One of the most beautiful countries I’ve lived in was Colombia and visiting El Peñol de Guatape (also known as the Piedra del Peñol or Peñon de Guatapé) was utterly amazing with its unique landscape, laidback ambiance, colorful houses and good cheap food.
Though going there from the city of Medellin in Antioquia wasn’t an easy feat as we had to ride the train (called the Metro) and a bus for several hours but nonetheless it was worth a visit to the point that until now I’m wishing we stayed for the entire weekend instead of a day trip only.
Upon arrival in Guatape, you have options on how to go to the famous Peñol, either by foot or taking a short horse ride. I chose the latter while my friends opted to walk to the much talked about landmark in Colombia.
The gigantic 10,000,000 ton rock known as the Peñol is certainly quite an exercise since it’s a couple of steps going up to reach the top but it was all worth it because of the amazing view of Guatape. You can see the unique landscape, body of water, jet skis gliding across the water, yachts docked on the shores, simply a breathtaking view of Guatape.
It’s a tiring hike going up but good enough there was a store in the middle of the Peñol you can visit before continuing climbing the stairs to the top. They sell different souvenir items like ponchos, mugs, shirts–the whole nine yards.
There is also a Virgin Mary statue with a resting place a few steps near the store so people climbing are usually resting there, admiring the view or simply paying respects to the statue.
On the way down is so much easier compared to the way up but hold your breaths because the adventure in this beautiful place doesn’t end there. You can take a cool ride to the restaurant area of Guatape by riding one of their antique cars for a small fee. If you prefer taking a more local ride, take the colorful tricycle or like a smaller version of the Philippine’s jeepney.
There are a lot of al fresco restaurants where one can eat good food such as the famous local dish called Bandeja Paisa which is a delicious plate full of Chicharon (fried meat or known as Liempo in Philippines), Arepa, fried banana, frijoles (beans similar to pork and beans), ensalada (salad) with rice and drink cerveza or tinto (brewed local coffee) while chilling on a lazy day in Guatape.
They also have fresh juices or shakes to refresh yourself after a hot day climbing the steps of the Peñol.After a sumptuous meal, take a walk around the small town and see the historical churches, colorful houses and simply take in the local culture with kids biking and playing on the streets.There are also food carts scattered around where one can buy strawberries dipped in chocolate, Chuso and other local food.
Apart from climbing the Penol and food tripping, Guatape also has a lot of water sports and fun activities such as jet skis, boating and zip lines on top of the water. There are also boat bars where you can drink all the cervezas you like to cap the sunny day outside the city.
Certainly it is one of the beautiful provinces I’ve been to and the charming town of Guatape is worth a visit. If I can travel back in time and extend my stay here, I definitely would go back there to spend a relaxing weekend away from the hustles and bustles of the city!
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