Friday 16 August 2019.
Highlights: Replica town Peñol de Guatapé, Rock of Guatapé, Guatapé zocalos, tuk-tuk ride.
Today was a full free day from the tour so the group split and did there own thing. Seven of us selected a day tour to Guatapé which our tour leader Miguel organised and joined us (cost 110,000 pesos). It was to be a day of amazing colours, fitness tests and great street art work.
We started at 8.30 am after our included breakfast was complete on a 90 minute ride to the replica town Peñol de Guatapé. During the 1970s the Peñol Reservoir was constructed and the old town was flood. You can still see the cross from the location of the old church.
The replica town is just for tourist, no one lives there, but it gives you a glance into the past. Like most Spanish influenced towns in South America the Catholic Church is the centre of the town. The replica town also provided some great views of the Peñol Reservoir, which powers local towns and neighbouring countries, and some very expensive houses on a nearby hill.
It was then onto the Rock of Guatapé also known as Stone of El Peñol which towers up to 200 meters and can be climbed by taking the 740 steps after paying a 18,000 peso fee.
About halfway up the stairs, there is a shrine to the Virgin Mary I believe to pray for assistance so you can make it up the rest of the steps to the top. The rock’s first officially recorded climb was in July 1954, when Luis Villegas, Pedro Nel Ramirez, and Ramón Díaz climbed the rock over five days.
The views from the top are stunning, or at least that’s what my brain told me but maybe that was the endorphins kicking in after the climb!
From here we moved onto Guatapé which was the main reason I choose this option. When researching Colombia the first picture I saw was of zocalos which are fresco like panels attached to colourfully painted houses and businesses. No one is entirely sure when this started but most often told story is a local back in the 1920s wanted to make the dull town stand out more and for Easter created some zocalos of sheep (important in Catholic stories) and from here it took off to today were the entire centre of town is bright colours with zocalo artwork.
The zocalos range from doves, donkeys, sunflowers, and sheep, to complicated life stories of the house owners to local businesses advertising what they sell for example bread loaves on a bakery, or boots for a shoemaker or a tuk tuk for an owner of these small vehicles.
After lunch in the town we took a tuk tuk tour with our driver explaining some of the history of certain zocalos. After this ride we were given free time to explore the town and investigate closer. I found the exact spot of where the photo was taken that encouraged me to come to Colombia. I also saw a run away cow almost going into a church to say prayers!
Overall this is very picturesque town and a highlight of the Colombia so I’d recommend people come and see.
We left to come back to Medellín around 3.30 pm for a 2 hour drive and got to use the a new 8 kilometre tunnel that the Colombian President only opened yesterday. Getting back into Medellín it was drizzling, luckily nothing weather wise as caused problems in Colombia, just the weather back in Australia causing me problems getting here.
Tomorrow is an early morning flight to our next stop to Cartagena on the Caribbean coast 🙂