We stayed in a converted garage at the lakeside hostel while in Guatapé, with the English & Irish-American co-managers making us feel particularly welcome. Typically my first enquiry was in relation to running trails – there are loads in the area – happy days J The great thing about running in the Colombian countryside is that there are always dirt roads with ideal underfoot conditions for running (unless you’re in the depths of the jungle). The locals don’t quite understand why one would want to run and so you can feel a little silly at times. In general though the Colombians aren’t the curious type and stick to themselves, but I do hear the odd giggle from kids as I pass by. Something I get strong encouragement from men, particularly soldiers. A little attention isn’t a bad thing – just makes me run a little harder. Very few locals run, which is a shame as I reckon there could be talent going to waste.
Guatapé is a tourism hotspot. The Colombians flock here at the weekends and the lakes shore is a hive with activity. During weekdays it’s a completely different story with only the odd gringo keeping the tourism industry alive. Not all the activities are active during the week, but for those that are you can negotiate cheaper prices. If you’re into fishing or water sports it’s certainly a place to visit. Not that many foreigners visit Guatapé, which is amazing as it’s so close to Medellín. It’s as if the Colombians keep it as their secret and don’t advertise the area.
|View of the lakes around Guatapé from on top of El Peñol|
Sunday morning was allocated to El Peñol. We ran the 11km scenic route to the base of the rock. There is a staircase built into a granite crevasse to make it possible for anyone to ascend to its surface and on top there’s lookout tower. The 649 steps are a breeze to the fit and able, but so many people were struggling. The view from the top is among the most spectacular I’ve ever witnessed. The only similar combination of water and land I’ve seen is Ha Long bay in Vietnam. There is water, islands, inlets, mountains, and greenery in every direction. Only thing to be critical of is that it’s largely man made with several strategically placed dams causing the water levels in the area to rise – otherwise it would be a contender for a natural world wonder.
|Colourful streets of Guatapé|
Monday morning I got in a 22k jog. After Sharlene packed a picnic and we went in search of a boat rental. Unfortunately it was only possibly to go with a guide which wasn’t what we were looking for. We settled on manpower and took a sea kayak exploring the lake – very enjoyable experience. With a bit of planning you could spend days on the lake exploring, but for us a few hours was enough. Squeezed in another jog in the evening, followed by a few beers and a barbeque at the hostel. Life is good ...