In the coffee belt of Colombia’s Antioquia province, the tidy town of Jardín is located alongside a steep ravine. There are a couple of ways to cross it, including an impressive suspension bridge completed just a few years ago. But possibly the most direct method, and certainly the most fun, is in a wooden basket known as La Garrucha.
At first, the scene appears ridiculously hazardous: Travelers ride in a box made of haphazard wooden slats strung on a pair of drooping cables across a heart-stoppingly deep ravine. The slats are painted in jaunty yellow and green, as if to distract passengers from the terrifying prospect of plummeting into the gorge and disappearing in the fathomless foliage below.
A closer look is a bit more reassuring: The steel cables appear shiny and new, the motor hums contentedly, and the passengers are a mix of ho-hum locals on their everyday commute and tourists enjoying the ride. Still, as the woman at the ticket window acknowledges, the journey is “not fun for nervous people.”
La Garrucha was originally installed as a way to transport people, supplies, and produce between the town center and the agricultural area to the south. It still serves those purposes, and now additionally acts as a visitor attraction and even as a symbol of Jardín.
For a fare equivalent to about a dollar, anyone can step into the rickety-looking basket, dangle over the yawning gorge, and step out on the other side. Once there, visitors can enjoy a coffee or a snack from an open-air cafe, admire the view of Jardín’s rooftops and church steeples across the ravine—and get their nerve up for the return trip in La Garrucha.
Know Before You Go
La Garrucha holds 5-6 people at a time, costs 4000 pesos (a little over $1) each way. It runs every half-hour.