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Yambolombia

Yambolombia
KM 1.5, Via Palestina, Salento, Quindio
www.facebook.com/yambolombia.salento

Salento's Yambolombia hostel is an incredible spot for spending a few tranquil days, weeks, or months, reconnecting with nature. While its just 2km from the city center, you really feel like in this tranquil spot you are able to get away from it all. From the park downtown, it's a pleasant 15-20 minute walk, or a 5 minute $6.000 ride in a jeep. The bus from Armenia or Pereira will drop you off in the park, so just find the row of jeeps waiting for tourists, and they'll get you to Yambolombia in no time.

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Yambolombia is part farm and part hostel. You have the option of staying as a guest in a dormitory or private room, or working in exchange for your lodging. You can also camp on the spectacular Mirador, which offers views of the surrounding valley and hillsides that are out of this world. Dorm beds are just $12.000, while a shared room for two is just $30.000. Camping costs $8.000 a night.

Owner Juan Gabriel is a great host, and the place, unsurprisingly, attracts a very rootsy, earthy type crowd. It seems particularly popular with Argentine and German backpackers. Guests have bathroom access, a nice kitchen to cook in, and free coffee is always brewing.

Juan Gabriel also rents out mountain bikes for $5.000 an hour, or $35.000 a day, and can also arrange all kinds of tours of the surrounding area, on foot or on horseback. He's had the property for around ten years, and has been running it as a hostel for three.

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Yambolombia is a great base for exploring the surrounding areas. It's a gem in Colombia's Coffee Zone, and is just a hop skip and a jump from nearby La Serrana. Juan Gabriel is extremely knowledgeable about the area, and he can set you up with whatever kind of ecotourism you have in mind. Make sure that you make it to the fabled Valle de Cocora.

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At the end of the day, head up to the mirador through groves of towering bamboo trees to enjoy some nice, cold Colombian beer and have a fire in the fire pit. This is a little slice of heaven, no doubt. Yambolombia is a one-of-a-kind spot, and it's no wonder that in such a short time it's achieved such popularity with the backpacking set.

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