There are many reasons to visit Jardin in Colombia’s coffee region. The beautiful mountains along with the amazing people make it a spot you can’t miss. On top of this, there are many waterfalls that will satisfy any adventurer’s desires. One of the most popular ones is the Cueva del Esplendor.
This is a very different waterfall than Cascada La Escalera on the 4 waterfall hikes and especially Cascada del Amor. This hike can be quite long/hard or it can be fairly easy and straightforward. Of course, we took the long hike option which took up the entire day as we got back at sunset.
In this guide, I will go over the different options of how to get to La Cueva del Esplendor and my tips.
What is La Cueva Del Esplendor?
What makes this waterfall so unique from the rest? “La Cueva” means the cave in Spanish. That means this waterfall is inside a cave but not just inside it, it goes through a massive hole.
La Cueva del Esplendor is extremely powerful and the journey there makes it even more unique. There are some rules when visiting this waterfall, which I will explain later.
The locals might not suggest visiting this area while in Jardin because of the way the family runs it. It is located on private property and the family really tries to make the most of the situation.
How to Get to La Cueva Del Esplendor (Jardin)
In order to get to La Cueva del Esplendor, you will first have to make your way to Jardin. We came from Salento but it is also common to come from Medellin.
Salento to Jardin
This is the route we took as we flew to Salento from Santa Marta. It is a very easy route to figure out but it is long. This is in large part due to the rocky roads and hills. In total (including time changing buses) we traveled for 9 hours. Below will be the instructions on how to do this trip.
- Salento to Riosucio: only one bus per day at 9:45 AM (cost is $38,000 COP)
- Riosucio to Jardin: This is where you’ll get off your bus and wait for a different one that goes to Jardin.
- It was on a collective bus with row seating. The worst part was the roads and how bumpy of a ride it was. The cost was $20,000 COP.
Medellin to Jardin
This is a much easier route as far as the road conditions and is quicker.
- Make your way to the bus terminal del Sur
- The company is Rapido Ocacho. This is who we took back to Medellin and it was great. There is another company you can take as well.
- This cost will be between $25,000 and $34,000 COP. Expect a 3-hour journey
- A popular website to buy bus tickets from in Colombia is called redbus.
Where to Stay in Jardin, Colombia
- Sgt Pepper’s Hostel: This is the hostel that we stayed at during our time in Jardin. It was a great location and only $10. This included breakfast. I highly recommend staying here.
- Charco Corazon: A little further outside the city is a laidback hostel. This is an eco-friendly green hostel with chill vibes. It costs $9 to stay here and includes breakfast.
- La Tángara Hostal Rural: Located even further outside Jardin is a wonderful hostal. This is a little pricier at $16 but includes breakfast. If you want to stay closer to the mountains then I suggest that you stay here.
My Suggested Hiking Gear
Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.
- KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.
La Cueva Del Esplendor Hike Details (Jardin)
- Distance: This hike is around a 12 to 14-mile loop hike. This depends on if you take the easier route, take a car halfway up, or do the loop.
- Duration: It will take between 7 and 9 hours to complete depending on how long you stay at the waterfall.
- Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as moderate to difficult. If you follow the route that we took then it becomes more difficult. This is mainly due to the soft terrain and mud, as well as getting a little bit lost.
- Incline: The elevation for this hike is around 3175 feet or 967 meters.
- Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
To view this trail and read some reviews you can see it on Alltrails.
Other Activities in Colombia
- Best Hikes in Minca, Colombia
- Cerro Kennedy
- Salto del Angel
- Camping in Cabo San Juan
- Marinka Waterfalls
- La Piedra del Penol
- Arvi Park in Medellin
Cost of La cueva Del Esplendor in Jardin
Unfortunately, it is not free to visit La Cueva Del Esplendor. There is an entry fee to be allowed to walk down to see this tremendous site. This is the reason some locals won’t suggest you visit this area. I agree with them because there isn’t much received in the payment besides being able to see this waterfall. It is still worth it to visit in my opinion though.
- $20,000 COP (~$5 USD)/$5000 COP for Locals
- Must Fill out a waiver
- this includes a “guide” to the waterfall. He says almost nothing and does practically nothing
- They sell food/beverages at the house for extra money
My Experience Hiking to La Cueva Del Esplendor
We decided to take the harder route. I was up for a challenge. The idea got tossed around to go the route shown above. We decided against it as we wanted to do a loop hike. After all, how hard could it be right?
We ended up getting lost about an hour or so into it. I didn’t realize we were lost until 2 hours or more into the hike. After some time we did find the right trail again with some help from a local. I would suggest not using wikiloc on this hike and instead sticking with maps.me.
There might be some better trails to follow on wikiloc than what we used but everyone we met suggests only using mapsme.
Mirador Cristo Rey to Trailhead
If you want to take the route that we did, you will want to start the hike like you’re headed to Cristo Rey. This is the famous viewpoint or “mirador” of Jardin.
Walk towards the intersection of Calle 12 and Carrera 2. At the end of Calle 12, you will see the building shown above. Start heading down towards the river and then across a bridge.
Keep following this trail straight up. If you ever get lost, refer to mapsme. Once you arrive at the building/overlook then you will hike on a flat area for a while. Once you get to what seems like the main road, you will be taking a right. On mapsme, you will see a dotted line headed back up the mountain. There will be a cross at the building as well and you will want to follow this trail.
The elevation starts to kick in and we even saw a snake! This was one of my favorite parts of the hike as the views were great and so was the trail. Once this ends and we went through a yellow gate where we started to take the wrong trail.
Refinding the Trail
When we passed through a gate, our mapsme and wikiloc were going different ways. We decided to follow wikiloc because we thought “let’s follow the trail someone has taken before.” This was not a good choice.
Always follow the mapsme as best as you can. You will want to go around the large field of extremely wet and muddy terrain. We kept following wikiloc and went through different trails, past multiple cow fields, and ended up on someone’s property.
He realized we were lost and helped us out. Said that normally you’re supposed to take the trail around this area. That trail is what mapsme shows.
After cutting across multiple more fields, we finally got back to the trail on mapsme.
The Entry House & La Cueva Del Esplendor
After many routes and situations where you think you’re lost again, you’ll find yourself at a wired fence. Follow this fence to the right and you will want to cross some makeshift wooden bridge.
Shortly after this is the house where you’ll pay your entry fee. We decided to eat the lunch we brought before we headed down. It is $20,000 Colombian Pesos and you must sign your name on a waiver.
When we were ready we were led by our guide down to the waterfall. It was much further down than I had thought and across some fun obstacles.
When we arrived at La Cueva del Esplendor, we were stunned. This was one of the most powerful waterfalls I have seen with my own eyes. The sheer force of it left wind swirling around in the cave.
The struggle we went through to find this place was well worth the cost in my opinion. I don’t think you’re allowed to swim in it because of how strong it is but we didn’t want to.
Thankfully we took the easier route home and it only took us around 2 hours to get back home.
The Route Home
After spending time visiting La Cueva del Esplendor, we decided it was too late to try and head back the way we came. We took the easier route home which is all road.
If you want to take this trail you will go back up to the house and take a left. This will also be the way you arrive at La Cueva del Esplendor if you take the easier route shown on the map above.
There were some amazing views along the way home too. We got home right before sundown and felt extremely accomplished.
There are many things to do in Jardin! If you like tours then here are some that are great. Coffee is amazing in this region as well as visiting the many natural treasures.
Cueva del Esplendor Tour
There are tours you can sign up for if you would rather go with a group than alone. These tours offer more than just a ride there. Some offer the addition of a bird-watching experience as well as lunch. I would suggest talking to the front desk at your accommodation for more reliable and up-to-date information regarding these.
Tips of La Cueva Del Esplendor
There are some things I wish I knew before starting my hike to La Cueva del Esplendor. Below are some of the things that I suggest to bring and use during your hike.
- Use Maps.me
- Bring proper hiking boots
- rain jacket
- $20,000 COP at least
- portable battery
Final Thoughts on La Cueva Del Esplendor
The adventure alone was one for the books. It took longer than I had expected but I would do it again if I had the opportunity. The prices weren’t ideal as I think anything like this should be free. That being said if you have time in Jarding, I highly suggest making the trip to LA Cueva del Esplendor. There aren’t many waterfalls that make you feel so small and weak.
Thank you for reading my guide on the hike to La Cueva Del Esplendor in Jardin! I hope this has helped you on your journey to experience this unique waterfall.