Guatape – The Most Colourful Town In Colombia

We visited the beautiful country of Colombia (not Columbia, the place in the U.S.) back in October but never got to write about it in the blog! So this is our first post.

Eitan went to a bachelor party in Colombia with his friends and Sarah was able to join him after to travel around Colombia. This post and the next one will be just Eitan traveling as Sarah hasn’t arrived yet.

After a traditional Colombian breakfast of plantain tostada and some shreded chicken and beef, we travel to the Guatape area, an Andean resort town in northwest Colombia, east of Medellín.

We quickly stop for a bathroom break and to try the local Cheese Bread. They were super delicious!

We finally arrived at the  Penol Reservoir for a quick boat ride.

They built a dam in the late 1970s after 6,365 hectares were flooded, covering the town of Peñol.

The ride was relaxing, with not much to see but nature.

Everyone needs a place to get away, and violent cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar was no exception. The spot he chose was on the shores of the Peñol Reservoir in the idyllic resort town of Guatapé. There, Escobar built a lavish estate called La Manuela (named after his daughter) that would be the scene of one of the most dramatic episodes in his downfall.

In 1993, it was bombed by Los Pepes, a vigilante group whose name stood for “Perseguidos por Pablo Escobar” (“People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar”). Allegedly funded by the rival Cali Cartel and other enemies of Escobar, Los Pepes stuffed 200kg of TNT into a bathroom at La Manuela, the detonation of which blew the house to bits. Police forces quickly swooped in and seized the drugs and money revealed by the explosion. Escobar was shot and killed by authorities eight months later in Medellín.

We passed through this mansion. The shell of Pablo Escobar’s infamous vacation house still stands.

We could see the Penol far in the distance. We will be climbing to the top later that day!

The “Peñol Rock” (La piedra del Peñol) that borders the lake is a rock formation, that formed 70 million years ago. With 2/3 of its height below ground, the exposed vertical face is over 200 meters high and visible from throughout the surrounding countryside.

There is a staircase built into one side, a path that includes more than 649 steps to the top.

Some were barely surviving the climb!

The views were more impressive the higher we climbed.

The number of stairs is marked as a painful reminder of how many more you still have left.

Once you reach the top there is no much to do. There are a couple of souvenir stands and a place to buy some food.

The views were incredible!

The whole crew made it!!

Now the easy part… the way down. It was very crowded so it took us a loooong time to go back to the bus.

Mission Accomplished!

We jump into the bus for a quick ride to the town of Guatape where we would have a nice lunch and walk around for a couple hours.

The town is super colorful and it has the famous “Moto Chivas” which are basically Latin American Tuk-Tuks.

Chivas are adapted to rural public transport, especially considering the mountainous geography of the Andean region of these countries. Most have a ladder to the rack on the roof which is also used for carrying people, livestock and merchandise

We had some free time to enjoy the town.

In Guatapé, every building is a work of art. Residents paint their houses and businesses in gorgeous bright colors, and decorate the bottom of every building with fresco-like panels called “zocalos.” It’s sometimes called the most colorful town in the world.

With its steep and windy streets and bright colors, Guatapé is ridiculously photogenic, but it’s the zocalos that make it distinctive. Some friezes are simply cute: Sunflowers, doves, and sheep are popular. Other zocalos advertise businesses: bread loaves on a bakery, sewing machines outside a clothing store. The most complicated tell stories—several panels showing a journey—or commemorate history: musical instruments marking the house of a famous local musician.

We walked towards the Plaza of Zocalos,

I tried an amazing guava filled chocolate.

On the way back we entered the town’s church. It is always interesting to see how the churches vary from country to country.

We headed back to the bus to get back to Medellin.

Amazing day trip with culture and nature. Very recommended for everyone that visits Colombia!!

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