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Guatapé is a small, very pretty lakeside town in Eastern Antioquia, about 1.5 hours from Medellín, Colombia.


The picturesque town of Guatapé is known as the Pueblo de Zócalos, named for the beautifully sculpted and painted depictions of village life that adorn the lower half of most buildings in the town center. On weekends, the waterfront malecón (boardwalk) fills up with local vendors selling beautiful Paisa art, food, and souvenirs, and the adventurous can take a ride on the Cable Vuelo, a canopy zipline over the lake. Popular boat tours visit the former site of Viejo Peñol, a town which was submerged by the creation of the reservoir, which is now marked by a giant memorial cross. Boat trips can also include a trip to see La Manuela, Pablo Escobar´s now bombed-out lakeside mansion, and ¨Fantasy Island¨, a pretty refuge in the middle of the reservoir, which has a swimming area, cabañas for rent, beautiful views of La Piedra, a tienda selling snacks and beer, and a pair of friendly resident scarlet macaws.

Get in[edit]

To/From Medellín: Direct buses from Medellín leave from the Terminal del Norte (directly connected to the Caribe Metro Station), passing through El Peñol and the entrance to La Piedra on the way to Guatapé (about two hours). Two companies provide service: Sotrasanvicente, (4) 861-0595, and Sotrapeñol, (4) 851-5912. The buses leave approximately every 20 to 30 minutes starting at 6am (13 000 to 14 000 COP, July 2018). Many buses continue to San Rafael. The last bus from Medellín to Guatapé is at 7:00pm. The last bus from Guatapé to Medellín is at 6:30pm (7:45pm on Sundays and Holiday Mondays). Return buses to Medellín fill up quickly on weekends – buy your ticket in advance (at least 2 hours in advance).

Get around[edit]

The city center is less than 2mi from the La Piedra rock. Moto-taxis (314-731-2184) provide service from the Parque Principal in Guatapé to La Piedra and around the local area (they ask for 10 000 COP but would happily accept 6 000 COP per ride, July 2018). Buses and Willys (Jeeps) also provide service between Guatapé and El Peñol (3000 COP), passing by the entrance to La Piedra (2000 COP, July 2018). Men generally hang off the back, which allows for excellent views. To get to La Piedra, ask to be dropped off at the Zeuss gas station, from there it is a 1km walk uphill. Chivas provide service to the remote countryside.

See[edit][add listing]

The majestic surroundings of the Embalse El Peñol – Guatapé, one of the country's largest lakes, were created in part by the construction of a hydroelectric dam that provides 30% of Colombia’s electricity supply. It's hard to miss the region's most famous attraction, a 200+ meter high rock outcropping that towers over the surrounding area. It's officially named El Peñon de Guatapé, but more commonly referred to simply as La Piedra (The Stone). Over 600 stairs have been built into the side of this enormous geological marvel, allowing safe access to the top ($18,000 COP in May 2017), where a viewpoint offers spectacular views of the lake and surrounding areas, as well as souvenirs and snacks.

Do[edit][add listing]

The following activities and tours can be arranged in and around Guatapé and El Peñol, with English-speaking guides upon request: Motorcycle Tours and Rentals, Hiking, Scenic boat tours, Paddle Boat rentals, Kayaking, Fishing, Trips to hidden waterfalls and swimming holes, Arts and Crafts shopping, Canopy Zipline, Mountain and Road Biking, Horseback Riding, Rock Climbing, and free tours of the local museums.

There is also a zip line that takes you across the lake, popular w the locals, $12,000 COP and entrance is at the bottom of the line on the lakefront street.

  • Colombia Getaway, Calle 32 #25-45 (Near the end of the malecon on the right hand side 100meters before the brigde to San Rafael), +57 (312)7892735, [1]. 9 - 18.00. Located near the end of the Malecon on the right hand side, Colombia Getaway offers guided tours to Pablo Escobars mansion, secret waterfalls and much more. Rentals of motorcycles, scooters, bikes and kayaks all available here.  edit
  • Guatape Motos, Calle 32 #22-09 (At the very end of the malecon), +57 313 7889332, [2]. 9 - 18:00. Located at the very end of the Malecon, Guatape Motos offers rentals of motorcycles and scooters as well as day tours and multiple day tours.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

On weekends, local merchants line the waterfront malecón selling a wide variety of arts and crafts and souvenirs.

Eat[edit][add listing]

A trip to Guatapé wouldn´t be complete without sampling the local specialty, fresh trout served in your choice of many delicious preparations. There are many good restaurants along the malecón and around the central park offering everything from traditional bandeja antioqueña to pizza and Mexican food. On weekends, local vendors also sell a variety of tasty snacks along the malecón.

  • Hecho Con Amor Deli, Cra 27 A No. 30-71 (Opposite the children's playground, beside the synthetic football pitch.), 3218347979. 12.00-7.30pm. Pavement cafe style restaurant serving excellent home-made mostly vegetarian food including vegeburgers (made from lentils, beans or garbanzos), wraps, soups, salads, quiches and fantastic desserts and cakes such as cheesecake, brownies, muffins, etc plus addictive chocolate truffles, super refreshing lemonades, beer, wine, etc. Free wifi available and English book exchange too. $ very reasonable.  edit
  • Thai Terrace, Cra 22 #29B-29 Guatape (On the 3rd floor of the Lakeview Hostel), (4) 861-0023, [3]. 18.00-22.30pm. Authentic gourmet Thai food available at very reasonable prices. Great variety with Thai Red Curry, Pad Thai and Chicken Satay available and many many more. $ very reasonable.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

Bars, clubs and discoteques are located in "la calle del comercio" very close to the square, there is a place called coco loco, it's not expensive and nice and the owner speaks good english.

  • Bar Baroja, Plazoleta de Zocalos. A great bar with cheap drinks, salsa classes every wednesday and live music every sunday and board games and language exchange every day  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

There are a wide variety of good hotel accommodations fit for every budget. Most are located around the central park or along the malecón.

  • Tomate Café Hostel, Main Square (Located just in front of the church at the main square and one block up from the bus terminal and the lake, very good for living the Pueblo life and the local culture, close to everything.), (4) 861-1100, [4]. It is runned by a Colombian family, offers shared dorm and private rooms, free coffee, kitchen, restaurant, laundry, traveling support, bike rental, rock climbing, boat rides, horseback riding, hiking and more. 25000 (july 2016).  edit
  • Hostel El Encuentro, Vereda Quebrada Arriba (Located just a few minutes walking from town on the road to the Monastery and Quebrada Arriba. From the Parque Central/bus office walk one block to the lake, turn right and follow the malecón (waterfront promenade). Make a right turn just before the bridge at the end of the malecón. Follow this road until it ends at a T intersection. Turn left and follow this road out of town and look for our welcome signs on the right. Or take a mototaxi from the Parque Central (about 3000 pesos). We are located next to Deotroslados Art Gallery.), (4) 861-1374, [5]. Offers private lake access, kayak rental, and mountain bike rental. 22000.  edit
  • Lakeviewhostel, Cra 22 No. 29 B 29 (10 minute walk from the bus station, continue along Malecon (the boardwalk) until the big bridge, turn right on the last street and the hostel is ~300 meters on the right side), 57/4 86 100 23. checkin: 14.00; checkout: 12.00. Located on a quiet side street facing the lake, sunny and modern hostel with usual amenities (kitchen, tv with DVD's, fast wifi, common area, free tea & coffee). Offers mountain bike rental from $25.000/day, kayak from $20.000/day. Many day hikes to hidden waterfalls and easy access to El Peñon. $23.000 / dorm, $60.000 privat  edit
  • Guatatur Hotel/Hostel, Main Square (Located in the far left corner of the square facing the church. One block from bus terminal and next to the lakefront.), [6]. One of the nicer places in town, modern, fast wifi, very clean, beautiful views from rooftop deck. Even has a sauna which wasn't on when there. 45,000 cop for dorms, dorm room sizes vary 2-6 beds so 2 people can sometimes get a private room.  edit

Learn Spanish[edit]

  • Eco Hostel Medellin [7] - This is a Spanish Language/Immersion school located near Guatape Plaza in San Carlos (Colombia). Eco Hostel is an interactive & live Hostel – an educational Spanish School-Yoga-Meditation- Permaculture and Nutrition center, a showcase of best practices for sustainable living, alternative energies, and a place where you can relax, reconnect with yourself & with nature.
  • Spanish Adventure [8] - This is a Spanish Language/Immersion school located near Guatape. The school is run by two Colombian locals, who teach daily classes and take students and stayers on daily adventures to see the beautiful scenery around the area.


Get out[edit]

Buses leave frequently from Guatape from 4AM - 5PM and will travel to the following destinations: Rionegro (MDE Airport), Medellín, San Carlos (Colombia)

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