A visit to the village of Guatape was not part of our plans. But one recommendation and some googling later and here we were: soaking up the charm of this colorful village nested in a fantastic blue and emerald landscape.
Less than 2 hours away from brustling town Medellin, Guatape is a famous weekend getaway for paisas(locals) looking for some quiet time in the countryside. But for some reason, it still remains off the track of most tourists. 4 years ago, there were still no hostels there.
Trust me, add a stop in Guatape on your Colombian itinerary, you will not regret it!
La Pierda, for a view of sky and lakes
Coming from Medellin, the sight of La Pierda, a 200m monolith that overlooks the region, announces you have soon arrived. “The most beautiful view in the world” claims a sign at the bottom of the roc. It´s only after climbing the 740 stairs leading to its top that you will be able to judge and admire -let´s admit it- a fantastic 360 degrees panorama of hills and lakes.
And try to imagine the landscape as it was before being man shapped, when the all area was flooded in the 70s to create a huge artificial lake and dam that powers the region.
There is a 10,000COP fee to climb the roc. Catch any bus between Medellin – Guatape – San Rafael and ask the driver to drop you there.
Charming, vibrant and colorful village of zocalos
Yellow, turquoise, pink and purple houses, drawings on the facades, colonial balconies and narrow paved streets, Guatape seems coming straight out of a comic book. The village is famous for its zocalos, colorful bas reliefs painted on the houses. The zocalos became today a real art in Guatape and a way of expressing your occupation or interests (bakery, playing pool, boat owner…).
Bonus during our visit: the village was getting ready for the festivities of Mary the Virgin with dozens of white and brown flags in the streets, ribbons on trucks, cars and tuk-tuk, and repetitions for parade of the statue of the Virgin!
A vast choice of activities for outdoor addicts
Guatape is also a good place if you are looking for some active holidays. The area is also full of scenic road, and walking paths, and it´s easy to arrange to go a boat tour, kayaking, horse riding, fishing… We didn´t stay long enough to try them all but we did a great hike into the forest, leading to 2 pristine waterfalls (more on this hike in a future post).
Little Big Explorations recommendations for Guatape
Where to stay
Due to its proximity with Medellin, it´s possible to visit Guatape over the day but it´s an easy bet saying than coming there, you wish you would stay more in this charming town. If you plan to visit Guatape on a weekend, book your accomodation ahead, and expect higher prices. During week days, it´s quite relaxed there.
Opened 4 years ago, Lake view hostel was the first hostel of Guatape. A couple of months ago, it moved on the other side of the lake in a new building. Big room, clean common area as well as sympatic volunteers will make you feel home instantly. (Double room with shared bathroom 40,000-50,000COP).
Where to dine
Most of the restaurants along the Malecon (by the lake) offers similar food and service, so just pick one. For a budget option, just ask for the menu del dia which will cost you around 8,000COP, like everywhere in Colombia.
If you are tired of colombian dishes, opt for the excellent indian place, located at the end of the Malecon, next to the police station: Don de Sam prepares a delicious chicken tikka masala (25,000 COP)
How to get there
Buses leave every hour from the North Terminal of Medellin. It takes 1h30-2h to get there and costs 12,000COP.