Getting to Jardin took us 11 hours. 11 long hours and 3 buses, Salento – Pereira – Riosulcio – Jardin. Was it worth it ……. Completely!
Staying with the Escobar family!
We arrived at night and went in search of a hostel we’d seen on a blog. Again we asked around, no one knew, next minute 6 people come out of a cafe to discuss where this hostel was. So friendly but not much help. They pointed in different directions and that was it. As we got closer we asked another family, they didn’t know either, they knock on the door of a friend to ask them and bingo they knew. Unfortunately for us the hostel was closed and the owner in Medellin. Across the road a family on their balcony invited us to stay at their ‘Fami-hotel’ – The family name Escobar!! (Jorge Escobar, CRA 1A-No.7 -30: – 3136126440)
The hotel was great, clean, big, cheapish for Jardin and quiet and the owners ridiculously friendly. We were the only ones and they seemed chuffed some foreigners were staying with them. We dropped the bags off and headed to the main square to find some dinner. Finally there was street food. Something we’ve missed since Mexico and Guatemala. More expensive than we expected but still nice to have something small and quick! No idea what we ordered but it was some greasy, buttery, sweet corn pitta stuffed with cheese. Yum yum.
First full day in Jardin and we took it easy, a lazy breakfast and a lazy stroll around the beautiful multicoloured streets. We then decided to walk out into the countryside. We hadn’t been walking for long when we saw an incredible garden. Orchids, hanging baskets, colourful flowers and shrubs. It was really well looked after. We took some photos from the road and the owner came out, introduced himself and invited us to come in and walk around.
He actually had his own professional gardener but he was so proud of it. We tried some of the fruits he was growing, there were zillions of butterflies and the garden just went on and on down to a beautiful stream.
After 30 minutes attempting to communicate and being shown around we walked on further into the countryside. Within 20 minutes we were being invited into some fancy holiday homes. They were gorgeous, very modern, very expensive, very swanky and they had the most incredible views. We noisied around, took some pics and again tried to communicate with the obviously bored, wanting to talk to someone lady who sits around waiting for potential guests to arrive. The houses were very much out of our budget but she obviously thought we had good taste and money!
Best coffee so far!
Moving on we walked a little further before turning back to the town to get a coffee. Hallelujah! Thank you Los Andes Cafe. Local, Cheap and bliming good.
By the afternoon we knew JM’s friend Thomas, who lives in Medellin, only 4 hours away, would be meeting us later in the day and spending the rest of the weekend with us. Brilliant.
Exploring a little further a hillside!
We had the idea to do a 7 hour trek with a guide to Cueva del Esplendor the following day and therefore decided to walk a smaller, shorter circuit route in the opposite direction before Thomas arrived in the evening. You can pick up a map of the route on at the tourist information.
We could take the rickety old cable car ‘garrucha’ we’d read about at the start and then circle round by foot back to the town. We left mid afternoon to the south of the town and immediately took the old wooden cable car up the hillside.
It’s not just the town that’s beautiful
A fun experience, less than 1 euro each way and lasting a maximum of 3/4 minutes. At the top the views of Jardin were gorgeous. As we walked back to town we went through banana and coffee plantations, past beautiful houses with incredible gardens.
We walked alongside fast flowing rivers, saw three small waterfalls, stopped at the perfect swimming spot with rapids and swimming holes with crystal clear water.
Unfortunately we forgot our swim stuff. Typical! It was a really great hour or so walk and highly recommended.
Saturday night comes alive in Jardin’s main square. The locals from the town and surrounding countryside come to the square and strut their stuff on their horses. They do a quick step so the square is loud with music from the bars and the sound of horseshoes on the cobbled streets. At first I thought it was great, I’ve never seen anything like it. Then I realised all the riders were drunk and the horses were irritated with all the music and exhaustion. We’d also definitely recommend NOT to stay anywhere near the square if you want a good nights sleep. The smartest most expensive hotel was above the noisiest bar and disco in town! Watch out!
And then there were 3!
Thomas’ bus stopped just off the square, we grabbed a beer and some food and had a good catch up. We tried out the pizza at Cafe Europa a restaurant lots of bloggers had recommended. It was pretty darn good and a reasonable price. Jardin was a place Thomas hadn’t visited before either so it was great for us to do something new together.
We tried to contact the guide for the trek and abseiling the following day to Cueva del Esplendor but unfortunately he didn’t answer. We tired another guy but he only did horse riding treks to the waterfall. Something I’m personally not too keen on doing in the mountains because we’d heard of a lot of accidents involving beginner riders in Colombia – beginners like us!!!
Anyway no one was too fussed so we decided to just see what the day brings! A large breakfast, a 3 hour walk in the mountains and up to the Cristo Rey statue overlooking the town. Beautiful views, lots of photos, Thomas catching a trout at the trout farm, prepared and eaten at their restaurant for lunch. We drank a few coffees during a rain storm before another walk in the opposite direction of the town through more coffee and banana plantations, along rivers and waterfalls. The area is stunning.
Along with San Agustin, Jardin and its surroundings are probably the most beautiful areas we’ve visited in Colombia
As well its beauty, it’s great for people watching, everything is reasonably priced, there was always something going on and there were no tourists other than Colombians. The coffee was great, there were no tat shops with souvenirs. It’s just a small Colombian town popular at the weekends with people coming from Medellin.