There’s something very special about a little puebla hidden two hours south of Medellín, a little puebla called Jardín.
If you’re searching for a taste of authentic Colombia, in the form of a scenic tiny town filled with big smiles and many welcomes, surrounded by views similar to the ones from Jurassic Park and farms laced with banana and avocado trees. We found it.
We enjoyed strolling through the narrow streets, lined with uniquely colourful homes, and hanging out in the buzzing central square; listening to the clash of local music played from all the nearby bars.
We spent our few days there watching the Caballeros, dressed in full cowboy attire, ride across the town on horseback, families laughing as they threw corn to the swarming pigeons, teenagers taking selfies and splashing each other at the fountain, and couples of all ages dining out and sharing moments over local food and beer.
We hiked one of the smaller mountains, just to ride back down in a tiny cable car, one that can only be compared to a shed hanging off two pieces of string, and demolished yet another bandeja paisa, to waddle home in the dark listening to the doll-like sounding frogs that hid along the side of the road.
As I said, there is something very special about this town. A town worth a visit, whether you are heading south towards Colombia’s coffee region, or static in Medellín; jump the bus, enjoy the views and discover a little world that seems virtually unchanged.
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From Medellín to Jardín:
From, well pretty much anywhere in Medellín, take the metro to Poblado station and exit on the left-hand side, following signs for the Terminal del Sur.
You can grab one of the single-filed taxis at the bottom of the stairs or enjoy a simple and safe 15-20 minute walk.
To walk, walk straight up where the bright yellow taxis eagerly wait, and at the end of this road swing left onto Calle 10. Keep walking straight up Calle 10 and you will soon see at the bus terminal, also a shopping mall.
Here you have two options, buses and microbuses. Microbuses are a little bit more expensive, promising a direct drive, so no stops. But since it’s a quick and painless two-hour journey, with beautiful views and interesting characters en route, we took the bus a.k.a the cheaper option.
Rapido Ochoa offers a decent service and can be found at gate #38. There is another company that runs this route from gate #2, I cannot for the life of me remember the name. Either way, buses leave every 45 mins or so, and please don’t pay any more than 25,000 (€7). As mentioned, the bus takes 2.5 hours, with stops.
Accommodation in Jardín:
Since this is the place locals like to holiday, there are a number of hotels found near the square. For the budget-craving backpacker, head a little out of town to find cheap and cheerful hostels, all with stunning views and chilled vibes.
As per usual, we didn’t pre-book anything in advance and unless it’s a holiday, we don’t see the need for you to either.
If you don’t find anything in town, from the central square (facing the church) take the street adjacent to the left-hand side of said church. Keep walking until you reach Calle 13 and swing left. There are a few hostels and free room signs down this long stretch of road.
Hostel Canto de Agua:
It was here we came across Hostel Canto de Agua – Villa Maria, the perfect place to lay your head. Since we were living in Medellín at the time and only had a light bag with us, when we were offered a cheap tent for the night we knew this would be too much fun to pass up. But it might be worth noting that the dorm rooms are gender-specific, not for us. I think, after four years together, staying goodnight to Luke and sleeping in a different room would be weird.
What we assumed would be tents pitched out in the garden were in fact tents cosied up along the side porch, even better, even warmer.
La Salada (tent) cost us 18,000 COP (€5) FOR TWO NIGHTS! And honestly, thanks to it being a large three-man tent we could have easily fit our gigantic backpacks in there with us, should you have yours.
We had full access to the kitchen, bathroom, lots of hammocks and common rooms, oh and breakfast (cereal, fruit and scrambled eggs) was included.
Despite concerns from our fellow backpackers, who wondered if we were warm or even comfortable camping, thanks to the four heavy blankets, we were too warm and the tent was kitted with a small futon mattress.
Seriously, it’ll do and it’s fun. Save your money and feel like a kid again.
Things To Do in Jardín:
Like anywhere, hostels offer plenty of tours and adventures; from horse riding, and hiking to visiting coffee farms. Not too badly priced, the majority of these tours include transport, guide, lunch and horse riding, we noted that prices start from 45,000 COP (€13) per person.
But look, you might know by now that we like to do things by the penny unless it’s the kind of thing unique to that area of course. So instead we discovered some cheap, fun and sometimes free things to do while here.
If you stay at our hostel the guys hold a free hike each day. Usually guided by the volunteers and starting from the hostel around midday, enjoy the company and go for an exciting walk with new friends.
La Garrucha Telefónico:
If you have been to Medellin, this metro cable is less impressive, scarier perhaps, but the views from the ground alone will encourage you to jump on. This is the ‘that’s a shed hanging off two pieces of string’ cable car, a quick yet thrilling little ride over the coffee farms and plantain trees.
You can journey from the bottom up, by heading to Carrera 8. Instead, we took the 30-minute hike up, topping up our farmer tans along the way, and jumped the swinging shed back down.
The shed, we mean cable car, was introduced as a method of transport for local farmers to bring their crops and produce to the town so it doesn’t run throughout the day, but at specific times.
We know one leaves (from the mountain to the town) at 8.30 am and 2.30 pm every day. Pop over to the office on Carrera 8 to find out more times, and let us know so we can update this blog!
It costs 3,000 COP (€0.85) each way.
Another cable car option, this one is way more modern and similar to the ones in Medellin but alas, with beautiful views, we were devastated to find it was closed while we were there. I’m not 100% sure why but my guess is it was because it was a Tuesday after a bank holiday weekend.
Apparently, it is a little more expensive (we doubt that much more than La Gurracho) but there is a viewpoint and some stalls at the top of this one, or so we hear. Either way, you’ll get a beautiful view.
Free Walking Tour:
Ha, yes! If there’s a way, there is a walking tour! Unfortunately, due to it being a tiny town, the free walking tour only takes place on weekends so we missed this one, but from what we heard, it’s a short but sweet tour but very enjoyable.
Anything where you can ask questions and learn more gets a big fat yes from us! The tour starts at 5 pm from the fountain outside the church, Be sure to arrive 5 minutes early and bring a small donation.
Waterfalls and Wonders:
We don’t exaggerate when we say there are plenty of hiking opportunities here, some that pass the nearby waterfalls. All of which are easy to DIY-it, meaning you don’t need a guide.
The hike is worth a trip to the many swimming holes, just ask at your hostel or visit the local information office, located around the corner on the left-hand side of the church, for a suggested route.
Hey, we said free! Tell us we are wrong when we suggest that you should just go to the centre, grab a coffee and watch the locals.
This is a town where time doesn’t matter. Its slow pace makes you wonder how anything gets done around here, as everyone sits happily around the plaza. Very relaxed vibes, this is a street photographer’s dream.
We hope our little introduction to Jardín is enough to convince you to go, especially if you are chasing somewhere to break up the long journey from north to south Colombia, a day trip (better as overnight) to Medellin or just a little escape, some adventure and a feel for “original Colombia”.
Becoming more and more popular with tourists, we hope this beauty never changes and stays exactly as it is, simply perfect.
Enjoy! Let us know how you get on and if you have anything to add.