The Third Highest Rock and The Most Beautiful Town – In the World

Medellin, Colombia, itself has so much to offer the visitor. In addition to the beautiful landscape of the city, there are the friendly people, the historical and cultural sites, and the charming neighborhoods climbing up the Andes mountains all around the city.

On our recent anniversary trip to Medellin, we discovered two amazing places to visit within a couple hours’ drive from Medellin. We generally like to explore places on our own – find our own public transportation, check out local places to eat, wander through sites and places of interest. But on this occasion, we decided to take a full-day tour that included El Penol – the third highest rock in the world – and the village of Guatape. The entire day’s tour included luxury bus transportation to and from the locations from Medellin, breakfast, lunch, and expert tour guide information. The cost was $31 per person. Now, that’s a deal! (And the food was good!)

Our first stop was El Peñol. As you can see from the photos, it is a large rock that overlooks an extensive reservoir area. Officially known as El Peñon de Guatape (The Rock of Guatape), it is located in the municipality of Guatape. However, the neighboring town of el Peñol has also claimed the rock, and the name El Peñol has become very popular and common when referring to the rock.

We climbed the 740 steps to the top. We were rewarded with amazing views of the dam and reservoir below. This area has become very popular with Colombians and tourists because of the beauty of the area.

The rock sits 656 feet above its base at an altitude of 7,005 feet above sea level. Its length is 935 feet, and its width is 360 feet. There are breaks in the rock, into which the 740 steps have been built. The rock’s composition is quartz, feldspar, and granite.

After the climb, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at a local restaurant. Our fare was the typical Colombian dish – Bandeja Paisa. The name means “workman’s platter.” The well-known traditional dish includes fresh avocado, rice, arepa (a type of Colombian tortilla), red beans, crunchy chicharron (pork crackling), ground beef, a corn variety known as morcilla, fried plantain, and chorizo (sausage). Of course, we requested a vegetarian version, which was absolutely delicious. It reminded us a lot of our beloved Costa Rican “casado” plate.

Next stop was the village of Guatape, voted the most beautiful town in the world in 2019. Every building in Guatape is a work of art. You can see why this town draws so many visitors, and why it was so aptly titled in 2019. It is charm, beauty, art, energy, simplicity, and humility all bundled into one unforgettable town.

The painted scenes along the bottom parts of many of the buildings are known as zocalos – fresco-like panels. These paintings are often of simple things like sheep, birds, or flowers. Others advertise businesses or services like loaves of bread outside a bakery or a sewing machine outside a clothing store. Still others tell stories or commemorate historical events.

Guatape is not to be missed! Sitting in the shadow of El Peñol, its beauty, artwork, and cultural energy are sure to raise your own vibration.

The tour also included a boat ride through part of the reservoir. Beautiful scenery.

Thanks for joining us on our exploration of these sites near Medellin. Recommendations: If you’re in Colombia, be sure to see them!

Until next time . . . .

This is Paul, a Part-Time Expat turned Full-Time

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