Exploring Salento – Colombia’s Colorful Coffee Town

It was a long and winding road from Medellin to Salento. The bus ride was only 6 hours, but the endless stop and go and up and down made it seem much longer. When I finally arrived, I was exhausted from my trek to Ciudad Perdida and I was looking forward to exploring Salento and drinking some delicious coffee.

Here’s my experience exploring Salento and touring a coffee farm.

Front View of La Casa de Lili Hostel in Salento ColombiaPin
La Casa de Lili Hostel in Salento

Welcome To Colombia!

It was an uphill walk from the bus station. My bag seemed heavier for some reason. After 4 months of traveling, my body was tired and my legs were exhausted. It was my dream to travel for a few months in South America, and, now, in the last city on my trip, I decided I just wanted to explore Salento and take it all in. After a 20 min walk, I arrived at Hostel Lili, set down my bags, and planned my 48 hours in Salento.

The next morning, as I left my room, I was greeted with a hug from Lili. She only spoke Spanish, and I was glad to have taken several months of Spanish courses before traveling. She welcomed me to the hostel and Colombia. This was a common theme I noticed in Colombia. The people were so welcoming and grateful to have tourists, which is not always the case. In general, I enjoy speaking with locals and listening to their stories, and I found Colombians to be very welcoming and happy to speak to travelers.

Exploring Salento

Beautifully Colored Door and Window in Salento ColombiaPin
Colorful Door and Window

I spent the day walking around Salento. As I meandered down the streets I found Salento embodied the personality of Colombia, colorful and lively. The town was surrounded by mountains and lush green landscapes, which added another level of beauty to the town. There are small day hikes in every direction from the city and endless activities. I walked from one end to the other, up and down the streets, enjoying the miradors, the colorful scenery, and friendly locals.

I was visiting Salento in January and it was packed full of Colombians and tourists alike. It was apparently a holiday, and there was a festival with music, food, and games, which added even more life to the city. At times festivals like this can be loud, but somehow, here in Colombia, the happiness and excitement were infectious.

Coffee, Coffee, and More Delicious Coffee

Coffee Beans in Salento ColombiaPin
The Coffee Bean

The next day I decided to visit a coffee farm. One of the main attractions here in Salento is the coffee, and it would have been a shame to travel here and not learn about how coffee is made. I noticed several companies offering tours, some appearing more authentic than others, but all-in-all it was too commercial. I decided to visit a small coffee plantation, called The Plantation House.

When I arrived at The Plantation House, I was greeted by Tim, his family, and his dogs. Tim originates from the UK, but his wife is Colombian. He bought the plantation several years ago, and, since then, he has been sprucing up the place and producing some really delicious coffee. He runs the plantation with his wife, daughter, and some locals.

From the start, it was evident that this was not your average tour. Tim covered the history of coffee, how it is made, and the lives of the coffee farmers in Colombia. I guess it is no surprise that the coffee cultivated in Colombia is not for Colombians. The best coffee is shipped to the US and Europe, and Colombia actually imports instant coffee for its citizens.

Coffee from Colombia is extremely popular with western nations, and larger companies often dedicate a flavor specifically for Colombia. The high demand for Colombian coffee combined with the perfect coffee growing climate has resulted in numerous plantations in this region of Colombia. Most plantations, however, don’t produce enough coffee beans so coffee from Colombia is often a combination of beans from several plantations. While a small bag of Colombian coffee is sold at a ridiculous price by corporations like Starbucks, the farmers, themselves, do not make more than few dollars for several kilograms of coffee beans.

The process of taking the fruit to a brewed cup of coffee is mostly done by hand in Salento, and, during harvesting season, coffee beans can be seen drying anywhere there is a ray of sunlight.

Overall, the tour of The Plantation House was quite informative. Tim very bluntly portrayed the life of the average coffee farmer in Colombia while showing the full process from growing the fruit to making a cup of coffee. We had the opportunity to try the various types of coffee he produces on his farm, and the tour concluded with a freshly brewed cup of delicious coffee.

Coffee Bean Peeler in Salento Colombia fPin
Coffee Bean Peeler

Summary of Exploring Salento, Colombia

Exploring Salento was one of the most enjoyable experiences while I was traveling in Colombia. There are activities to do in Salento from hiking to coffee tasting, and it is definitely worth a visit, even if it is only for 1 day. I can highly recommend The Plantation House for a coffee tour, and the miradors offer stunning views of the surrounding area. I would caution traveling to Salento in January as this is the Colombian holiday season and the town can be quite packed with both locals and tourists.


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Read More About My Adventures in South America

Hope you enjoyed my post on exploring Salento. Here are some of my other adventures in South America!


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