City hopping has become the norm when I travel, but I didn’t plan for it this go round. It’s a little odd that when I finally have ample time to explore a country, I’m perfectly content staying in one place. Some days I don’t even feel like leaving the house. I keep saying “oh I have more than enough time.” However, one thing that has been constantly recommended to me is a tour to Guatape. Apparently visiting the nearby towns are a highlight of any visit to Medellin, so it was a no brainer to set up a trip with Tours Guatape.
Tours Guatape was my go to choice because I didn’t want to go through the hassle of planning my own itinerary. I had already paid someone to drive a roommate and I to Parque Arvi, and although the route was scenic and the ride lovely, what it ended up being was not worth the price. I didn’t want to go through selling a kidney for a private driver only to be disappointed by the end result. So, Tours Guatape it was.
On this particular day I had to get up earlier than I’ve grown accustomed to and take an uber to the meeting spot in downtown Medellin. Looking back, I could have walked but I needed as much sleep as possible. Also, with the way my map directions are set up here, I would’ve ended up at the wrong location.
We boarded a coach bus semi-filled with passengers picked up from the first meeting location and drove for about 30 minutes to a cafe to have breakfast. This consisted of arepas con queso, or if you’re like me, switched out the traditional meal for a brownie or some chips. We washed it down with a beverage before hopping on the bus again to the first town of Marinilla.
Marinilla was such a cute and quaint little town with colonial architecture that I love. I was so excited to finally get the chance to get the shots I’d be hoping for during my stay in Colombia. We walked to what seemed to be the town circle and got to explore a bit on our own. Exploring to me meant photograph the first church I see and take a gander in. You know I love churches. I then bought some mango from a lovely gentleman and roamed the small circle solo.
The next stop on our Tours Guatape journey was El Peñon. The way I would explain El Peñon is that it’s a huge rock atop a mountain with what I’m sure has a gorgeous view. The only way to get that view is to climb 742 steps, and the only way to climb those steps is to pay a fee. That’s where they lost me. Even though it’s the equivalent of $6, I hate being charged for certain things. It reminded me of a cave in Viñales, Cuba that in addition to the tour, somehow had an entrance fee.
Stop claiming nature and charging people to experience it!
The land and the rock itself, however, is privately owned and the owners are allowed to do whatever they like. Which is why I simply roamed the grounds while the rest of the tourists ascended and descended El Peñon. The views from where I stood were spectacular and again, I got some amazing nature shots before sitting down to have a lunch with a view.
Now we were finally on to Guatape and even though I was still fighting sleep, I was anxious to see what awaited us. This colorful town is the beyond picturesque and I’m so glad to have had the chance to visit.
I wouldn’t recommend attempting to catch a few Z’s on the bus ride because the lovely guides make it a point to keep the passengers educated and entertained. The let us know the history of the surrounding areas in both Spanish and English as well as welcome any and all questions.
Now, I’m more of a ride in silence type of gal but I can see how others would thoroughly enjoy this.
Upon our arrival in Guatape (officially 2 hours from Medellin), the Tours Guatape guides gave us a quick run down of our itinerary. We were going to have a boat ride around the lake, complete with music and beverages for purchase, a quick 45 minute walking tour of Guatape, and then we’d have free time to explore on our own.
We learned about the small town and most interestingly, why the buildings are decorated the way are. This led to us learning how to tell what the establishment is or the occupation of the residents, just by deciphering the art on their walls. I think that’s pretty interesting.
I’d definitely recommend this tour because of its built in itinerary. I had no desire to plan out a trip to various pueblos (towns) and try to get there on my own, although many people look for that. I know several people who recommend spending a few days in nearby towns, but I was perfectly content with visiting Guatape and returning to Medellin, all in one day.
What’s your travel style? Are you fine with day trips or do you need mini-getaways?
P.S. You can book your tour with Tours Guatape here.