I absolutely fell for Jerico, and then I got to Jardin, Colombia…
And I fell even harder.
This really was the prettiest pueblo I ever did see, and I didn’t want to leave. The gorgeous hikes, the friendly pups, the AMAZING FOOD… Jardin has a lot going for it and it’s definitely on my repeat list.
After exploring for nearly a week, I think I’ve gathered some of the coolest things to do in Jardin for you. I hope you enjoy my guide to this lovely pueblo.
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Things to Do in Jardin, Colombia
Below you’ll find everything I did in Jardin, Colombia plus some extras. Here’s a helpful map to help you visualize where everything is in town too.
La Cueva de Esplandor
Let’s get this one up front and center! This will surely be something you’ve seen or heard about doing in Jardin, Colombia. It’s a magical cave with a waterfall gushing out from a hole above. It’s a sight to be seen, it’s gorgeous, the hike in and out is a damn good work out, and you’re surrounded by coffee, hills, and lush greenery the entire way.
It’s an awesome thing to do in the area, but there are a few things to know before you go, which is why I made an entire post on La Cueva del Esplendor, so give it a read before heading out.
Yo, you’re in the coffee region of Colombia. What else do you expect?
Of course, you have to do coffee things here. That means drinking a bunch of it at cool coffee shops like Macanas or De Los Andes or taking a coffee tour if you haven’t yet.
Here are a few recommended coffee tours in Jardin, Colombia:
- This one is a coffee tour with a visit to a waterfall (the one I mention below!)
- This one is a sightseeing and coffee tour in one.
La Garrucha (Cable Car)
A little metal cable car just big enough for about three or so people and maybe a dog. It’s a rickety, metal (formally wooden) cable car that’s powered by an old truck engine. It’s a bit wobbly, but oh so much fun!
At only 4,000 pesos one way, it’s a fun ride and takes about 10 minutes off your walk up to this area.
Like its sister town, Jerico, Jardin is a great place to get high like a bird. You’ll see people hovering above the pueblo in their bright orange or blue kites, the view must be spectacular, and again, I kind of wish I did it. Time got away from me, I kept pushing it off, and ultimately, I didn’t do it!
Street Pup Friends
I have no idea what’s going on with this trend in Jardin, but it’s a thing, and I’m not mad about it. The street dogs LOVE tourists. They say it’s because the tourists feed and pet the dogs, but we did none of this and still got street pup friends! Ok fine…I guess we did pet them after they started following us, which I’m sure only convinced them to stick around more but seriously. What good boys and girls!
It all started on our La Cueva De Esplandor hike. Long story short, we ended up wandering around town for an hour looking for the right mode of transport, and three doggies wouldn’t leave us alone. We loved it. They followed us for the entire hour. Every time we went to town for the next three days, THEY FOUND US.
I wanted to cry; it was the cutest thing ever; it’s like they smelled us, came to say hi, and hung out with us for a bit. The best part? One of the three latched on to me and came with me on a little hike. It turns out she was once owned by my hostel host but has since decided she can be an independent woman and doesn’t call any place her home. (Don’t worry, she is still fed and cared for!)
We gave all three of them names, Almóndiga (meatball), Chancho, and Chorizo. The good girl named Chorizo, we later find out is named Amber. It was too late, though, she answered to Chorizo and she loved us, and we loved her, and I wish I could keep her.
One the hike below, she accompanied me without any prompting, patiently waiting for me to take photos, and looking behind her to make sure I was still there. The street dogs in Jardin were the highlight for me, I’m a sad person, I know, but it’s the truth. WHAT BABES!!!!
The Lil Zig Zag Loop
I made this one up lol.
So if you’re like me and like walking and hiking, this is an easy, but fun little loopty loop you can walk for a few hours. It’s around 6 kilometers long, mostly exposed, “lil loop,” featuring a river with human-made swimming pools, small waterfalls, a bat cave, and adorable, sweet pups (if you’re lucky).
“The Lil Zig Zag Loop” trail starts around the Cascada del Amor on Google maps. Along the way, you’ll pass the river where you can take a dip in some pools or in the river itself. You’ll find locals and kids splish-splashing here, and the weekends get crowded.
After passing the river via a small bridge, you’ll happen upon a random green door. Inside is a human-made bat cave; you’ll have to pay to get in (I believe it was 10k pesos).
Walk up the switchbacks away from town and head towards “La Tangara” hostel on the map. Enjoy some vistas over Jardin along the way. When you get to a sign at this point here that tells you to stay right for La Tangara, actually stay left (you’ll see a house with a green roof at the intersection).
Continue on this path (although Google Maps has no road here, it does exist). Stay right at the next few forks until you cross a bridge. Here you’ll see a small waterfall. Right after that, you’ll see on the right, a jungle pathway. Continue this way, cross the stream with another tiny waterfall, and circle back around to La Tangara Hostel.
I was staying at this lovely hostel, so I ended here but to circle back to town… Go back down towards the road (the house with the green roof) and from here you can take La Garrucha (the cable car) down if you’re tired or cross the yellow bridge towards the Jardin de Rocas Park (mentioned below) and then back to town.
I made a map for you, don’t laugh, I know it’s like a two-year-old’s drawing, but it should be decently easy to follow.
The trail is an unpaved road, just FYI. The small loop that’s not technically on a map is a walking jungle path part of the way that’s for walking only. I highly recommend convincing a street pup to play, which doesn’t take much convincing, as I did.
Rappeling a Waterfall
While you can rappel down La Cueva del Esplendor if you’re up for doing something closer to town that quite adventurous, you can rappel down Cascada Escalera too. While the waterfall doesn’t look like much at first, it has higher tiers that are hidden from those who look from down below.
Jardin de Rocas Park
Check out the cock-of-the-rock or tunki bird here. Yes, the real name.
Just over the yellow bridge, you can pay a few bucks to enter a beautiful garden full of bright red birds. It’s best to come early or around 4:30-5 pm.
There’s only that much you can fit in during your time when traveling, and there’s always that one thing you’re disappointed that fell off the list. This is that thing for me! If you read about my time at La Cueva del Esplandor, they don’t necessarily make things easy to get to here because they want you to take tours.
It will be pretty hard to find this place on your own. After talking to a few new friends who live here, they said most people who have tried get lost, so I’d recommend grabbing a tour to get here. You can do this Airbnb Experience with a local.
Taparto River & Waterfall—A Great Day Trip from Jardin, Colombia
This was possibly one of the coolest things we did during our time in Jardin, Colombia, and it’s pretty under the radar… So consider yourself in the know. There’s very little information about this place, and it’s not that easy to find on your own. Luckily for you, you found this post.
To get to this spot, I booked an Airbnb Experience with Gustavo, a friendly local in Jardin. Gustavo doesn’t speak English, but he will bring along someone who does on the trip if you need someone. We got a private transfer to a small pueblo called Taparto, just under an hour outside of Jardin.
Our trek was pretty straightforward until we made it to the river. Then things get a bit hairy. You’ll scramble some rocks as you head closer to the water only to find out there’s a bigger and better tier of this waterfall! To get there, you’ll have to scramble through the jungle, though. Get ready to use your hands and get a bit dirty.
We used tree roots to hoist ourselves over rocks, splashed through the muddy pathways, and slid down some rocks for about 20 minutes. Not everyone would be able to do this, so know your limits. If you can’t use your upper body to hoist yourself up tree roots, don’t want to get dirty, and overall don’t like climbing through the jungle, take the tour but stay at the bottom tiers.
If you do make it, get ready for quite an epic waterfall—and you’ll probably have it to yourself as we did! Not many make the journey out here at all, no less up to the top tier. The bottom tiers will often have locals swimming and teenage boys cliff jumping.
This was probably the coolest thing we did in Jardin, Colombia.
Where to Eat in Jardin, Colombia
I don’t talk about food often on the blog but these spots in Jardin deserve a little mention!
After nearly two months of traveling the country, I finally had a proper vegetarian meal here. I wanted to cry happy tears. Thank you, Lulo’s, for nourishing my tummy and my soul. The food is fantastic, homemade, fresh AF, and like, there will be actual vegetables in your mouth here, which is so rare in Colombia.
The menu del dia is just as affordable as the traditional and just as filling.
Revolucion de Bananera
Adorable name and, yes, good food! Salads, veggie burgers, hashbrown “pizza,” and tasty fruit shakes.
Food can take a bit, so I highly suggest coming at off times.
Two words: vegan hotdogs. We had to try them, and they were pretty damn good! They have nice vegan shakes and cakes too.
They also semi-claim to be a coworking spot. We worked from here and it was decent but it’s more of a work-friendly cafe.
Where to Stay in Jardin, Colombia
Here is where I stayed along with two other recommendations that I love. I met the owners of the other two spots and I feel confident supporting them.
La Tangara Hostel
Our beloved hostel! We loved Nathalia, the owner; she is lovely and accommodating. The views are great, chill hammocks, clean, and comfortable rooms… What else do you need?
Her place is about 2km from town, and it was a perfect location to be in nature—we saw hummingbirds float around at breakfast and gazed at the mountains from the hammocks each day
This option is owned by my new friend Daniella. A few comfy cabins and then a couple of rooms with a gazebo of hammocks! It’s a quiet and reserved spot about 3km from town.
I have a thing for places outside of town, the greenery, no church bells for miles, no concrete in your face, and waterfalls hikes in your backyard—What more can you ask for?
The last option is in town for those that want to be in it. Attached to the delicious restaurant mentioned above, this is a clean and simple hostel owned by some lovely people. Yummy vegan breakfasts are included with your room too!
Getting To and Leaving Jardin, Colombia
I marked the bus station for you on the map, this is where you’ll be dropped off and picked up—It’s right in the center of town.
If you’re heading north to Medellin it’s only around 3-4 hours and the bus doesn’t make any formal stops. So pee before you get on! You’ll be dropped off at Terminal Sur in Medellin. Part of the way is a bit windy and bumpy.
If you’re heading south to Salento you’ll take a chiva bus to Rio Sucio and then make a bus change here. You’ll only be able to purchase your ticket from Rio Sucio to Salento once you get to Rio Sucio’s bus station. I’d advise you to get to Rio Sucio earlier rather than later to make sure you get a bus to Salento.
The ride is around five hours in total but you’ll need to add some time for the wait in Rio Sucio. The chiva from Jardin to Rio Sucio is windy and bumpy, take some Dramamine if you get car sick.
If you’re going to and from Jerico, the ride is pretty easy. Read my guide to Jerico to find those options.
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Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad and epically failing at the American Dream since 2011. Her sassy yet informative blog, Where in the World is Nina? is all about how to work abroad to live a more adventurous life. If you want to travel longer you have to work to wander.