Medellin Botanical Garden

One of our favorite places in all of Medellin is the Medellin Botanical Garden (or, in Spanish, Jardin Botanico de Medellin).

The botanical gardens are free to enter and are a great place to spend a couple of hours away from the noise and traffic that is ubiquitous in Medellin.  Supposedly, the gardens cover about 34 acres of land, but they didn’t seem that large to us — we walked the path around the gardens twice in one afternoon.  The gardens consist of a tropical forest (with a raised walkway through the forest), a small lake, a desert garden, a bamboo forest, a butterfly house, and a few other things.

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These orchids were growing everywhere.  And, the iguanas were eating them like they were candy.  Must be an iguana delicacy.

The internet tells me there are well over a 1000 different species of plants in the gardens.  Honestly, the plants aren’t very well labelled and not much was blooming when we visited, but we did see one of the most amazing flowers we have ever seen.  I’m pretty sure this is something called Brownea ariza, also known as Palo de Cruz.  These flowers burst forth from the middle of tree trunks.  They were beyond cool.

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Palo de Cruz.

Another cool plant was the pineapple.  Seriously, if you have never seen a pineapple anywhere other than the grocery, seeing how they grow (and how pretty they are when young) is pretty neat.

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A young pineapple.

Wiki tells me that 139 different bird species are present in the botanical gardens.  I don’t know if that is true, and we certainly didn’t see anywhere close to that number, but we did see some interesting birds. There were some small, bright yellow birds hanging out in the trees, but they wouldn’t sit still enough for photos.  Same for what appeared to be some type of red-headed woodpecker.

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I have no idea what kind of bird this is, but we’ve seen several of them around Medellin.

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These yellowish birds are everywhere.

The pond is a great place to spot wildlife.  There are so many turtles in and around the pond.

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Turtles piled on top of turtles.

And, some of the most interesting ducks we have ever seen.

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Check out the “hat” on this guy.

But, the main highlight of the pond has to be the iguanas.  They are everywhere.  Unfortunately, we saw so many people (and not just kids) “petting” the iguanas or pulling their tails — I wanted to scream at everyone to just leave the iguanas alone.

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An iguana in the plants.  This guy ate about 20 orchid flowers while we watched.

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An iguana in a tree.

The gardens also contain a butterfly house.  If you want to visit, you have to buy a ticket at the gift shop.  The butterfly house is small and there aren’t that many different types of butterflies, but it is only about a dollar to visit.  That said, the guide inside only speaks Spanish and, at least when we visited, encouraged people to touch the butterflies (she had sugar water you could dip your hand into to try to entice the butterflies to crawl onto your hand to eat the sugar water).  You might be better off just enjoying the flowers and butterflies outside of the actual butterfly house.

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A monarch at the butterfly house.

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This guy was way bigger than he looks in the photo.  Sadly, he died (what appeared to be a natural death) while we were visiting.

The gardens are pretty quiet during the week.  On the weekends, they are full of Paisas (locals) having picnics.

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This squirrel kept scampering up and down a tree.  I think he was hiding food.

The botanical gardens are right next to the Universidad metro station.  If you go, DO NOT follow the signs to the gardens — they take you who knows where but not directly to the gardens.  Instead, if you are coming from Poblado (and I’m guessing you are), the gardens will be on the right side of the train and you will see them as the train pulls into the station.

About theschneiduks

Lisa has a degree in biology and another in law and has spent the last 20 years working as a patent litigator. She is a voracious reader of young adult dystopian fiction and watches far too much bad tv. She loves pretty much anything to do with zombies, and doesn’t think there is anything weird about setting an alarm at 6 am on a weekend to stumble to a pub to watch her beloved Chelsea boys. Robert has had many professions, including a chef, a salesman, an IT guy and most recently, a stay at home dog dad. He speaks Italian and hopes to learn Spanish on this trip. He loves nothing more than a day spent sailing, hopes to do more scuba diving, and rues the day he introduced Lisa to football (i.e., soccer).
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