The gentle wind of the Aburrá Valley makes even the hottest days a breeze. During the day, it’s usually in the low 80’s. At night, it reaches the low 60’s. Lush green sights can be seen on its mountainside, viewable from any part of the city. The city of the eternal spring-that’s Medellín.
Most visitors won’t truly experience that springtime sensation, though, if they stick to Medellín’s metro and only live up its nightlife. To get green, at the heart of the city, you have to visit the free-to-the-public Botanical Garden (Jardín Botánico), close to the University station of the metro.
Almost 40 acres make the circular garden an ample home to many plants and animals, from cacti to aquatic plants to tropical birds, fish, insects and iguanas. Kindergarten children stick leaves, plants – whatever they can find – to paper, creating a nature art collage as part of their class. According to teacher Nelly Gutiérrez Mesa, the Botanical Garden is just the right place for children to interact with nature.
“The purpose of the botanical garden is to take care of the environment, the animals and the plants of Colombia,” Gutiérrez said. “The kids identify classes of plants and the grandparents come to school to give recipes to use the plants to cook and for good health.”
Keep the toys at home, though – tents, hammocks, balls and Frisbees aren’t allowed. A towel and a picnic basket, though, make for a simple but romantic date under the shade of a palm tree. La Casa de las Mariposas – The Butterfly House – lets the visitor get bugs-eye close, providing the perfect chance for some great photo opportunities. If you’re lucky, you can laugh along with the local university improvisation group, which practices on Wednesdays and Fridays after 3 p.m. at the garden’s South American Theater (Teatro Suramericana).
The garden’s fine dining restaurant, IN SITU, provides a picturesque place to eat outside. Entradas cost up to $18,000 pesos and mains – platos fuertes range from $21,000 pesos to $39,500. More Colombian- and more affordable – food can be found at Café del Bosque, a friendly, next-to-nature atmosphere for all ages. El Vagón offers low prices, too, in its cafeteria and sweets shop.
Not to be missed is the Orchids, Birds, and Flowers exposition (Orquideas, pajaros y flores), in its 20th year. And while entry is not free, visitors are able to observe around 15,000 species of orchids, 400 types of birds and 20,000 different kinds of flowers from Colombia, Ecuador, Holland, Malaysia, Panama, Peru and the United States.
Whether you’re a nature lover, couple, or family, Medellin’s Botanical Garden has it all: an abundance of places to relax and enjoy the freedom of open space only nature can offer. Said one mom to her daughter, “You can run all you want here.”