Hidden among the mountains about 50 miles (80 km) from Medellin is the beautiful town of Guatapé. Founded in 1811, this town is now situated on the reservoir of a hydro-electric dam that was built in the late 1960s, when more than 7.5 square miles (2,000 hectares) were flooded to create the dam.
The incredible beauty of the reservoir and the views of the lush vegetation on the lake are unforgettable. Ferries on the lake take visitors to recreational areas on nearby islands and to see Pablo Escobar’s former mansion. The boardwalk by the water fills with vendors selling regional food and crafts.
The town is famous for zócalos, decorative tiles along the lower part of the facades of the buildings in the historic center. These tiles in bright colors and patterns are connected to life in the community, telling the history of the town and the beliefs of the people. Walk along the cobblestoned streets of the Calle Los Recuerdos, near the main square, and admire this glimpse into the life and history of the town.
Jutting out of the water on the lake is the more than 600-foot-tall (183-meter-tall) Peñol Rock (La Piedra del Peñol). A staircase built on one side crisscrosses over the rock, taking visitors the more than 600 steps to the top, where there are amazing views as well as eateries and gift shops. The lake is an excellent place for water sports like kayaking, and the adventurous can try the zipline over the lake. There are also biking and hiking activities.
This beautiful town and lake is about 1.5-hour drive from Medellin, making it easy to visit on a day trip. The charge to climb the rock is about $5.