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Published: December 6th 2011
As we only had a week left in Colombia, we decided to try and squeeze in as much of this fantastic country as possible, and opted for a night in the small town of Guatape. It was only a couple of hours away by bus, and was recommended by various travellers we had spoken to. We made our way to the North Bus terminal in Medellin, bought our tickets and were away…no hassles. The bus journey despite being short, still had it’s usual amusing quirks, this time being the vendors. Basically, they boarded the bus throughout the journey at various points, produced their sales pitch, and were then dropped off a few miles down the road. I think we had around 6 vendors board the bus in total within the 2 hour journey, all of whom made you hold the product you didn’t want to buy to see if touching it made you subconsciously need it. There were chocolates, crisps, wafers and allsorts, but the best was kept for last. The final vendor to board the bus was a singer, who had made his own CD. Again, he made you hold the CD to tempt you into buying it, which we
thought was interesting considering you didn’t even know what was on it..?, however this was no problem, as the singer then produced a portable CD player, turned on track 1, and proceeded to sing along to the CD! You can’t beat a little live music on the bus! We didn’t buy a CD as we don’t own a CD player at the moment, but someone else did, so it seems this was a valid way of selling your CD’s after all!
On arrival at Guatape, we already had an idea of where we was going to stay the night, as the girl at reception of Casa Kiwi Hostel had recommended a place a little out of the main part of town, and therefore it was just the small matter of finding it. This would have been near impossible if it wasn’t for the friendly drivers of the bus, and a waiter of a nearby restaurant. Rather than telling us where to go, the waiter left the restaurant he was supposed to be working at, and walked with us to the Hostel. He did this without asking for anything in return, and just did this out of kindness. In order
to return the favour, we decided to eat dinner at his restaurant that evening, and leave him a decent tip.
Guatape itself is a great little town that is surrounded by an artificial lake that powers most of Colombia via the damn here. It was purposely flooded in the 1970’s for this reason, and along with the hills and mountains, is an amazingly scenic place. One of the main draws of coming to Guatape is El Penol which is essentially a huge rock in the middle of all this scenery, and is pretty impressive due to its sheer size. It can be seen from most places around town due to the size of the thing, plus the fact it’s on top of a huge hill. This made El Penol visible from our hostel too, which was a real plus point and the views from the main hostel building of the rock and the lakes, was awesome.
We decided after dumping the bags in the Hostel, a walk to El Penol was in order as it was only a mere 3km way, and then proceed to climb the 640 odd steps to the top….. why we did this is
anyone’s guess, but by the time we got there, predictably, we were pretty shattered, and sweating buckets! Not the best plan we ever had, although the walk was fun, and the surroundings made it worth it.
Once at the entrance, we spotted a couple of the guys from the hostel back in Medellin that we had shared a meal and beer with the previous night, and tagged along with them in order to climb to the top. So, after 640 odd steps, some seriously heavy breathing, and a lot more sweating, we made it to the peak. The effort was definitely worth it in the end though, as the views from the top were breath-taking.
After the descent, we jumped in with the guys from the hostel, and drove back to the town. Here, we went into the main plaza and automatically all pulled out our cameras at once! The buildings here are all so striking with their brightly coloured walls and beautifully painted 3D mural’s (Stuccos) at the bottom of each house/shop. We all decided there and then, that this place was awesome. So, after a walk round the town taking way too many photos, we parted
company with the guys, who begrudgingly had to make their way back to Medellin. After saying our goodbyes, we grabbed some food from the friendly waiter who helped us out earlier, who served us up some fantastic fresh trout from the river. The food was delicious, and the waiter treated us like old friends, and was a great way to spend the evening. The fantastic day that was now nearly at an end, was spent chilling at the hostel and enjoying the peace and quiet of the surroundings. It was a far cry from the noise and bustle of the cities we had spent the last few weeks in, and was a welcomed evening of near silence all bar the crickets chirping into the night.
After a fantastic short trip here in Guatape, we woke without the aid of the alarm, and to the sounds of only birds singing. We walked down to the hostels main house, grabbed a coffee, and sat outside admiring the view of the lake and El Penol. A nice walk into town and a great brunch later and it was unfortunately time to leave this wonderful place. We wished we had longer here, as
with most places, but as I said, we are running out of time in Colombia, and there was still plenty to do…. So, it was back to Medellin for a night, before our next destination of Manizales, and the coffee region for a tour of a Coffee Finca. .
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