Guatapé

After our stop at El Peñol, we were taken a few minutes down the road to the colorful town of Guatapé. We had a delicious lunch at a traditional Colombian restaurant serving fish and grilled meats at very reasonable prices.

 

Zócalos

We then had some time to walk around the town, which is known for its zócalos (colorful panels) lining the bottom of each building.

Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

Guatapé

Some of the zócalos are simple geometric figures while others portray Antioquian life. Generally, when you see zócalos on a house, they depict the occupation of the owner of the house. You’ll see farmers, jeep drivers, carpenters, musicians, and more.

Zócalo in Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

Zócalo

Zócalos in Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

Zócalos

Others portray real life townspeople, including the mayor who delivered on his promise to put zócalos on every building in town. He made it a requirement for every building to have zócalos. This served several purposes, including beautifying the town, increasing town pride, and driving more tourism to Guatapé.

Zócalo in Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

Zócalo

Zócalos depicting a journey in Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

Zócalos depicting a journey

Even the church has zócalos, but it’s also worth popping inside to see the gorgeous wooden interior.

Church in Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

Church

Church in Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

Church

 

Tuk-tuk Tours

For COP$12,000 (as of July 2017) you can hire a tuk-tuk from Guatapé’s plaza and get a tour around town. The driver will tell you the town’s history and take you to some of the best zócalos, allowing time to stop and take photos. One drawback – it’s all in Spanish.

Tuk-tuk in Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

Tuk-tuk

 

Calle del Recuerdo

Part of the town of Guatapé was also submerged with the creation of the lake, and one street in particular was dedicated to preserving the zócalos that were salvaged from that part of town before its demolition. The Calle del Recuerdo is only a couple blocks from the plaza.

Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

Calle del Recuerdo

Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

Calle del Recuerdo

 

Walking Around Guatapé

Wander around the streets within a couple blocks of the plaza and you’ll have a wonderful fill of zócalos and colorful buildings. One small block, Plazoleta de los Zócalos, has been designated for souvenir shops, and there are a couple of cafés to enjoy.

Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

Guatapé

Street with souvenir shops in Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

Street with souvenir shops

Street with souvenir shops in Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

Plazoleta de los Zócalos

 

Malecón

Along the lake, there’s a nice touristic walkway where you can jump on a small boat for a short cruise. The larger boats were suspended due to the terrible accident in June 2017 in which nine people were killed. During my visit, the boat was behind police tape on the other side of the lake.

Sunken tour boat in Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

Sunken tour boat

 

Zip Line

For the more adventurous type, it’s possible to do zip lining across one of the legs of the lake. There are zip lines for one or multiple people and it looked like the people were having a lot of fun.

 

Getting There

Doing El Peñol and Guatapé by public transportation is possible at a very low cost, but to save yourself the hassle of missing buses and to have a thorough explanation of the area, I highly recommend hiring Andrés and LandVenture Travel for this tour.

If you choose to do the tour by bus, buses leave from Terminal del Norte in Medellín. It’s connected to the Caribe metro stop. Once in Guatapé, you can hire a tuk-tuk to take you to El Peñol, which is only a few minutes down the road.

If you hire a car, there are plenty of places to park in Guatapé.

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