Hiking to Cocora’s Acaime Natural Reserve

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The feeder is currently empty, but I know with a little patience, I am sure I will be rewarded.  I quietly unpack my camera gear and set up my tripod.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see a blue streak fly by. Gotta!  There goes the reason I hike the Valley of Cocora and the Acaime Natural Reserve.

Hummingbird Feeder - Acaime Natural Reserve
Let the wait begin.

One of the highlights of the coffee region of Colombia is the Valley of Cocora.  It’s a small valley near Salento and is one of the few places one can find wax palm trees. Getting to Cocora from Bogotá involves a bus, a van, and a truck.

Hiking the valley is should be an all-day adventure.  I was up at 5:30am.  I had to make the 10-minute walk from my hostel to the town square.  Once in the square, I made the 6 am jeep up to the valley.  I made sure I was earlier in case the jeep was full.  They have designed leaving time or when they are full.  Although, the drivers always seemed to make room for one more person.

Wax Palms of Cocora
Wax Palms of Cocora

The jeep ride takes about 15 minutes to the start of the hiking trail / horse path.  Mud of the trail is an eroded path that is full of mud and no way around but through the mud.  A couple of section have a non-muddy ledge to walk on, but one should have practiced their balance beam skills to walk on them.

Dairy Cow - - Acaime Natural Reserve
An Oreo Dairy Cow

After about 2 hours of walking in mud and looking at cows, the trail turns into the rainforest.  The trail follows the Quindío River.  There are several river crossings on the way to Acaime Nature Reserve. Most of the river crossing involve a swinging bridge with some questionable planks.  Cue the Indian Jones music.

Bridge -- Acaime Natural Reserve
One of those sketchy bridges.

Pretending to follow the trail as Indian Jones makes the hour of uphill hiking go faster.  Several side trails split off, but I ignore them Acaime Nature Reserve is my destination.  Finally, I reach Acaime or so I thought.  The Reserve starts about 20 minutes downhill from the Finca.

I keep hiking past the sign.  Finally the trees thin and the Acaime Nature Reserve Finca is watching over the valley.  I walk up to the Finca and sit down and catch my breath.  Uphill hiking isn’t my favorite, but then again, neither is downhill.  I am offered a choice of refreshments:  Aguapanela con queso (hot chocolate and cheese), water, or warm soda.  It’s the Aguapanela con queso for me. I pay the 5,000 peso (about $2.50) entrance fee that includes the drink.

Hummingbirds - - Acaime Natural Reserve
The main show

As I eat, I watch the hummingbird feeders.  I use this time to watch the small maneuverable birds move around and decide the best place to set up for photography.  I am hoping to get photos of all eight species in the reserve.

Long-tailed Sylph
Long-tailed Sylph
Sword-billed Hummingbird
Sword-billed Hummingbird
Violet-headed Hummingbird
Violet-headed Hummingbird
Wedge-billed Hummingbird
Wedge-billed Hummingbird

Alas, I only got to see four of the eight hummingbirds.  Hiking the Valley of Cocora should be on anyone’s must do while in Salento, Colombia.

Have you been to Cocora? If so share me a picture, if not share a hummingbird or bird photo?

If you enjoyed this post please share! Also, check out my hike to a Indigenous Villiage in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.



20 thoughts on “Hiking to Cocora’s Acaime Natural Reserve”

  1. I love bird watching and the hummingbird is definitely one of my favorites. You were really lucky to catch such great photos of the ones you spotted. Hope you get to see the other species on your next visit.

    1. I cheated on the identifications. While on the hike I just kept taking pictures of the ones that looked different and looked them up later.

  2. Lovely and well worth it hike. I love hummingbirds and had the chance to see many in Costa Rica! Amazing little creatures!

  3. Looks like a beautiful and rewarding hike. Props on getting photos of four of the eight hummingbirds, those guys are quick! I always love the questionable bridges on hikes, adds to the adventure 🙂

    1. It is a really fun hike. I can’t wait to go back and hike up past the Reserve and enter the National Park.

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