The bus takes another dramatic turn on the small mountain road. Going up and up, around and around in scarp curves. I lean slightly over so I'm able to see the driver's speedometer. As we pass a speed sign showing 60 km/h, I see that the speedometer shows well above the 80 km/h…
I try to calm myself down a bit; he has done this before, it will be okay... We turn around a curve, the bus now directly facing an oncoming car. I hold my breath. But without batting an eye the driver makes a little turn with the steering wheel, and the two vehicles pass each other smoothly on the tight road...
Everything is worth it
The crazy bus drive through the mountains reveals astonishing landscapes, and the final destination is the most colorful and unique village I have ever seen. Everything is worth it.
The small bus with me, around 10 Colombians and the crazy bus driver are on our way through mountain roads in the Antioquia province in Colombia to a small mountain village called Jardín.
When we stop for a small break, I realize that I have been pressing my foot so hard against the inside of the bus in order to not crash into the elderly woman on my right or the bus driver on my left that my whole leg is sleeping.
Since I not really look like somebody speaking Spanish, the old woman asks me hesitating where I'm going. When I answer in more or less fluent Spanish that I'm on my way to Jardin, she relaxes and smiles at me. She clearly wonders why some "gringa" (e.g. foreigner) wants to visit her village.
I answer her unasked question by saying that it actually just was a smart idea from some photos I saw online. I smile insecure as I realize how stupid and naive it sounds. It looked like such a cute place, I add. And since I didn't really like Medellin, I wanted to see something else. And well, then I like colors. She smiles.
After some moments of awkward silence, I add that the whole drive so far has been worth everything. "You see, we don't really have mountains in my country", I tell her. "You have such amazingly beautiful landscapes here". She smiles again.
I want to ask to get out and get my camera in the back of the bus but my leg still sleeps. And then suddenly the bus driver is back, calling everyone inside the bus again.
And then we are out on the road; going up and up, around and around in every time scraper curves. I decide to forget around the camera, and just take in this experience.
Welcome to Jardín
As we cross a huge bridge revealing the view of a massive valley below us with coffee plants on the sides and a river at the bottom, I puff friendly to the old woman and whisper: "That kind of thing we don't have where I come from, that's amazing!". She smiles at me clearly touched by my enthusiasm.
Soon after the road signs start counting down to Jardín, and just around a curve going up yet another mountain, the old woman puffs to me: "Now we are arriving", she says, "Welcome to Jardín".
And there it is; with mountains on each side located on a little plain spot of land, the village of Jardín like an untouched and colorful pearl in the Colombian mountains.
For the next 24 hours I didn't do more than just wander around the village with my camera. Even though the village in itself is quickly covered, I reject not having more than one day there.
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Don’t forget the outsides of Jardín
Even though Jardín in itself is charming and photogenic, just a small walk outside the village reveals some amazing views of the surrounding mountain landscapes.
A small 20 minutes’ walk outside the city you will find Cascadas del Amor, the waterfalls of love. It is said that if lovers visit the place and kiss in front of the waterfall, their love will last forever. Sweet isn't?
Compared to other waterfalls in Colombia it is nothing but still I found it cute that the village has one. To get there follow the street on your right hand from the main square out of the city. Alternatively, the moto-taxis can also take you there.
When you are out by Cascadas del Amor, follow the street a little further until you cross a bridge. By the side of the bridge there is a path leading down to the edge of river that floats by the side of Jardín. Here you can take a quick relaxing bath in the river while enjoying the amazing surroundings of the mountains.
How Jardín got its name
The legend goes that when settlers for the first time came up the mountain from the villages below, the area was a savage jungle with flowers and trees everywhere. For them it looked like a whole little garden, and therefore the area and the village was called Jardín, e.g. Garden.
The village of Jardín was founded in 1863, and many of the houses - though today renovated - seems to be the same as when the first settlers starting building here almost 200 years ago.
What to do in Jardin
- Sit at the main plaza on one of the bright colored chairs and watch people and drink a cup of coffee.
- Take a walk through the village with your camera and try to find your favorite colored house – yes, I do that kind of stuff even when I travel alone.
- Visit the village's church, Basílica Menor de la Inmaculada Concepción
- Cruise around Jardín in a moto-taxi - I actually didn't intent on doing this but then I changed my mind and gave it a shot. It was great fun!
- Do a super-lite trek to the waterfalls Cascadas del Amor just outside the village (see description above on how to get there)
- Bath in the rivers of Jardín (see description above on how to get there)
- Take the cable car up the hill - unfortunately I didn't have the time to do this so can't say if it is worth it.
- Do a horse ride through Jardín and its surrounding mountains.
- If you have time, do a trek to La Cueva del Esplendor which is a waterfall inside a cave. It is located around 10 km from the town, ask at your hotel for information – I didn't have time for it.
How to get to Jardín…
If you are in downtown Medellin, hit to the Southern Terminal (Terminal del Sur). The easiest is to take the metro to Poblado station, and depending on your amount of luggage walk to the terminal or take a taxi (the drive is around 5 minutes).
At the terminal there are two companies running buses to Jardín, one located between the first booth (can't remember the name, sorry) and another, Rapido Ochoa located around booth number 18.
When I get there was a huge queue by the first one, and nobody at the last one. I even managed to get the very last seat just 5 minutes before departure, and even though I ended in the very front in the smallest seat in the whole bus (thereby the story in the beginning), I got on!
Current price is 23,000 Colombian pesos, and there leaves approximately 6 buses a day from Medellín.
Check out Rapido Ochoa for more information.