My month in Medellin was amazing, but it was time to move on to colorful Guatape Colombia, a short ride to the town through the countryside.
Before entering Guatape is Penol Guatape. My first sight of it brought a huge smile to my face. For years now I have been following riders who have come here. It is so cool to be following in their footsteps to such amazing places. Penol Guatape is certainly one of them.
According to Atlas Obscura:
By the 1900s, the massive 10-million-ton rock was seen by local farmers as a nuisance, a giant version of the rocks that the farmers regularly dug out of their fields. In 1954 a group of friends — supposedly at the urging of a local priest — climbed the rock using a series of boards wedged into a crack. These were the first people known to have climbed El Peñon de Guatape. (It is unknown whether the Tahamies had a way of ascending the stone.)
Climbing the huge stone took five days, but the top of the rock revealed beautiful views and a new species of plant, Pitcairma heterophila. The rock soon became a modest tourist attraction.
The rock, which is almost entirely smooth, has one long crack, the one that the climbers used in ascending it. In the crack was later wedged a 649-step masonry staircase, the only way to get to the top of the Piedra de Penol. In the 1970s, the area was dammed, and the view from the rock changed: It now overlooks a dramatic series of lakes and islands.
Today, you can ascend the rock (apparently owned by a local family, though also designated by Colombia as a “national monument”) for 2 US dollars. There you’ll find a few religious relics and a three-story lookout tower.
I noticed that some websites number the steps at 649 and other 727. Huummmmmm maybe it depends if you count in Spanish or English ha ha.
Anyways …. my plan was to hike to the top while I was in Guatape.
I arrived at my hotel just in time as it was starting to rain.
However, this turned out to be the start of a series of bad luck, mostly self inflicted.
As I checked in, the clerk said they didn’t have parking! What?! I only book hotels that have good parking. She pointed out a motorcycle parking lot just a half a block away. Phew I thought. As I rode the half block the owner said I couldn’t park there because my bike was to big to fit through the doorway. The parking lot was simply a house you rode into.
Back to the hotel the clerk suggested a big parking lot at the town entrance. I walked in the rain to find it was only a big grass field. No way I was parking there. Turned out that they didn’t allow motorcycles to park there anyways.
For the next hour I walked the town in the rain looking for a place to park. I finally found another house that had a yard where I could park.
Back at the Hotel Guatatur I checked in. Strangely, the clerk said I had 2 nights. I thought I booked 3. Once in the room I discovered they only had 2 prong outlets. Good for everything but my computer. I have run into these several times now. It is the one adaptor I don’t have! The result is that I had to charge my computer in the lobby where there was 2 3 prong outlets.
The internet however, was crap anyways. Couldn’t get it in my room. So I had to go to the lobby anyways.
Frustrated, it was time to explore the town.
Guatape is known for its colors. In that way the town did not disappoint.
The sign says “Every angel has a devil who invites him for a good coffee.”
That’s my hotel in the middle.
The town is along a lake.
I was asked a couple of times if I wanted to go out on a boat. Ahhhhhhh I don’t think so.
One thing that really impressed me … and probably not a lot of other people ha ha … was the sports facilities.
Of course at the center of every latin american town is a church. The best part of the one in Guatape is that they lit it up at night so it changed colors.
Time for the Hike
The plan was that after a day of exploring the town I would go to Penol Guatape to hike up the stairs. However, the night before my knees really started to ache and I had to take pain killers. I have suffered knee problems ever since I trained for a marathon a few years ago. Perhaps my knees were telling me something. Or perhaps my mind was telling my knees to give me an excuse not to climb it ha ha. In either case, I just didn’t think I would be able to do the climb. Especially considering the difficulty I had climbing the stairs in Medellin. I was disappointed as it was something I wanted to do.
Instead I enjoyed the town for another day.
Time to Leave
When it was time to leave I couldn’t find my keys!! I usually put them in my riding jacket pocket or in my helmet. But they weren’t there. I tore apart all my belongings and the room. They weren’t there. Even the hotel staff came in and looked through the room. I walked back to where I parked my motorcycle and they weren’t there either. They must have slipped out of my pocket as I walked back to my hotel when I arrived. Luckily, I had a spare set with me. Discouraging.
I was actually happy to leave. Guatape is a beautiful town, but everything seemed to be going wrong here. Nothing big, just a lot of little things. And for some reason, the town didn’t have an appeal for me. No idea why. It is beautiful.
As I was about to leave the hotel manager came up to me and said I had another night left! I thought so, but I checked with the clerk twice and she said only 2 nights. I was ready to leave anyways. The manager gave me 1 night’s money back. Time to go!