YOUR ADVENTURE GUIDE TO EXPLORING THE BEAUTIFUL SANTA RITA WATERFALL AND SANTA RITA FINCA - ONE OF THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN SALENTO, COLOMBIA.
Sitting in the heart of the Colombian Coffee Region, the Santa Rita Waterfall - as well as the whole Finca Santa Rita area - is definitely one of the top things to do in Salento, Colombia. This is especially true if you are visiting the area during the dry season and are looking to spend a bit of time cooling down in a nice temperate body of water (this is one of the few swimming areas in the Salento area).
Below is an in-depth adventure travel guide to the Santa Rita Waterfall. It includes everything you need to know about getting to the waterfall (by bus, Willy or by foot) and what to expect once you actually arrive. Plus, it also outlines a few other amazing things to do in the Salento area - including visiting a reserve with a somewhat creepy backstory.
Keep reading to learn more.
YOUR SANTA RITA WATERFALL GUIDE
\\ Where is the Santa Rita Waterfall
Located just outside of the small town of Boquia, Colombia, the Santa Rita Waterfall sits on the privately-owned Finca Santa Rita (finca means farm/estate). The waterfall is very easy to reach and definitely worth checking out if you are already staying in nearby Salento, Colombia.
❔ GOOD TO KNOW: because the waterfall is on private land you do need to pay an entrance fee (roughly 7000 COP per person). This fee includes access to the waterfall as well as all of the other amazing things on Finca Santa Rita (caves, swimming holes and trails).
The Best Time to Visit the Waterfall
Due to it being closely located to Salento (5 kilometers // 3 miles away) you can expect very similar weather.
Weather in Salento, Colombia, and the whole Colombian coffee region as a whole, is often characterized by having mid-afternoon rain showers (especially during the rainy season) and nice, mild temperatures (70° F // 21° C) year-round. Actually, during the dry season, sunny mornings and afternoons can surprisingly feel quite warm due to the high elevation (Salento sits at 1,828 meters or 6,000 feet). Luckily, the Santa Rita Waterfall is the perfect place to head to to cool off.
❔ GOOD TO KNOW: due to Colombia’s close proximity to the equator there are not really seasons, instead altitude plays a big role in weather and temperature. That being said, there are two somewhat distinct “seasons”: wet and dry, which alternate every three months. For example, December - February is dry, March - May is wet, June - August is dry and September - November is wet (usually October and November are the wettest months overall).
\\ How to Get to the Santa Rita Waterfall
Because the Santa Rita Waterfall is so close to Salento it is really easy to reach by a variety of ways; including, by bus, taxi/Willy, and of course, your own two feet.
The fastest way to reach the Santa Rita Waterfall is to take a bus to the nearby town of Boquia and then walk from there. The bus ride from Salento to Boquia should cost around 1500 COP ($0.40 USD // €0.30 Euros) for it is a pretty short ride. You will need to pick the bus up from the main bus terminal in Salento, which is located on the far west side (exact location here).
Once you reach Boquia, take the road that runs parallel to the Quindio River. You will see Restaurante Monterroca (and a campground) on the left side corner (there is a big metal turtle too). Take the dirt road until it gets to a sort of Y. The left road (Hacia la Patasola) keeps going until it reaches La Patasola Reserve (more on that below). You need to take the road on the right (there will be a clear sign saying SANTA RITA).
Keep walking on the dirt road for another 25 minutes. Along the way you will pass a couple of small waterfalls and get a great overview of the river. Make sure to take the time to look for many different species of birds along this section of the road. Altogether, it is 1.5 kilometers from the turn off in Boquia to the entrance of Finca Santa Rita.
GETTING TO THE SANTA RITA WATERFALL (& SALENTO) FROM PEREIRA & ARMENIA BY BUS
Due to the Santa Rita Waterfall being off the same road you would need to take to get to Salento, it is really easy to reach if you are coming from either Armenia or Pereira, the two biggest cities close to Salento (both have airports and big bus stations).
Just as you would if taking the bus from Salento, you will need to get off the bus in the town of Boquia (near the river) and walk from there to the waterfall. If you are planning to take the bus from Armenia or Pereira to Salento you can simply tell the driver beforehand that you actually need to get off in Boquia (it is a common stop).
It should cost around 4000 COP if taking the bus from Armenia (it costs 5300 COP to go from Armenia all the way to Salento) and around 8400 COP if taking the bus from Pereira (it costs 9700 COP to go all the way from Pereira to Salento).
Taxi or Willy Jeep
If you don’t want to take a bus or would rather not walk at all to reach Finca Santa Rita then you also have the option to hire a taxi, which in Salento means taking a colorful, WWII-era jeep known as a Willy.
The Willy jeeps can be found in the main plaza of Salento on the opposite side of the church. Most of the Willy’s are used to head to Cocora Valley - another great day trip from Salento - which is unfortunately on the opposite side of the town and valley. Therefore if you want to take a Willy to the waterfall you will likely need to hire one completely or try to find one that is already heading to either Circasia or Filandia (which are two towns located in somewhat the same direction as the Santa Rita Waterfall).
We have personally never taken a taxi to the town of Boquia (let alone the waterfall) so we do not know what this trip would cost. Though for reference it costs 4000 COP ($1 USD // €0.89 Euros) per person to ride out to Cocora Valley, which is much farther but also much more popular.
Another great option (and definitely our favorite way) for reaching the Santa Rita Waterfall is to simply walk right from Salento. And the best part is that you don’t even have to walk on the main highway (which is a bit narrow) but instead on a dirt trail that runs parallel to multiple coffee fincas.
To start the walk (if coming from the main square in Salento) first head out on Calle 6 as if you were heading to the main bus terminal on the west side of town. Once you reach the intersection of Calle 6 and Carrera 2 turn left (you will see Salento Cycling on the corner). Keep walking until you reach the next road on the right (it will be rock instead of concrete). Turn right here and walk all the way down, past The Plantation House Hostel until you reach dirt. You will see a narrow trail start to turn downhill - that is the way to go.
Once on the trail, just keep following it downhill until it becomes quite ravine like. If you are doing the walk after a rain shower definitely wear shoes with good grip for the mud and rocks can be quite slippery.
Eventually, the trail will end at the main highway (there will be a house on the left side). Cross the highway and continue a bit further down the trail. Soon it will intersect the highway again. From here, turn right and walk about two more minutes until you get to the middle of Boquia. Turn right on the dirt road after the yellow bridge. From there, it is another 1.5 kilometers on the dirt road until you reach Finca Santa Rita.
Another great option for walking to the Santa Rita Waterfall is to simply add it to the Salento Coffee Route or Rute Cafecito. This was actually our original plan and if it hadn’t been for lack of daylight and an incoming thunderstorm, we would have definitely done both the coffee route and the waterfall on the same day.