Guatapé – El Peñón, 740 steps (a blooming big rock!) Colombia

You drive from Medellín to Guatapé, along winding roads.  2 hours stuck behind diesel spewing trucks, that make you realise how infrastructure holds back development.

At last the giant rock, el Penol de Guatapé.

Then finally, rising over the brow of a hill, after passing many a narcos former hide-out, you see the giant rock, el Peñol de Guatapé.

It looms above the water filled creeks and islets that surround it.

Guatapé rock Medellin Colombia
El Peñol de Guatapé, near Medellín.

It isn’t as imposing as one might first think given the hype.

Beautiful photo of Guatapé in Antioquia Colombia.
Mystical Guatapé rising above the lakes.

But once up close and personal, staring up the sheer rock face, el Penol de Guatapé quickly gives a sense how horrendous the climb is going to be.

Be warned El Peñon de Guatapé is truly vertiginous!

It is no joke, no laughing matter, Guatapé humbles you like few other challenges life can throw at you.

You start the climb and half way grannies and the morbidly obese overtake, as you gasp for air.

Be warned it is truly vertiginous!

If you are out of shape, claustrophobic, or scared of heights don’t do this to yourself!

Instead catch a helicopter ride from Medellín to survey el Penoñ de Guatapé from the comfort of the cockpit.

Or maybe just visit the enchanting village of Guatapé, a short drive from the rock.

….more than 729 steps.

After climbing more than 729 steps, you reach the summit and are rewarded by views of a tropical Switzerland.

Imagine the Swiss Alps and lakes set in a tropical climate?  This will give you an idea how lush and gorgeous the views are for miles.

I tried my first “mango biché” (green salted, crunchy mango, lime juice drenched, v.refreshing), here atop the rock, washed down by a cold beer.

7,000 tourists, per day throng Guatapé on a weekend.

How the stairs take the load, and how the shop owners haul up beers and snacks is anyone’s guess?

Guatapé tends to be packed with tourists.

Getting down from el Peñon de Guatapé takes longer than the climb.

Be prepared to form an orderly queue for 45 minutes before reaching the top step, to start your descent.

Getting down took well over an hour, so best have that in mind.

Don’t miss out on the village of Guatapé.

The neighbouring Village of Guatapé is almost as pleasing as the view from the top of the Peñon.

Guatapé Colombia Medellín
Enchanting Antioquian village.

Charming traditional Paisa houses and architecture set around a delightful square.

Packed with little bars and restaurants offering tasty snacks and meals.

Well worth the trip – before heading back on winding roads, in heavy traffic, for 2 hours back to Medellin.

(When in the village don’t be afraid to shop around for the best restaurant prices).

One thing for sure in the ensuing weeks is that your mind will be cast back to the breathtaking views.

Guatapé will leave you with a memory to cherish for a lifetime.

like something from Jurassic park, a mythical place

Who knows, as the lactic acid subsides and stiff legs recover, painful memories of the climb fade and you start to think of returning with friends and family.

This sacred indigenous rock, has primeval magic to lure one back.

It is like something from Jurassic park.

A mythical place, where nesting pterodactyls, guarding their eggs would not be out of place atop this pillar of stone.

The area is ripe for development and very popular with local and foreign tourists.

There are some 60,000 visitors to this natural phenomenon each month.

Disconnect, kick back and enjoy.

Hotels, lodges and hostel are springing up, so it’s well worth checking availability, as the water filled creeks make for great pleasure boating.

The scenery is a panacea to the stress of modern life so make sure to disconnect, unplug, kick back and enjoy.

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