Yesterday we did a day trip to El Penol and the little tourist town of Guatape. El Penol is a rock monolith that has 740 steps that you can climb to get to the top, and it overlooks a beautiful lake that was formed when the Colombian government built a hydro electric dam in the early 1970's.
It's a two hour bus ride to get there from Medellin, so we tried to get an early start. Took a taxi to the north bus terminal, and paid 11,500 pesos ($5.43 CAD) each for tickets to El Penol. Ruth and I were given the front seats, but it's still difficult to get decent pictures from a moving bus.
Busy highway leading out of Medellin, with lots of motorcycles and cyclists on a Sunday.
Typical countryside once we got out of the city.
It's amazing how the buses manage to maneuver through some of the congestion in this town along the way. Wouldn't want to have been driving Sherman!
Our first view of El Penol. You can see the observation tower on the top of the rock.
Andrea and Herber have been here before, and they explained that there are three ways that you can get to the entrance to the stairs leading up the rock. You can take a horse, or you take take one of those little three wheeled motor scooter taxis, or you can walk.
After a two hour bus ride, we chose to walk!
You can see the staircases leading up the side.
The best view in the world? I guess we'll see....
We paid 12,000 pesos ($5.66 CAD) each for the entrance to the steps. Andrea and Herber had been here before, so Andrea decided to stay at the bottom and wait for us. There are 740 steps to get to the top, so we had a bit of work ahead of us!
Starting to get a view. It's a beautiful area.
Lots of steps. There is one staircase leading up, and one intertwined with it, leading down. Really interesting how they built it!
About half way up.
Looking down at where we came from!
Made it to the top. Well, almost. Still a few more steps in the tower.
The view from the top!
Best view in the world? Maybe. It sure is a pretty area.
Back at the bottom, we decided to take one of those motor scooter taxis to the town of Guatape, a couple of kilometers away. Not convenient to walk really, and we could have taken a bus but it would have been only slightly cheaper. Plus, our legs were actually a little tired from all those stairs! Gotta get back in hiking shape I guess.
The town of Guatape is really pretty. We could easily stay in this area for a few days just exploring. In fact, we'll keep it on our list. If we have time towards the end of our trip we may come back. It's a bit touristy and busy on weekends, but I can see where it would be pretty quiet during the week.
The entrance to town. Guatape is famous for those designs you see along the walls and outside each of the houses. Usually, the designs are related to the occupation of the homeowner although sometimes not.
Colorful little town.
Some narrow streets. Not motorhome friendly!
We've been keeping our eyes open for what overnight possibilities would be available had we been driving Sherman. So far, I would say that the best RV possibilities for what we've seen so far would be accomplished in a small class B van. There are no official RV campgrounds in Colombia, and so far we haven't seen a single RV. But we do see places where tent camping is advertised, and a class B van would fit.
The church and plaza.
Beautiful wood finishing inside the church.
Found a place for lunch. Good thing we were hungry! The other three had trout, and I had chicken. Very good.
People enjoying the day. It is popular to go for a boat ride, but we decided not to.
Now there's a fancy tour boat!
More narrow streets.
Walking around town.
Waiting for our bus back to town.
With the two hour bus ride back, it was just after 8:00pm by the time we made it home. What a fun day we had!
I think today will be a day of rest (and it's a national holiday here in Colombia) and then tomorrow will be a travel day as we move on to the small city of Manizales. Our couchsurfing hosts have invited us for a return stay and we will take them up on that since our flight leaves from Medellin in mid December. So we'll do some more exploring of the city then.