How to get to Cueva del Esplendor (Route, Costs + Tips)

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Cueva del Esplendor is a must-see waterfall close to the beautiful town of Jardin in Colombia’s Coffee Region. The water plunges through a hole in the rock into a cave underneath.

But there are some important things to know before you go! 🥾

How to get to Cueva del Esplendor

Cueva del Esplendor is located in the hills quite high above Jardin. There are 2 ways to get to Cueva del Esplendor:

  1. You can hike there 🥾
  2. You can go on a tour 🚐

The hike (which we decided to do) is beautiful but long. The tour cuts the hike short but is a good deal especially if you travel on your own or are short on time. We will explain both options in detail below.

Read also: Unique Things to do in Jardin

Cueva del Esplendor waterfall pouring through a hole in the rock
This is Cueva del Esplendor!

Option #1: Cueva del Esplendor Tour

Tours to Cueva del Esplendor cost 70,000 COP (17 USD). This is a good deal because if you go by yourself you will have to pay 20,000 COP (5 USD) to enter and transport to and from the waterfall.

The picture below explains all the benefits of going on a tour (Tour Full) versus coming on your own (Tour Basico) very well.

A sign showing the benefits of a tour to Cueva del Esplendor
Differences between a tour or coming on your own

You can book the tour through any tour agency in town or via the WhatsApp number in the image above. Alternatively, you can go straight to the Jeep parking lot📍in Jardin where the tour starts.

The tour will not drive you all the way to the waterfalls but will take you most of the way. That way you will only have to walk the last 3 km (1.8 mi) to the falls.

Also included in the tour price is a drink and a snack at the house located just before the waterfalls. The tour is a great deal but you will have to visit the falls in a group and on their schedule.

🕘 Tip: There is only 1 tour a day that leaves at 9 am. So if you want the waterfalls to yourself you should arrive by yourself after 12 pm. Otherwise, you will be going into the waterfalls with the tour group. But keep in mind the falls close at 3.30 pm!

Option #2: Cueva del Esplendor Hike

If you want to hike then your first choice is to decide whether to:

  1. Hike from town all the way to the waterfalls (about 4-5h one-way) or
  2. Catch a ride up the hill to the gate of the fall’s property and hike from there (about 2h one-way)

We decided to do the second option. We took a tuk-tuk to the main gate and walked the rest of the way. The road up to the gate is super steep and will take 2-3 hours to hike. So you will be quite tired by the time you arrive at the falls.

However, if you are a keen hiker and still want to hike the whole way up you should make sure you have the offline maps on Maps.me or Alltrails downloaded.

  • On Maps.me you will see a trail that will take you through farms and off-road. If you do it this way you can come back into town via the road. This will stop you from having to do an outback which you would have to do if you hike via the road.
  • If you happen to use Alltrails the hike to Cueva del Esplendor will take you via the road. I don’t recommend hiking up via the road as it is really steep and you can enjoy the view by hiking down into town.

💰 Tip: If you decide to hike the trail that goes through farmland shown on Maps.me, reviews say that you may be charged by one of the landowners to pass over their property 16,000 COP (4 USD) per person. So bring some cash with you.

Overlooking the green hills in the coffee region of Colombia

Catching a Tuk-Tuk or Jeep

We caught a tuk-tuk from the main square in Jardin (there are plenty) to the gate of the property and hiked from there. The ride cost us 25,000 COP (5 USD) and took 20 minutes 🛺

Our original plan was to take a shared jeep (5,000 COP/1 USD p.p.) up the hill but when we asked around town that day we were told no public jeeps were going up. Later on, we heard that they only leave at 6 am, 2 pm and 5 pm.

Another option is to catch a jeep to Finca Carrizales and then hike from there. Finca Carrizales is a coffee farm that offers tours of their farm.

The tricky part is if you would like to take transport back. You would either need to arrange a tuk-tuk upfront or need to know when and if a shared jeep goes down. We decided to walk all the way down to town (4-5h from the falls) or hitch a ride.

💰 Tip: If you are catching a tuk-tuk anywhere in Jardin they should have a price list in the back. However, we found that people in Colombia are generally really honest and there is a low chance of being ripped off.

Price list for a tuk tuk in Jardin Colombia
Looking out of the window of a tuk-tuk going up the hill to the entrance gate of Cueva del Esplendor
Bumpy but nice tuk-tuk ride up the hill

Hike from the Gate to the Falls

Once you arrive at the gate to the property there are already amazing views over Jardin and the hills surrounding it. Straight after the gate, there is quite a steep climb but the scenery in the countryside is spectacular.

What we loved about Jardin is that it is super pretty no matter where you go. The town is beautiful, all the nature and farms around are colorful and it is so picturesque no matter where you look.

Read also: 6 Best Hikes in Jardin 🥾

A white tuk tuk driving down a dirt road in the Colombian countryside
Bye-bye tuk-tuk! This is where you will be dropped off
A gate at the entrance to a farm in Colombia showing the price to enter Cueva del Esplendor one of the best waterfalls near Jardin
On a tour, you will be taken past this gate and therefore not have to hike as far

After the gate, you will have to just follow the road for about 1.5 to 2 hours. The whole time the view from the road is awesome and it is a very peaceful hike along a dirt road. Because it is private property you will not see many cars passing by.

We took about 1.5 hours to arrive at the entrance to Cueva del Esplendor. Although most people might take a bit longer as we were hiking quite fast. At the entrance, you will see a white and orange farmhouse where you will need to pay for your ticket.

A colorful Colombian style house at the entrance to Cueva del Esplendor
The Farmhouse at the entrance to Cueva del Esplendor

Entering Cueva del Esplendor

We knew when we were arriving at Cueva del Esplendor that the waterfall was on private property and we would have to pay to enter. But what took us by surprise was how the owners have decided to allow access.

We thought that by hiking up we would avoid visiting the waterfall in a big group. But unfortunately, that’s not the case. Because you can only enter in certain intervals.

Entrance Fee

When you arrive you will have to pay 20,000 COP (4 USD) if you come on your own. But you will have to wait for a guide to come and take you to the waterfall.

The guides leave about every 45 minutes which means you will end up going down to the falls with everyone else waiting around.

Fortunately, we got a free drink served while we waited for the guide to show up and enjoyed the beautiful view. After hiking up for 1.5 hours we had a big appetite for seeing the falls!

We brought our own healthy and cheap snacks but you can also buy some snacks and drinks and the farmhouse. There are also lots of picnic tables and a bathroom free of charge to use.

🕘 Tip: If you want a better chance of having the falls to yourself come after the morning tour groups. When we were leaving the falls around noon the site was pretty empty.

A cup of coffee and a cup of juice sitting on a woofen bench with grass and trees in the background
We got free drinks served while waiting to get to the falls, sweet!

Path to the Falls

When it’s your turn the guide will unlock the gate and then you can walk to the falls at whatever speed you like. The path down to the falls takes about 15 minutes and is very pretty and jungly.

But the path is also steep and slippery. There are a few ropes to help you climb down the stairs and there are also some nice streams along the way.

Just before you arrive at the falls you will enter a mossy area with water raining from the sky. It is a magical area and definitely worth the hike ✨

A man in a blue hat dressed in black standing next to a river surrounded by trees in the coffee region of Colombia on the way to Cueva del Esplendor
Stream on the way to Cueva del Esplendor

Arriving at Cueva del Esplendor

Once you enter the falls it is truly amazing. I read reviews of other people saying they didn’t enjoy coming because of having to wait at the gate. But to me, it is such a spectacular display of nature that you should immediately forget about the slight annoyance of being held up at the gate.

When we arrived there was still another tour group at the falls. But we didn’t feel like it was too crowded at all. There was plenty of space for everyone to take pictures and enjoy the waterfall in peace.

It’s a small site but we still spend about 40 minutes at the waterfall. You can climb up the rock at the left-hand side and get a different angle. Also, it’s just fascinating to stand there and watch the water pour down.

You can also swim at the falls if you want but make sure you have towels and warm clothes. A family went swimming while we were at the falls followed by a huge downpour. Unfortunately, they got stuck behind the gate because of the weird system of unlocking and locking the gates so they were freezing. Plus the water is ice cold! 🥶

Tip: We were in Jardin for 10 days in October and there was often very heavy rain in the afternoon. So always be prepared for rain in this area! ☔️

A man standing on a rock looking at the Cueva del Esplendor waterfall

Hiking back to Jardin

Hiking back to town is a relatively easy hike compared to hiking up to Cueva del Esplendor because it is all downhill. It is a beautiful hike as well because you will be walking through the middle of really pretty coffee farms the whole way.

Just remember to have wet weather gear. After we left the falls it bucketed down. Luckily there is a sheltered waiting area at the entrance so we waited out the worst of the rain.

On the way down there were streams all over the road so you could get wet feet. We really enjoyed it though as it was awesome to see everything transform so quickly.

Read also: How to get to Salento from Jardin 🚌

A man in a black shirt and shorts walking between coffee farms on a road in the hills above jardin Colombia after visiting the Cueva del Esplendor waterfall
Hiking down the hill back to Jardin

Funny Hitchhiking Story

We didn’t end up hiking the whole way to town as initially planned because a local offered us a lift halfway (thanks! 🙏). The hitchhike saved us a lot of time and it was fun to chat to the farmer who picked us up.

As we were driving past the local hospital in Jardin he pointed at it and we understood someone he knew worked at the hospital for many years. Or at least that was what we thought he said due to our average Spanish.

But once we got out and watched his truck drive away we saw we had been picked up in an old ambulance! We realized he was telling us his truck was the town’s ambulance for many years. This was a great end to an awesome visit to Cueva del Esplendor.

So if a friendly farmer in an old ambulance offers you a ride, gladly take it and say hi! 🚑

Enjoy visiting Cueva del Esplendor!

Cueva del Esplendor is an amazing waterfall that is truly unique. It is for sure not the perfect natural experience because of the way the owners choose to allow access.

But we think it is still very much worth going as long as you accept and embrace the whole process. Once you are inside the cave none of that will matter as it is so cool to see.

If you end up going let me know in the comments below what your experience was like. Also, if you want a more adventurous hike I highly recommend Cueva los Guacharos – which we will publish and link here for you next! 🙌

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Travel, health and fitness fanatic from New Zealand. Co-founder of Happy Healthy Nomads and always on a hunt for good food.

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