Guatape, Colombia

A series of islands on the river, Guatapé, Colombia  

A quick bus ride away from Medellin, Guatape has become a popular day trip for backpackers and vacationing Colombians. On the weekends it can get quite busy, but during the week it remains a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Made famous for it’s impressive monolith, El Peñol, climbing to the top and taking in the views is a must, but the town offers more than this one attraction. A quaint town with incredibly cheap and delicious eateries, lakeside entertainment, and relaxation at it’s best.  Lots of backpackers choose to cram this destination into a day trip. However, if time allows we would recommend you stay for at least a night or two as there is much more to this tiny town than can be gathered from a quick stop through.

IMG_1096Views of the incredible reservoir 

Places to stay

  • El Encuentro: A ten minute stroll from the center of town will get you to one of our favorite places in Guatape. Located high up on a hill is El Encuentro a hostel offering dorms, privates, free coffee all day, and some of the best views of Guatape’s reservoir and famous rock. With private swimming and boating access, kayaks and bikes to rent, and hammocks to relax in, staying here is an enchanting experience.

IMG_9304El Encuentro (banner photo is the views from the balcony)

  • Mi Casa Guatape: Located right at the base of El Peñol lies this family friendly hostel. Dorms and privates, a sunny patio overlooking the reservoir, and a social common space. Appropriately named mi casa this place truly does feel like home, with family style dinners served some nights and inviting common spaces, perfect for curling up with a good book.

Things to do

  • Climb El Peñol: No trip to Guatape would be complete without climbing up the 675 steps of El Peñol and taking in the 365 views of the reservoir that awaits. The walk only takes 30 minutes and is completely worth the potential sore muscles that you may have afterwards.

IMG_1093675 steps to the top but the views are incredible! 

  • Rock Climbing: If you’re looking for something more adventurous than stairs you can also choose to rock climb up the side of El Peñol. Stunning views plus routes for all experience levels and abilities. One climb even includes a stop at a hanging hammock that has been drilled into an overhang on the rock.
  •  Waterfall trek: There are plenty of wonderful hiking opportunities all around the area of Guatape.  You can head off on your own or organize a tour through any of the towns hostels. One popular hike takes travelers to a waterfall with a perfect swimming hole to cool off in.
  • Rent a boat: Boating out on Guatape’s spectacular reservoir is a wonderful way to spend the day. Emerald green waters snake through red clay lands creating complete serenity. Boat away from the malecon and you are sure to spot an array of wildlife.

IMG_9286The town center is a beautiful place to snap some pictures of Paisa architecture

Getting there

Unless you have your own transportation the way to Guatape is by bus. To get to the bus station take the metro to the Caribe stop, from here you can easily buy a bus ticket to Guatape, the trip takes about 2 ½ hours.

Where Next

  • Medellin: A short bus ride away, if you want to turn the volume up a couple notches head back into Colombia’s dynamic city.
  • Santa Fe de Antioquia: This charming town is a great example of countryside Paisa life, only 3 hours from Guatape.
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