Guatapé and Peñol Rock

Guatape is a typical and picturesque village, colourful, with an artificial lake named Guatape as well. It is 2hrs drive East of Medellin. It is today considered to be one of the most beautiful villages of Colombia. Every visit we make, we find it more beautiful, more colourful, more “finished”! Guatape’s speciality are the famous “Zocalos”, colourful ornaments covering the 1st metre of wall of the houses…a testimony of the history of the village, of the buildings, the people… In Colombia, they do not have gutters on their roofs, so they cover the 1st metre of walls to prevent water or humidity to get trough. The village, in its quest of bettering itself, adds new ones constantly. It all started in the 1920s, thanks to Jose Maria Parra, an artist from Guatape who started to paint the front of his own house for Semana Santa (Holly Week). Quickly the neighbours asked him to do the same with other houses in the neighbourhood. When they built the hydroelectric dam in the 1970s, the “zocalos” (who were then living in the part of the village that was to be flooded) all moved higher up in the village. Later, in the 2000s, the mayor asked to all the inhabitants to decorate their house in that way, even helping some of them financially to be able to do it. Not long ago, the only spot that was not decorated was the walk along the lakeside, but it has been renovated now to everybody’s delight. The main park has a very nice church, Nuestra Senora del Carmen; as well as many restaurants and bars (as in most typical villages of Antioquia). And you can go around the village by tuctuc if you want to know more. In Guatape, we can practice lots of water sports. As the water is by the village, you can hop on a boat that takes you on a tour to see all the celebrities’ houses (soccer players, singers…), old narcos’villas (Pablo Escobar built the Finca “La Manuela” for his daughter, it is now in ruins, but even that shows the extent of his financial power back then). It will then take you to the island of Fantasia where you can rent cute cabins for the night. The tour ends at the cross sticking out of the water, representing the location of the previous church of Penol, now completely submerged. We can also rent kayaks, jetskis, bikes, rosalies, horses… There are activities to everybody’s taste. A nice 3 hours return walk will take you in the forest close by to pretty waterfalls (very cool water); you can also walk up to the village’s viewpoint where you have a good sight over the lake and the famous rock of Penol, about 45min return from the park. Now let’s talk about that famous ‘rock of Penol’ or “Penon de Guatape” because it is situated exactly in between the 2 villages (before being submerged, they built a new Penol higher up). Coming from Medellin, it is a few kilometres before getting to Guatape. They have been arguing about its ownership for ages. It is a huge round rock, like a giant menhir 220m high, right there in the middle of the artificial lake. One of those geologic curiosities. It used to be a sacred place to the Tahamy Indians who lived in Antioquia when the Spanish colons arrived. You can get to the top and enjoy one of the best views in Colombia, surrounded by turquoise water and small islands. To get there though, you will have to go through the 700 stairs taking you to the top. If you like rock-climbing, you can now get to the top climbing your way up, not for beginners. If you don’t feel like walking up, and if you can afford it, you can go for a 10min helicopter flight over the rock and lake. Around you can also go canyoning and paragliding, but it is not the best spot where to do it in our point of view. You can also go fishing in the dam, it is said to be a good spot for nice fish.

Altitude 1950m

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