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The colourful little lakeside town of Guatape is less than two hours from Medellin and has become one of Colombia’s most enduringly popular day-trip or weekend getaways for both travellers and locals. There are so many excellent activities on offer here and so many good reasons to visit. Here are 11 reasons why should visit Guatape at least once in your lifetime.
To climb that rock…
The number one reason for visiting Guatape is to climb the 740 steps to the top of the El Peñón de Guatape (‘The Rock of Guatape’), also known as El Peñol. The story goes that the neighbouring towns of Guatape and El Peñol couldn’t agree over who the rock belonged to, and Guatape residents even went so far as to start painting their name on the side before they were stopped (hence the giant G-I you can still see on one side); regardless of whose it is, climbing the rock is essential!
… and enjoy one of the best views in Colombia
And it’s essential not just because of the fun and satisfaction of slogging your way to the top of a giant rock, but for the truly breathtaking view you’re rewarded with when you finally arrive. The panorama over the vast artificial lakes and islands of the Guatape reservoir is one of Colombia’s most iconic sights and a great reason for making the short trip to the town.
The colourful streets are an Instagrammer’s dream
The town of Guatape itself, not to be outdone by its famous rocky neighbour, is one of the cutest and most colourful towns you’ll find in the whole of Colombia. The brightly painted skirting boards of all the houses are decorated with images depicting the history of the town, and the garish colours give the entire place a surreal vibe.
You can ride a zip line over a lake…
That’s right: you can ride a zip line across the waters of the actual lake, right along the main lakeside boardwalk. It’s the easiest adrenaline rush you’ll ever have.
… and hire an actual pedalo
For fans of kitsch holiday fun, Guatape has you covered: you can rent pedalo boats down by the jetty and head out onto the vast lake to ride around to your heart’s content. All those childhood memories will come flooding back. It’s great fun, and even better if you take an ice cream with you.
The location is fantastic
There’s really no excuse not to visit Guatape on a trip to Colombia: it’s less than two hours by bus from Medellin. It’s so close and convenient to get to that you can even visit on a day trip and be back in the city by dinnertime, but it’s really worth making the effort to stay overnight if you have time.
You can learn to sail
If you’ve always wanted to learn how to sail, then you can at Guatape. A local sailing school offers basic one-day courses as well as more intensive training sessions, all in the gorgeous setting of the lakes of Guatape. The calm waters and pleasant weather make for perfect learning conditions and the instructors are patient and friendly.
The food is excellent
Guatape is especially well known for its delicious trout dishes (it is next to a lake, after all), and there is a host of other top restaurants popping up in the town as it becomes more well known among the traveller community. From some of the best vegetarian and vegan places in Colombia to real Italian pizza, Guatape is a great place to break the Colombia travel cycle of meat, beans, rice and plantain.
You can hang-glide over a giant lake
Hang-gliding excursions are one of the latest traveller trends in Guatape, and it’s an experience like no other. The views over the lake are second t0 none, and you’ll see the scenery from an angle that most people can only imagine.
There’s a water park floating on the lake
Guatape offers another great opportunity to act like a big kid at the Comfama Recreation Park on the road between the town and the rock; on a hot day you can enjoy messing around on the giant inflatable water park and rent kayaks to explore the surrounding lake.
You can go flyboarding
If the idea of flying over the lake doesn’t appeal to you, then how about simply soaring over the surface of the water? Flyboarding involves standing on a board while two water jets propel you upwards into the air, and you can flyboard on the lake in Guatape. The best bit is that you only need a bit of balance to get the hang of it, and most people are ‘flying’ within five minutes.