Guatape, Colombia is a little lakeside town with a gigantic rock looking over the landscape: El Peñol. It’s a great place for a short side-trip from Medellin.
Admiring the view from the top of El Peñol.
While in Guatape my friend and I stayed at El Encuentro. It was my second time staying there. It’s such a beautiful and relaxing place to stay that it’s worth the trip just to stay in the hostel. It’s a great base for exploring the region, or just to relax. The private rooms have amazing lake views, and only cost 55,000COP/night ($30.)
The view of El Peñol from our balcony.
The most common excursion in the area is to climb El Peñol. Don’t worry, they’ve installed stairs, so it’s a relatively easy 650 stairs to the top. I mean the other option is to climb the rock, and that would be much more challenging. For info on climbing El Peñol see the staff at El Encuentro. For those less intrepid, you can catch a jeep to the gas station at the turn off to El Peñol for 1,500COP. This is the most economical option. The jeeps leave frequently from the town square.
The Colombian military on the road.
After we had finished climbing El Peñol we were on the road walking back to town when were were passed by four uniformed and armed Colombian military personal. The military in Colombia is ever present, and they have done an outstanding job in the recent years to clean up the country. Just 10 years ago this region was too dangerous to visit because of a large FARC influence in the area. The FARC have now retreated, and are situated about two hours past Guatape. These young men have a hard job in Colombia, and I have a lot of respect for the work they do to keep Colombia safe.
A vendor with way too much character not to photograph.
The town itself is also a great little place to hang out, enjoy some typical Colombian food, indulge in a dessert, and watch the world go by. While doing just this the man above approached us selling ochuvos, one of many of the fantastic fruits in Colombia. The town has many old men with a tonne of character. It made me understand better the appeal of portrait photography.
A typical Guatapean street.
How to Get to Guatape:
Go to the North Bus Terminal in Medellin, and find the stand for “Guatape.” Buses leave approximately every hour from 7am-7pm and cost around 8000COP depending on the company you choose.