Guatapé is often referred to as the “most colorful town in Colombia”. With bright colors and adorable carvings, each building in the neighborhood has its own unique flavor. Together, they form a space rich in culture and positive in attitude. It’s true, I felt incredibly happy striding along the little streets that were painted in various shades and hues.
I’d say it’s a journey back to Disney. But honestly, it reminded me vividly of my Chinese kindergarten, where the buildings were shaped like little castles and the walls enhanced with charming decorations.
From Terminal del Norte Medellin, Guatapé was an easy bus ride down. The journey was approximately 2 hours with a price tag of 14,000 pesos. Of course, like many a ride in Colombia, the trip ended up taking 2 1/2 hours due to traffic and road conditions.
Since I decided to tackle La Piedra and the township in a day, I got up early (for once), and headed to the station around 10 am. The last bus from Guatapé to Medellin was at 6 pm, which gave me a good couple hours to climb the “Peñol Rock” and wander around the town center.
El Peñón de Guatapé is one of the highest free-standing rock formations in the world. As one of Colombia’s National Monuments, it also has a set of 650 steep steps that take tourists up the face of the rock. The summit has an elevation of 2,135 m and a viewing point alongside some seating area on the tip top.
The price of admission was 18,000 COP.
It took me about an hour to finish the climb. I mean, by the time I reached the ticket office, I was already huffing and puffing like no tomorrow. Nonetheless, the view on top was incredible. The rock overlooked the Embalse Del Penol, a manmade reservoir that was built in the 70s. Little islands and verdant spaces spread out across the waters, dotting the blue reservoir with areas of greenery.
After resting for some time, I decided to venture over to the township of Guatapé. There are buses and jeeps at the bottom of the rock to provide service between the two tourist zones for 3000 COP, but I thought it would be fun to go by foot.
No surprise, no one walked the roads.
Yet, these minimally-walked roads are generally some of my favorites. I passed by gorgeous viewpoints, swimming areas, and this decade-old bridge along the way without anyone in sight.
After an hour or so, I finally dragged my burnt self into the town. True to its reputation, Guatapé was incredibly colorful. A little plaza sits just inside the entryway of the town space. Like most squares in Colombia, it had pleasant greenery and faces a beautiful church.
People gathered on the benches and chit-chatted away.
Alongside Parroquia Nuestra Señora Del Carmen Guatapé, several restaurants busily hosted lazy afternoon lunches. Due to the far-reaching name of the town, backpackers and tourists flowed through the streets. Thank god I arrived on a Friday, as I hear weekend drew crowds like bees to honey 🙂
Altogether, Guatapé was a short and charming experience. I thought a day trip was plenty enough to enjoy these vibrant colors and delicious eats. Having visited several other gorgeous towns in Colombia, is Guatapé really the most colorful one though?
I really can’t say!
This trip was definitely within budget! A ride on the metro to the Terminal del Norte Medellin and back was 4,600 COP, the bus ride was 14,000 COP round trip, the entrance fee to the rock was 18,000 COP (Sept 2018), and a quick bite in Guatapé was about 7,000 COP. The total was a whopping 41,600, which was around US 14.5.