When I visited Medellin in March, I booked a day tour to Guatapé to climb one the world’s tallest monoliths and visit Colombia’s most colorful city. It was a good change of scenery from Medellin’s historic neighborhoods and a chance to see one of the best views in Colombia.
We booked a private tour with VIT Tours per a friend’s recommendation and I tweaked the itinerary to cater to our interests. VIT Tours was very accommodating and friendly and we had a lot of fun with the guide and driver. Highly recommend booking through them.
The tour took the full day, beginning with a 2-hour drive to Guatapé.
We opted for a coffee farm instead of paintballing at Escobar’s estate and it was the right decision. The guide brought us to a local farm where the owner explained the entire process from harvesting the cherries to drying the beans to packaging for export. While I didn’t catch all the details, I learned that it’s not an easy nor a quick process. The coffee we drink everyday takes a long journey spanning several weeks to get from farm to table.
We tasted the coffee his farm produces and it was delicious. But did you know, the best Colombian coffee beans are actually exported and local coffees are with lower quality beans.
El Peñol is one of the largest monoliths in the world towering 200 meters above its base. The only way to reach the top is to climb 740 steps up a series of zigzagging stairs through the side of the rock. It was worth all the sweat and effort because the view at the top was absolutely fantastic.
From the platform on El Peñol, we had a dramatic 360-degree view overlooking the surrounding lakes and islands. You realized just how high El Peñol protrudes above ground as you see everything below stretch endlessly into the horizon. I was in awe because this was the best view I saw in Colombia.
Town of Guatapé
Guatapé does live up to its reputation of being Colombia’s most colorful town. The streets were lined with brightly colored houses and doors, some even accented with detailed designs. It almost felt surreal walking through the colorful streets.
The last activity of the day was a 40-minute boat ride around the manmade lakes and seeing El Peñol from sea level. We also drove by Escobar’s lakeside mansion, La Manuela, that was named after his daughter but was later bombed by rival cartel members. Besides that, we didn’t have a specific destination and just cruised along the water. It was a relaxing way to end an eventful day.
The Guatapé day trip was one of the highlights of my Colombia trip. We saw beautiful sceneries throughout the day, especially from the peak of El Peñol, learned about the coffee-making process and strolled through the colorful streets of Guatapé. We had a blast with the guide and drivers and learning about Colombian culture and their way of life.