Guatapé is a not-to-be-missed day trip from Medellin. The quaint town is a cheerfully colored sleepy destination that is popular with Colombians looking for a break for the crowded city.
Your first encounter when nearing Guatapé is the star attraction to the area: La Piedra Del Peñol (the rock of Guatapé) . An enormous rock that entices you to the summit with a 659 stair climb. Quite a sight. There is a parking lot at the base of the rock, but, if like us you were let off by the bus at the street below you have several options. There are brightly painted pica picas (think tuk-tuk), private taxi cabs or vendors with horses all offering their services. We opted to walk.
There are 2 sets of stairs, one for climbing up and the other for making the descent. Not being a fan of heights I was pleased that the former wooden stairs have now been replaced by sturdy cement version with high sides. Views of the dizzying heights are possible but not necessary.
At the top of the rock you are rewarded with a panoramic view of the lakes below. The lakes were formed in the 1970’s when the land was flooded as part of the development of a hydroelectric dam that now supplies over a third of electric power to the Colombia. The system of lakes also provide recreation and a host of business opportunities for the area. There are lots of companies offering cruises and fishing trips along the shore.
Also lining the shore are several restaurants, mostly Parillas with outdoor grills offering up steak, chicken and locally caught fish.
You can wander along the streets taking in the smells and the sights while enjoying a beer or a Michelada (beer mixed fresh lime juice with a salt rim) sold by several vendors along the way.
You can get to Guatapé by taking a bus from Medellin at the North Station at the Caribe Metro Stop. The companies offering trips to Guatapé are toward the back of the Station on the first floor. The trip takes about 1.5 hours and costs $6 US. If you forgot to pack a snack for the trip, no worries. Several vendors hop on and off the bus along the way offering a variety of sweets and homemade potato chips.
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