Jardin (pronounced hardeen) is a quaint and colourful town only two hours from Medellin. When you arrive, it is like stepping back in time; with cowboys riding about town in their studded boots, vintage hats and double denim. It reminds me a little of Salento but it is less well known, giving you a real authentic Colombian experience.
The Jardin Plaza with its central fountain, colourful buildings and hand painted chairs and tables, offer the perfect setting for mingling with the locals, sipping on Cafe tinto or aguardiente (their local alcoholic spirit). Jardin is a place you could easily get stuck, enjoying life at a slower pace, whilst being surrounded by beauty and nature.
If you are coming from Medellin, head to Terminal del Sur which is a short taxi ride away from Poblado metro station, costing around COL$5,000 (€1.50 / $1.60).
Take Rapido Ochoa, situated at either booth 2 or 38. A return ticket should cost between COL$25,000-$30,000 (€7-8 / $8-10). The journey is around 4 hours and you will be dropped off close to the main Plaza in Jardin, easy walking distance from hostels, guest houses and restaurants.
If you are coming from Salento, then the best option is to take a bus to Pereira, change at Riosucio and go onwards to Jardin. The journey will take about 5 hours.
Jardin is tiny. It can be easily explored on foot and there are lots of quaint cafes and shops to check out along the way.
Jardin has two different cable car systems, Cable Aéreo Jardín and La Garrucha. Sadly the Cable Aéreo Jardín has been out of service for a little while, which is troubling for the locals as it use to be a great way for them to get to the Coffee Plantations they work at. But the La Garrucha is open and offers a brilliant way to see the town and the surrounding valleys from above.
With its brightly coloured colonial buildings, incredible architecture, delicious cuisine and cowboys riding around on horseback, the Jardin Plaza is the perfect spot to people watch, bringing together locals and tourists. At the start of every day, restaurant owners set out 100's of hand painted chairs, depicting unique representations of the culture and life in this beautiful little town. With the view of the surrounding mountains and beautiful central church (Basilica of Immaculate Conception), you could spend hours here.
Or head out of town to The Reserva Natural De Rocas, a magical place where you can spot ‘Gallitos de Rocas’, a bird with an unmissable bright red colouring. Best time to go is 4.30pm, costs COL$10,000 (€2.80 / $3).
Trek to La Cueva Del Esplendor on horseback, a stunning waterfall inside a magical cave. Whilst I did not do this activity, I know plenty of people who did and they loved it. So, if your budget permits it (COL$50,000 / €15 / $16) I would say go for it. Alternatively, you can take a jeep tour or walk it. There are some steep hills though, so make sure you have your hiking shoes at the ready! Check with the hostel for the details.
There are other treks you can do. I explored 9 of the surrounding waterfalls which was an 8 hour hike. Tough, but worth every bead of sweat. Insanely beautiful and one of my favourite hikes to date. The scenery constantly changed from rolling meadows, to dense forests, cascading waterfalls and trickling streams. I was in awe. At one point I was standing under a waterfall in a cave, watching the water wash over my head and to the depths below, never wanting to leave. It was one of ‘those’ moments. To end the hike, we stopped at a Finca and drank the most incredible coffee. The guide was informative (Spanish speaking only) and with lunch included this cost COL$30,000 (€9 / $10). Again, this can be booked through your hostel.
This was recommended to me by Sara, a staff member at Los Patios Hostel in Medellin, and boy am I grateful to her, thank you! Dulces De Jardin was founded in 1995 by a local woman with a sweet tooth. This delectable shop offers a huge variety of jams, truffles, sweets and so much more, perfect for a post hike snack! I wholehearted recommend the truffles! Stock up and take some with you on your bus journey to the next place. Check out their facebook page.
Head up a neighbouring mountain peak via Jardin’s Teleferico (Cable Car), La Garrucha. The cable car ride covers about a quarter of a mile, with a cabin that sits up to eight people. However, this locally made cable car, powered by an old truck engine, is not for the fainthearted! But when in Colombia....
Cost for a round trip is COL$5,000 (€1.50 / $2). There is also a restaurant up the top of the mirador where you can get some nice cold beers.
You are not short of accommodation in Jardin and it is super affordable.
I stayed at Sgt Peppers Hostel which was beautifully chilled and only a couple of streets from the Jardin Plaza. At COL$28,000 (€8 / $9) per night for a mixed 6 bed dormitory, it is not the cheapest option, but sociable, with a kitchen, a very comfy bed and breakfast included! Please note that prices for accommodation inflate on the weekends! Follow them on Instagram: @sgt_pepper_s_hostel.
There are plenty of guest houses, so if you feel confident enough (and it is easily done), when you arrive in town, take a walk around the Jardin Plaza and ask for a bed. It tends to work out cheaper than booking online through a hostel provider and quite often you can get a private room all to yourself :)
There are numerous choices of restaurants and delicious food places in Jardin.
- Head to the main plaza and revel in the delights of delicious fruit and veg or gorge yourself on empanadas!
- The local speciality in Jardin is troucha, or trout, as the village is surrounded by a number of trout farms. Every restaurant in town around the main plaza serves up a troucha dish, but for a true experience head to La Argelia, a trout farm set up by the Salada River with a restaurant and stunning views. Check them out on Tripadvisor
Vegetarian / Vegan Food:
- There are plenty of places in Jardin that offer vegetarian options and delicious vegan delights. Cafe Europa is a top choice for me, but book early as it gets busy. They have a Facebook page if you wanted to check them out.
- Bon Appetite is a favourite of mine. Offering Asian and Italian inspired dishes, this cute little place is a great find. With only four tables and lit by candlelight it has a romantic and intimate feel to it. Check them out on Tripadvisor