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The ultimate guide to Valle de Cocora hike with kids

Thanks to my kid's Netflix watch list, my first inside into Cocora Valley was through the Encanto movie when I saw those huge palm trees and the whole valley. And I knew I had to see this in person! But hiking? Well, that came way later.


Before I brief into this ultimate guide to hiking with kids, i will also talk about

Hiking options




Cocora Valley or Valle de Cocora

Now, you may be thinking what is so special about the Cocora Valley and where in the map is it?

Cocora Valley or Valle de Cocora is home to Colombia's national tree- the wax palm or Palma de cera, which grows up to 197 feet in height. These trees provide the habitat for the endangered and very colorful bird, the yellow-eared parrot. With their slim trunks topped by clusters of leaves that resemble cottony tufts of greenery from a distance, the palms look like whimsical trees.



Valle de Cocora, Colombia with kids
Valle de Cocora


Did you know, that palm trees in Cocora Valley are the world's tallest palm trees?

Where is Cocora Valley located?

The valley is located in the Colombian Andes' central range at an elevation of roughly 5,900 feet above sea level. These are situated at the entrance to Los Nevados National Natural Park.



How to get there:

We stayed in the Salento region which is 1 hour away from Pereira's airport Aeropuerto Internacional Matecaña. Read my Colombia trip itinerary for more information.

We stayed at the amazing Hotel Terasu in Salento region, so the main square was just a walking distance away.

If you are coming from Pereira, Filandia, Armenia, or nearby places, reach the Salento main square. From there, lots of open jeeps (called Willys) leave frequently for Cocora every day, you can buy tickets on the spot. That’s what we did.



Main square in Salento, Colombia. Buy tickets for Cocora valley from the kiosk
Salento main square


Willys

Now this is the mode of transport you will be using to reach the valley from Salento's main square. It's an open jeep where everyone with a ticket, sits in. The Willy was such an interesting ride toward the valley that reminded me of the ones similar to those in Chaing Mai, Thailand. You’ll meet the most interesting people on these Willy rides. We met so many backpackers, full-time nomads, and locals and heard amazing stories from their travels around the globe. Expect it to be packed with little to no room to move around.


"You’ll meet the most interesting people on the Willy rides."


open jeet or Willy in Colombia, cocora valley takes you to the entrance.
Willy rides were so much fun


Ultimate Guide to Valle de Cocora hike with kids

 When I was searching online for how to experience the valley, the best option was to hike! With the scarce information related to hiking with kids, I wasn't sure. ! I am the one who needs to gather as much information as possible to ensure I'm mentally prepared and ready for any unforeseen situations with kids. That's how a mom's brain operates.


While scouring for any first-hand experience, I was very confused by all the information and opinions from travelers. There were a lot of reviews regarding the long circuit which isn't kid-friendly and not much regarding the short circuit. With this, I decided to take the short loop with the kids. I hope the guide helps other parents take that step and hike Cocora Valley with their kids.


We planned for our Cocora hike in the morning. (which I would recommend). We woke up to a heavy rain! I wasn’t so sure if we should go ahead, but our hotel staff encouraged us to go as they were so used to the rainy weather.

 

I put on a raincoat and on my 2-year-old and was ready to face whatever came. We walked towards the main square to get on a Willy. We purchased our tickets from the kiosk and took the willy to reach the starting point of the valley. It was a good 20-minute bumpy ride with the kids.



Hiking to Cocora valley in Colombia with kid and toddler. Baby carrier works best for hiking
Ready for hiking to valley while drenched in rain

Once you reach the entrance and get your first glimpse into the valley, you’ll realize why everyone raves about the place.

|It was MAGICAL!! I have never seen such a beautiful and raw place ever (coming from someone who has visited Switzerland). I couldn't wait to see more during our hike.

cocora valley hike with kids in colombia
The views are the entrance as magical

Hiking options:

Talking about hiking, there are two main circuits:

  • Short Loop: You can hike from the entrance until Mirador 1 and 2 (which we did and I’m going to talk about)

    • Cost: 15000 pesos pp

    • Hike duration- 1.5 hrs (Total duration from start to finish was different with kids)

  • Long loop: This is majorly for professional hikers or you need to be reasonably fit. You can do the entire Cocora circuit, including the additional Acaime trek for the hummingbirds. People opt for clockwise or counterclockwise based on their preference.

    • Cost-

    • Duration- 6-8 hrs

 

Valle de cocora in Colombia hiking circuits options. Long loop and short loop
The hiking route options. We took the short loop marked in red arrows

What about people who cannot or do not wish to hike?

This was a question I was looking for the answer to until I visited the Valle itself. there are two options you can choose:

  • You do not need to hike to see the views! The views itself can be seen as soon as you enter the valley. You pay 3000 pesos for entry. Buy some coffee and sit down to soak in the real beauty of the place.

  • You can also ride on the horses that take you to the top while soaking the breathtaking views.


Entrance to Cocora valley, Colombia. have some colombian coffee for breathtaking views
The first look into the valley. Buy some coffee and soak in the views

Short loop with kids:

We walked past the blue gate towards the right on a rather unpaved road. We eventually reached the second entry at Bosque de Palmas. Walk up to the steps and pay the entrance fee here.

We just followed the red arrows and kept climbing up. You can also take the red arrow trail up and pass towards the hummingbird reserve. We took a brief stop near fields where the cows were grazing.


Cocora valley hike with kids colombia
Halfway to the hike

There were a lot of steps to climb to reach Mirador 1. We chose to skip the steps at one point and directly climbed the hilly slopes until we reached the famous hand.


Hiking with kids to Cocora valley in Colombia, Mirador 1
My 4 yera old climbing the hilly slopes and ditching the stairs



Mirador 1 in Valle de Cocora with kids in Colombia
Mirador 1 in sight after climbing lot of stairs


There were still a couple of steps to climb, though now the hand was in purview.


Mirador 1 with kids in cocora valley colombia
Soak in the views at Mirador 1

We finally reached the top of Mirador 1. The view from there was breathtaking, to say the least! The palms are tightly clustered up top. Just sit down and take it all in. You will hear the water stream running below which was so serene. We could also see horses grazing in the hilly regions.

Me and my 2 year old skipped going up the Mirador 2. My husband and 4-year-old climbed the Mirador 2 with ease.


Insider Tip:

  • There is a small waterfall and a stream downhill. You can hear the water running through the creaks so clearly so take a detour downhill.

  • We indulged in ice cream at one of the small shops near the entrance.  It was delicious and refreshing, a perfect way to end our visit to the Cocora Valley.


How hard was it with kids:

I carried my 2-year-old in a baby carrier throughout the hike. It did test my stamina, I wouldn’t lie. I was huffing and buffing though not to the point of crashing, but definitely tired. It was the altitude and steel incline along with the weight of a toddler.

My older one (4-yr old) climbed up with no problem, nor did my husband face any issues.


Tips for making the hike easy with kids : 

  1. Start early as it started getting hot mid-day and the sun can feel a bit harsh.

  2. Wear loose clothing as you will be hiking up. My kids wore long pants and long-sleeved T-shirts.

  3. The hike can be long and strenuous so pack some snacks and a water bottle to hydrate and energize yourself and the kids.

  4. Carry a light rain poncho or jacket throughout. You never know when it will rain. 

  5. to avoid soaked shoes from rain and mud, wear waterproof shoes.

  6. The sun feels harsh at that altitude, so ensure you are wearing sunscreen

 

Final Thoughts

The valley itself is absolutely stunning and was definitely worth the time. The hills are insanely green, and wax palms look exactly like in the pictures - tall, majestic, and peaceful. Cocora Valley is really breathtaking, so take your time, and enjoy the views.


If the guide to Cocora valley hike with kids helped you during your trip, comment below to tell us about your experience.

 

 

HAPPY TRAVELING!!!



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17 Comments

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Guest
Apr 22

What a spectacular place to hike! Those palm trees look incredible 😍

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Replying to

Those palm trees were the entire reason for coming to Coffee Axis (and Ofcourse their amazing coffee), it was surreal to say the least :)

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you all for your encouraging comments

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Guest
Apr 21
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Love the fun fact & all the tips!

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thank you so much glad you liked it.

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Guest
Apr 20

We did the bike tour of the valley. It is such a beautiful place and it looks like you made the right choice, your kids look like they had so much fun!

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Oh wow i didn't know there was a bike tour as well! Where did you start from for the b ike tour? that sounds so much fun.

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Guest
Apr 20

This is an epic guide to hike Cocora Valley with kids. Love that you offer short and long loop options.

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Guest
Apr 22
Replying to

Thank you so much!

I could have definitely planned my time appropriately with kids, if I had some idea on these hiking options.

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