Why is Jardin a must stop escape from Medellin before you leave Colombia?
Heavenly scenic landscapes
Beautiful Birds, and their singing
Multiple waterfalls to hike/run to
Range of quality restaurants/cafes/hotels and hostels catering for a variety of tastes.
Cool off in the rivers and swim in the rapids
Drink local coffee straight from the farm
Eat local trout
When you talk to Colombians in Medellin about Jardin, without exception, they will rave about it!
Some will mention the pretty town with its bright coloured buildings, or the picturesque church, standing tall over the big central plaza. There is no denying that Jardin is a hugely popular weekend getaway for a lot of paisa's [The name given to people from Medellin], well worth the three-hour drive. However, outside of the town, there are beautiful, tranquil spots, too numerous to count. Below I have outlined some of my favourites, although I am very aware that there are many I am yet to explore.
Notes: I highly recommend avoiding the long festivo weekends (public holidays), when the peaceful town can transform into something resembling a party hotspot.
I highly recommend staying outside of the town to get the most out of Jardin. Unfortunately, the hostel where I've stayed in the past closed during the Pandemic of 2020. However, there are plenty of other options if you are looking for something on a tighter budget. It's worth checking Airbnb.
Cueva del Esplendor
[Blue on the map below]
I made a Youtube Vlog of my trip to Cueva del Esplendor, which I recommend watching if you would like to get a sense of the place. I loved this cave/waterfall, although I did leave feeling that it would have been better to have avoided one of the busiest weekends of the year. Even so, it was majestic. Few were brave enough to swim in the cold water for more than a few seconds which meant that I had plenty of space to swim around.
Should you walk or take a Jeep to Cueva del Esplendor in Jardin?
- Walk!, well, ideally!
Most people will take a Jeep up to the entrance of the Cave which you can catch from the football pitch in town. However, to me, this isn't appealing. The walk which traverses the valley was a big part of the experience. That being said, we had motorbikes which meant that we could ride up the steepest part 7km, and then park up just past Finca Vista Alegre, about 5km from the caves (See the map below for the route).
The 5km walk was a nice compromise, mostly a gentle uphill gradient on the way there but certainly something which is runnable for anybody with an adequate level of fitness. Had I been on my own, or with a different group, I would have done just that.
You might want to ask the jeep driver's to drop you off at the point where we parked, but I would be doubtful if they would give you anything off the price.
The Full 12km
The second option is to walk all the way, but if you are heading from somewhere close to town, it's about 12km in each direction. And it's steep! If you have all day, it's a nice walk, but I'm not sure I would personally want to run the whole thing. Parts are between 10 - 17% incline with a total elevation of 875m.
However, there is a way around this! The best option is to stay in the hills above the town, closer to Cueva del Esplendor as well as other waterfalls which you would be able to hike/run to.
My friend stayed in Finca Carrizales, which was a 6km walk away (Marked with a green pin on the map below). From here they were also able to hike to Cascada Chorro Blanka.
Cost of entry to the Cave
Price for 2020
20,000 COP - Includes a drink
60,000 COP - Including return jeep trip (and drink)
If you would like me to send you a link to these routes on Strava, or if you have any other questions, please feel to drop me a message on Instagram, and I'll do my best to help. You can also view them in Google Maps here (requires connection) & Download the GPX files at the bottom of the page.
[Orange on the map above]
Note: (This name simply means 'natural pool', so if you ask for it by this name I wouldn't expect anyone to know what you mean)
I found this cool little spot once the lockdown of 2020 had eased a bit and we were able to venture outside. Here the rapids catapult the water into a deep pool. The result is an endless swimming pool which promises to give you a challenging swim workout. You will be struggling to keep in a straight line. However you fair, it's a lot of fun. I was in the habit of visiting every week!
If swimming sounds like hard work, this spot has several platforms at varying heights for jumping into the water!
On the way, you will pass through Cascada La Escalera, and then head along a trail running parallel with the river. Once you arrive, you will see a little gate on the right with a wooden sign stating a small fee to swim. (I forget what this fee is, but it's tiny). Go through the little gate, and head through the field down to the river. (You may need to look out for the old man to pay.)
The track to Riosucio (Towards Salento)
[Green on the map above]
To the south of Jardin, there is a forest road which threads itself through the Antioquan mountains to Riosucio. It's probably not something you are likely to walk, but the 50km trail is perfect for gravel rides or bikepacking trips on the way to Salento. The road is a constant climb for 1500 meters before descending into Riosucio. I road the full route on my motorbike a couple of years ago, however when I tried to cycle there and back from Jardin, I got hungry and turned around early.
MTB to Jerico
[Purple on the map above]
This is a very different, more open landscape than the one above. As the track climbs through the rocky hills, it takes in typical Antioquian villages with their accompanying vistas, banana and coffee farms. It all combines to give an incredible sense of the magnificence of this area. This route is rockier and more technical, at least in places. I probably would prefer to tackle it on a mountain bike opposed to a gravel bike. However, full suspension is certainly not needed.
Please remember to check out the youtube video and subscribe to my channel. I travel the world, searching for the best gyms so that you can travel without compromising your fitness.
Check out the gyms I recommend in Colombia here and to see me learning to white water kayak in San Luis, not far from Jardin, check out my video here.
GPX Files - (These can be loaded into a GPS, or map application)