After my visit to Guatape, I realized that I was still missing a few important destinations in Antioquia, and I needed to visit Jardin, a small town located 3 hours away from Medellin. Since I am working for an NGO and there are a few volunteers willing to travel, I invited one of them to visit Jardin with me over the weekend. To get there, you need to go to the SOUTH bus station (Terminal del Sur) don’t make the same mistake I did of going all the way to the Terminal del Norte.
A bus ticket costs 26.000 COP (less than $10 USD – this price is updated for 2018) and there are two bus companies that go there. The first bus leaves at 4.45 am and they go constantly (like every 1.5 hour.) The best way to visit Jardin over a weekend is to take the first bus leaving and the last one coming back (for the exact same price, the last bus leaves Jardin at 5 p.m.). This way you will be able to see and do everything that’s interesting there. Jardin is a very colorful, cute and small town, where life goes really slow and no one’s in a rush. There are many interesting things to do and many sweets to try.
Jardin is a very small town, and like every small town in Colombia, everything is located around the main park or parque principal. Right there you will find the church, restaurants, stores, pharmacies, and cafes. Café Macanas is one of my favorite places to have a good cappuccino and eat some breakfast. They have great decor and vegetarian options. The rest of the restaurants in Jardin usually offer more traditional food and “menu del dia”, but the food is still tasty. If you are vegetarian, you will always find a place that sells beans, plantain, and arepas.
After breakfast, we went to see the church and we visited the Clara Rojas Pelaez Casa Museum, which is also right there by the park. Getting inside the museum is like a traveling back in time: the house is beautiful and the photography collection is outstanding. This guided tour is perfect to get to know facts about Jardin’s history. The entrance is free of charge, but a voluntary tip for the guide is appreciated.
Two other interesting activities to do if you visit Jardin are, first, the sweet factory store where you can find jellies, arequipe, and sweets in flavors like tamarindo, guava, and coconut. The place is nice and perfect to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee with a dessert and read a little (or check social media). The second place is the Gallito de Roca reserve. To get there, you need to walk a little bit away from the town to get to the farmhouse where these birds arrive during the afternoon (they are completely free). They like hanging in the trees in the area and is possible to sit on a bench and just look at them and snap great pictures. For bird-lovers, this is a dream since they can get quite close and there are many (when I went I counted more than 20)
One of the most popular activities in Jardin is going to the Esplendor cave. Sadly, I didn’t have the chance to go there since the first time I arrived too late in Jardin, and the second time I went, the cave was closed for visitors. However, we found great activities to do and new things to explore around Jardin. We went walking until Charco Corazon, a part of the river where a natural pool is formed (in the shape of a heart) and it is possible to swim. Later, we went all the way to check the bats inside a tunnel that an engineer in Jardin built himself. It wasn’t my favorite activity, but two of the guides (the two dogs) were VERY cute. After the tunnel, we finished the hike coming back to Jardin in “Garrucha” which is basically a small wooden trailer with a cable. It is a little bit scary, but definitely fun.
Jardin at night can get quite cold, so make sure to drink a few aguardientes in the park, and enjoy the nightlife just like the locals: sitting on a bench in the park. There is a wacky worm train that gives you a ride around town while you can enjoy some “guasca music”. Personally, I would go back a million times to Jardin if I had the chance.