Guatape is a village east of Medellin in Colombia. It is a very popular place to go among tourists and locals because of its beauty and unique, colourful houses.
Unfortunately, my day trip to Guatape was a slight disaster. I had a week off work for Semana Santa (Easter) so decided to travel around the coffee region with friends then they came to Medellin, where I was currently living, for a few days. Obviously Guatape was the place to go and we decided to do it as a day trip.
First, we ended up leaving around 11am (a lot later than planned) because my friends had complications with bedbugs and hostels. It’s best to leave as early as possible to make the most of your time there.
We purchased our tickets at the bus terminal and took the next available bus. Normally it takes around 2 hours to get to Guatape but due to it being holidays, everyone wanted to go so it took us 4 hours to get to the rock, Piedra del Penol, with all the traffic.
By this time, we were starving so we went into a restaurant just before the rock. There was only 2 here with pretty much the same food (Colombian) and price. The food was delicious but the service was extremely slow so it took forever to get served, get our food and pay.
Anyway, it was getting late and we were here to do and see something.
We walked to the entrance of the rock, where the price had increased as it was public holidays. Initially, there weren’t too many people around but as we started climbing more and more people appeared, meaning that it was slow climbing up the 740 steps.
Steps to the top. On the stairs, it tell you how many steps you’ve walked up, making you feel proud of yourself plus encouraging yourself to keep going.
At the top, there are another set of spiral stairs through souvenir shops to an extra balcony, which overlooked the magnificent view. The rock was basically in the middle of a blue lake with patches of green islands so it just looked so picturesque. You can also see boats gliding along the water, hot air balloon rides and the town in the distance. On a bright, sunny day, it must look gorgeous. It was kind of cloudy the day we went.
We were not at the top too long before deciding to hike down if we wanted to do the town as well. However, it took us way too long due to the masses of people moving at an extremely slow pace. By the time, we arrived at the bottom, it was around 6 in the evening.
There were loads of people hanging around to get transport back to Medellin. Before climbing the rock, we bumped into friends, who were queuing to buy a ticket for a bus back to Medellin. They were still there when we returned. They had been told the waiting time was 3 hours. What? Insane!
Even to get into the town wasn’t easy so at this point we decided just to get the bus back. We queued up in the long line to buy a ticket. Then waited for a bus or chiva to take us but I could see the traffic was still bad getting in to Guatape.
While waiting a few eventful things happened: we watched the beautiful sunset, the hot balloon string broke with a guy getting stuck in a tree and one of my friends fell into a muddy ditch.
Eventually, a chiva (an open, wide, party bus with benches) came at around 8. We did have numbers but everyone just ran so we climbed aboard and our tickets didn’t get checked. It took around 2 and a half hours to drive back whilst feeling freezing and in the dark as there were no windows.
I have to say it was one eventful trip to Guatape where we didn’t actually do that much. However, I definitely learnt a lesson: leave early and don’t go on a public holiday.
I’ve been planning to go back but it hasn’t quite happened yet. At the moment, I’m not in Colombia but when I go back, I will go again to see the town on a sunny day.
How to get there: You can take a bus from the North Terminal in Medellin. There are many companies going there at regular times.