Colombia’s valley of the palms
Serious backpackers can go higher up into the Andes proper by forging north. Neighbouring Los Nevados National Park features crystal mountain lakes and eight volcanoes, including two above 5,000m.
Continuing on the trail past Finca la Montaña, however, takes you back down into the valley through mist forest and spectacular expansive vistas.
Salento is a great place to find a bed at a hostel-meets-country-inn like Plantation House; jeeps line up in the main square offering rides to Cocora. In addition to Cocora and Salento, the zona cafetera features the Coffee National Park, an amalgam of nature reserve, historical reconstruction and amusement park about 45km southwest of Salento.
El Bosque de Saman outside the town of Quimbaya, 50km west of Salento, serves country plates of milk and cheese from cows you can wake up early and milk yourself. El Bosque del Saman also offers 2km of ziplines, coffee picking, some of the richest, rawest coffee on earth – and the chance to wake up to bedside views over a verdant valley, clouds bunching together above and the Andes peeking through even higher.