Getting to the Valle de Cocora is quite simple and fairly inexpensive as long as you are willing to go early in the morning when group jeeps leave regularly from the Plaza Bolivar in Salento. Check at your accommodation for current times as they can vary at different times of the year but generally speaking, head to the plaza early in the morning and look for the jeeps congregating and waiting for passengers. You have to pay at a separate booth for some odd reason but once you do that, you basically wait for a jeep to fill up and off you go. The cost is 3000 COP ($1.50). It takes about 45 minutes to an hour to reach Cocora. The drop you off near some small shops if you need anything to eat or drink. It is also next to the beginning of the trail to Reserva Acaime.
Coming back is a bit trickier if you are there off peak season as sometimes there are no jeeps up there and you have to order one at one of the small shops. You'll need to give them money up front if you want to do it this way as they are responsible for paying the driver if they call one for you. Otherwise, you'll just have to wait for one to show up and also fill up, another problem if not during a busy time. We didn't have any problems ordering and getting one back to town, again for the same 3000 COP each. The worse case scenario would be to pay for a whole jeep at 24000 COP ($12) which while considerably more wouldn't be entirely unreasonable if in a hurry to get back to civilization.
If you want to see Quindio and really get to know the place there is noone better then Fernando Jaramillo of the Grupo Turistico. They have nice cars in a variaty of sizes and he is a great driver and guide as well.
He doen't speak english but his spanish is really clear and understandable. he has lived in Quindio his entire life and knows the ins and outs and histories of the whole department. He even knows the scientific names of the flowers and plants that flourish here.
When We had to swithch airports from Pereira to Armenia at the last minute he even tried to refuse the extra money I felt he deserved. A whole day trip from Hotel Heliconias to Valle de Cocora for a day with the Wax Palms cost about $60.
Carrera 7 No 6 - 45, Salento, Colombia
Good for: Business
Km. 7 Vereda Kerman, Parque Nacional de la Cultura Agropecuaria, Armenia, Colombia
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
Avenida Bolivar 8N Esquina, Armenia, 00000, CO
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Families