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La Floresta Hostel

La Floresta Hostel
Carrera 5 #10-11, La Floresta, Salento, Quindio
+57 312.868.1808, 318.249.2104
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laflorestahostal.com

Overview: If you're heading to Salento, the Valle de Cocora, and the PNN los Nevados are going to be at the top of your list. Salento lies in the shadow of both, and it's just a 20 minute jeep ride to the entrance. Plus, it offers its own little slice of coffee zone tranquility and beauty, which has made it a very popular stop for tourists over the last few years.

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Neighborhood: The Floresta neighborhood is located just to the west of downtown Salento, just a block west of the yellow bridge that crosses over a small brook and horse pasture. It is just before Via Palestina, which leads to several other hostels and a nature preserve.

How to Get There: In Colombia virtually all transport is by a combination of plane and bus. Many travelers take advantage of a trip between Bogota and Cali, or Medellin and Cali, to enjoy the wonders of the Coffee Zone.

If you are arriving by plane, there are now several options in the Coffee Zone, including some international airports. Armenia's El Eden Airport (AXM) is just an hour and 15 minutes away. Pereira's Matecana International Airport is also about an hour and 15 minutes away. Salento, being a small village, does not have traditional taxi service. Rather it is serviced by jeeps. They charge roughly $100.000 to take you to either airport.

You can also take a taxi from El Eden Airport to the bus terminal in downtown Armenia for about $15.000, and then take an inexpensive bus.

Buses run every 15 minutes between Salento and Armenia. The route is one hour, and the cost is $4.500. 

There are seven daily buses to Pereira from Monday to Friday, that charge $7.500 for the one hour route. These buses leave at 7:50am, 10:00am, 11:30am, 1:00pm, 2:50pm, 5:50pm, and 8:00pm. On Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays there are even more buses, running hourly from 10am to 8pm.

Management/Staff: The hostel is owned by Ernesto and Eliana; a couple from Salento. They have owned it and run it for six years.

Rooms: There are 21 rooms in total, both dormitories and private rooms.

Shared Rooms: There are five dormitories. One is a six bed with private bath. One is an 8 bed with shared bathroom. One is a 4 bed with private bathroom. There is also an 8 bed with private bath, and a 6 bed with private bath. They range in price from $24.000 to $28.000.

Private Rooms: There are fifteen private rooms. 13 have a private bath, while two have shared bathrooms. The rooms with shared bathroom cost $59.000, while rooms with private bath costs $72.000 to $79.000. There are also rooms with mountain views that cost $93.000, as well as a special suite with a jacuzzi, that costs $200.000. 

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Amenities: 

Breakfast: No. But they are considering doing it in the future.

Kitchen: 2 kitchens. One is open until 9pm, and one is open until 11pm.

Restaurant:  No.

Bar: No. But in the future they are planning to offer one.

Terrace/Patio: There is a terrace with a spectacular view of the mountains.

TV Lounge: Yes.

Computers: One.

Wifi: Yes. Free wifi is offered throughout the premises.

Lockers: Three dorms have their own lockers. Guests must bring their own lock and keys.

Bicycles: Yes. $7.000 for an hour. $40.000 for the day

Credit Cards: No. Cash only.

Luggage Storage: Yes.

Check-in Time: 2pm

Check-out Time: 12pm

Restaurants in the Neighborhood: The Camino Real, comes highly recommended for its comida tipica. Los Arrieros is one of the town's best restaurants, and make sure to try the river trout and the bandeja paisa. For delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, head to Salento Brunch. Owned by a friendly American, it offers up a variety of burgers, burritos, sandwiches, and salads, as well as delicious deserts, and packed lunches, great for taking on the trail.

Tourism in the City:  The Calle Real is the main drag of the city, and features a wide variety of boutique shops, restaurants, and bars, including some offering live music such as La Mojiteria. Here you can shop for a delightful array of souvenirs, including ceramics, leather goods, carved items, t-shirts, and bags.

Head to the end of Calle Real (also known as Calle 6) and you will see the cement steps leading up to Alto de la Cruz. It's a great spot to take in the sunset, with a spectacular view of the town. Head to your left down a short trail, and you will find another wooden "mirador" or lookout point, where you can get a sense of the breathtaking splendor of the green valleys and wax palms that have made Salento a postcard picture-perfect moment.

The central plaza is a great place to take in a wide variety of local gastronomy. Not to be missed are the stands that serve up a wide variety of fresh juices, including orange, mora (something between a blackberry and a raspberry), strawberry, pineapple, mango, and guanabana (soursop). Also, don't miss the chance to dine on fried river trout (trucha), patacones (fried banana cakes), and delicious salad.

El Danubio is a great spot to enjoy a coffee, beer, or shoot some pool. Or, try your hand at the Colombian version of pool, called "billar"...it features a table without pockets and three balls. The objective of the game is to use your ball to hit the other two balls.

For "tejo", a game where you throw heavy balls at clay and gunpowder targets, head to Los Amigos.

Tourism Outside the City:  The crown jewel of the Eje Cafetero is Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados. Fortunately, Salento is the closest access point to this park, and the friendly staff at La Floresta can help you plan your tour. The standard three day two night tour into the park and heading near the summit of el Nevado de Tolima (at roughtly 5,100m), costs $500.000 to $600.000, depending upon the season, and the number of participants.

You will work your way east, passing through various ecosystems, culminating in a pine and eucalyptus forest, the stunning Colombian "paramo", and finally reaching the base of the majestic glacier.

They can also arrange other activities, such as horseback riding, and tours of the Valle de Cocora, that will take you to see butterflies and hummingbirds along the way.

The standard Valle de Cocora tour takes around 4 hours to walk. It is a large loop, and features spectacular views of the wax palms. To get to the entrance point, just take the willys jeep from the plaza. It's about a 20 minute ride and will cost $4.000. To get back to town, jeeps leave at 30 minutes past the hour, every hour until 6:30pm.

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Conclusion: The Floresta is a good spot because it is centrally located, offers great facilities, and mixes the best aspects of a hostel and a hotel. And, it offers stunning mountain views. Make this your first stop in Salento!

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