While our time in Medellin was coming to an end, we still had a highlight in front of us: the tour to Guatapé. We could have made it on our own and with public transport but considering that the whole day with Viajes MaxiTours including transportation, proper breakfast, traditional Colombian lunch and the guide only cost us USD 26 per person, we opted for the comfortable solution.
The day started early and we got picked up at our hotel in El Poblado at 7.30am. After about 30 minutes of driving, we stopped at a nice open restaurant and were served breakfast: Platanos (fried banana), Arepa (traditional flatbread made from manioc), cheese, scrambled egg and coffee. That was also a great opportunity to get to know some of our fellow tourists. One of them was Krystal, an American from Colorado now living on the island of Roatan in the Caribbean. After boarding the bus again it was time for some introduction by our guide. While we had no problems understanding his Spanish, his rather free spirited English translations were lost at us. So we were glad when he finally yelled “Musiquita!” and laid down the microphone. When the music next stopped we arrived in a town called Peñol, or better, a reconstruction of it.
The original was flooded and lies somewhere on the ground of the lake our boat was cruising on. Music (CD and unfortunately also live), cold beer and the remains of Pablo Escobar’s Finca La Manuela made the otherwise rather unnecessary boat-intermezzo a fun hour or so.
Lunchtime was coming up and so was Pedra del Puñol. The menu was either Trout or Bandeja Paisa, the traditional hearty dish of the region (including some fried pork skin called Chicharron). But even better than the food was the view over a stunning landscape of connected lakes and green hills as far as you could see.
After lunch, we had the option to climb the 649 steps up along the concrete staircase which was fascinating, confusing and scary all at the same time. Oh and ugly, hell are these stairs ugly. Slightly out of breath we made it to the top, where we got surprised once again; the 220m high rock features two terraces with food and drink options as well as a bathroom and a bricktower that insults the eye. While this whole installation kind of ruins the magic of the place, the 360° views of the scenery are just incredible.
Soon after the descent the tour went on to Guatapé, our last stop. This colonial town with its squares, churches and decorated walls on every building is as charming as it can get. Bright colours and handycraft stores everywhere. We ended up in a small square surrounded by colourful buildings and our guide pointed us to what he says is one of the best coffees you can get. I don’t know about that, but my espresso with icecream was delicious. And while we were sipping our coffees, Krystal got some unwanted attention.
The sun was slowly disappearing on the horizon when our bus left Guatapé. It was almost a perfect day, if there just wouldn’t have been a nine hour nightbus from Medellin to Bogotá in front of us…