The small town of Jardín is a 4-hour drive from Medellín, and located at the beginning of the coffee region. One of the pearls of Colombia because of its beautiful location, the many activities and the authentic character. Jardín has many viewpoints, beautiful waterfalls and offers plenty of opportunities to make beautiful day hikes. Jardín is often skipped and regularly seen as a sleepy and quiet town. It is quiet, but also certainly lively. What is there to do in Jardín and why not skip it? How do you get there and back from Jardin?
You could come to Jardín just for the atmosphere and tranquility. And the beautiful colored doors and window frames. The relatively large central square is a gathering place for the entire village. Along the square you will find many cafes and restaurants and that is, mainly by the locals, seen as the ideal way to meet each other. Take a break from the day with a cup of coffee in hand.
The cathedral, located on the square, is built in a very different architectural style than most churches and cathedrals in Colombia. The cathedral is also considerably larger than the others. You can visit the cathedral for free and inside you can see the many decorations and windows with stained glass.
Near the cathedral you will find several cafes that serve delicious and cheap coffee. A few recommendations are Cafe Macanas and Cafelatte. Milo is recommended for an alternative to coffee. This is drunk both cold and hot and resembles a combination of caramel and chocolate milk, but is not very sweet. Milo puddings and pies are also made. For good bread go to Ambrosía Taller de Pan and fine Italian restaurants are Bella Italia and Bon Appetit. In addition, every evening the square turns into a street food mecca, where you can walk around the various stalls and where you can get arepas, empanadas, fried chicken, burgers and more for reasonable prices.
Because Jardín is located in a valley, several viewpoints have been established around the village, each with its own view. You have the most beautiful and widest views from Mirador Cristo Rey de Jardín and Café Jardín. You can get there on foot or by (moto)taxi. Sometimes, due to weather conditions, the (steep) path from the center of Jardín to Mirador Cristo Rey is closed. It is therefore good to inquire about the current situation of the path. You can still get there from Café Jardín, which is about a 10-minute walk.
Other vantage points are from La Garrucha (see below) and from La Herrerita. The latter is (also) a café and has a hanging net where you can relax with a view over the valley and Jardín.
South of Jardín you will find La Garrucha. This is a cable car with 1 cart that originally mainly brought employees and materials up. Now the cable car is also used by (local) tourists to go up and/or down. The cable car is not very stable, but it is sturdy and gives a very nice view over the area. You can walk up, then start from the yellow bridge at Calle 9, and follow the road you can find on Maps.Me. If at some point the path is no longer clear, it is best to ask the locals for directions, because you also have to go up a bit, off road. You can also first walk via La Herrerita and from there to La Garrucha in 10 minutes. Another option is to go up with the cable car. You may have to wait a while, the cable car is mainly on request and runs from 8.30 am to 6 pm. For example, if you want to go downstairs after 6 p.m., feel free to ask. A one-way ticket costs 5,000 pesos/€1.25 per person.
Parque Naturel Jardín de Rocas
Just before the yellow bridge on Calle 9, another road leads to Parque Naturel Jardín de Rocas. It sounds like a park, but is actually more like a large backyard of the owners. Every day, between 4.30pm – 6.00pm, they open the garden and you can enter for 10,000 pesos/€2.50 to look for the Cock of the Rock. A bright orange bird that is mainly active in the garden at the end of the day. The opening times may vary a little each day, depending on how many people are/coming.
Would you like to know how the coffee process works? What has to happen before you can drink your cup of coffee? Jardín is located in the coffee region of Colombia and has many coffee farms. Because Jardín is not so often visited by tourists, you can often follow a coffee tour here in an authentic way. A few well-known coffee farms (fincas) are the coffee tour at Café Jardín and Margus. You can gain an authentic experience at Finca Los Angeles. The relatively small finca is run by a hardworking and sweet family and you can see that in their finca. You will get a tour of the finca, learn the process from flour to bean to coffee and also get coffee to taste. This tour costs 35,000 pesos/€8.75 per person. You arrive at Finca Los Angeles by (moto)taxi and it costs 20,000 pesos/€5 one way. Other coffee tours can be more expensive, costing up to 120,000 pesos/€30 per person.
Waterfalls and Hiking
The area around Jardín has many hiking trails and mountain areas for hiking. This also means that several waterfalls can be found in the region.
Cascada el Amor
This waterfall is located near Jardín, about a 20-minute walk from the center. The waterfall is not very spectacular, but you can easily walk to it and you can combine a visit to the waterfall with the viewpoints of La Herrerita and La Garrucha.
Cascada Chorro Blanco
The waterfall Chorro Blanco is located north of Jardín and you can visit this waterfall in a day trip. You can also go there on horseback, for more information you can contact your hotel or several tourist offices in the center. Sometimes horse rides are canceled due to the poor condition of the trail.
You can also visit the waterfall with a tour. If you want to go yourself, you can walk to the start of the hike or take a shared taxi. These are jeeps called Willy’s and the ride often costs a few euros. This will take you to the starting point of the hike. The hike itself to the waterfall takes about 2.5 hours and it can help to track the prints of horses so you know you are going in the right direction.
Cave and waterfall Cueva del Espendor
Another special waterfall is the Cueva del Espendor, this is a waterfall in a cave. To get here you can go on a tour. Tours cost 70,000 pesos/€17.50, which includes transport, guide and lunch.
If you want to go yourself, you can take the Willy (shared jeep taxi). There is 1 daily per day, to the starting point of the hike. The Willy departs from Calle 8, at Carrera 5, at 8:00 AM and costs 10,000 pesos/€2.50. From the starting point of the hike you walk in about 1.5 hours to the entrance of the cave. This is a house from which the walk to the cave starts. You are not allowed to go to the cave alone, this is accompanied. It costs 20,000 pesos/€5 to reach the cave. At the house you get something to drink, register yourself and walk from there to the cave in about 20 minutes. The environment is green and fresh and it resembles the rainforest. The cave is also beautiful and very special to see with how much force the water comes out of the rock from a hole.
Once back at the house you can return the same route, but you can also choose to walk through the mountains to Café Jardin. This is a route of 12 km in total, from the start of the hike, to the cave and from there to Café Jardín, to plop down with a beautiful view of Jardín. In total you will be walking for about 5 hours, without breaks. From the cave it is a stretch through the mountains with beautiful views. It is helpful to download and follow Maps.Me as the path is not always clear. In the beginning it is mainly necessary to follow the fences of the meadows. Be aware of wet and soggy grass and mud. There are a few style pieces. You pass a number of gates that you have to pass. Along the way you also regularly see large waterfalls coming from the mountains and the views are very beautiful. A wonderful day hike if you like a bit of a challenge.
Hike along 4 waterfalls
Another challenging day hike is a hike along 4 waterfalls. It is wise to walk this route in a clockwise direction, as there are a number of steep sections, where there are ropes to help you. These stretches are easier to do when you are ascending than when you are descending.
The route starts at the bridge over the Quebrada La Salada river, near Creo Ecolodge Jardín. You get there by Willy (shared jeep taxi), which departs daily at 8.30 am from Jardín. From the start of the hike you first walk to the waterfall Cascada La Escalera, which you can reach within 30 minutes. Then you will walk to the Fall of the Dragon, Cascada Cueva de los Guácharos and Cascada Salto del Angel. Some beautiful waterfalls, but the route is tough. Take into account steep surfaces, crossing a number of rivers (regularly deeper than streams) and mud. The hike takes about 6 hours in total, without breaks.
In addition to the above activities, Jardín also offers many other sporting activities. Think of horse riding (it is important to check whether the horse looks well cared for), paragliding over the area, cycling with mountain bikes, and playing pool and billiards. The latter happens in more places in Colombia, such as in San Gil, where there are various rooms available with pool and billiard tables. You often already rent a table for 6.00 pesos / € 1.50 per hour. A nice way to end the day.
How do you get there and back?
You arrive in Jardín by bus from Medellín. The bus takes about 4 hours, leaving from Terminal de Transporte Sur. You can book your tickets online via Redbus (see article transport Colombia) or in the terminal itself. Bus tickets cost about 34,000 pesos/€8.50.
You can also travel from Salento/Pereira to Jardín. Then you first take the bus to Riosucio, about 4 hours, and then you change to the bus to Jardín. From Salento there is a daily direct bus to Riosucio, at 9.40 am (via Pereira), for 36,000 pesos/€9. In Riosucio you take transport to Jardín. You can travel in 2 ways, via the highway or via the mountains. Via the highway is more comfortable, but takes longer and costs 35,000 pesos/€8.75. Via the mountains you go on a dirt road, which bumps a lot, but with beautiful views. This ride takes 4 hours, costs 25,000 pesos/€6.25. For this final ride, there are two transportation options, whether you go by minibus or by chiva. A chiva is a truck/cart, cheerfully decorated, but less comfortable than a minibus (an extra sweater to sit on can help). You can’t choose, one of these cars is always available. If you want to go from Jardín to Salento, this route also applies, only then vice versa. For more details and photos, see our instagram highlights.