Getting to Guatapé from Medellín
We took the local bus to Guatapé, which is a small, colorful town about 2 hours outside of Medellín. The busses run frequently from the North Bus Terminal, which is easily accessible via the metro train. Our ticket cost 13,000 COP each and can be purchased from ticket counters 9-14. The town is best known for the colorful bas-reliefs that adorn the homes and business throughout the center, and El Peñol de Guatapé, a massive granite rock that sits just outside of town.
You can’t miss the rock El Peñol- it is massive and you can see it from the bus on your way into town. It looks just like any ordinary rock, but is composed of quartz, granite, and feldspar. It is surrounded by the Nare river and believed to be the product of a volcanic eruption. El Peñol is 657 ft. tall, approximately 7,012 ft. above sea level with a density of 6,600 pounds for square feet for a total of 66 million tons. It was also scaled for the first time July 12, 1954 by three explorers: Luis Villegas Lopez, Ramon Diaz, and Pedro Nel Ramirez. The 659 steps adorning the side of the rock leading to the top makes this attraction impossible to miss.
How to get to El Peñol
There are few options to get to El Peñol from the town of Guatapé. There is a bus that you can catch from town at the same spot the bus drops you off when you arrive. The price of the bus ticket can run you about 3,000 COP each way. You can also catch a mototaxi for 10,000 COP each way, and they drop you off at the top near the entrance. This will save you some steps on your accent to the top of El Peñol. Or you can walk for free. This is the option that Thomas and I opted for. The weather that day was sunny and the recipe for a delightful 45 minute walk to the front entrance.
El Peñol has a series of 659 steps built into the side of the mountain that allow you to climb all the way to the top. If you notice near the top, there is a resting spot if you need to take a little breather. Not only are you climbing 659 steps, you are also enduring low oxygen if you are not acclimated to the altitude by now. It took us about 20 minutes to climb all the way to the top. I was so excited that I practically ran. Once you get to the top, you can relax and take in the views. They are 360 degrees and spectacular. Everywhere you look there is amazing scenery to take in. Another thing you can do, which is something we did, is to sip on a refreshing cold beer. After all, you deserve it. I know we sure did! We opted for one, as we did have to walk all the way back down. The stairs down are as narrow as the ones up, but there is a separate walkway to avoid the crowd going up.
One suggestion that we do have is there is a restaurant neat the lake to the immediate left of the gas station where you get dropped of if you take the bus. There are food options near the entrance of El Peñol, but they are a little pricier than the one we ate. Plus, the menus were very similar. We opted for an almuerzo, which was a plate of grilled meat, rice, beans, hard-boiled egg, salad, and grilled plantain. It may seem like a lot of food, but after the walk to El Peñol and walking up and down all of those stairs, it is much needed. The entire plate of food cost us 15,000 COP and we also had a Michelada. You have to try one! It is a cold beer with lime and a salted rim cup. Delicious! After lunch, we took a mototaxi back into town, instead of walking, for a mere 10,000 COP. Even with taking a mototaxi, we definitely made our budget by choosing to walk there. It may not seem much, but when traveling on a budget, every dollar counts!
Total Cost: 83,000 COP – Includes Entrance fee to El Peñol:18,000 COP/person, transportation by mototaxi: 10,000 COP, and lunch: 37,000 COP