December 16, 2009 GMT
The Coffee Region

Our next stop was the Zona Cafetera, Colombiaís coffee growing region, we left the wet and cloudy Bogota behind us, and rode through even more breathtaking scenery until we reached Armenia, a short ride from Salento.

We met up with a local biker friend from the ever useful Horizons Website, shared a delicious coffee served to us from the back of a Willys Jeep parked in the town centre, and then followed him out of town and on to the road to Salento.

We immediately like the place, we rode into town and found the main plaza, and straightaway a group of locals were standing beside us helping us find Plantation House, our accommodation in Salento.
We found the hostel easily enough, and met Tim, the ever so slightly eccentric and quintessentially English owner, met us with a broad smile and a look of amazement at our choice of transport.
We unpacked and settled into our room, before descending to the kitchen to meet some of the other guests who had also arrived that day. There was an Irish couple, who had just had their back packs stolen off the bus, with all their belongings in them, leaving them with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Between us and the other guests, we loaned them warm clothes, boots and money so they would be all right until they could get to the embassy and arrange their insurance. We also met up with another English couple, and we all got along splendidly. That night we walked into town for dinner and a few bevies, and arranged to hike around the area together the next day into the valley and up the mountains that surrounded the House.
We set off bright and early, and after a hearty breakfast and another vitalizing coffee, we picked up a Jeep in the square to take us to the edge of the Cacora valley.
The hike was gorgeous, but exhausting, and 5 hours later we were back on the Jeep returning to town absolutely exhausted. We had crossed log bridges, climbed mountains, visited a hummingbird sanctuary, walked through the forest of wax palms, and now all desperately need a nice rest.



We spent the evening chilling out together in the kitchen and chatting and arranged to meet up again the next day to go on a small tour of Timís Coffee Plantation.
The story he told us was that after he had bought the house, the old lady that owned the coffee farm berated him for not buying her farm when he bought the house. He had told her that he didnít even know it was for sale, and asked her the price, and after a few meetings with the bank, he bought the farm too.
tim with one of his beloved beans

Previously the coffee yield had been on the low side, the very low side, but with help from the Colombian Coffee Growers association, the farmís production was now on the rise, and Tim had some great ideas and plans for the place.
We stayed another night in Salento and then were off once again to Cali.

Posted by Dan Shell at December 16, 2009 12:27 AM GMT

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