Medellín is fast becoming one of the top places to visit in South America. And while the city is certainly worth exploring, there are also a number of pueblos nearby that offer a more traditional sense of Antioquia. Guatapé tends to dominate the lists of day trips, but Jericó is as equally beautiful and interesting, minus the tourist crowds.
Whether you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Medellín, or simply see more of Colombia, here’s your guide to Jericó, including its history, what to take, how to arrive, and things to do.
History of Jericó
Jericó’s religious significance was cemented as the birthplace and home of Madre Laura, Colombia’s first patron saint. Catholicism remains a strong part of the identity of the town, with nuns and priests helping to run schools and educate the children that live there. Currently, Jericó has 14,000 inhabitants and 16 churches.
Jericó is also known for its colorful houses and ornate balconies. In fact, the first line of the Jericó city anthem is “grato nido de amores” – which means “cherished love nest” in English. This came from a regular pastime of young lovers, flirting with each other from balcony to balcony.
What to bring
– Practical shoes
– Sun cream
– Waterproof jacket or umbrella
– Warm layers
– Reusable water bottle
– Swim suit
– Spanish words and phrases
How to arrive
Getting to Jericó is easy and buses depart from Medellín very regularly. To get there, head to Terminal del Sur and ticket booth 18. Go with the company Transportes Jericó, which shouldn’t take more than 3 hours. Be warned though, much of the road is windy and bumpy, although a new and faster route will be opening up in 2020.
Getting back is similarly stress-free. Simply head to the bus station in the main plaza on the right side of the church, and buy your ticket there. Tickets cost around $25,000 COP ($8.85) each way.
Things to Do
Take to the skies with paragliding
Jericó is undoubtedly one of the best places in Colombia to go paragliding. The proximity of San Felix to Medellín means that many travelers passing through the region opt for this instead. But, for those willing to make the extra effort, the views around Jericó are incomparable. Here, you can soar past huge, lush mountains, through the valley, and across the Piedras River. There is nothing quite like flying through the thick clouds, next to the eagles who make the beautiful region their home.
Flights can be organized through your accommodation or by contacting EcoLand, a restaurant, and business located directly next to the starting point. Prices start from around 115,000 COP ($40.78).
Hike through the countryside
There is a range of hiking options around Jericó, and more open up every day. One of the easiest and shortest options is to hike to Cristo Redentor, the large statue standing upon a peak bordering the town. From this height, you can see the entire town and the scope of nature that surrounds it.
Another option is Cerro Tuza, the biggest natural pyramid in the world. From a distance, Cerro Tuza’s shape seems too surreal to exist. However, this hike is not for the faint of heart. It takes three hours to reach its peak and is an almost entirely vertical walk.
Alternatively, walk up to Las Nubes. Though challenging in parts, the view from the peak is undeniably worth it. Opt for either a sunrise or sunset tour. It takes around 40 minutes to reach the summit, depending on your physical fitness, and the walk is fantastic every inch of the way. From the top, you can see the mountains and the river as well as the peak of Cerro Tuza.
Go horse riding
Horses are important in the town of Jericó. You get used to seeing them everywhere. It’s not uncommon to see locals cantering around the town square bareback, fuelled by copious amounts of Aguardiente. While that might not be for everyone, there are more tranquil and scenic options available.
Most hostels and accommodation can help organize horse riding trips, which start from the outskirts of the town. It is impossible not to feel like a cowboy when trotting through almost-deserted streets, only dotted by men sitting on their porches, wearing traditional hats and chewing toothpicks.
Sample the local produce
There are several local delicacies in Jericó, some of which are unique to the region. Among these are Luisas, delicious cakes made with honey, panela and guava paste. Jericó is also said to have some of the best street food in Colombia.
Outside of food, Jericó is famous for a particular type of bag called a carriel. This was the bag of choice for arrieros, messengers who traveled from town to town by mule. This bag has since become an icon of Colombia, even appearing in the logo for Juan Valdez. The main selling point of the bag is the many pockets it contains within an extremely small space, and was also used as a pillow whilst the arrieros were on the road. This includes secret pockets, which were used to hide tokens from la otra – the mistress of the arriero.
Explore the Town
The town of Jericó is home to a wealth of museums and historical points of interest. The real star of the show here, though, is the town itself, which must be one of the most beautiful pueblos in Antioquia. Every street and corner is worthy of a photograph. Within the town, you can spot typical architecture in the colonización antioqueña and republicana styles.
This is a town that is home to creatives. There’s Calle de los Poetas – Poets Street, and the street of 80 Steps and of 100 Steps, which is lined with small tiendas where you can pick up an empanada or two. Meanwhile, the town square is the perfect place to sit down, relax with a coffee and people watch.
Planning more trips to towns near Medellín? Check out our guides to Jardín, Guatapé, Santa Fe de Antioquia, and Santa Elena. To really get the most out of your Medellín experience, hire the best personal travel VIP concierge service in the city.
About the author: Originally from Ireland, Roisin has been traveling since the age of 18. She has visited 45 countries and lived in 8, including China, Bolivia, Germany, and the U.S. You can follow her blog at http://adventuresofsheen.com/ or via Instagram.