Having been to different regions of Colombia, I don’t hesitate to say that Guatapé was one of my favorite places to visit. After visiting Bogota, Medellin and various cozy towns at the Carribbean coast, I was ready to have a peaceful break from the crowd and just take it easy for a few days.. Guatapé turned out to the best place to relax for a few days, breath in the nature.. and to see one of Pablo Escobar’s blown up lake house mansion!
How to get to Guatapé?
Worried about how to find your way to Guatapé? Don’t! Getting into Guatapé is more convenient than you think! You can easily take the direct bus from Medellin to Guatepé (at Terminal de Norte) choose from various bus companies, and reach the gorgeous destination in less than 2 hours. Once you get on the bus, you are usually asked about your drop off location. You can either get off at the town center or at El Peñón de Guatapé (described below) and head to the town right after an unforgettable experience. From El Peñón de Guatapé you can easily catch a colorful tuk-tuk to the town center or to your accommodation.
Once you are in Guatapé, you can select from wide range of activities to start your trip.
El Peñón de Guatapé
But first, let’s start with El Peñón de Guatapé or La Piedra ( the Rock of Guatapé)… El Penon de Guatapé is a 10 million ton rock that is more than 650 feet/ 200meters above the ground. In order to get up to the summit for the panoramic view of Guatapé, you have to climb numerous number of stairs, 659 to be exact. However, you will not regret climbing those 659 steps once you reach the view point tower. From the summit, you will get an idea of the landscape of Guatapé and admire the mesmerizing view of the surrounding lakes, green islands, and the town of Guatapé. Whichever direction you choose to look, you will be astonished. At the summit, you can reward yourself for all your hard work with a beer while enjoying the view. Or, if the weather is nice, why not also have some ice cream or take a nap? 🙂
Pablo Escobar’s Island
People who know about Pablo Escobar, are a fan of Narcos, who are fascinated by Colombia, and for those who enjoy playing paintball this one is for you:
Take a trip to Pablo Escobar’s island, his lake house/mansion! You can get there by boat, and this is a great way to explore the lake and see the other small surrounding islands.
Pablo Escobar’s blown up holiday mansion is now being used as a paintball arena! Apart from being a paintball arena, it is also a touristic site. Although the mansion is bombed-out, you could still see how pretty much all of the walls, ceilings, floors, and everywhere in between have holes and hollow storage places beneath the surfaces that were used to hide and store cocaine, cash etc. His mansion, in its prime days, included guest estates, soccer field, tennis courts, an escape tunnel, helicopter landing area, his own night club and more overlooking the lake ” El Peñol” .. Anyway, playing paintball in the mansion as you can imagine is an exciting and a fun experience, which you may not want to miss on. Before you head back to the town center, you can stop by the cafe on the island for some refreshments after sweating it out playing paintball.
The nature, streets, and locals of Guatapé
The green nature and the scenic routes of Guatapé hopefully will inspire you to take a few hours to lose yourself in the nature, go on a hike and find the hidden waterfalls. Guatapé offers a wide range of outdoor activities. Some activities you can enjoy here are horseback riding, zip lining right through the town center, exploring the town on scooter, or catching a boat ride around the lake!
Do not forget to walk around the colorful streets of Guatapé and to pay attention to the various placards while doing it so! The doorways, stairs, windows, balconies are all painted in different bright colors and have illustrations of people, shapes and animals. Walking around this vibrant town is likely to put a smile on your face.
Another thing recommend is chatting with the locals! The locals have as colorful personalities as the town. They were very open, welcoming, and friendly, even if you don’t know any Spanish. One night we went to a bar, a local spot per se, where locals gather to drink, chat and play pool. We met some locals who were interested in our countries and even if some people didn’t speak Spanish in our group, we were very welcomed and were offered drinks. Also surprisingly friendly were the stray dogs!
Where to stay?
If you are a fan of hostels, meeting new people across the world, I will suggest two different hostels that I stayed at. The first hostel I stayed at was called Rock A Town.. The owner was a very kind and hospitable gentlemen. The hostel had a backyard where you could sit on grass and enjoy an afternoon with your new hostel friends. The second hostel was called the Lake View hostel. This hostel not only had a nice terrace with a beautiful view of the mountains and the lake but also had a bar, delicious thai food, and a tv room where you could watch different kinds of movies. It was a great place to spend a stormy night (watching a movie) and a beautiful sunny afternoon!
You must visit this town!
Although most people spend a day in Guatapé, I actually ended up spending 3 days before heading to back to Medellin and then to Salento, the coffee region of Colombia. I enjoyed every second of being in this colorful town with gorgeous landscape. If you make it to the vibrant town of Guatapé, I hope you enjoy every second of it as much as I did!