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Explore Colombia’s 3 Must-Visit Wax Palm Spots

Cocora Valley in the Coffee triangle Colombia

Updated on 06/07/2024

Dear reader,
I would also like to recommend our Colombia travel guide, which provides a perfect overview of the tourist attractions in Colombia. Enjoy reading it!

Did you know that the imposing wax palms are considered the tallest in the world? Well, that’s right, these majestic giants are more than just stars of the landscape; they are living symbols of Colombia’s biodiversity and cultural richness.

You can see them in many places, from nature reserves to lush forests. In this blog, we show you the 3 best places to see wax palms and enjoy nature in Colombia.

Where to see wax palms in Colombia

These are some of the best places to observe wax palms in Colombian territory. You can’t miss them!

Valle del Cocora, Salento

Location: km 11 on the road to Valle del Cocora, Salento.

Prices: Admission and camping fees apply.

Website: http://www.colparques.net/COCORA

Valle del Cocora Landscape

Valle del Cocora is an emblematic space known for being home to Colombia’s national tree, the wax palm of Quindío. It’s the tallest palm in the world, reaching impressive heights of up to 60 meters (196 feet), and you can observe them in this valley. Additionally, this place boasts enormous biodiversity that you can explore through its various ecological trails.

Services and activities

  • Hiking
  • Guided tours
  • Flora observation
  • Birdwatching (hummingbirds and yellow-eared parrots)
  • Restaurant service
  • Willys tours (local jeeps used in the area)

How to get there

You first need to reach Salento, which you can do from anywhere in the country by car or bus, and then head to the valley, which is 11 km (6 miles) from Salento.

Valle de la Carbonera, Salento

Location: Situated on Finca La Carbonera, a few kilometers from Salento.

Price: Admission has a cost.

Valle de la Carbonera is less famous than its cousin, Valle del Cocora. Despite that, it harbors the forest with the highest density of wax palms in the world, estimated at over 600,000 palms, whereas Valle del Cocora has between 1,000 and 2,000.

This interesting valley remains well preserved because it used to be a controlled area by the FARC, an outlawed armed group. However, nowadays, more and more people visit to observe the palms and contribute to their conservation.

Services and activities

  • Hiking
  • Birdwatching
  • Flora observation
  • Biking and Willys rides
  • Restaurant service

How to get there

From Salento, take the road to Ibagué, pass through the section known as “La Línea,” and reach “La Ceja” or “Finca La Carbonera,” which are marked on the maps.

Valle de la Samaria, Salamina

Location: Located in the district of San Félix, Salamina.

Price: Admission to the valley has a cost.

Website: https://rutasdelpaisajeculturalcafetero.com/que-hacer-atractivos/valle-de-la-samaria/

Valle de la Samaria is one of the largest natural reserves in the country and is well-known because its mountains are home to the wax palm. Additionally, there’s a lookout where you can observe this ecosystem and take excellent photos. This site is essential for the conservation of this plant and the animals that depend on it.

Services and activities

  • Hiking
  • Camping
  • Horseback riding
  • Trekking
  • Restaurant service

How to get there

To reach this valley, you must first arrive at Salamina, either by car or bus. Then, head to Finca La Samaria, which is approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes from Salamina.

Recommendations for observing wax palms in Colombia

These are some of the main recommendations for observing wax palms. This way, you’ll enjoy the experience to the fullest and avoid setbacks.

  • Visit natural reserves: If you want to see wax palms, it’s best to go to specialized places. There, you’ll find numerous palms cared for and protected by the staff.
  • Choose the best time of year: Plan your visit during the dry season (December to March and July to August) when the weather conditions are more favorable for exploring trails and there isn’t as much humidity.
  • Do not cut or scratch the palm trunks: These palms are essential for their ecosystem. Therefore, it’s prohibited to cut, scratch, and of course, climb them.
  • Participate in guided tours: Many natural reserves offer guided tours led by local wildlife experts. Joining these tours will provide you with detailed information about wax palms and the ecosystem they inhabit.
  • Respect conservation regulations: Make sure to comply with all local conservation regulations. In some places, it may be necessary to obtain special permits to access certain protected areas.
  • Stay on designated trails: When exploring natural areas with wax palms, stay on designated trails. This helps minimize environmental impact and protects both flora and fauna. Leaving established trails can disturb sensitive habitats.
  • Bring reusable containers and minimize waste: Contribute to environmental conservation by bringing reusable containers and minimizing waste generation. Make sure to take any garbage with you and avoid leaving a trace of your passage to preserve the natural beauty of the area.
  • Do not make noise: When observing wax palms and the surrounding wildlife, try to maintain a low noise level. Excessive noise can negatively affect animals and disrupt the tranquility of the natural environment.
  • Dress appropriately: Observing wax palms takes place in natural environments, often requiring walking on trails. Therefore, it’s ideal to wear comfortable clothing; a light jacket, sneakers, and a raincoat because in palm areas, it often rains frequently and is quite sunny.

Interesting facts about wax palms

These are some interesting facts that will inspire you even more to learn about wax palms.

  • Did you know that wax palms are considered the tallest in the world? They usually reach heights of over 60 meters (200 feet).
  • The wax palm is the favorite habitat for the yellow-eared parrot, a fascinating bird endemic to Quindío, which is threatened due to the loss of its habitat.
  • Beyond their role in ecology, wax palms are fundamental in Colombian culture. They are considered a national symbol and have been used in festivals and cultural events.
  • The leaves of wax palms are surprisingly delicate, despite their robust appearance. They are often so thin that they allow sunlight to pass through them.
  • Their growth is surprisingly slow, taking decades to reach their maximum height. That’s why it’s so sad when they are cut down.
  • The reproduction of wax palms is a rare phenomenon in the plant kingdom. These plants have the ability to produce flowers and fruits throughout their lives, a rare trait among palm species.

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About Author

Frank

Frank

Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia. I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia. For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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