The coffee region of Colombia is a gorgeous area to spend time in. Perfect weather, beautiful mountains in every direction and friendly people. But we were ready to explore some new places. So we left seeking water!
Our first stop was at Rio Claro. Here we found a riverside campsite with some other travelers parked nearby. The river made a perfect backdrop for relaxing. We even rented tubes and went on a four-hour float down the river. It was fun, but exhausting. They use these fun buses to transport tubers and rafters along the river.
The river was cold water, and the air was hot, so it was quite refreshing. But we were ready for mountains and volcanic hot springs.
We drove through Manizales. This city is formerly known for large-scale coffee production. They used cable car style trams to move people and coffee up and down the steep hills. This interesting bronze art is a reminder of the time before roads and cars as it hangs over the highway.
After bumping along a rough dirt road for a while we found the Boy Scout Grotto. This is a memorial to a tragic flooding and mudslide that occurred in this area. Eight scouts and their leaders died in the disaster. They were camped here, enjoying the hot springs and cold stream when a storm came up quickly. These plaques and memorial honor them and call them a Tropa Celestial (Heavenly Troop).
Nearby is a slightly improved hot spring with three sparkling pools of hot water. We parked in a flat area and the family welcomed us. The little girl enjoyed playing with Nica. We stayed several nights and enjoyed the fog, the hot water and the views of the city far below us. The elevation is about 10,000 feet and the mountains are the northernmost tip of the Andes! It was amazing. Even the bathroom offered a lovely window seat. And of course, a spider! And now for a few photos of the hot pools.
Nearby we hiked for a short distance up a small creek. This area of the forest is managed and controlled. The rules include no fishing, no hunting and no off-trail hiking. At the end of the canyon we came upon a waterfall. At the base of the fall is a pool of blended warm water and icy cold water. We did not get in, but others were bathing. We just posed for a few photos.
A stop in a small city for groceries included a walk through the central plaza. The city was conducting their blood drive. We spotted this poster taped to the ground in the plaza.
As we drove out of this mountain region we found another waterfall. Mike looks tiny compared to the long, crashing veil of water. And near there we saw these fence posts that are demonstrating the sheer determination of the forest in this region. Although the trees were logged, cut, painted and used as fence posts… they insist on returning to their original selves… trees!
And with that, we shall wrap up our time in this section of the Andes of Colombia and move on to some new scenery. I hope you will follow along as we explore Salento and more of this beautiful country!