Guata… What? GUATAPÉ!

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After unique days on a cargo boat through the Peruvian Amazon river, I arrived in Colombia. My first trip in 2014 was focused on the carribean coast and islands. This time I was craving some good coffee, mountains and fresh air, after a humidity of 99% in the Amazon basin!

Follow us on our way through the heart of Colombia. Part one: a small gem, just a two-hour drive outside of Medellin – GUATAPÉ!

Most people visit GUATAPÉ as part of an organized day trip from Medellin. Organized trips? Brrr! It’s the nightmare of all individual travelers, to be avoided, if at all possible. Sitting in a bus for 5-6 hours, driving to some „highlights“ for the obligatory selfie shot and then heading back, without understanding the true essence of the destination.

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If you want to visit GUATAPÉ for real, here are our picks:

Stay 2 nights to fully discover this unique region. GUATAPÉ is surrounded by a lake so magical that you would never guess that it is man-made. Due to a huge hydro-electric power project in the late 1960s a water reservoir was created by flooding the area. Today, neat houses settle along the coastline of the reservoir.

It’s main attraction is la PIEDRA DE PEÑOL. 650 narrow steps bring you to its top, marketed as „the best view of the world“.

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You can find several hostels in Guatapé, all trying to catch your attention with the promise of a „lake view,“ which turns out to be untrue in most cases. However, if you really want a lake view and a stay with a local couple serving organic coffee in the morning giving you all the insider infos about the region, then choose „Mi Casa Guatapé“. We spent three wonderful nights with Susy and Sean. Three double rooms and one dorm (4 PAX) guarantee a cosy stay. The balcony is overlooking the lake AND the Piedra.

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As it is a bit outside of town, you can easily hike (20min) or catch whatever vehicle comes along the road towards the center of town.

After waking up the first morning, Susy and Sean recommend we do a three-hour hike through the hinterland with lake views, crossing local farms and enjoying the amazing landscape.

The town itself is a splash of colors. Houses are kept spotless and painted and decorated in different colors. It offers several vegetarian restaurants. Our top choice is a tiny vegan place called „Namaste,“ which offers the most delicious veggie filled crepe and: a drink with avocado. If you have the possibility, go there for lunch and ask for the avocado drink! You will lick the last drop out of the glass!

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In the afternoon we climbed the stairs of la Piedra to watch the sunset, meet another friend from Medellin and enjoy some cold beers, after which we head home to our wonderful casa.

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Susy and Sean rent kayaks for you to discover the many bays of lake Guatapé. This was our plan for the next day.

The last morning, we caught an early bus to drive back to Medellin. Buses leave every 30 minutes to Medellin and south to the coffee region and the popular Salento. Just stop a bus passing in front the casa.

Where to stay: Mi Casa Guatapé

How to arrive: Northern Bus Terminal Medellin, every 30-60min, around 12.000 COP, takes 1.45hrs.

Piedra del Peñol: outside of Guatapé, in front of Mi Casa Guatape, 10.000 COP

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by: Isabel Gür