Guatape, Colombia- A Colorful Town and a Large Peñol Rock!
Guatape, Colombia is not a well-known tourist attraction, but it really should be. If you are going to be in Medellin for a few days you MUST take the 2-hour ride to Guatape for a day trip. The views from Peñol Rock and the cuteness of Guatape are more than worth it. As www.Colombia.Travel explains, Guatape is where the Peñol - Guatapé reservoir, a dam built in the late 1970s in which 6,365 hectares was flooded, covering the town of Peñol. Residents can take a boat out to where a memorial cross was put in the water to memorialize Peñol.
Transportation: How do you get to Guatape you ask? Very very easily from Terminales Medellín which is off the Caribe Metro Station (Line A). After you exit the metro, go up the stairs, to the left, cross over the freeway and BOOM- you are at Terminales Medellín. Terminales Medellín is the main bus station for travel all over Colombia. Once you get in and go downstairs it can be overwhelming with the number of long lines, bus windows, and cities the buses cover. Don't worry, just go to window 9 or 14 to grab a bus that goes directly to Guatape. Make sure to get something to eat or drink for the trip as you will not be able to get anything until you get to Guatape, and it is a 2-hour trip. Also, go to the bathroom- no bathrooms on the small buses.
Cost: A ticket one way to Guatape by bus is $14,000 pesos. Once in Guatape, the bus will first stop at Peñol Rock, but do not get off, you can always walk or get a cheap tuk-tuk back to Peñol Rock. You will want to stay on the bus to Guatape to get your return ticket if you plan on returning the same day. The last bus leaves at 7 pm (1900 hours) and they are small buses so you do not want to be without a ticket/seat as they fill up. You can easily take a tuk-tuk back to Peñol Rock or anywhere else you want to go. Please, don't pay more than $8,000 pesos for the ride to Peñol Rock. It is about 3 or so kilometers but I suggest you do not walk it as you will want to save your energy for the rock climb. It is a beast.
Peñol Rock: Peñol Rock costs $18,000 pesos to climb and is worth it. You have two options of where you can start your climb. You can start at the very bottom of Peñol Rock, this will add about 200 steps and 20 minutes to your total adventure. Or you can start at the base of Peñol Rock where you pay. The climb can look VERY daunting, but don't let it get you. They have step markers to help you know where you are. There are also points in the climb where you can stop, take a breather, enjoy the breeze, and take in the sights.
It is 740 steps to the very top and the 180-degree view makes up for the climb. The climb is not as bad as you would assume, but you will be sweating and out of breath when you get to the top. There were people carrying babies and toddlers and helping kids go up the Rock which absolutely astounded me. I also saw some elderly people doing the climb as well. Once you get to the top there is a tower you will climb for the additional 100 or so steps. The tower winds you through a few souvenir shops- very smart marketing! Once you get to the top of the tower you are only allowed to be up there for 15 minutes, but they don't necessarily time you or come looking for you to get down. The views from the top are amazing, simply amazing. You can see the whole area below crystal clear.
Guatape: Once you have climbed Peñol Rock and taken your selfies, it is time to go back to Guatape and hang out. It is a very cute and bright colored town. The town is small and welcoming to tourists. There are many places to eat or have coffee. I ate at Namaste Restaurant which is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant ran by two women. The food was delicious and they had wifi and outlets which allowed me to hang out with a view of the water and read. Their chai tea is made with cardamom and is very tasty.
The town had Christmas lights all around and they have Christmas decorations in the main square made of bottle caps. Take a look at the pictures down below, but they really don't do the town and colors justice. You really need to see it for yourself.
Guatape is a great town and one I wish I had more time to explore. Take a chance on this side trip and you will not regret it!
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