A Portrait of Guatapé — An Andean Resort Town
While staying in our favorite city in Colombia, we made a trip to Guatapé because... well, because everybody says it's really nice. The thing is, if everybody says it's really nice, it means lots of people go there. Sometimes, that's a real deal breaker because we like towns and places where people are surprised that we visit their home, because no one ever does…
Charming Guatapé, a must-visit
Anyway, Guatapé is an Andean resort town, east of Medellín. It’s known for its colorful houses decorated with zocalos (You'll have to google that). It's located near the vast Peñol-Guatapé Reservoir, a busy water-sports center. There's also the Piedra del Peñol, a giant granite rock southwest of town. It has hundreds of steps to the top and it's the main reason why locals and tourists visit Guatapé. I can already tell you, we didn't climb up the stairs of the Piedra del Peñol.
From Medellin, it's easy to go to Guatapé. We took the bus and a few hours later we arrived at our guesthouse at the edge of time. Even though, it was weekend–and locals love to make the day trip–it didn't feel overcrowded. It was just a lively town in the mountains. Great!
Let's go to the Piedra del Peñol...?
If you visit Guatapé, you have to visit this big rock. There's no other way. People around town will asked us if We've already been and also when we arrived back in Medellin, everybody asked us if we went up the stairs of El Peñol. Well, we didn't. We felt it was too expensive and because our budget is rather tight, we went in the opposite direction.
Accidentally finding the best hike in Guatapé
After doing some research on hiking in Guatapé, we found an article describing a cool hike with a rewarding view overlooking the town, the valley and the Piedra del Peñol. OK, so, we didn't exactly find the hike. Let's say, we found part of it. What we did find was an even better hike in Guatapé! We crossed the bridge east of Guatapé and then took a right when we saw a virgin Mary statue. That was already a few minutes after crossing the bridge. That's where we made the “mistake”. We should've walked 20 minutes further until reaching a second and larger virgin Mary statue...
Anyway, the route we took, took us over a road passing a small army base on the left. Just keep going until the road forks. Take the left road going steep up. Now just keep going. The road will turn into a dirt road and eventually into a rocky trail that feels like a canyon with steep walls on either side.
That trail will take you to some cool viewpoints and close to London and Winnipeg Falls (Check Maps.me). The trail is not described in the app or no Google Maps but once you're on it, you can't make a mistake. Just one way... Eventually, you'll reach a dirt road close to London and Winnipeg falls. There are some more trail up there but we just took the road down back to Guatapé.
The real reason to go to Guatapé
Yep, it was nice to find that hike accidentally but the real reason to visit Guatapé is the town and its people. Just walking around in Guatapé is a great experience, especially if you're a photographer. Interesting characters with cowboy hats playing billiards in one of the bars.
For me, that's enough reason to go to Guatapé. I would suggest to go during the week though, when there aren't too many tourists. It's a great place for portrait and street photography and you should at least spend two or three nights to really soak up the atmosphere.
More small Colombian town photography coming soon! In the meantime, if you like my photography, it would give me great pleasure to see you share it with your friends or any photo enthusiasts that you know. You can use the share buttons below...