From one awesome place to another…

After Guatapé, we had to endure a loooong journey. 8 hours in a bus to get to our next destination: Salento.

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We wanted to discover the valley of Cocora and one of the symbols of Colombia: the Quindio wax palm.

It was with great enthusiasm that I got up early (4:30 in the morning) to realize a time lapse of the sunrise over the valley. It was a unique moment to be alone in front of this splendid landscape on the other side of the world and watch the sun rise. I share with you the time lapse. It lacks the explosion of life that accompanied the daybreak with the flight of colourful birds … I will take 2 cameras next time.

One coffee later (double) the two of us explored the valley. It was a bizarre environment for us. I must say that it is strange to find palm trees in the mountains. I lost my landmarks with these pastures so green you could imagine being in Ireland, with these giant palms growing in the middle and all of these situated in mountains that could be in Switzerland … We had some reasons to be confused.

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The giant palms are the Quindío wax palm. It is the tallest palm in the world, reaching as far as 60 meters in height!

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I do not want to be the local “Al Gore” but I am afraid this unique landscape will disappear in some years. The Quindío wax palm is in danger1. In the past it was used a lot to make candles. Then its leaves removed for the religious celebration of Palm Sunday. Nowadays, although protected, it grows in the middle of pastures. The cows seem to be happy to have its seeds in their menu. Consequently I have not seen any young tree in this valley.

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I would like to make a link between this observation and the recently published work of Gerardo Ceballos, Paul R. Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo.  Their work, published on Monday 11 July in PNAS, an important scientific journal, used a sample of more than 27000 vertebrate species to calculate the extinction rate. It shows a critical decrease in the size and range of the studied populations. They highlight the current magnitude of Earth’s ongoing sixth major extinction event.

End of Al Gore parenthesis. To end in a bit happier note, as usual you can see the pictures in good quality under this link.

  1. Bernal, R. & Sanín, M. J. 2013. Los palmares de Ceroxylon quindiuense (Arecaceae) en el Valle de Cocora, Quindío: perspectivas de un ícono escénico de Colombia. Colombia Florestal, 16(1), 67-79
  2. Gerardo Ceballos, Paul R. Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo. Biological annihilation via the ongoing sixth mass extinction signaled by vertebrate population losses and declines. PNAS, July 10, 2017

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