America,  Colombia,  TDM,  Travel Journal

La Piedra Del Peñol and Guatapé (Colombia): Essential visit at 1h30 from Medellin

If the pollution in Medellín is suffocating you, get on the first bus to Guatapé, a very colorful and charming village, only 1h30 away from Medellín.

The weather forecast tells us that it is better to go to Guatapé today (it rains the other days). We are always accompanied by Philippe, the father of JB, for this mini road trip in Colombia.

Part 1: Travel Diary Part
2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

Medellin Route => La Piedra

Today, we take the bus from the Terminal del Norte in Medellín to Guatapé (practical info at the bottom of the article). After taking the 8h “luxury” bus between Salento and Medellin, Philippe is happy to board a medium distance bus that looks like a local bus. He is very amused to see the vendors regularly get on the bus to sell snacks or to make a demo of an indispensable tool in Colombia: a lemon squeezer.

On the way, we will stop at the Piedra del Peñol (more precisely at the bottom of the rock, at the gas station). The trip takes 1h30 and costs 15000COP/person. The landscapes are very beautiful at times.

La Piedra

The Piedra del Peñol is a 220 meter high monolith, which probably originated from a volcanic eruption. Its weight is estimated at 66 million tons.

Coming from Medellín, you can see a huge “GI” on the rock. This rock is located between two villages and the mayor of Guatapé wanted to appropriate it by writing “Guatapé” on it, but the U was not even finished when the inhabitants of the other village made him understand that it was not a very smart idea.

Admission costs 18,000COP/person. A concrete staircase of more than 700 steps leads to the top. Every 25 steps, we are told how many steps we have already taken, so that we realize above all that we aren’t advancing I am not advancing fast at all. I feel dizzy and have the false impression that the staircase (leaning against the rock and made of concrete) isn’t stable. My legs are shaking, it’s really painful. I have to say that I hardly ate anything this morning, it doesn’t help 🙁

Luckily, the round trip paths are separated, no jostling to be reported – halfway there is a small platform with the statue of the Virgin Mary. In case your prayers aren’t heard, the rescuers are just a few meters away from the Virgin Mary, if needed 😛

Arrived at the very top, we have a 360°C view on the lake El Peñol. This lake is artificial, and built as a water reserve. The flooded hills become small islands and it is especially this landscape that brings the tourists. A lot of atypical hotels are also built there: igloos with view(Booking link), luxury campsites(Booking link)…


+++700 steps later, we take a tuk-tuk at the foot of the Piedra: 4000COP/person to get to Guatapé, 10 minutes (or 1 hour walk) away.

The colorful city of Guatapé is even more beautiful than the city of Salento, visited last week. The main square, very touristic, remains a wonder. Visit its beautiful church, with its wooded interior!

We put a lot of hope in these buñuelos, very appetizing visually, before being very disappointed. These doughnuts are completely bland.

We take a small street by chance and there are no more tourists. We walk in the middle of the road and meet only an old lady who is visiting the city on a tuk-tuk.

The outside of the houses, very colorful, is also decorated with these patterns in relief. It is 100% personalized and reflects the taste, the personality of the owner … and sometimes the profession of the owner. I think that if I had a house here, I would have had reliefs in the shape of dolphins, cats, knots … and my house would have been elected the most incoherent of the city 😀

Here, all corners are instagrammable. It’s a photographer’s paradise.

These stairs are the most photogenic in the city. We look sadly at a tourist flying his drone up there, remembering ours, which died in battle in the Cocora Valley last week. Snif. It would have been very useful today, between La Piedra and Guatapé.

Even the tuk-tuks are too well decorated, on the sides but also at the back. I love it! They criss-cross the small streets of the city, but also serve the Piedra. There are plenty of them in the main square.

We continue to the lake. There are boat trips (one hour) to go around the small islands and visit one of the old (ruined) houses of Pablo Escobar. We wanted to share the costs with other tourists (70,000COP to privatize a boat) but after 20 minutes of waiting, nobody seems interested in this tour.

JB and Philippe test the service of the barber-hairdresser of the city for only 1,5€, there are many other hairdressers in Guatapé but there are always people at his place. Result: he’s a pro at handling electric razors but he doesn’t use a blade at all. JB is disappointed because since Turkey, he still hasn’t found a barber worthy of the name.

We take the bus back to Medellín. We cross at the bus station 3 tours of the world, traveling… by bike (respect!). They are very brave to start by South America, where there are only hills and mountains as far as the eye can see.

Medellín by night

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Part 2: Practical Tips

How to get from Medellin to La Piedra and Guatapé?

Go to Terminal del Norte, ticket office 14. The company Sotra Sanvicente offers buses leaving regularly to Guatapé. Ask the driver to take you down to La Piedra (it’s on the way). Keep an eye on Google Maps in case he forgets).

He will drop you off in front of Zeuss Penol ServiceStation

  • GETING: Bus Medellín -> La Piedra -> Guatapé
    • Schedules: from 06:00 to 19:00 (every 20 minutes)
    • 15,000COP/person
  • RETURN : Bus Guatapé -> La Piedra -> Medellín
    • Schedules: from 04:30 to 19:00 (every 30 minutes)
    • 15,000COP/person

And from the gas station to La Piedra?

There are a hundred steps leading you from the gas station to La Piedra.

However, out of laziness, we negotiated a tuk tuk (8000COP for three) that dropped us 50 meters from the rock.

tuktuk in front of the gas station

How to go from La Piedra to Guatapé?

You can either walk (1 hour) or pay a tuktuk (4,000COP/person) which will take you from the foot of the Piedra to Guatapé in 10-15 minutes.


  • Transportation :
    • El Poblado neighborhood => Terminal del Norte
      • by cab: 15,000COP
      • by subway: 2550COP/person
      • with Cabify or Uber : 7 000COP
    • Bus Medellin => Guatapé: 15 000COP/person with the company Sotra Sanvicente (ticket office n°14 at Terminal del Norte)
    • Tuk-tuk from the gas station to the parking lot of La Piedra: 8000COP for the three of us (but it’s doable on foot, a hundred steps)
    • Tuktuk from La Piedra to Guatapé: 4000COP/person
    • Bus Guatapé => Medellin: 15 000COP/person (the terminal is in front of the lake)
  • Visit of the Piedra: 18,000COP/person. At this rate, the toilets are free 🙂
  • Lunch at Arroz Express: 5000COP/person
  • Shaving at the barber shop: 6000COP/person
  • Boat tour (1 hour): 15 000COP to 20 000COP/person on a “colectivo” boat. 70 000COP to privatize a boat for one hour

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