How to get from Jardin to Salento by public bus
When you look at the map planning your Colombia itinerary, seeing how close Jardin and Salento are to each other you probably made the same mistake we did and thought it would be a quick journey between the two. Sadly we were wrong! Both Jardin and Salento sit in Colombia’s coffee axis and that means altitude.
Altitude = windy mountain roads!
Another assumption we made is there would be a direct bus between these towns, again we were sadly mistaken. Unless you have your own wheels or are employing a driver, the route between Jardin and Salento will involve a bus change or two. There is however a choice of routes you can take, see below for how to get from Jardin to Salento
How to get from Jardin to Salento options
Option 1 – Slight lie-in, bumpy unsealed road, 1 change and longer journey
Jardin – Riosucio, 8:00 am, journey length 4.5 hours on a windy and bumpy road
Riosucio – Salento, 1:00 pm, journey length 4.5 hours on fully sealed road
Total journey time: 9.5 hours Est cost COP 68,000 (£13.30/$17.10)
Option 2 – Early start, smoother road, 2 changes and a slightly shorter journey
Jardin – Manizales, 6:25 am, journey length 5.5 hours on fully sealed road
Manizales – Pereira, (leaves every 15 minutes), journey length 1.25 hours, fully sealed road
Pereira - Salento, (leaves every 15 minutes), journey length 1 hour, fully sealed road
Total journey time: 8.5 hours Cost COP 82,000 (£16/$21.60)
We opted for the slightly more expensive, quicker and less windy route for 2 reasons. The main reason is Becca suffering from motion sickness and reading some people's accounts on the bus from Salento to Riosucio (and vice versa) Becca really didn't fancy it, even with her trusty motion sickness bands. Secondly, we didn't have much time for Salento, so sacrificing an hour's sleep meant we could do some exploring in daylight hours when we arrived in Salento.
Read on to see how we got on.
Our experience on the bus from Jardin to Salento
It was an early start as expected, due to the bus scheduled to leave at 6:25 am. We arrived just after 6:00 am in order to grab a coffee and nab front seats in the minivan. Although Becca had her trusty anti-motion sickness bands with her, it’s still preferable at the front on the windy roads in the mountains. I got a coffee and some banana bread and the prices were reasonable (COP 7,000/£1.40/$1.80), others were tucking into scrambled eggs and omelettes. If you are one who needs breakfast, the café is reasonable and pretty quick.
Bus from Jardin to Manizoles
Our bus left pretty much on time and although the roads were smooth the mountain roads were quite windy. The guy who sold us the tickets at the café/Costransrio office had quoted 5.5 hours for the journey to Manizales. We hit a number of roadworks on route so I was concerned the journey would be much longer. My fears however were unfounded and we arrived in Manizales at 11:45 pm, so far so good!
Bus from Manizales to Pereira
The bus from Jardin to Manizales terminated at Transportation Terminal in Manizales, which is the same bus terminal the bus from Manizales to Pereira departs from. Simply make your way into the main terminal and you will be greeted by a number of different agencies offering buses to Pereira. The companies quoted between COP 12,500-16,000 for the journey. We actually opted for the more expensive one as that bus was leaving the soonest \t 12pm. After purchasing the tickets we headed out to the back of the terminal where there were loads of shuttle buses waiting to depart. Our ticket showed the registration of our bus and a station attendant pointed us in the right direction.
Once our luggage was loaded aboard the driver said we had 5 minutes before we set off. We used the time to buy a couple of empanadas from one of the many stalls in the waiting area. The shuttle departed just after 12:00 pm, the road was a little windy and the journey took slightly longer than the predicted 50 minutes, arriving at the Terminal de Transportes de Pereira at 1:15 pm.
Bus from Pereira to Salento
Again, the next bus leaves from the same bus terminal. Upon entering the main terminal building go downstairs to find the buses to Salento. There is a small ticket booth in the back left corner selling tickets. The tickets for the Pereira to Salento bus are COP 10,500 and the buses leave every 15 minutes and you travel on a small local-looking bus. The bus we were on made it OK but sounded like it had seen better days and would definitely struggle to pass an MOT back home in the UK. The bus from Pereira to Salento left at 1:35 pm. The journey time was just over an hour arriving in to Salento at 2:40 pm which was 15 minutes later than predicted by the sales guy in Jardin, not bad!
Although we would normally opt for the cheapest route between two destinations we are happy we made the right choice. The fact that there is only one bus at 1 pm from Riosucio, made us a little nervous, as if the first bus was over 30 minutes late you would miss it. The 3 stop route had a lot more wiggle room with both the second and third buses leaving regularly; every 15 minutes. Given the amount of road works we hit on the first leg and still made it on time, I would have thought it will soon be a much quicker route too!
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