just weren’t going to be long enough.
Where to stay in Salento, Quindio
Our hostel, El Zorzal, named after a local bird, could be by far our most favourite place that we’ve ever stayed at. Let me explain why.
They refer to themselves as a hostel, but as we understand it they have more private rooms than dorms. We met a real range of guests, from single travellers to couples and families. It lies on the edge of town, which gives it a wonderful tranquillity, yet it’s less than a ten minute walk into Salento’s famous square.
El Zorzal’s staff are all wonderful and can’t help enough. They were always on hand to answer our touristy questions and to make us feel right at home. At the same time though, they leave you in peace so you can enjoy this wonderful part of the world. As you ponder life, their two lovely dogs will come and sit next to you (head scratches welcome!). Don’t be fooled, they might be big but they are both just huge softies really!
The garden and its wildlife
They have a beautiful garden which looks out onto the mountains. It’s got lots of trees and bird feeders and so many different species came and paid us a visit, including woodpeckers, hummingbirds, zorzals (of course! In English they are called song thrushes) and we even heard rumours of green toucans! One particular little yellow bird (we still haven’t found out what it’s called) would come and visit our window every other day, sometimes he would bring his friend, or others times he would come alone with a twig as a gift. He would always seem to know when we were on the phone with our family and would come and pop by to say hello.
The large tasty breakfast is served with this wonderful view as a backdrop, and the different items on the menu are named after different bird species, so you can spot the visitors while you munch away.
An excellent location
El Zorzal made a fantastic base for exploring Salento and the region of Quindio. We had been warned that Salento was high on the gringo list of places to go and that it could be very touristy. Honestly, there are a lot of foreigners, but I wouldn’t say it felt ‘over run’. As we were travelling within the low season, we found good accommodation without booking too far in advance. During the week, the town felt really quiet on an evening, with many more locals walking the streets than tourists.
What to do in Salento, Quindio
Salento is an old colonial town (or pueblo) which has been well preserved, and has a large square. It’s surrounded by the mountains on all sides and there are lots of different things to do in the area. Here are some of our favourites!
- Explore the small pueblo! – Salento is a lovely little town, everyone is so friendly. Make sure you take time to relax and enjoy the food, good company and wonderful views.
- Kasaguadua – a nature reserve nestled between the coffee fincas of Salento. We really enjoyed learning about the nature of the region and would definitely recommend. The reserve was established by two friends over a decade ago and their passion is contagious.
- Las Acacias – a small family run coffee finca which uses traditional farming techniques to grow their crops. Tours are in conducted in both Spanish and English, for 8000 COP per person, throughout the day.
- The Cocora Valley – a fantastic hike through the regions farm land, ending in the wonderful but eerie views of misted palms.
- Filandia – this nearby pueblo with brightly coloured colonial buildings makes a great day trip!
We spent two months in Colombia, travelling from Bogota north to the coast and then back down to Ecuador. If you would like to find out what else we got up to check out our other Colombian blog posts.