Travelling from A to B is something that doesn’t happen quickly in certain parts of Colombia, what looks like a short distance on a map can take an eternity in reality. It is an extremely mountainous country, especially in the coffee region.
Day trip from Manizales to Salamina, and La Merced – northwest of Caldas.
Decided to take the weekend off from working at the coffee farm.
Sunday, 07:00: arrived at el terminal de Manizales ( bus station). Too early for buses so was directed to a taxi – $22,000 COP (£5.50 – same price as the bus). The taxi took two hours to get to Salamina, a gorgeous town with beautifully painted houses, a delightful Central Plaza and a gleaming white fronted church. The architectural heritage of Salamina is extremely impressive; it was declared a National Heritage site in 1982.
The construction techniques used are all traditional. The terraced balconies in the houses, painted in bright colours, and with flower pots and the carved doors of the houses, make for stunning photos. The calm and peace in which its inhabitants live is reflected in the hanging ferns, the flower pots and the pitchers of water that they keep inside their courtyards.
From Salamina I took a jeep (1.5 hours) to Peña Rica $5,000 COP. From here I changed jeeps in order to get to La Merced (45 mins) costing $2,500 COP.
La Merced is nothing much to write home about; a small plaza and a ‘concrete’ structure, that is the church, about sums up the place. However, from a place nearby, known as El Tambor, you can enjoy spectacular views of the Cauca river canyon and the eastern mountain range, while enjoying a “Fiambre” (typical Colombian dish wrapped in “congo” leaves) prepared by local people. From El Tambor there are various tour agents who can offer paragliding and horseback riding packages.
From La Merced I took another Jeep (30 minutes) to La Felicia $2,500 COP, where I caught the bus back to Manizales – $10,000 COP.