Cañon Hot Springs

4 days / 3 nights

Distance: 61,5km (37 miles)
Level of difficulty: Intermediate
Minimum altitude: 2,400m
Maximum altitude: 4,400m

Valle de Cocora to Finca La Argentina

Length: 9.9km
Alt. start: 2,400m
Alt. end: 3,500m
Departure: 7.30am
ETA: 4pm

Lunch: El Bosque

We meet at Salento Trekking office at 8:00 am to be ready to leave by 8:30 am and hop on a Willys Jeep for the 12km drive to Valle de Cocora where our Trek starts. Valle de Cocora is a natural cloud forest and home of the Colombian national tree Palma de Cera. This giant wax palm tree, the tallest in the world growing up to 65 meters, was near extinction but regained life after the Colombian government designated it a protected area in 1985.

In Cocora, after about a kilometer of easy hiking taking in the beautiful view of the valley, we cross the Rio Quindío for the first time, enter the Bosque de Palmas forest and start hiking in the jungle. This is also the entrance into the Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados created on April 30, 1974.

We will cross the Rio Quindío twice before our destination. The forest is home to 250 species of birds including hummingbird, yellow-eared parrot, Blue-crowned motmot and Andean condor to name a few. The trail heads up quickly and we climb for the next 2.8km (about 3 hours), crossing the Bosque de Niebla and passing by an indigenous cemetery.

After about an hour (2.5km) of hiking, we will take a lunch break (altitude 2,900m). After lunch, we head out for the 3.5km (2.5/3 hours) hike that takes us to our final destination Finca La Argentina. The trail will ease up a bit and cross a prairie where sometimes raccoons can be seen walking around. The last 600 meters to Finca La Argentina will get a bit steeper again and take about 30 to 45 minutes. Dinner at Finca La Argentina.

Finca La Argentina to Paramillo Quindio and Finca La Playa

Length: 6.5km
Alt. start: 3,500m
Alt. end: 3,680m
Highest point: 4,400m
Breakfast: 8am
Departure: 9am
ETA: 4pm

After breakfast, those who feel adventurous can help milk the cows. Not as easy as you might think! At 7am, we head out toward Finca Buenos Aires, on a kilometer steep uphill section. After another kilometer, we reach a point where we can see the Paramillo del Quindío, one of the highest mountains in the Nevados National Park. Sitting at 4,700m it does not have snow anymore but is as majestic as always.

Our trail continues for 800m toward la Montana Aguila. Soon after at 4,200m, the flora changes to wetlands as we encounter the Colchones de Agua or water mattresses, made of various species of plants of which the most common is Plantago rigida. It is also the source of the river Quindío, which we crossed on our way up. The river is 69km long (43miles) and is the source of drinking water for most of the people in the Quindío Department. It is a perfect place to take a lunch break and enjoy the view.

We head out again for the 3km hike that separates us to our destination Finca La Playa (3,680m), crossing from the Department of Quindío into Tolima. The view from the finca is breathtaking, expanding from the Valle of Romerales with its distinctive tree called frailejon (from the sunflower family), that grows only at high altitude in Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador; to the Nevado del Tolima, one of the three highest snow-capped volcanoes of the National Park at 5,276m.

Finca La Playa to Termales de Cañon and back

Length: 30km
Alt. start: 3,680m
Alt. end: 3,680m
Highest point: 3,900m
Breakfast: 7am
Departure: 7:30am
ETA: 5:30pm

Today we leave our backpacks behind and just bring what we need for the day hike as we come back to the Finca. The first 4km are flat as we hike across the Valle de Romerales and then up for 1,5km to the Laguna del Encanto, which lies at the foot of the Nevado del Tolima. After a short downhill we enter and cross the vibrant Valle del Placer. We can admire the Nevado del Tolima on our right and the Paramillo del Quindío on our left, as well as cows freely grazing.

After about 3km, we climb up and down 3 times, around the base of the Nevado del Tolima, crossing small sulphur rivers coming from the volcano. The trail is pretty challenging with steep and rocky section both up and down. We finally the reach the top of the last climb where the hot springs of Cañon appears 200 meters below (alt. 4,000m). It’s time for a swim and for lunch!

We then retrace our way back to the Finca La playa for another night.

Finca La Playa or La primavera to Valle de Cocora

Length: 16km
Alt. start: 3,680m
Alt. end: 2,600m
Highest point: 3,800m
Breakfast: 6.30am
Departure: 8:30am
ETA: 4pm

The first 2km of the hike is relatively flat as we hike along the crest of the mountain until we reach the Cerro de la Virgin, where we can admire a view of the whole department of Quindío. From there we head mostly down to Estrella de Agua for 2.5km, crossing from the Department of Tolima back into Quindío.

We continue our hike down for another 2.5km passing through el Mirador de Acaime, until we reach the Bosque de Niebla. The last 9km back to Valle de Cocora, our final destination, is mostly downhill with 6 crossing of the river Las Mirlas using suspended wooden bridges – Indiana Jones style but safe! We will celebrate the end of our adventure at our favorite organic restaurant in Cocora.

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What’s Included

  • Pre-trek briefing (snacks/beverages)
  • Transportation from Salento to Valle de Cocora and back
  • Bilingual English/Spanish guide
  • All meals: 3 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners and snacks
  • Insurance policy

What’s Not Included

  • Breakfast on the first morning
  • Dinner on the last night
  • Tips for the guide
  • Luggage transportation (optional and additional $70,000/day)