The valley of Cocora is regarded by Colombians as the cradle of the WAX PALM (Colombia´s national tree). These palm trees are now protected and grow to 60 metres tall and can live for up to 120 years. The valley of Cocora is also the departmento of Quindio`s entrance to Los Nevados National Park which covers some 4 departmentos of Colombia and is over 60,000 sq kms in size. Each departmento has its own rules and regulations regarding guides and entrances fees.
The most popular walking route is to a nature reserve called ACAIME which is roughly 2 ½ hours walk from the valley of Cocora. As you arrive in Cocora the trail is on the right hand side as you walk into the valley and away from Salento.
The trail is well signposted and starts in Cocora by a blue gate and a shop and goes down past the trout farm. The first part of the trail is through grassland and wax palm. The second part of the trail is throught pristine cloud forest. The trail can be muddy and hiring rubber boots has proved to be very popular. The trail to and from ACAIME is reasonably strenuous. It is also possible to go to ACAIME on horseback. If you are using horses, a guide is recommended (horses without a guide have been known to refuse to cross the rivers). About 1km before you reach ACAIME there will be a turning to LA MONTAÑA. There is a 1000 or 2000 COP fee for entering ACAIME – it is well worth paying as you’ll see at least six different types of Hummingbirds. It is possible to get something to drink in ACAIME and occasionally food. When you are coming back down from ACAIME to COCORA it is possible to take the trail to LA MONTAÑA or return on the same trail. To return to COCORA via the same trail will take you approximately 2 hours.
The trail from ACAIME to LA MONTAÑA will take about 1 hour – you will need to be in good physical health to do it. The views from LA MONTAÑA and the trail back down to COCORA are spectacular. There is no entrance fee to LA MONTAÑA although they willl probably ask you to sign the visitors book.
There is a separate trail from LA MONTAÑA to COCORA which will take approximately 1 ½ hours to walk.