After Salento and Jardin, we didn’t think it possible that there might be an even more colourful town to visit in Colombia. How wrong we were! Walking around Guatapé is a little bit like taking a stroll through the centre of a rainbow. You can’t help but feel cheerful there, surrounded by all the colourful buildings, street art and smiling faces of the locals.
Guatapé is just a couple of hours by bus outside of Medellin, so many people opt to go for just a day trip. However, after our visit we highly recommend spending a night or two there. You can take part in some zip lining, kayaking or boat rides/booze cruises that are advertised all along the waterfront, if that’s your thing, but for us those things were way out of our budget. Instead we spent a very enjoyable couple of days drinking delicious coffee, eating amazing food, exploring every little side street and people watching in the square – and we loved every minute!
Luckily for me, we arrived in Guatapé on my birthday. The first thing we did was check into La Casona hostel, where we had booked a 3 person apartment with its own bathroom and kitchenette (strangely a non-functioning kitchenette, but that didn’t matter as we didn’t plan on cooking!) for a crazy cheap price. The hostel itself was great, with a couple of small terraces overlooking the water that had hammocks and even a pool table – perfect spots for chilling in the evenings!
After checking in we went straight out to try one of the restaurants along the waterfront. Normally those places would have been too expensive for us, but Dan and I had set aside a little extra money for each of our birthdays, so we splashed out on some delicious Colombian food and red wine to celebrate.
The rest of our time in Guatapé was mostly spent wandering between food and drink stops, and taking lots of photos! We visited the incredible giant steps near the centre of town, next to which we found a great little cafe serving rich tinto coffee. Michelle and I were also intent on finding some good ice cream, having been spoiled with delicious ice cream in Jardin, but sadly we were disappointed in Guatapé – the ice cream that is sold everywhere in town consists of a weird clump of flavourless ice stuck on the end of a lollipop stick.
One activity that can’t be missed when visiting Guatapé is climbing to the top of El Peñol. This giant, imposing rock is situated a short tuk-tuk drive outside of town, and from the top you are rewarded with breathtaking views of Guatapé and the unique water systems that surround it. Getting to the top though is no mean feat – it’s a climb of 740 steps! Fortunately though you can reward yourself with a refreshing mango michelada when you get there, which you can sip as you sit back and admire the view.
Guatapé was the perfect place to finish our incredible journey around Colombia. We had all fallen in love with the country and felt sad that our travels there were coming to an end. However, luckily for us the next stop on our journey was a huge one on all of our bucket lists: The Galápagos Islands, Ecuador.