Jardin is a traditional village located in a beautiful mountain setting in Antioquia province in Colombia. It is easily reachable by car or public transport from Medellin, about halfway to Pereira in the Zona Cafetera. It takes about 3 hours to get there from Medellin, meaning it is not feasible as a day trip. Well known to local tourists, it is yet untouched by foreign tourism. There is plenty of cheap accommodation although I do not recommend staying near the main square, as a huge church bell fires up at 4 in the morning – there was a mass at 5am! There is one good restaurant, the Cafe Europa, German owned and serving excellent pizza.
The town is as authentic as I think you can find in Colombia. There are no starbucks or souvenir stalls. Houses are painted in traditional colours. Old-timers wear cowboy hats and hang out in the local pool hall. There is a strong equestrian tradition and show horses prance up and down the streets of the main square ridden by their proud owners. These horses sell for a small fortune by colombian standards – more than a new car.
The surrounding countryside is beautiful and there are many walking opportunities. The highlight being a trek up into the mountains to see a cave with a waterfall. This can be done on foot, but the preferred is option is by horse. This was my first time riding a horse in my life and it was a lot of fun. It was more sitting and trying not to fall off, then actual riding, as these strong pack horses are used to the routes and simply follow the horse in front. I seemed to have a particularly stupid one, which decided to go awol down a steep gradient, almost throwing me off. Then, when we got to the lead of our group, he bolted, trying to catch up the next group, 100 meters further on!
Another highlight is viewing the Gallito de Roca, a beautiful bird with striking red plumage, which can viewed close up in a forest just a short walk out town.
Jardin is well worth a weekend away from Medellin or as a side trip on the way to/from the Zona Cafetera.
Thanks to Juan Camilo for the Gallito de Roca photo.