Medellin - Hike to Santa Helena

Santa Elena is a small town that sits on the mountain to the East of Medellin. It takes about 45 minutes to get there if you take a bus from San Ignacio in El Centro (downtown). Santa Elena is also a must-visit during the Medellin Feria de las Flores in August where the Silleteros prepare the costumes and flowers carts that will be used for the main parade.

.........................................................................................................................................

Santa Elena, near MedellinMany people go up to Santa Elenato check out the town and the cute flower filled country houses, have a meal, or shop for organic food (milk from grazing cows, and fruits, berries and vegetables from small family farms are easy to find along the side of the roads). You can also find blueberry wine and uchuva tea and other local artisanal products, edible and otherwise.  Maybe you'll get lucky and they'll be having a local art fair.

On top of the same mountain but to the North is Parque Arvi- it’s a nature reserve with hiking trails, tourist installations with lakes and little rowboats, a butterfly farm, small "canopy" zip-lines (more information to practice canopy near Medellin), restaurants, barbeque pits, things like that.  To get to Parque Arvi take the metrocable from the Santo Domingo station.  The cable car ride up there is worth  the trip in itself- the views are awesome and it's a lot of fun.

.........................................................................................................................................

People visit Arvi primarily to hike through the forest. But if you're going up to that area and want to hike around and see the forest and the communities hidden inside it I've got a suggestion for you.

There are plenty of paved roads for buses and cars, but there are also hundreds of trails that run between the small communities that compromise Santa Elena- and there are no roads that go to these. The people who live up on the mountain use these trails to get from place to place- to get to the main roads, to visit other communities and farms. The trails run up and down the mountain, and back and forth all around the area.

View of Medellin from the road to Santa ElenaI've explored Santa Elena using these trails a few times. The first time a friend and I got "lost." There were many forks in the trails.  We wandered through forests and fields, crossed streams and navigated our way through little muddy bogs.  A few times throughout the day we ran across small groups of houses in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere before choosing another trail out of the tiny community.

At one point we talked to the locals who explained what they did - they gathered moss from the surrounding forest to sell to nurseries for potted plants.  They explained how they ensure the sustainability of their little operation. They seemed very sensitive to their environment and appeared to feel  responsible for protecting the nature around them.

Later in the day we wanted to find a road where we could grab a bus. We came to another little group of houses and decided to ask for directions.  Some children offered to show us the way to a road we could get a bus from. They helped us navigate the trails for half an hour and led us to the road that went back down the mountain.

They were curious, friendly, and surprisingly well informed and involved with the local community.  We gave them some coins and some candy we found in our pockets.  And caught the bus back down to the city.

So, how do you find these trails?  It's not too hard. From one of the main roads between Parque Arvi and Santa Elena, look for little gates or entrances to the houses behind the trees. They are not obvious  -there are no signs and they don't look like entrances to hiking trails.  You have to leave the road and check it out.  If you find a fork in the trail before you get to a gate  then you're on the right track.  If you walk for a while and don't see any houses then you can assume you're off the beaten track and, well, enjoy your hike and your adventure. Go ahead and get lost- eventually you'll always find some houses or a road. Good luck!

.........................................................................................................................................

=> This article was written by Cole Lavalley, our friend, our correspondent in Medellin and the owner of the hostel Calle 10. Stay there and I am sure Cole will share a few more tips for you to enjoy Medellin.

.........................................................................................................................................

Leave your comments

0

Comments

  • No comments found

Search for the Best Hotels in Colombia

Check-in Date

Check-out Date

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contact us

Please contact us at the following:

  • Address: Calle 114A No 53-43 Bogota
  • Tel: (Colombia) +57 313 304 1112
    Tel:
    (UK) +44 779 374 5981
You are now being logged in using your Facebook credentials