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Salento Successes

sunny 28 °C

Last time on our Andean adventure we told you the sad story of the decimation of Colombia’s national plant – the wax palm – in the stunningly beautiful Cocora valley. These lofty palms are strictly protected today but no amount of legal cosseting can prevent their eventual disappearance from the valley, and this man explained why…
This is Nicholas and he and his partner, Carlos, have spent the past ten years protecting and re-establishing a large area of natural jungle a few kilometres from Salento. (Web. kasaguaduanaturalreserve.org) Nicholas explained that the wax palm seeds can only germinate and grow under a dense forest canopy and for many years the plant grows at ground level until its enormous crown of leaves is fully mature. Only then does the giant stem begin to thrust the crown high above the canopy from where it can flower and produce offspring. The wax palms of the Cocora valley no longer have a jungle at their feet so they can never reproduce. The jungles of Colombia seem so vast that it is difficult to believe that they are under threat, but economic pressures have led to large areas being cleared for coffee, dairy and paper production. This is what the jungle should look like – one of the most biodiverse areas on earth with more than three thousand species of plants per square kilometre…
And this is where Nicholas and his partner are making a real difference. By protecting their slice of jungle they are preserving wax palms for future generations, they are also educating tourists and the locals about the jungle and the need for its preservation. We learnt an amazing amount during a three hour tour of the Kasaguadua reserve. For example: the next time you are lost in a tropical jungle only eat fruit from spiky plants – poisonous plants don’t waste energy producing spikes. And when it comes to spikes there are few more wicked than blackberries…
There are hardly any flowers in the dense forest undergrowth as few birds venture into this dark world, so most of the blooms are high in the canopy…
Smaller plants that are unable to reach the lofty heights necessary to catch the sun and the attention of birds flourish by clinging onto the branches of trees and getting a lift, like these orchids…
However, some of the leaves of the jungle plants are as beautiful as any flower. This is a huge leaf – not a feather…
Nicholas is from London, England, but his heart is in the Colombian jungle and we wish him well in his lifetime’s quest to build a sustainable future for this region. Some other people who are making a difference are Henry and Belindo from Bogota with their sons Pedro and Johann…
This incredibly hardworking and innovative family have created an excellent restaurant serving delicious local trout, (trucha), a five-a-side football pitch and a tejo alley all called BetaTown in Salento.(www.beta.com.co). Tejo is a national sport in Colombia and is played using explosives, (check it out on Wikipedia). And this week Henry and his family opened a perfectly beautiful small hotel in the town.
Salento has become such a tourist draw that at holiday times the police have to block off access. Don’t be deterred. It’s a beautiful little place – and definitely stay at the Beta Hotel.

Posted by Hawkson 18:50 Archived in Colombia

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Oh how lush - lets hope humanity begins to value nature more and preserve it.

by The Vickerage

How lush and encouraging to see dedication to creating change no matter how small. Love hearing positive news in this world of so much sadness these days. Thank you for a spot of beauty.

by Sue Fitzwilson

Surprised to see blackberry bush and what looks like bracken fern. The beautiful leaf could even be a relative of skunk cabbage. A bit of Gabriola in the jungle, eh?

by R and B

Following this closely...next on our bucket list. Just spent 3 weeks in Sri Lanka and off to Malaysia. Perhaps Sri Lanka should be next for you two and we can swap stories! Safe travels!

by Maxine stewart

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