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.
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.
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.
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.
The pond is a great place to spot wildlife. There are so many turtles in and around the pond.
And, some of the most interesting ducks we have ever seen.
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.
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.
The gardens are pretty quiet during the week. On the weekends, they are full of Paisas (locals) having picnics.
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.