Wax Palms – The Valle De Cocora

One of the most beautiful activities you can do in Colombia is the hike around the Cocora Valley.

In order to get to the Valley area, travelers meet in the main plaza to jump into a jeep for a bumpy ride! This is Colombia, so seatbelts are not required!

The ride is about 30 minutes and the scenery starts to become beautiful almost immediately.

There are 2 ways you can hike the valley, counterclockwise and clockwise. We, and by “we” I mean the girls decided to do the Counterclowise route, which is waaaay harder than the other way around. Why would they choose that? that is a mystery, but could be because they are a little crazy!

First,  you walk down into the valley.

The total hike is an 8 mile loop.

The hike starts flat for a couple miles.

Many hanging bridges had to be crossed. Indiana Jones style…

There were hundreds of butterflies!

And the mushrooms were very psychedelic looking!

After some time going up, we finally reached the  Hummingbird Sancturary!

It cost a couple dollars to get in, but with your entrance fee you got a free beverage and some strange cheese.

It’s a nice area to rest and enjoy all the different types of hummingbirds deep within the Colombian cloud forest.

They have 8 different species of hummingbirds and they are all very friendly. They do not get scared of humans. Did you know that Hummingbirds are the only birds that can fly backwards? but also they cant walk or hop.

Our guide dog “Pablo” decided to follow us for a couple miles. This dog was so freaking adorable, but Pablo abandoned us just like he joined us. We miss him to this day.

Jenna Maria, if you are reading this, I need that selfie we took with Pablo,

The way up was deadly, courtesy of whoever chose this route.

But we made it to the top, where we helped a lost Asian traveler find his  way. We even gave him some food for survival purposes. I think he might have died in there and nobody knows if he made it.

All of a sudden it started to rain like crazy. My hopes and dreams of seeing the wax palms were being crushed by the minute. My FOMO was starting to come out, my life was losing its purpose.

But at the exact time, we arrived at this majestic site, the rain kind of stopped.  The world’s tallest palm trees look like the whimsical kind of plant you’d find in a Dr. Seuss story.

 

I am a sloth!

They can grow up to 200 ft tall!!!

With the wifey!

The way down continued to be amazing. So green…

We sat for a few minutes to recharge batteries and each a quick lunch the hotel had packed for us in the morning.

Obligatory jumping photo (that only worked after 23 attempts).

On the way down, Sarita slipped badly, injuring her spine. She was in a lot of pain so we hired a private Taxi-jeep to take us to the hospital in Salento.

The wax palms have unfortunately been threatened by habitat loss, overharvesting, and disease. In the past, droves of Catholics over-plucked leaves from young trees to use during Palm Sunday, which damaged and even killed the juvenile plants. The trees were also felled so people could use the waxy trunks to make candles.

In an attempt to save the tree, the government declared it the official tree of Colombia and turned the valley into a wildlife sanctuary. The palms and their lush domain are now legally protected. Hopefully, the increased protection and law enforcement that came with the designation will prevent their demise.

Funny cow on the way to the taxi.

We made it to the hospital where Sarah was quickly examined and nothing was really diagnosed, but they also didn’t have an X-ray machine.

It was really interesting to think about the X-ray machine availability.  Even though if you had asked me before if I thought that X-rays machines are widely available I would have said that I would think most poor towns will not have one. But I would have really expected Salento, such a touristy town to definitely have one, maybe not the latest model but at least a 20-year-old machine, which showed how disconnected from reality I was. This brings the important point to always purchase travel insurance. You will never know when an emergency can happen when you will need medical transportation or evacuation to your home country.

That brings the bonus pic of the day: Sarah being given a pain medication shot in her ass!! She was fine by the way. When we came home she went to the doctor and it was just a fall.

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