Colorful village on the waterfront – Guatape Colombia
Today I am go to Guatape, which is 79km (49mi) east of Medellin. The name Guatape comes from the Quechua language, it means “stones and water”. It is situated on a height of 1925m (6315ft) and has a whole year springs temperatures.
In the late sixties there was built a dam. Guatape is now one of the main producers of electricity in the country Colombia. It provides 35% of the electricity in the country and it also supplies the neighbouring countries as Panama, Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador. For the construction of this lake, the former village Peñol and a piece of Guatape had to be sacrificed. 15Km (9mi) further El Peñol was rebuilt. The inhabitants of Guatape were pleased that the monolith was now nearer to them and therefore wanted to reclaim the rock. In large letters, they wanted to paint Guatape on the rock. The inhabitants of El Peñol were fierce and the activity was stopped.
That is why you can now still see a big G and a piece of the U on the rock. I find it very ugly, hopefully the paint wears off quickly.
In the new El Peñol they built a church. The architect Nel Rodriguez made sure that this church had the same shape as the monolith. A lasting memory of the rock. In the village there is a nice friendly atmosphere. The owner of El Peñon (the name of the rock) is not the village Guatape, neither the village El Peñol. Don Luis Eduardo Billegas is the only one who can say that El Peñon is his. He climbed the rock and planted in 1954 at the top, a Colombian flag. And as it happens in Colombia, he becane the owner. Formerly there were held rituals around the rock by the indians. Today tourists climb the 740 stairs. At the top, they can enjoy a 360 ° view of the beautiful natural landscape. Access costs 10.000 cop per person. Most of this money goes to Doña Mandalena, the widow of Don Luis Eduardo. She is now 101 years old.
The village Guatape itself is very colorful because all the walls are painted.
52 Years ago the first zócalo was painted, a sheep. Formerly, only the wealthy families had a figure painted on the plinths of their facades. But in 2007 there was a part of the play of South America in Guatapé. The mayor did not want that the difference between rich and poor would stand out, so he provided material for everyone. So everyone could have their own zócalo designs. Each zócalo refers to a property (eigenschaft) or a hobby of the family. It is lovely to walk around here.
The people are super friendly and very helpful.
On the lake around Guatape you can enjoy various water sports. There is even a zipline. I'm going with a boat. On the boat there is a group of students. Dance music is rotated and some go dancing. There is also a bar on board. I enjoy the atmosphere and the view of the rock Peñon and the nature that surrounds it! We sail an hour. We see a jet ski and other small boats.
In the hostel I see my friend Fredy. We're going to eat a delicious vegetarian pizza with accompanying glass of red wine. The owner of the tent treats us to a chocolate tasting. As a Belgian, I have not much confidence in the Colombian chocolate. But I decided to give it a chance anyway. And fortunately! This chocolate is delicious! Waw! The man has also his own workshop. Across the lake you can see in the evening small fireflies. How romantic!
The next day, I take with Fredy a motorbike taxi for 8.000 cop/tr to the home of Jon (contact via Hostel Mi Casa Guatape). Jon is a climber and today we want to climb the rock. Jon himself is not there, but we are warmly welcomed by his mother and two local youngsters. We get our safety belt, helmet and shoes. The size 47 for Fredy they did not have so he will have to climb with his usual shoes. Carlos (22 years) and Asdrúbal (14 years) are walking with us to the rock. How cool to see the rock from another side. It looks easy, but I know from experience that will not be so. We are going to climb Aroma de Mujer. This is one of the most convenient routes. Each route has its own name.
Fredy starts climbing. With its big feet, it is not always easy to find footing in the small holes. Because he is so happy when he reached the top; he kisses his carabiner millions of times! Haha! Then it is my turn. After my climbs in Suesca and Abejorral, I now have some experience. And especially more confidence. I reach therefore reasonably quickly the last carabiner. I start to find climbing very nice. It also gives a fantastic feeling to climb this rock that 70 million years ago, was occurred by an earthquake.
After the climb we go to a different place from where we go rappelling in Guatape. This route is called Kurakata. Blessed to do rappelling with such a view of the lake. Once down we need to pass a landslide. The boys are excited, because the landslide created a new climbing route.
We eat trout (typical here) and then look for bikes. We rent the bikes for 6.000 cop per hour. We drive along the lake, the hills to the monastery of the Benedictines.
Along the way we encounter a lost horse and we stay impressed about the magnificent views of the Peñon. The bike ride takes about half an hour. Once on top, we park our bikes and we enjoy the Gregorian chant of the monks. We are lucky because there is just a celebration. We nest ourselves cozy in the grass for the monastery and enjoy the tranquility and natural beauty.
The way back is much easier because it is downhill. We enjoy the wind in our hair.
I need to be back in Medellin on time and need to hurry to catch the bus. Too bad! Because there is still so much more to discover. You can visit the waterfalls in San Rafael for example or go horseback riding, fishing ... Many reasons to come back!
.The name of the village is El Peñol and the name of the rock is El Peñon but they say Piedra del Peñol; the rock of the village.
.A nice place to stay, close to the rock is the hostel Hostel Mi Casa Guatape.
.How to get to Guatape? Read the information via this link.
.Here you read other interesting places around Medellin.