Visit our new lakefront eco-hostel: El Encuentro!
Come explore the majestic surroundings of the Embalse El Peñol – Guatapé, one of the country's largest lakes, created by the construction of a hydroelectric dam that provides 30% of Colombia’s electricity supply. It's hard to miss the region's most famous attraction, a 200+ meter high rock outcropping that towers over the surrounding area. It's officially named El Peñon de Guatapé, but more commonly referred to simply as La Piedra (The Stone). Over 600 stairs have been built into the side of this enormous geological marvel, allowing safe access to the top, where a viewpoint offers spectacular views of the lake and surrounding areas, as well as souvenirs and snacks.
The construction of the dam left the entire town of Viejo (Old) Peñol underwater. From the new town center of El Peñol, you can catch a chivas (colorful, open-air trucks historically used for public transportation throughout rural Colombia) to visit the newly-constructed replica of the old town, built on the top of a hill overlooking the water. The Casa Museo, a museum housed in the only building left standing from Viejo Peñol, can be visited by chivas from El Peñol or included on a boat tour from Guatapé.
The picturesque town of Guatapé is known as the Pueblo de Zócalos, which are beautifully sculpted and painted 3-dimensional decorations and depictions of village life that adorn the lower half of nearly every building in the town´s historic center. On weekends, the waterfront malecón (boardwalk) fills up with local vendors selling beautiful Paisa art, food, and souvenirs, and the adventurous can take a ride on the Cable Vuelo, a canopy zipline over the lake. Popular boat tours visit the former site of Viejo Peñol, which is marked by a giant memorial cross sticking out of the water. Boat trips can also include a trip to see La Manuela, Pablo Escobar´s now bombed-out lakeside mansion, and ¨Fantasy Island¨, a pretty refuge in the middle of the reservoir, which has a swimming area, cabañas for rent, beautiful views of La Piedra, a tienda selling snacks and beer, and a pair of friendly resident scarlet macaws. And a trip to Guatapé wouldn´t be complete without sampling the local specialty, fresh trout served in your choice of many delicious preparations.
Colombia Eco Tours can arrange any of the following activities and tours in and around Guatapé and El Peñol, with English-speaking guides upon request: Hiking, Trips to hidden swimming spots, Scenic boat tours, Paddle Boat rentals, Kayaking, Fishing, Arts and Crafts shopping, Canopy Zipline, Mountain and Road Biking, Horseback Riding, and free tours of the local museum.
Other Area Attractions:
Vuelta al Anillo (Ring Road)
This is a beautiful trip along an unpaved but generally smooth and low-traffic back road from Guatapé to La Piedra, passing pretty farms, trout farms, Monasteries, the Parque Místico Cacique Guatapé (see below), and connecting with the main highway near La Piedra. Makes an excellent day bike trip.
Parque Místico Cacique Guatape
(Guatape Indian Chief Mystical Park)
Offers holistic healing therapies, including aura cleansing, chakra balancing, and energy rejuvenation, as well as hiking trails in a beautiful natural environment. Entry and Guided Tour: 20,000 COP. Reservations recommended. Located near La Piedra.
311-304-3937 or 300-617-7127
Parque Extremo Guatapé
New adventure-themed park with an outdoor climbing wall, bungee/trampoline/acrobatic swing, labyrinth, and water sports games. Most activities 7000 COP each. Near the entrance to town.
312-215-3989 or 300-782-2265
Escalada en Colombia
Offers professional rock climbing courses and equipment rentals.
Located adjacent to La Piedra.
Contact Yon Monsalve 311-353-5309
Monasterio Santa Maria de La Epifanía
This attractive Monastery makes for an interesting stop along the Ring Route. It features beautiful buildings constructed in the traditional basilica style and great views. A small shop sells goods made by the resident monks including homemade honey.
Mirador Alto Verde
This 25 minute (one-way) hike takes you to the top of a hill overlooking Guatapé, with excellent views of the town, lake, estuary, and La Piedra. A great spot for a picnic lunch.
Bike Ride to San Rafael
This is one of the most fun and exhilarating activities in the area. Read more here >>
Additional Internet Resources:
Online version of Q’Hay Guatapé, a free monthly tourist magazine:
Town of Guatapé official website:
Town of El Peñol official website:
Turismo Para La Paz -
Non-profit organization promoting tourism in the region:
Direct buses from Medellín leave from the Terminal del Norte (directly connected to the Caribe Metro Station), passing through El Peñol and the entrance to La Piedra on the way to Guatapé (about two hours). Two companies provide service: Sotrasanvicente, (4) 861-0595, and Sotrapeñol, (4) 851-5912. Each company provides service approximately every hour starting at 6am. The average fare is 11,000 COP (negotiable). Many buses continue to San Rafael. The last bus from Medellín to Guatapé is at 6:00pm. The last bus from Guatapé to Medellín is at 6:30pm (7:45pm on Sundays and Holiday Mondays). Return buses to Medellín fill up quickly on weekends – buy your ticket in advance.
Around the Region
Moto-taxis (314-731-2184) provide service from the Parque Principal in Guatapé to La Piedra (9000 COP, negotiable) and around the local area. Buses and Willys (Jeeps) also provide service between Guatapé and El Peñol (3000 COP), passing by the entrance to La Piedra (2000 COP). Men generally hang off the back, which allows for excellent views. To get to La Piedra, ask to be dropped off at the Zeuss gas station, from there it is a 1km walk uphill. Chivas provide service to the remote countryside.
El Peñol: Bancolombia - Branch office and ATM, located on the main highway in the town center. Banco de Bogotá ATM (ATH), located in the plaza above the Police Station.
Guatapé: No banks or ATMs. Bancolombia PAC (for Bancolombia account holders only) in Supermercado Calamar on the cobblestone Main Street (Calle de Comercio).