(this post has been sitting in my drafts for the longest time, finally posting it up!)
Alrighty, back here to share about my time in Colombia! Since it’s a super long weekend and I have some time on my hands. I think in my last post I left off with saying that I would share about what I did on weekends. Besides exploring Medellin, we went on a couple of trips to other places. But Colombia is so huge, my time there was definitely not enough to explore everything.
“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.”
Nisa, Caiyan and I decided to take a weekend trip to Jardin, and since I am evidently lazy to explain what Jardin is, I ripped off some description from the Internet. But basically, its really a quaint, tiny little town. Aaaand since it was basically two years ago, I can’t remember if we stayed for one night or two but I’m guessing two.
We took a bus from the terminal which cost only around 17 pesos, and I know the description says it takes 4 hours but I think it was less. Probably maximum 3 hours? We basically didn’t plan much for the trip, being 20-21 year old YOLO kids hahaha. We basically packed a backpack, got on a bus, got off the bus and walked over to a hotel which was recommended by some of the other interns and booked our stay. The hotel was called El Dorado, a small, cheap and good hotel. It had everything we needed but in no way was it luxurious.
Our super tiny room. It was rather cosy though, I have to admit.
So we basically heard that we could go horseback riding in the mountains here, following which we would hike to a waterfall that was supposedly very beautiful. We had no idea how to book it though, we just presumed we could ask around and find out. Nopeeeeeee, wrong. Whilst walking around, we chanced upon a friendly man working at a museum. He was really nice and seemed to understand what we wanted. And before we knew it, he had called up a bunch of horses so we thought okay, let’s do this! To the waterfall we go!
The horses that arrived! Okay to sum things up, the guy we met didn’t actually understand what/where we wanted to go. He thought we just wanted to ride the horses around the town, when we actually meant in the mountains. But of course, due to the language barrier we had some problems understanding each other. So basically we were riding a horse not knowing where on earth we were going…hahaha.
It was also my first time riding a horse without someone guiding beside me, so I was kind of nervous. But I guess I got the hang of it after awhile and I think I’m quite good it hahaha self-praise! Horses are actually quite easy to manage unless they decide to just do their own thaaaaang. To make matters worse, mine and Nisa’s horses kinda got separated from the rest (Caiyan and our guide) and we ended up back at the stables….hahhaha that was pretty hilarious. And we had no idea how to lead our horses because we had no idea where we were headed to in the first place!!
Back at the stables and wondering what the hell to do…hahaha. There were a bunch of kids at the stables so since we were lost we decided to make some friends. While waiting to be rescued hahaha.
They were so adorable!!!
And that is my son! Hahaha. After a bit the guide found us and led our horses back to where we were supposed to go. After awhile we realised that we weren’t actually going to the mountains so we asked the guide if we were going to the waterfall. This time he seemed to understand us and proceeded to bring us to this….
To his credit, this is definitely a waterfall. But it wasn’t the one we actually wanted to go to. Nonetheless, we were resigned to the fact that we were probably not going to make it to the waterfall and decided to just tour around Jardin with our horses. After all, it gave us something to do on the first day anyway.
Some of the houses along Jardin. Once we were done with our little tour and returned our horses to the stable, our nice guide actually invited us up to his place. On hindsight, this was probably a dangerous situation hahaha. But I guess he seemed pretty harmless and besides, if he had wanted to kidnap us he would have done so immediately instead of bringing us around town (I think). We merely took a look inside his place and went up to the rooftop.
And this is him! If I remember correctly, his name is Saga. He really showed us how wonderful and welcoming Colombians really are. We offered to pay him some tips, and he completely refused our money. He claimed that he was not a tour guide and didn’t expect anything from us. But I think in the end we managed to convince him to keep it. Hope he’s doing well!
We retreated back to our hotel after. Probably had some dinner and walked around the town for abit. There’s not much “nightlife” here anyway, so we had an early night.
The next morning, we decided to check with the hotel staff if there really was such thing as horseback riding through the mountains here. And lo and behold, there was! The counter staff completely understood what we meant and proceeded to make the necessary arrangements for us. In less than half an hour, a guide (legit one this time) met us and brought us up to his stable somewhere in the mountains.
His wife served us some coffee and breakfast while he got our horses ready. We changed into boots and that was probably the point when I started thinking, shit is getting real. On top of that, the guide brought along with him a rope….I had no idea why at that point of time.
I was given one of the younger horses, Leo. Leo is a white horse and really beautiful.
Off we went for our horseback riding adventure.
As you can see, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. It was just filled with lush greenery and blue skies. At times, our horses would trudge precariously at the edge of the mountain. Super dangerous and probably not for the faint-hearted or those with a fear of heights. Haha.
The path in the mountains is also much trickier than you think. At some points, the slope was super steep, slippery and muddy and our horses were practically crawling up on all fours. So you can imagine, we were hanging on to them for dear life. But I must say, these horses are pretty smart. They can somehow find the easier path to climb.
After a bit we came to another stable where we had to leave our horses behind and begin our trek.
Smiling for a picture because really I had no idea what I was in for. I must say, the hike to the waterfall is one of the most difficult ones I’ve been on (not that I’ve been on much). The rope I mentioned our guide brought along was used to practically pull us up at some points. Some of the pathways were super steep and we had to literally climb up (as if climbing a ladder).
Anyway, I did a quick google search and I found out the name of the waterfall is actually La Cueva del Esplendor, which translates to The Cave of Splendour. It’s basically a waterfall that falls through a cave.
My picture definitely doesn’t do it justice. It’s really much more beautiful when you see it with your own eyes. Was the treacherous hike here worth it? Yes, most definitely.
After taking a couple of pictures and resting for a bit, we headed back to get our horses again. If I’m not wrong, you can take a dip in the river here but we opted not to. Weren’t dress for it either!
And that’s our guide! And yes, we actually had to cross this river as well, slippery rocks and all.
One last picture of the view.
Back at the stables. After our little adventure, we headed back down the mountains and back to Jardin. Packed up our stuff, washed up and went to grab dinner before checking out of our hotel.
We stopped by Dulces Del Jardin as well, a famous jams and sweets shop. They have one of the best jams I swear, in all kinds of flavours. Bought back some stuff for my family as well.
Jardin is also famous for its coffee, hence we had loads and loads of coffee at the plaza while waiting to catch our bus. Bad idea, which I will explain later on.
My friends chatting with a Colombian family. They are all dressed in soccer jerseys as a match was playing on tv. And Colombians are very very passionate about their soccer.
We actually almost missed our bus back as we planned to catch the last one back to Medellin BUT we got lost and couldn’t find our way back to the terminal. We thought that Jardin was relatively small enough for us to find it but apparently not so. We were practically walking rounds until we finally chanced upon it and had to make a mad dash for the bus just as it was about to leave. If we had missed that, we would have been forced to spend another night at Jardin and seeing that the next day was a Monday, we would have missed work.
Okay back to coffee being a bad idea. Coffee has this thing of triggering my bladder. I thought I had cleared it before leaving but just half an hour into our ride, I got very very urgent. There were definitely no toilets around as it was a mountainous region. My friends told me to ask the bus driver to stop but my Spanish was crap. So I decided to just suck it up (literally HAHA) and wait ’till we reached Medellin.
Finally we did and once I got off the bus, I made a mad dash for the toilets but to my horror they were all locked. No idea why, but maybe it was cos it was around 10pm.Thankfully, the owner of one of the shops in the terminal let me use the toilet and releasing my pee at that moment was the most glorious feeling ever.
The reason why this memory is still so fresh in my mind is cos it was that bad!! I was super urgent, to the point that it was starting to hurt. That was the most urgent I’ve ever been which is why I know to stay away from coffee before any long bus rides now.
Well, that basically sums up my time in Jardin. I wish I had wrote this earlier so my memory would be fresh. There’s probably a lot of stuff I left out but I guess this shall do! I think Jardin is one of my most favourite memories of Colombia.
If you’re taking a trip to Colombia and looking to experience a slower pace of life, Jardin is a good place to go. It’s less touristy as well so good if you want to go off the beaten track.
Some little links to help you out:
WHERE TO GO:
WHERE TO STAY: