The Sunshine, fresh air, quietness with the occasional sound of a boat pulling water skier and steady year-round temperature of 23C. Sounds too good? Welcome to Guatape in Colombia!
Our first stop in Colombia was a little town in the countryside, Guatape. And we couldn’t make a better choice. We found everything we’ve been looking for:
- A quite place to relax
- Options for outdoor activities
- Perfect/mild temperature (after the heat of Venezuela)
Guatape is usually considered a great day trip from Medellin. But, we spent in Guatape several days and still couldn’t get enough of the lake view.
It has one of the largest lakes in Colombia which is manmade and provides 5% of electricity for the whole country.
What to do in Guatape
Climb El Peñol (The Rock) for a great view
The most famous attraction of the area is famous for a good reason. The huge, more than 200m rock rising above Guatape offers a stunning view of the area. It only takes 740 steep steps and fee of 18,000 pesos (6 USD) for entrance.
Some companies offer a guided tour. I would not recommend taking one as it is very easy to do it on your own. A short ride by Willy (shared jeeps) for 2,000 pesos or walk from Guatape on the main road and you will see the sign of the entrance. The shortest walk was from our hostel, only 10 minutes to the gas station and 1 km uphill. The rock is very visible and above anything else so you cannot get lost.
Walk the Guatape centre decorated with zocalos
Guatape is the most colourful city we’ve seen in Colombia. Yes, even prettier than Cartagena. Houses are dressed in many colours and decorated with murals. Anything from animals, to famous Willys (as you see in the picture) to the representation of the family business.
Walking the narrow streets of Guatape while snacking on a fresh salad or other homemade snacks was our favourite thing to do.
Kayaking on the lake
Our hostel had a 2 person kayak which you can take for a paddle and then jump right into the lake for a swim. The water isn’t too cold or too warm, just enough to refresh on a hot day.
Biking or hiking in the area (13km)
Several bike shops in town rent bikes for a few hours or full day and will provide you with a map of the best places to see around town.
Play paintball at one the properties of Pablo Escobar, rent jet skis or water skis, bungee jumping, paragliding or climb the rock
How to get to Guatape
From the Medellin airport – take a bus to Rio Negro and from there a bus or colectivo (shared vans) to Guatape 11,000 (3,75 USD), journey takes 1 hour
From Medellin – buses go from Terminal del Norte, which is connected to Caribe Metro Station and cost around 12,000 pesos (4 USD), journey takes 2 hours
Where to stay in Guatape
We stayed outside of town at a lakeside hostel Galeria Guatape. It has a few dorm rooms and feels like living in an actual family house with a very well equipped kitchen, rather than a hostel.
From your bed, terrace with hammock or outside dining area, you can always enjoy the perfect view of the lake and the rock. Just make sure to book a room with a view so you can enjoy the morning sunrise straight from your bed.
My favourite thing: having a pier for my morning yoga sessions
Tips for visiting Guatape
- Try to visit outside of weekend – town is flooded with tourists and a leisure walk among the colourful houses can turn into mass stroll
- Restaurants along the lakeside boardwalk are the pricier options. Local ladies selling out of their houses have great and affordable food
- Stay at least one night in Guatape area and if you do, book a lake view accommodation. Your morning will be much better right from the start!
- When traveling around town, take a Willy (shared jeep you’ll see plenty of) and stand at the back hanging outside of the jeep. That’s how locals do it and it’s much more fun than squeezing inside (especially for tall people like us)
In the spirit of full disclosure: We were guests of Galeria Guatape hostel for a part of our stay. They didn’t request to write a positive review of their property, we just enjoyed our stay that much. As always, all opinions are our own.
Have you visited Guatape? If not, I hope you will get a chance.
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