Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Tim Yelland.
There’s a valley near Medellin sprawling with wax palms amongst a neatly set up farm. It’s a low-budget tourist destination that provides an unforgettable experience.
The wax palms are mostly on the private property of a farm that owner Luis and his family tend to. In the usual Colombian way they are very open to you to briefly checking out the place without cost, though the guided tour is far more recommended.
The Guided Tour
Luis will accompany you along the weaving path he constructed through the Wax Palms, a small forest and their veggie gardens and after will share a coffee with you (we also had one before). If you want to indulge a little more, he can set you up with a one-hour horse ride where you can take their horses around the valley by yourself, without Luis.
Upon returning, you can have an authentic Colombian lunch that includes the dessert mazamorra (corn, brown sugar, milk) and then cap the day with a few cervezas bought from his hand constructed bar that you can tell he’s justifiably proud of. All this costs less than 50,000 pesitos ($17.) I’m not even going to say the price exactly because it’s embarrassingly cheap and I’ve forgotten, a friend and I gave 50,000 each, which left a generous tip and still we thought we had ourselves a steal.
A slight word of caution: Luis doesn’t speak English. He does, however, speak with a nicely articulated Spanish accent, the one where you surprise yourself how much you’re understanding and think you might be getting a grip on the language.
One of his daughters, who’ll more likely be on the property on a weekend, is an English teacher at a nearby pueblo and is impressively fluent in English- word has it that she also gives tours of the property. Also, keep in mind that you can do as much or as little as you want on the property, so don’t feel inclined to do everything they offer (a personal tip: do everything they offer).
The other beauty of this place is the journey you need to take to get there. It’s highly recommended you stay in nearby Salamina and catch an early morning bus to the pueblito named San Felix, from where it’s a one-hour walk or 15-minute taxi to the valley.
These two places are not touristy in the slightest but still warm and welcoming to foreigners and both have accommodation options. It’s definitely doable in a weekend using a variety of buses, but make sure you research the schedules ahead of time the buses back to Medellín on the typically lazy Sunday afternoon.
Valle de la Samaria is located roughly 5 hours from Medellin down the autopista toward Manizales although availability of buses dictates you to at least spend one night in either Salamina or San Felix to get there.
Tim is a business consultant, freelance writer and soon to be English teacher. He was previously an intrepid mochilero but has been swooned by Colombia’s everything to stay put a while. You can follow his musings on Colombia and other topics on his Medium and Twitter accounts.