Things to See and Do in Jardín, Colombia

Marvel at the colorful red colonial buildings in Jericó, Colombia
Marvel at the colorful red colonial buildings in Jericó, Colombia | © Ulf Huebner / Alamy Stock Photo
Allegra Zagami

Jardín is a small coffee town in the south of the Antioquia department, about four hours from Medellín. It is also one of the prettiest towns in Colombia and easily a highlight of any visit to the country. There are so many things to see, do and enjoy that you can easily spend a few days here. So, we’ve rounded up the best for you.

1. La Cueva del Esplendor

Natural Feature

Diving into the beautiful Cueva del Esplendor, Jardin, Antioquia, Colombia
© dave stamboulis / Alamy Stock Photo

This extraordinary cave is one of the top tourist attractions in Jardín – you won’t regret the three-hour hike (top tip: it’s quicker on horseback, which can be arranged). We say cave, but it’s rather more than that: over time, a stream has eroded the roof, creating an aperture through which a waterfall gushes, boiling and white, into a pool in the darkness. It’s a surreal, stunning sight.

2. Laze in Plaza del Libertador

Architectural Landmark

Locals and visitors enjoy the day in historic town center Jardin, Colombia, South America.
© Gabbro / Alamy Stock Photo

When in Jardín, do as everyone does: pull up a colorful wooden chair in the main square, and sip the region’s lauded coffee as you watch the day slowly unfold. You won’t be alone: horses occasionally prance through, and, by the afternoon, regulars in sombreros and checkered shirts will be sipping bottles of beers at the establishments that trim the square. Plaza del Libertador is Instagram catnip – if there were an award for the best square in Colombia, Jardín’s main attraction would certainly take gold.

3. Visit the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

Church

Aerial view over the colonial city of Jardin, Colombia
© Ulf Huebner / Alamy Stock Photo

From the moment you roll up in Jardín, you’ll clock the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. The pointy twin peaks of this neo-gothic temple tower over the main square. It’s a striking structure built – in the first half of the 20th century – entirely from hand-carved stone, quarried from the surrounding hills. Be sure to pop by to bask in the gauzy sunlight, admiring the bright gold arches. If you’re whizzing on caffeine, you might climb to the top for a panoramic view of Jardín and its lush surroundings.

4. Find nature at the Reserva Natural Gallito de la Roca

Natural Feature, Park

Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruvianus)
© All Canada Photos / Alamy Stock Photo

Jardín is in the midst of Colombia’s productive coffee region, immersed in fecund greenery – and a favorite destination among birdwatchers. If you don’t have the binoculars, fret not – a five-minute walk from the town center is the Reserva Natural Gallito de la Roca, which looks after the wild Andean gallitos de las rocas (cocks-of-the-rock), one of the most brilliantly feathered avian species in the world. Top tip: aim to visit at dawn or dusk, when the birds display their cabaret-worthy plumes as they make a play for potential mates.

5. Learn about coffee at Finca Milena

Architectural Landmark

Stock Photo - Coffee Fruit, Salento, Colombia
© PJPHOTO / Alamy Stock Photo

When you’re touring Colombia’s coffee region, you won’t get the full story unless you visit a coffee farm. Here, they’ll teach you the history of this part of Colombia and enlighten you on the coffee-production process. It’s fascinating – so much so you might fantasize about retraining as a barista. Just beyond Jardín, Finca Milena is a trusted establishment: an operating coffee farm and hotel. The beans make the best brew, and the panoramic views across the sweeping terrain are unforgettable.

6. Ride La Garrucha

Train Station

A typical view in jardin in Colombia
© chrispictures / Alamy Stock Photo

Enjoy matchless panoramic views over the surrounding mountains as you ascend in this time-worn wooden gondola, which relies on a mechanical pulley system. It was built to transport goods and residents between Jardín and the surrounding agricultural regions, and it’s a miracle it’s still in use today. If you don’t have a head for heights, it can be a hair-raising ride, but the experience is rare and rewarding –and you can be sure you’ll exit on a high.

7. Enter the ProAves Yellow-Eared Parrot Reserve

Natural Feature, Park

Yellow-eared Parrot (Ognorhynchus icterotis), Colombia

Hardcore twitchers, get set to watch the birdy – to be precise, the endemic yellow-eared parrot, one of the rarest birds in Colombia. Its habitat is in the mountains outside Jardín. Thanks to some serious conservation efforts, international scientists have recently declared the creature safe from extinction. The area, a bird reserve operated by ProAves, is a sanctuary for many other unique species, such as the tanager finch, dusky starfrontlet and chestnut-crested cotinga.

8. Explore the Oilbird Cave

Natural Feature

Tourists crossing Rio Claro River from a cave, Rio Claro Nature Reserve, Colombia
© Oliver Gerhard / Alamy Stock Photo

If you’re in the mood for adventure, day-trip out to the Oilbird Cave. It’s a challenging six-hour hike through the mountains to reach the Río Claro Natural Reserve, a private protected ecotourism sanctuary. Once you’ve taken in the two dramatic waterfalls, venture into the depths of the Oilbird Cave. As you get further into the gloom, look up: the strange, spooky birds (after which the cave is named) will swoop overhead, their shrill cries echoing around the cave walls.

9. Have lunch at a trout farm

Restaurant, South American

Grilled trouts.. Image shot 01/2015. Exact date unknown.
© Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

There are several trout farms in the countryside around Jardín, the best of the bunch, about 15 minutes away in the neighboring valley, is Estadero El Arka. It channels waters from the adjacent river into a series of holding tanks containing fish of varying sizes. You can pay to catch your own lunch or order at the onsite restaurant and sit back and bask in the beauty of this bucolic piece of Colombia.

Chris Bell contributed additional reporting to this article.

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