Taking A Break At The Lake In Guatape
The Colorful Town Of Guatape
The Town Of Guatape
The small town of Guatape lies in the eastern region of the department of Antioquia in Colombia. It’s about an hour and a half outside of Medellin; the best city in Colombia. It’s named after a cacique (a leader of an indigenous group) who ruled the area back in the day. Guatape also derives its name from the Quechua language and relates to stones and water; very fitting if you ask me.
The town used to rely heavily on agriculture and livestock, but since the flooding of the valleys to make way for a hydroelectric dam in the 1970’s; it is now a tourist hotspot. On any given day you will find more than a few gringos and locals downtown; especially in the Plazoleta de los Zócalos.
Plazoleta De Los Zócalos
Finding Your Own Part Of The Lake
La Piedra Del Peñol
La Piedra Del Peñol
Standing just North of 7,000 feet above sea level; La Piedra del Peñol or The Rock of Peñol is a giant monolith overshadowing the lake. Once worshiped by the Tahamies Indians; the original inhabitants of the area; the rock stands as a border between the rival towns of El Peñol and Guatape.
You can even climb this giant monolith of Quartz, Feldspar, and Mica. Catching a taxi or Colectivo for a few minutes ride to the entrance is easy enough, but what I would recommend is walking around the backside for some added adventure.
Let The Adventure Begin
After about twenty minutes of walking the small path behind the local lake homes and through the overgrown bush; you will arrive at an intersection where you will take a sharp left going up the hill.
Travel Tip: If you want to get off the beaten path more often; I would recommend downloading some offline map apps. They’ll give you the confidence to just start walking in any direction you please.
The road leading to the entrance runs right up against the rock face, and for the first time, you will realize just how massive this rock truly is.
This Rock Is Massive
The Stairway To Heaven
Time To Climb
That’s right! All of those beautiful areal photos you’ve seen of the lake on the internet are possible only because of the weary travelers who have climbed the 659 steps to the top. But I’m sure if you’re reading this, you already know that.
It’s time to start climbing.
Depending on your mental and physical condition, it really isn’t that hard. So long as you remember to take a break every few hundred steps or so.
The View From Step 659
The views from step 659 are pretty amazing, especially around half past three when the sun is starting to dip in the sky. There are also a few restaurants and stores selling snacks which you might be wanting right about that time. A tall building that looks like an airport control tower will loom overhead, and this is where the fun part kicks in.
Your fun uphill struggle isn’t over quite yet. You still have 81 more steps to climb to reach the total of 740 steps and the highest viewpoint of La Piedra del Peñol.
The View From Step 740
I would say that the extra 81 steps are worth it. The 360-degree view from the top is stunning, as well as the warm winds that will kindly dry out your shirt you sweat through on the way up.
The alternate staircase leading you back down the rock is like walking on the Penrose steps. Just as you think you’re heading the right way, the stairs lead you back up or even straight into the rock face. It was actually pretty amusing.
The Penrose Steps
View From The Parking Lot
I Claim This Rock In The Name Of…
Now I’m sure you are wondering what in the world the number sixty-one has to do with anything. Well, it’s actually a ‘G’ and the beginning of the letter ‘U’.
Apparently, the rivalry between Peñol and Guatape over who owned the rock hit a boiling point at which the locals of Guatape decided they were going to carve their name into it. It was a good effort, but after some of the locals in Peñol found out about it; work ground to a halt. Hense the ‘GI’.
Sit Back And Relax
If by now you haven’t caught on to the central theme of this post, then here it is. RELAX. I know from experience that when you meet people that have been to your next destination before you, and they say to just do nothing and relax; you think there’s no way that is going to happen.
Well, here in Guatape that advice is 100% accurate. Just sit back, relax and enjoy your break at the lake.