Category Archives: Jardin

Posts that relate to travel to Jardin Colombia

Jardin Colombia – The Jardin of Eden

I’ve been here in Jardin Colombia for a few days now exploring the area, as you probably read in my adventure two days ago hiking to the Cueva del Esplendor.

I definitely feel Jardin Colombia is off the gringo trail and I may just be the only non-Spanish speaker from here to Medellin.

Instead, I’m surrounded by authentic gauchos, horses and a town that beyond having internet, seems pretty authentic to what I imagine life in Colombia used to be like a hundred years ago.

I’ve been taking my Colombian coffee breaks at a great cafe in Jardin Colombia called Cafe Macaras.  It’s rated #1 on tripadvisor but there are only three restaurants listed for the entire town so that doesn’t say much, but it does have good coffee, a charming atmosphere and is very clean, so Macaras it is.

I had read that Jardin goes bonkers on a Saturday night and they were right.

Every cowboy in the area rides into the main square, there are street food vendors, a million screaming kids, and every bar around the main square is trying to outdo each other by playing very loud Colombian country music.

Unfortunately there was no great vantage point to accurately portray HOW crazy it was, so you’ll just have to trust me and use your imagination.

Yesterday my hostess at the hostel told me that I should do a trail she recommends to everyone, the Sendoro Charco Corazon.

It all started good enough, but again with a poor map, unmarked side trails leading up to everyone’s property and no clear path, I again got lost.

I ended up slogging through a rotting palm tree field until I arrived at the Garrucha, which is a very small aerial tramway.  At the garrucha I inquired for directions to find my way back to the trail and they brought in a nice man named Omar who spoke English.

Omar pointed to the river behind me and said, “thats the river, but there are guerilla’s that way so we don’t go there, you know what guerilla’s are?”  and made a gun sign with his hand and pointed it at my kneck.

Oh right… those guerillas.

So, I forfeited my plan to finish the rest of the trail and took the garrucha back over the valley back into Jardin for lunch at Pollos a La Brasa Mario.

I had this delicious and huge Chicken Bandeja Paisa for $3.89 USD.

jardin colombia
Bandejo con Pollo

Some people say Jardin Colombia is their favorite small town in the country… but for me, there are WAY too many people in the main square and it seems incredibly busy for how many people there are.  I’m definitely missing the quietness and charm of Salento.

Luckily my hostel is 4km out of town by the river and I’m going to enjoy my last few moments there laying in a hammock wondering if it’s this river that the Guerillas are on the other side of…

jardin colombia

//The I.A.

Cueva del Esplendor & Everything That I Am

A few days ago in Salento after finding out I had traveled solo for several months around South America with only my broken Spanish, two men told me I was berraca.  I wasn’t sure what this meant, so texted one of my Colombian male friends on WhatsApp to enquire and he started laughing at me… and told me it was a compliment, and that it basically means a brave badass female.

So today, after an exhausting day of travel yesterday from Salento to Jardin me, me the mighty Berraca, woke up in my beautiful Colombian finca ready to seize another day.

Over a simple Colombian breakfast of a corn arepa, 1/2 an avocado, wedge of cheese, fried egg and coffee, I decided that the plan for the day was to hike to Cueva del Esplendor.  My hostess told me I needed a guide, I told her I just needed a map and gave her a special look that screamed, “you don’t know me and how berraca I am.”

jardin colombia
Finca Katarana in Jardin

Cueva del Esplendor was supposedly a huge waterfall inside a cave about 12km each way from Jardin.  Normal people meet in the towns square at 8am daily to take a jeep 4.5km up to the beginning of the trail, and then horse ride the remaining 4.5km in… but not me.  Because apparently I like pain, and what else would I do with my day?

The hike probably wouldn’t have been so bad, if I would have had an accurate map and wouldn’t have had to turn around after hiking 1-2 miles up 3 different roads that ended up being the wrong ones… as every road is unmarked.  At one point I found myself walking through a palm plantation and several times being chased out of people’s properties by dogs.  Good times.

After already covering 8 miles of ground in the remote Colombian wilderness, I finally found the right road and luckily got driven up 1/2 of it by two Colombian man in a tuk tuk.

After they dropped me off, I got to sludge two hours the rest of the way to Cueva del Esplendor through the rain on a horse-trail that was pretty much a muddy creek full of dirty water, horse and cow manure.

cueva del esplendor
Big sow near cueva del esplendor

I really enjoyed passing about 10 signs along the way that said “no trespassing” and “guide required” all written in Spanish…. The plan was to play stupid tourist and yell out, “no entiendo” (I dont understand) if someone tried to stop me along the way and then keep pushing on with my mission.

A few times I passed gauchos on the trail riding their horses and they asked me if I was solita (alone)… After I responded yes, they told me I was muy guappa, I thought this meant “very brave” and told them “no, yo estoy muy loco” meaning, “no I’m very crazy” but I found out later, muy guappa meant, “very pretty.”  So, cheers to the Colombian men who think a dirty sweaty woman in the middle of the wilderness is guappa.

I finally made it to the entrance of Cueva del Esplendor, greeted by a Colombian farm wife who collected my 6000 COP entrance fee, who also told me I was muy guappa and then directed me down a horribly maintained trail down the steep riverbed to the Cueva del Esplendor.

I guess the cueva was quite splendid, I only wished I had made it earlier in the day so I could have spent some time swimming in the falls…. but by this time I knew I would be pushing daylight to get back to Jardin before sunset.

So I set off again down the sloppy hill back towards Jardin.  Luckily it had stopped raining and was blessed by stunning vistas along the way.  I was already exhausted but after a few face-to-face show-downs with bulls in pastures along the route, my adrenaline was pumping enough to make me last for days.

As I trudged back into Jardin, Cueva del Esplendor complete, I was pretty sure I wasn’t muy guappa by this point, as I was probably more muddy, sweaty and dirty than the sow I had photographed.

But I was definitely feeling berraca, and there isn’t anything I’d rather be.

//The I.A.