The small town of Jardin is one of the most beautiful pueblos in all of Colombia and has remained virtually unchanged for more than a century. Located approximately 4 hours to the south of Medellin if traveling by car, it sits in the southernmost stretches of the department of Antioquia. The pueblo is famous in Colombia for its preserved and colonial appearance as well as its striking mountain views and lush green, garden filled landscapes. In fact, the main square of Jardin was declared as a national monument by the Colombia Minister of Tourism in 1985 and is lined with restaurants, cafes and hotels. The neo gothic styled Basilica Menor de la Inmaculada Conception presides over the square and is a dominant presence with its dark brick facade.
Whitewashed buildings are the theme in this pueblo and contrast dramatically with the brightly painted doors, balconies and hanging baskets of native flowers that adorn their exterior.
History of Jardin, Colombia
Archaeological evidence taken from graves in Jardin, Colombia tell us that the area was inhabited by the indigenous including the Catíos de la etnia de los Chamíes well before the Spanish conquest. From there, available records take us to 1860 and the colonization of Antioquia (Colonización Antioqueña) in which vast areas of this department were founded and developed by early settlers striking out to make their claim on the territory and land. Indalecio Peláez was the official founder of the township and area in 1863. The story behind the naming of this pueblo is a little fuzzy, but indicate that early settlers who reached the area and founded the pueblo were awestruck by the beauty of the valley and its river systems proclaiming it to be a garden. In the early days, Jardin depended heavily upon its wealthy neighboring town of Andes for political and municipal support. It wasn’t until around 1871 that the pueblo was established as an independent parish. A decade later in 1882 the town was officially built by Dr. Luciano Restrepo, then president of the Sovereign State of Antioquia.
Jardin, Colombia is located between the Rio San Juan, which is called Docató (river of stones) by the natives, and a branch of the Cordillera Occidental, making it very mountainous and rugged territory. Because of its topography, the area has three climatic zones including paramo, temperate and warm temperate with the latter being the predominant climate in the region. This combined climate of the municipality is determined by the confluence of cold water streams including the Farallones Citará and warmer water streams of the lower and middle course of the San Juan River. Among others, Jardin is bathed by the San Juan, Claro and Dojurgo Rivers.
Getting to Jardin
If you do not have a private car, you can take the Transporte Suroeste Antioqueño Andes-Jardin bus from the Medellin Southern Bus Terminal (Phone +57 4 361 1998 or +57 4 232 1923). Alternatively, the transportation company Rapido Ochoa (Phone +57 4 444 8888) also offers service and can be accessed from the same bus terminal. The price will range somewhere between $5 – 10 USD depending on currency conversion at the time of your trip.
Getting Around in Jardin
Walking is the most popular mode of transportation in this quaint pueblo as average daily temperatures are quite comfortable at 72 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition you can hire a taxi known as a moto-ratón or motorcycle mouse to take you around town or on a tour which lasts about 1.5 hours and is a great way to see the interior of Jardin as well as some of the popular areas located outside of town including trout farms, caves and the teleferico (gondola) to name a few.
What To Do & See in Jardin
1. Jardin Plaza / Town Architecture
As is the case in most Colombian small towns (pueblos), the central plaza in Jardin is where locals and tourists alike gather to talk about the days events, admire the scenery and congregate socially. Every day merchants and restaurant owners bring out dozens of tables that are placed throughout the plaza in anticipation of the daily crowd. An interesting note is the hand painted chairs that one can find intermixed throughout the plaza. These unique representations and depictions of Jardin, its culture and daily life painted onto the chairs are a nice touch that give a rich down-home feel to the town, unlike the big city atmosphere of Bogota or Medellin.
The architecture of Jardin is reminiscent of days past when Colonización Antioqueña swept through the region during a period of expansion and growth. This style of whitewashed buildings and brightly painted doors, balconies and window dressings can be seen throughout the pueblo providing a picturesque beauty and antique character to the charming pueblo. This visual charm is matched by the warm and friendly citizens of Jardin who are always happy provide you with help or assistance.
A great way to explore Jardin, Colombia and the outlying area is to take a tour in one of the many moto-raton taxis that are available. There is plenty of room for two people in the back of the open air (or covered) motorcycle taxi and the tours of Jardin and its countryside can be tailored to fit your needs depending on how much time you have to dedicate to site-seeing. We opted for the complete trip which takes you to all corners of the pueblo, pointing out the historical and architectural highlights as well as a side trip to an impressive trout farm about 15 minutes outside of the town that takes you through some impressive hill side trails and visually stunning mountain valley terrain. The countryside is full of rivers, streams and small farms that grow coffee, banana, yuca, uchuva and granadilla fruit to name but just a few of the varieties we witnessed on our tour of the area. The cost of our two hour trek was approximately $20,000 pesos or $10 USD.
2. Estadero El Arka (Trout Farm)
About 15 minutes outside of Jardin is an impressive trout farm by the name of Estadero El Arka. It it located in the neighboring valley and you must take a ride through a brief mountain pass to get there. The trout farm is strategically located alongside of one of the predominant rivers that flows through this region. As a matter of fact, the entire facility is built into the river so that it captures the fresh flowing water and re-channels it throughout the series of holding tanks that are setup to contain the fish. Each holding tank is dedicated to a certain size trout according to its age and size. There is a restaurant that is built just above the fish tanks that provides some spectacular view as well as fresh caught trout for lunch or dinner.
3. Teleferico (Gondola Ride)
Recently completed in 2007, this 5 minute gondola ride to a neighboring mountain peak provides the best views of Jardin, Colombia and the encompassing central valley. The price of the round trip ticket at the time of our visit was $5000 pesos or approximately $2.50 USD. There is an accompanying restaurant at the top of the lookout. This is a great place to have lunch or dinner and take in the spectacular views of the pueblo below.
4. Dulces de Jardin
If you have a sweet tooth, the Dulces de Jardin is a confectionery shop and store that is not to be missed while visiting Jardin, Colombia. Dulces de Jardin was started in 1995 by proprietor and owner Mariela Arango Jaramillo. A native to this pueblo, it was her passion and hobby to create jellies, jams and sweets of all kinds for her family and friends. Now a thriving micro enterprise, this sweet shop is a great place to load up on goodies before you leave town. Here is an interesting video of Dulces de Jardin (Spanish).
5. Cueva de Esplendor
If you are the adventurous type and do not mind a little (or alot) of exercise, then La Cueva de Esplendor is a great activity for you in Jardin, Colombia. Offered as part of a guided tour, this trip takes about three hours in order to reach its destination which is a system of caves and waterfalls that exists in the area. Carved out by a running stream that also turns into a luminescent waterfall, La Cueva de Esplendor is a popular hiking tour that is offered in Jardin. Ask around town for tour operators that can give you pricing and an availability schedule.
Where to Stay & Eat in Jardin
1. Restaurant Las Margaritas is located in the main plaza. We had a great full breakfast at this place and highly recommend it.
2. Restaurant El Dorado is located in the Hotel El Dorado just off the main plaza.
3. Restaurant El Zodiaco is just off the main plaza and located in front of the Hotel El Dorado. This place has an excellent menu and fast service. We ate lunch and dinner here.
* Note: Prices for hotels in Jardin are most expensive during the weekend and holidays. The most economical rates can be had throughout the weekdays (Monday – Thursday).
1. Hotel Hacienda Balandu (4/5 Star): Located just outside of town, this full size hotel is the nicest in the area in terms of property and amenities. It is also the most expensive. Prices for Hotel Hacienda Balandu can be found here along with various photos. Most of the time, reservations are not necessary as the hotel has plenty of occupancy. However, you may want to reserve your rooms ahead of time during holidays.
Hours of Operation: everyday between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.
Telephone: 845-6850 / 845-6848 / 845-6849 celular (311)300-7917
Address: Jardín Río Sucio about 800 mts above the town of Jardín.
2. Hotel El Dorado (3 Star): Located just off the central plaza, this three story boutique hotel and restaurant is a great and economical option for travelers. Extremely clean and well kept, this hotel has many rooms to chose from and soft beds as well as hot water. The front of the hotel has a really nice balcony overlooking the street below as well as a view of the basilica (church) in the central plaza. Prices range from $15 – 30 USD per night based on double occupancy. Rates are higher on weekends and during holidays. Phone +574 845-5618.
*Note: The rooms in the back of the hotel will have much less street noise than the rooms in the front of the hotel.
3. Hotel Valdivia Plaza (3 Star): Located on the central plaza, this two story boutique hotel is a picturesque building with beautifully painted traditional Antiqueno facade. The hotel has a nice balcony and ornate wood framed windows.
Telephone: 845-5055 / Cell 316-528-1047
Address: Cra. 5 No. 9-47 Central Plaza
Hotel Valdivia Plaza website
4. Hotel Balcones del Parque (3 Star): Also located on the central plaza (corner building) is the Hotel Balcones del Parque which also boasts a rooftop jacuzzi and steam room. Rates are $25-30 USD per person during the week and include breakfast and dinner. Phone +574 845-6844.
5. Hotel Barajas (3 Star): Located just off the central plaza and down the road about a block is the Hotel Barajas. This small hotel is owned and managed by Jose Alejandro Marin and his wife Clara Ines Marin. The rates are very affordable at $15-20 per couple during the week and $25 per couple on the weekends.
Telephone: Phone +574 845-6393
Address: Cra. 3 #8-63