Hi there my Steemian friends and followers!

As promised in my recent posts, I am finally coming with the first, fully-fledged article dedicated to our latest travel adventure that took place in Colombia. We spent some 10 days in this amazing South American country and we got to see quite a lot of different places and things in there but if you are a regular visitor to my blog, you will not be surprised if I tell you that it was the breathtaking local nature that made by far the biggest impression on me.

There is actually one particular place that left me completely speechless and stunned with its beauty. The place is called the Cocora Valley and this photo series is devoted to its extraordinary charm and allure. Welcome to the first part of the series that comes with 25 photos.

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Located in the Colombian Andes, approximately 24 km (15 mi) north-east of the town of Armenia, the Cocora Valley (or Valle de Cocora in Spanish) is a picturesque valley in the Quindio Department of Colombia and it is also a part of the beautiful Los Nevados National Park.

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An increasingly popular tourist destination, the Cocora Valley is a true heaven for all nature lovers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts as it boasts some of the most beautiful landscapes and views in the country and possibly even in all South America.

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The valley is also known as the principal location of the Qunidio Wax Palm, a very distinctive palm species endemic to mountain forests of Colombia and northern Peru.

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Scientifically known as Ceroxylon Quindiuense, the wax palms can reach up to staggering 60 m (almost 200 ft) in height, making them the tallest palm trees in the world.

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I know there are taller trees in the world but the palms´ unusual, super thin trunks make them look ridiculously tall. I could easily watch these slim giants in an absolute awe for long hours.

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Situated at an altitude of up to 2,400 m (almost 7,900 ft), the Cocora Valley is often hidden under a thick layer of fog that pours down from the surrounding cloud forests but we were lucky as we were privileged to enjoy its beauty in the sunshine too.

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A wildlife lovers´ hotspot, the Cocora Valley is home to numerous animals including some rare and very interesting species such as the mountain tapir, the sloth, the puma and the spectacled bear but your most common animal encounters will be horses and cows who love to hang around and graze on local vividly green pasturelands.

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There are several great hiking trails starting in the Cocora Valley, the longest of which will take you up to the nearby hills.

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At the elevation of around 3,000 m (almost 10,000 ft), you have to count with colder temperatures and massive clouds of fog that give the landscape somewhat eerie atmosphere.

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This is a view from Finca la Montana, a small country house where you can buy some basic snacks and drinks to refresh yourself before diving into the forest.

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A considerable part of the forest trail follows a little river. There are several wooden footbridges that hikers need to cross to complete the trail. Some of them are actually quite shaky.

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Wading through the river can also work. As you can see, the water is perfectly clear and I was tempted to drink from it but we had sufficient water supplies so there was no need to try that.

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I was so fascinated by the beauty of this place that I could not stop snapping photos. I took literally hundreds of them, including some macros such as this one.

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In the upper part of the trail, there is an option to turn off and hike up to the Acaime Hummingbird House, a little hummingbird sanctuary where you can get a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and, of course, observe the hummingbirds.

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There are several species of the hummingbird living in the Cocora Valley and most of them (if not all of them) can be seen in the sanctuary. The birds are absolutely free there, they just fly around the feeders filled with some sweet nectar. They are very cool and fun to watch but they are extremely difficult to photograph so be ready to click a lot of shots to get at least one or two with a decent focus. I think I took about a hundred of photos of the hummingbirds in there but a vast majority of the shots turned out super blurry. This is one of the best images I snapped in the Acaime Hummingbird House.

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After spending about a half an hour with these little feathered guys, we headed out to the final part of the trail that took us back to the valley. Needles to say I took another massive bunch of photos of the landscape on the way back.

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So this was the epic hike around the Cocora Valley as seen and captured by my cellphone camera (Xiaomi Mi A2 Lite). I did not really want to overwhelm you with photos though so this post featured just 25 of them. They were all taken by me with the exception of the one where I am sitting on the ground and enjoying the view of the magnificent wax palms. This shot was taken by my dear @liltammy.

I think we must have hiked some 30 km (19 mi) that day as we arrived to the beginning of the trail (by a short jeep ride from the nearby town of Salento) at around 10 A.M. and we got back to the parking spot at 4:30 P.M. The longest trail (the one we completed) requires some fitness as you hike up and down at an altitude of up to 3,000 m (almost 10,000 ft) but for me, it was totally worth. I can definitely say the Cocora Valley with its stunning nature is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life (if not the very most beautiful) and I absolutely enjoyed every single meter of the hike. This place is every nature lover´s dream come true and I can totally imagine myself living in a little wooden cabin somewhere among those majestic, fog-covered green hills :)

I hope you enjoyed this post and the photos. If you did, stay tuned for the second part of the series that will come with another 25 shots taken in the Cocora Valley next Tuesday. If you have any questions about hiking in this wonderful place, feel free to write them down in the comment section below, I will be happy to answer them.



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Thank you for visiting my blog. If you like posts about #nature, #animals, #traveling and discovering secrets and beauties of the #world, feel free to follow me as these are the topics I mostly write about. Have a wonderful day and keep on Steeming!