A short bus ride brought us to El Peñol, just outside the town of Guatapé to the east of Medellín. An inselberg, El Peñol towers over the surrounded area. The farmland around this massive rock was flooded in the 1970s, leaving a series of lakes and wooded hills as far as the eye can see.
The rock has been claimed by two towns – Guatapé and El Peñol, the former painting a giant ‘GU’ on the side of the landmark before being chased away by locals from El Peñol.
The climb was intense, narrow stairs zig-zagging up the rock face and dotted with tourists defeated by the 700+ steps. It was a severe test of Erin’s acrophobia, but we were rewarded with some fantastic views from the summit.
After descending the rock we hopped on a tuk-tuk to Guatapé town, renowned for its brightly painted houses and ‘Zocalos’ – mosaics depicting town life which cover the bases of the buildings. Calle de Recuerdos is the most dramatic example of Guatapé’s uniquely artistic style, and it was here that Erin and Rupinda shared a bottle of the worst wine on earth – ‘El Gato Negro’. This vinegary monstrosity was almost undrinkable, but it did at least keep the mosquitos away.
On our way out of town we came across a stray dog eating something unspeakably foul out of a bin, rather ruining the relaxed ambience of this quiet, picturesque place.