January 28, 2020

Guatape

We started our day slightly later than planned because of Pico y Placa which I talk about in this previous post. We had breakfast at Al Alma in Medellin before continuing to Guatape. The drive is about 2 hours from Medellin and it’s a picturesque drive. We took a few stops along the way, one of them was Replica del Penol. It’s a nice place for a quick stop to stretch your legs. The views are beautiful and there are lots of hand-craft souvenir shops which are reasonably priced. It’s worth a 30 min stop but that’s about it. Here are more pictures from the drive to Guatape.

view from the top of El Penol

El Penol de Guatape is also known as La Piedra, The Rock, and El Penol. It is 656 feet tall and you can climb it all the way to the top. You can see the rock even before you get to Guatape. There are food stalls and souvenir shops at the base of the rock. The ticket price to climb the rock is 18,000 Colombian pesos which is about $5.50 USD. The stairs going up to the top are well maintained and secured. I’m slightly afraid of heights so having a tall wall next to me helped and I was able to climb the 679 steps without panicking. Here are more pictures from the top of La Piedra.

About half way up the the rock there’s a shrine of virgin Mary. All along the climb, the views are stunning and there are plenty of places to take pictures. It only took us about 20 mins to climb 679 steps to the top. The view at the top is absolutely beautiful, especially on a clear, sunny day. As usual, the sky and the clouds put on a spectacular show. There are food and drinks stalls at the top so if you want to relax and enjoy the view there are enough options.

Guatape folks got caught before they could finish painting the name

Fun history about El Penol de Guatape is that the town of Guatape and El Penol both claim they own the rock. The town of Guatape decided to resolve this long standing dispute by painting “Guatape” on the side of the rock. It didn’t take long for the residents of El Penol to take notice. They painted the G but before they could complete the “U”, residents of El Penol put a stop to it. So, there’s a painting of what looks like GI on the rock. I don’t think the dispute has been resolved.

The view from the the top of the rock is stunning but if you want a view from the sky, helicopter tours are also available. We didn’t go for it but if interested, they cost around $100 USD per person. We drove to the town of Guatape next. Guatape downtown is known for their zocalos, which are basically 3-D graffiti. It’s a very colorful, chilled out, and fun downtown. There are lots of street food stalls, restaurants, and shops. Here are more pictures of colorful Guatape.

enjoying the street food

After walking around downtown Guatape admiring zocalos for about 2 hours, we checked into our Airbnb. We wanted to get there before it got dark so we can enjoy the view. We picked up a bottle of Aguardiente and bandeja paisa for dinner. We had a rental car to get around but the main mode of transportation in this area is rickshaws or tuk tuk. Public transport in and around Guatape are very limited. There are lots of tour companies that offer day trips from Medellin also. Pictures of zocalos.

view from our Airbnb

Our plan for the next day was to go to Rio Claro but as luck would have it, there was a huge land slide the week before we arrived. All the roads and the park was closed. We had signed up with Land Venture Travel agency for the day. We tried to come up with alternate options but most of them involved us spending a lot of time in a car so instead we opted to just spend an extra day in Guatape. We had paid a deposit of $100 USD and since the plans were cancelled because of weather, we decided to split the loss. We got $50 in refund.

one of many zocalos

It’s a beautiful place so we had no problems with this change of plans especially since our Airbnb offered kayaks for rent. We’ve kayaked before but this was the first time we were using paddle kayak. Initially I was a little apprehensive but fell in love with the paddle kayak in minutes. It was so smooth. Kayaking in Penol reservoir is amazing. There are a lot of channels so be careful not to get lost. There are beautiful houses along the reservoir and it’s so peaceful. Pictures from kayaking adventures.

kayaking shenanigans

After about 2 hours of kayaking, we went back to the Airbnb. We had lunch at La Mona restaurant and the food was delicious. The fish soup, robalo fish and fried red snapper were all perfectly cooked. After lunch, we asked the restaurant to call us two rickshaws to take us to a fish farm called Pesca Deporative El Cristalino. Once we saw how remote the location was, we asked the tuk tuk drivers to pick us up from the same location which turned out to be an excellent idea.

tuk tuk drop off & pickup point

Our Airbnb host told us there’s a nice waterfall hike starting near the fish farm so off we went in search of it. We tried to hike all the way but the path wasn’t very well marked and parts of it involved crossing a small stream. Since the hike wasn’t well marked, we kept getting lost but the mountains and the scenery around us were absolutely gorgeous. We gave up on making it all the way to the waterfall and just walked around. Pictures of Antioquia countryside.

Antioquia countryside

We went to the fish farm and hiked in the general area. The main attraction of the fish farm is that you’re guaranteed to catch a fish. Instantly. It was a warm day so we were dressed appropriately but make sure and apply lots of bug spray. Some of us (not me) got bit by mosquitoes A LOT and they were not normal bug bites. They took almost 2 months for the red marks to completely go away. But on the bright side, we saw lots and lots of birds and like I said, the countryside is just so beautiful and green.

The greenery of South America is just so intense and peaceful at the same time. After a few hours of roaming around the countryside, the tuk tuk came back to pick us up and take us to our Airbnb. Our host drove us from Guatape to Medellin for $60 so we didn’t have to look for someone else willing to drive us 2 hours. Once we were in Medellin, we had to continue our tradition of eating Chinese food in every country we visit.

Guatape

We went to a restaurant whose name was Asia Restaurant. How can we go anywhere else with a name like that?! We had garlic prawns which came with potatoes. The cocktail shrimp had a thousand island type sauce on it. The fried rice came with ham and chorizo. It’s so fun to experience local takes on Chinese food everywhere. The food was delicious and it put us all in a food coma for the night.

wandering around Antioquia

Guatape is a beautiful and very colorful town with very friendly people. It definitely deserves at least a day trip from Medellin. Here are some of my personal favorite pictures from Guatape. For more recent pictures, follow me on Instagram.

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