I have been living in Medellin since 2006 (except the year I lived in Delhi) and call me crazy, but I went to see the Taj Mahal before getting to spend a weekend in Guatape, a small town just 1.5 hours away from Medellin (shame on me). Guatape is in fact, the perfect destination for a quick getaway. I never thought of spending a weekend in Guatape before for no particular reason, I just kept saying “yes, I should probably do that this month” and then I forgot, got busy with university, or decided to go somewhere else in Antioquia. If you plan to visit Medellin (or if you are thinking of moving here soon), keep in mind that you will probably visit this place at some point since is one of those top destinations if you are ever in the city of eternal spring. Ok, so I am officially almost ten years late to write this blog post, but here’s a photo diary of things to do and see during a weekend in Guatape.
First things first: How to get there? You can catch a bus from terminal del Norte and pay around COP 14.000 (less than 5 USD) for the ride or you can hire a tour from Medellin that includes transportation, food, etc. A taxi or private van will be expensive, so do this only if you are traveling with a large group. Now, about the photo above: I’m sure this is the view that will sell you the idea of spending a day or a weekend in Guatape. In fact, this viewpoint/place is in a different town called El Peñol, which is right before arriving in Guatape. La Piedra de El Peñol is this massive rock (monolith) with 740 stairs and from the top, you can enjoy these beautiful views of the reservoir (yes, it is a man-made lake). This place is only five to ten minutes by tuk-tuk to the actual town of Guatape, and the ride won’t be expensive (between COP5.000 and COP10.000) We stayed in a hostel nearby but sadly, it seems to be closed now. The entrance to El Peñol is COP15.000. The stairs are steep but very manageable. Just bring a hat and water.
Guatape is a very colorful and lovely small town. You won’t need more than a weekend in Guatape to get around it and do everything you want. However, if you live in Medellin, it is a great place to visit over and over, just to escape the routine. You can wander the streets and take photos of the beautiful colorful houses adorned with “zocalos” in their walls, try Indian food served at “Don De Sam“, enjoy traditional desserts like obleas or fresas con crema, and check the colorful tuk-tuks decorated like Chivas in the park.
Of course, the reservoir is one of the main attractions in Guatape, so you can get to do different water sports, enjoy a boat ride around the place, or try the zip-line. The town has many places filled with (very typical) souvenirs, so if you enjoy shopping, bring small cash and a reusable bag. The weather in Guatape is very similar to Medellin, but it can be a bit more chilly at night.