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Side Trip to Guatape

Trust the people of Medellin to make a super weekend retreat around the base of an artificial lake and a huge anomalous boulder. Guatape is fantastic. Climbing out of the stifling Aburra Valley the air clears and a slight chill sets in and this is a welcome relief from the bustle and closeness of Medellin. With the bare corrugated iron rooftops and the stark bricks of the city’s outer-lying communas disappearing beneath the lip of the hill the winding roads past Rionegro give way to Marinilla and on to the town of Guatape and its views over the impressive Embalse de Guatapé as the lake is known.


The El Peñol boulder looms large in every photo you take, why, because it’s there and it’s so peculiar. Despite the cable car that can take you there to the top there is a staircase as well and the letters “GI” were inexplicably painted onto the rock’s side by the residents of the area in an attempt to brand it as their own. One half hopes that this paint will wear off soon, returning the rock to its natural state, but my evil half hopes that the stain stays to ward off any would be graffiti aficionados from desecrating the rock further.

Would you carve or paint your name into a religiously important naturally formed feature such as Uluru in Australia? No, and neither would the city authorities permit it.

Paint aside; be sure to procure a room overlooking the lake wherever you decide to stay and waking up to this view is nothing short of wondrous. On a clear day the Piedra is looks as if a cardboard cutout against the skyline and the ripple-less waters of the lake seem impossible to spoil.

Come and hike, kayak or take a cruise. Amble through Guatape and take in and photograph the curious Zocalos on the houses here. Eat a Bandeja Paisa and receive the full hospitality of the Antioquia region.

Come to Guatape, definitely worth the side trip from Medellin.


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Guest Wednesday, 28 January 2015


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