Environmentally conscious people who wish to experience a truly green vacation should consider going beyond simply staying at an eco-friendly hotel or hostel. Being green means more than simply relaxing in recycled pool water; luckily, new eco resorts are letting visitors get their hands dirty—in a good way.
There are many benefits to a farming vacation. You can help the earth while exercising in the fresh air, think of it as a healthy vacation with a higher purpose. You will learn new skills and meet like-minded socially conscious individuals, forming friendships that can last a lifetime. Depending on where you go, farming vacations can be much more affordable than traditional trips. Not only will you become a vital part of the environmental movement, you can be a part of history; pick the right place, and it will feel as though you are transported back in time. Get away from technology, go back to when people worked the land and truly connected with it.
For anyone who wants to experience a truly green vacation, Salento is the perfect place to start. Located in Quindio, Colombia, Salento is a village nestled in the heart of the coffee region. The environmentally-friendly hostel, La Serrana Eco Farm and Hostel, grows organic coffee, plantains and other fruits and vegetables, all with the help of its guests who are looking to slow down and do something special for the earth and for themselves. Of course work is optional. Guests are welcome to simply relax and enjoy the beauty of Colombia.
In 1835, Colombia began exporting its coffee, sending 2500 bags to the United States. Forty years later, in 1875, the U.S. and Europe consumed 170,000 bags of Colombian coffee. And, in 1992, a staggering 17 million bags of coffee left Colombia. Colombia is now the third leading coffee producer in the world, second only to Brazil and Vietnam. However, many people would argue that even thought they are third in quantity, they are first in quality. Like Juan Valdez, you could be a part of this rich and varied history, a true Colombian coffee grower.
In fact, as you arrive in Salento, you may feel as if you have traveled fifty years back in time. Most people still travel by horseback, wear cowboy hats, and hang out in pool halls while traditional Colombian music spills into the streets. A destination for Colombians who want to get out of the cities on weekends or holidays, and globe trotting backpackers, Salento is the place to slow down and enjoy life.
Whether you want to see the wax palms in the Valley de Cocora, soaring twenty five meters into the sky, or you simply want to get away from the never ending onslaught of modern technology, Salento is a paradise. But just because it’s remote doesn’t mean that it’s boring: mountain biking, paragliding, trout fishing, hiking, kayaking and horseback riding are just a few of the things Salento has to offer.
Salento sits below the stunning Los Nevados Mountains. Most of the land is used for farming the world-renowned Colombian coffee and plantains. With fertile, dark, rich soil and a mix of sun and rain, almost anything can grow here.
In general, Colombia is safer than most Americans expect. However, when you are traveling abroad, especially in Latin America, you need to be vigilant. Colombia has a well known history of violence, but it does not show its face to most travelers. Just as in any other country, as long as you stay away from areas known to be dangerous you should not have any problems. In fact, you will probably leave thinking that Colombians are the nicest people you have ever met.
Before you head off to another resort or spa, consider a vacation that allows you to reconnect with the land and its people. Consider experiencing another culture while enjoying the natural world and all of its beauty.
Photo Credits: Jonathan Schwartz & Dany Hood