We're going to let you in on a little secret.
Our favourite pueblo in Colombia isn't in the guidebooks. Whilst Salento and Guatapé are very popular on the backpacker trail, little Jardin was all ours.
It kept on coming up in conversations with locals when we asked where they'd recommend visiting. From our tour guide in Medellin to a travelling priest on top of a rock, every paisa told us that Jardin couldn't be missed.
And, for the first time in a long time, the reality met the recommendation.
Arriving on balmy Saturday afternoon, we were greeted by men of all ages wearing cowboy hats and ponchos accompanied by the finest horses they owned. The bars and restaurants surrounding one of the most beautiful and colourful main plazas we have seen thus far were overflowing with true Colombian characters sipping tinto and aquardiente. This was the real Colombia - a land that has probably changed very little.
Within minutes of finding a room, we had our cameras in hand - which is where they stayed for the duration of our stay.
We talk of places being a dream for street photographers perhaps a little too frequently to be entirely true, but in this little corner of Antioquia, you can capture the most fantastic photo purely by accident.
what to do
Our favourite thing to do in Jardin was people-watch in the square however there are few nice activities in and around town depending on your budget.
Cable-cars: There are two sets of cable-cars in town. The older and cheaper one is basically a garden shed which takes you up to the hills for $3,000.
The newer version is a solitary cab which takes you up to a nice little mirador nestled amongst coffee and banana plants where you can get views like below! It costs $5,000 per person and there's a little café up here too.
Zip-line: On the street parallel to the newer cable-car, you can do a small zip-line. It definitely won't be the best one you'll do in Latin America, but we thought we'd let you know it's there.
Horse ride trek: The most adventurous activity in town is to ride a horse to La Cueva del Esplendor - a waterfall in side a cave. We chose not to do this as we wanted to stick to budget and have learned to be underwhelmed by most waterfalls. However, it's a popular trip with the guided trek costing around $35-40,000 per person with signs up in most hotels promoting it.
Horse ride around town: Horses are bloody everywhere in Jardin and you can easily go for a quick trot around town from the main square. It's cheap too, with a 10-minute trip around the block costing around $3,000.
how to get there
In Medellin, you need to make your way to Terminal del Sur. The best way to do this is exit the Poblado metro station on the left hand side, where you'll find a line of taxis. They'll bring you to the terminal for $5,000.
Unfortunately, the metro doesn't quite stretch to this terminal, so instead you need to take it as far as the Poblado stop, exit on the left hand side where you'll find a line of taxis at the bottom of the stairs. Hop in one to the terminal - it should cost no more than $5000 and take around 5 minutes.
Buses to Jardin leave with two different companies. The first is located at booth #2 and the other is much further along at #38 - the company is Rapido Ochoa. Buses leave fairly frequently throughout the day and cost the same with both companies at $18,000.
If you go with Rapido, be aware that seats are allocated. We made the mistake of being cramped on the back-seat with two others, so try and get a seat booked near the front.
Travel time from Medellin is about 3.5-4 hours and you'll be dropped off close to the main square in Jardin.
If you are travelling onward to Salento from Jardin, it will take you around 8 hours.
where to stay
If you arrive on the weekend, be prepared for accommodation prices to increase by 15-25%. As it's still more used to local tourism than international backpackers, there isn't a huge range of options and we didn't find anywhere with a kitchen.
We stayed at Hotel Diana (if you stand in the square facing the church, it's on the first street left) which was a perfectly acceptable option with decent wi-fi. They initially asked for $60,000 for a double with private bathroom, but we secured it for $50,000.
If you stay somewhere without wi-fi, the main square has a free and quick connection available.
Since our time in Jardin, two hostel-type accommodations have opened up to cater to the increasing number of backpackers that have discovered this pretty little town. We have no experience with either but if you'd prefer a dorm bed or to book your accommodation in advance, it's definitely worth clicking here to check them out.
is it expensive?
Accommodation is a little inflated, particularly as there are few dorm/kitchen options, but the town itself is cheap to stay and eat in. In the plaza, there are lots of greasy fast food carts, whilst the restaurants are very reasonably priced fora typical breakfast of eggs, coffee and arepas. You can also get two scoops of ice-cream for $1,000!
If you feel like indulging, we can highly recommend the pizzas in Cafe de Europa.