Almost every Guatapé home is colorfully decorated and accented by beautiful flowers

The picturesque little town of Guatapé, Colombia, should be high on the list for any visitor. A two-hour bus ride away from Medellín, Guatapé sits on the banks of the Peñol – Guatapé reservoir, created with the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the late 1970s. This beautiful lake covers a vast area in the central Colombia highlands, and

La piedra soars more than 600 feet above the lake district of Guatapé.

the best way to appreciate it is to climb to the top of El Peñon de Guatapé, jutting incongruously out of the lakeside landscape. It’s 740 back-and-forth steps to the very top of the lookout platform, but the view is worth it!

El Peñon is about a 30-minutes walk, or a 10-minute tuk-tuk ride, from Guatapé proper. We wandered for several hours through the town and marveled at the colorful and beautifully painted bas-relief “zocalos” gracing almost every house and business. These zocalos are a uniquely Colombian art form, and they represent everything from the surrounding natural world to the type of business you might find in the building, or the occupation of the family that lives within.

Our tips:
To do Guatapé right, spend at least a night there. We stayed in

The colorful tuk-tuk taxis of Guatapé

one of the hotels right on the waterfront, which we don’t recommend – the street fronting the lake is NOISY into the late night and then early the next morning with truck and bus traffic.

Guatapé is a very popular weekend and vacation spot for Medellin residents, and – since we were there just after Christmas – it was packed. Next time we go, we’ll make sure it’s not a holiday.

Getting there from Medellin is easy and inexpensive. The busses leave from the north bus terminal every hour, and the fare is about $12,000 COP (about $4 US).

Another colorful home
This family must be in cattle or farming, or both
Every building is decked out – and some are in better shape than others
A famous fountain
Just another day in colorful Guatapé
“Shoe repairman lives here”
A very musical facade
A bakery / candy shop
Are there dolphins in the lake?
John explores one of the pedestrian walkways
This nativity scene, in front of the church on the main square, was made entirely of plastic bottlecaps!
This zocalo recalls a certain large rock nearby
Speaking of which – woot – we made it to the top of “The Rock!”
The view from the top – worth the climb!
The climb down was much faster, with a view of folks still making their way up


  1. Glen Larum Reply

    Susan and John,
    Your travelogues are absolutely stunning! What a fabulous life you live!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Glen. Good to hear from you!!

  2. that was fantastic! thank you for sharing that … enjoyed your posts on Ecuador as well … we look forward to living in Panama later this year!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Good luck with your move to Panama and let us know if we can answer any questions!

  3. What a lovely and colorful town! But that view from the top of The Rock, that is really worth the effort of climbing those 740 steps. Just marvelous!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Ha, it was definitely worth the effort! And we got to burn off our lunch 🙂

  4. Colombia looks a great place to visit! We have friends in Colombia and have been thinking to visit them. Love the scenery from the Rock and the colorful town 🙂 <3

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      We hope you get to visit Colombia soon! It’s an amazing country.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you, Lisa! It’s a really special place.

  5. You captured some great photos of this town. I agree with you definitely stay at least one night, maybe two. We enjoyed visiting this little town. It would be very cool to see it at Christmas time. A bottle cap nativity seen, very cool.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Pretty inventive, right? We’re looking forward to spending more time in Guatape soon.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Anita and Richard – I was just thinking about you two today. How are you doing?

  6. Oh what a beautiful town! I love it. I love all the colour. It must make it a joyful place to live. And that view is fabulous.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much, Alison! Guatapé is such an interesting town.

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