JARDIN: OUR FAVORITE TOWN IN COLOMBIA
Jardin is a quiet town in Colombia, only four hours by bus from Medellin, which has not been yet discovered by many travelers. In translation, the word jardin means garden, and there's a reason why the pueblo carries this name, it is for sure one of the most beautiful towns we'VE visited in Colombia.
JARDIN: A COLOMBIAN SECRET
Jardin, a laidback town in Colombia's Antioquia department, is no secret to local travelers but thankfully, it is still off the classic backpacker's trail.
Not many international travelers pay a visit to this little colonial town with a friendly atmosphere and beautiful hilly surroundings. We always love to discover places like this, where the feel is authentic, no one cares about us (in a good way), and always, when leaving, we are delighted that we made it before the mass tourism will change the town's spirit.
Of course, you will find here a few tour agencies offering horseback riding, bird watching or hiking tours around the town, but it is kept on a low level as almost all tours, if not all are in Spanish (English is not widely spoken in Colombia) and at the moment Jardin is far from being ready for international tourism.
WHAT PEOPLE DO IN JARDIN FOR LIVING
Since we arrived in Jardin, we couldn't stop thinking, what people from Jardin do for a living. Don't take us wrong there are shops, restaurants, and coffee houses open and we believe they are hard working people, but the first impression when you come to the main plaza is that this town must be full of rentiers.
The Jardin's square boasts with coffee houses, every coffee house has its own colorfully hand-painted chairs and tables outside set throughout the plaza, and what is the most interesting, any time of the day we came, tables were usually taken by locals enjoying their cup(s) of coffee.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN JARDIN
We like towns such as Jardin as there is a bit from everything, there are no must-see places and no feeling of rush. You can spend your time actively in the surrounding hills, observe the unique fauna and flora or relax in coffee houses, wander around Jardin's streets and do nothing much, but either way, you choose, you'll have a feeling of the nicely spent day.
EXPLORE COLORFUL COLONIAL STREETS OF JARDIN
Take your camera in hand and set off to explore Jardin's architecture. The best thing about Jardin is that the town is so small you don't need any transport as everything is conveniently located near the plaza and you can get everywhere on foot.
During our travels in Colombia we visited quite a lot of small colonial towns which were supposed to be the prettiest or the most colorful, but to be honest, Jardin became our most favorite one, although it is not on the front page of travel magazines.
Enjoy leisure stroll in streets leading from the main square, and of course, you can't miss Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, a neo-gothic style church standing on the square which we found disproportionate to the size of Jardin (understand too big).
It is hard to resist. Everyone in Jardin drinks coffee, the smell of the delicious drink is wafting from every corner, and although we are usually tea persons, Jardin was the place where we for the first time tried the first quality Colombian coffee. For the best coffee in the town, go to Cafe Macanas.
RIDE LA GARRUCHA CABLE CAR
Jardin is set between hills and to get beautiful views of the town, and its surroundings, you can either hike up or take one of two cable cars they have here.
The newer cable car Cable Aereo Jardin didn't seem to work when we visited Jardin, it starts on Calle 8 and leads to a mirador, but you can take a hike to the mirador on own.
The second cable car La Garrucha is the old one and cost COP 3 500 one way. The ride itself isn't somehow spectacular and the cable car ends in the restaurant on the hill, more interesting is the cable car itself.
La Garrucha is basically a wooden box which can fit up to 5 people, and it was originally built by a local who wanted to get from his house on the slopes to the town more conveniently. The ride is not for fainthearted but is worth it.
JARDIN BIRD WATCHING
Jardin is a place, where you can spot Gallitos de Rocas alias cock-of-the-rock.
Large birds native to South America are flamboyant and very hard to miss because of their bright red color and unique shape of the head and crest (those are males, females are the opposite, brownish and unostentatious.
To see those birds, go to Reserva Natural Jardin de Rocas. The entrance fee is COP 10 000 and opening hours are 6 AM - 7:30 AM and 4 PM - 5:30 PM.
To get there, walk Calle 9 to the river, but do not cross the yellow bridge, instead, turn right downhill and in about 50 meters you will reach the gate.
A reserve is a place where some lady lives, so in case she is not near, you can try to shout, or there is a phone number you can reach her at and ask her to open the door for you.
In the garden, there are few viewing platforms where you can patiently and quietly wait for Gallitos de Rocas.
Binoculars or guides are not needed. There is also an online form where you can make a reservation, but we filled the form last minute and did not receive any answer, and there was no problem we showed up without reservation.
HIKE AROUND JARDIN
We decided to take only a short trek to the Mirador Cristo Rey (can be reached by a newer cable car when works) standing above Jardin.
The hike in green and lush hills around Jardin was a pleasant one, and although the trail was sometimes muddy, the round trip took us only about 2.5 hours.
The trek is not very well-signposted, but you won't get lost, the best way how to follow it is to have an app Maps.me. From the intersection of Calle 13 and Carrera 2, head down and cross the bridge over creek Paraisa.
On another crossing, stay left and after approximately 200 meters turn left. There is a restaurant, follow the narrow path leading uphill.
The muddy path zig-zags uphill, and you'll emerge on the wider road, here turn left again and follow the road. In a few minutes, you'll see a wooden sign Cristo Rey to the left.
To get back to Jardin, you can either return the same way or from Mirador, when facing Jardin, walk down the left trail. It is a narrow path, and approximately in the middle, you can walk down or turn right.
We chose the right one, had to cross one private property with a barking dog (luckily on a leash) and arrived in Jardin on Calle 11 and Carrera 2.
Probably the most featured activity around Jardin is horseback riding. We didn't do it here though. First of all, we knew we would try this activity in San Agustin, second of all, the price was COP 80 000 each for only 2 hours which seemed to us a bit pricey.
La Cueva Esplendor is a beautiful cave outside the town with waterfall. You can do it as a part of a jeep tour (which we didn't find interesting), or it should be possible to walk there on a day-long hike, but we couldn't find any recent information if it is possible and the lady in the information center told us we must take a jeep tour. We believe the muddy path goes through private properties with strayed dogs and that's why we decided to give it a pass.
HOW TO GET TO JARDIN
Jardin can be easily reached from Medellin, and the ride takes 3.5 to 4 hours. Medellin has two bus terminals, to get to Jardin, head to Terminal Sur. From here, take a bus company Rapido Ochoa (several times a day), the ticket cost COP 26 000 per person. Terminal Sur is not connected to Metro we found the easiest to take a taxi, from Poblado district, it cost only COP 5000.
WHERE TO STAY IN JARDIN
WHERE TO EAT IN JARDIN
We found a great restaurant La Parrilla De Mi Pueblo on the corner of Carrera 6 and Calle 9 with cheap menu del dia for COP 9 500.