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Valle de Cocora is a protected area in Quindío near the eco-tourist/backpacker haven of Salento, known for its surreal, striking landscapes pegged with the slender, towering Colombian national symbol, the wax palm.

The area was designated a protected park by the Colombian government in 1985 in response to the imminent threat of extinction of the Ceroxylon quindiuense, the Quindío wax palm. The palms were brought to the verge of extinction in part owing to their utility in making wax candles and building materials for farmers, but most of all because they were traditionally cut down annually for fronds on Palm Sunday. The park remains to this day one of the few places in the world that you can find these immense trees which, while quite rare, are no longer under imminent threat. You can find some other ones in botanical gardens, such as the San Francisco Botanical Garden in San Francisco, California.

- Wikivoyage

Image by Mesut Kaya

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