This post is all about what to expect from Jardín, a wonderful little pueblo in Colombia. This tiny town stole our hearts, and is one of our favourite places from the two months that we spent in the country.
I am aware that every time I write about a new pueblo (small town) that we have visited in Colombia, I insist that it’s even better than the last. I apologise, but the problem is, it’s true! I don’t know how Colombia manages to do it, but it gets better and better the more time you seem to spend here.
After a rather lengthy journey from Manizales to Jardín, we arrived into the little town rather painfully and sleepily at around 7pm. That night, all we wanted to do was dump our bags, have a quick bite to eat and go to bed. Because of this we didn’t get to appreciate our surroundings until the next morning.
As the sun rose we got chance to really take stock of where we were. Our little hotel Casa Hotel Porton Campestre is newly opened, amazingly clean and well decorated. It’s the last house on a little track off the road and it looks out at the mountains and grazing cows. It’s a very peaceful scene.
Jardín is very small, but we purposefully chose a hostel that was a little ‘off the beaten track’ and wasn’t in the square. Because of this, we had a short walk (10 minutes) into the main area which gave us a view of the high school and the lovely homes that lined the streets. Even down these quieter streets, Jardín is beautiful. All of the houses are brightly coloured in an array of different shades and most are impeccably well cared for. The town itself is nestled in amongst the mountains and out of the town you can see small coffee plantations stretching upwards.
Due to going in the quiet season, we were surprised to find that a few things were closed or under maintenance, for instance The Cave of Splendour was closed for conservation, the cable car closed, and the main town square was partially under renovation. This was shame as they were part of the reason we wanted to visit Jardin, but honestly, we got to see a different side to the town instead and that was just as valuable.
Jardín is only just becoming ‘noticed’ by tourists and it’s preparing with the rise of more hostels and tour operators. This is all in proportion however – the town is still very small with around 10,000 inhabitants and daily life is mostly unchanged by its visitors. By visiting, especially in the quiet season, we got to see how strong and vibrant Jardín’s small community is.
So if half the things we wanted to see weren’t available, what did we do? Well…
Relaxed in Jardín’s beauty
We’re really lucky in the fact that we aren’t stuck to a particular timeframe in any one place and this has meant that we’ve been able to take our time moving around, allowing us ‘soak up’ the atmosphere and beauty of the places we’ve visited. One of the best things we did in Jardín was simply to sit in the square with a beer at sunset, surrounded by locals. This is a really special time in the Jardín day. There are several little bars that line the square and in the late afternoon/early evening an array of locals come out to socialise. At the same little bar we saw a group of older ladies catching up over tinto (coffee), a group of young guys with their beers after finishing work, and a family with their young children playing close-by with others their own age.I wouldn’t be able to think of anywhere back home in England where you would see such a large slice of community come together in one place on just a regular day (outside of special occasions). In my opinion it’s such a shame that we’ve lost this connection. It was also wonderful to see the children playing without any technology! They were just happy to use their imaginations.
During our two full days we walked a LOT around the small town, exploring all of it’s little streets, and admiring the mountains from an array of different angles. Down one little road we managed to snap this photo, “Our trip to Colombia in one shot”. You can see Jesus, the mountains, banana plants and coffee beans, which just about sums up our journey so far!
Visited Gallito de Roca Preserve
On our second evening we made a visit to Gallito de Roca Preserve to see the cock-of-the-rock birds. Yes, that really is their name, I didn’t just make it up! These guys are the most punctual birds I’ve ever heard of! They arrive every sunrise and sunset to a small forest to try their luck at attracting a mate. The forest is part of private land and the owners allow visitors from 6-7am and 4-6pm every day for a fee of 10,000COP (around £2.50). It was one of the best 10,000 COP we’ve spent on our trip as it gave us the opportunity to see 10-15 of these wonderfully vibrant male birds dance and sing for a lady’s affection. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any of the girls, as they aren’t as colourful as the males and blend into the forest (perhaps they are a little shy?!).
We went in the early evening and the 90 minutes we spent at the reserve was magical, it was such a treat to get to see these amazing creatures up close in their natural habitat. They are so funny looking, it’s hard to believe they are real!
If you’re in Jardín and want to make a visit, it’s just a short walk from town to get to the reserve (click for the Google map link). Just be careful, you don’t want to cross the bridge (see photo), when you see it see make a sharp right down the hill, until you come to the reserve gates. They only take cash, so make sure you have the right money on you (10,000 COP per person) and it’s worthwhile taking a torch as if you stay until close at 6pm the track back up to the main road isn’t very well lit.
Find out how to travel from Manizales to Jardín with our detailed travel instructions. It’s a bumpy but worthwhile journey!