Tuesday 20 August - Wednesday 21 August
So with our big city fix suitably quenched, we headed off to the picturesque weekend getaway for Medellinians........Guatape and the big rock El Penol or 'La Piedra' as its come to be known. We'd booked into a lakeside hostel called El Encuentro just on the outskirts of town and arrived just before sunset. Simply put.....a nice time to arrive. We were so full from the lunch time pig-out (an obscenely large Bandeja Paisa in Medellin - their most famous local dish which included, I kid you not: steak + pork + crackling + chorizo + rice + yuca + fried banana + arepas + coleslaw + beans, all topped off with a fried egg - phwoar...we rolled out of there) so straight into sundowners on the balcony overlooking the impressively beautiful man-made lake and 'La Piedra' amongst millions of twinkling fire-flies.
In the morning we fueled up on a self cooked fry up (yes, more chorizo and eggs) and headed out on a hike to the top of the big rock to fill up on a helping of the incredible lake views. I believe La Piedra is the second largest single rock in the world, behind Ayers Rock in Australia. As the weather was good we decided we'd best get to the base of the rock asap so we took a quick jeep ride to the road which leads up to the base of La Piedra. As soon as we'd started walking up the 600 metres tarred road trail we were met by a local offering to take us up on horseback, which we politely refused, to which he offered instead a motorbike ride, again we politely refused trying to suggest to him that we were actually here for the exercise. After many polite refusals he finally surrendered, which apparently in this part of Colombia is done by turning your back on someone, reaching down the back of your chaps and wedging up your hot pink g-string in defiance! Ha - a cowboy wearing a hot pink g-string! I unfortunately, or fortunately, missed this display of peaceful surrender but Dons wasn't so lucky. Caught somewhat off guard she didn't have enough time for a picture sadly. We laughed ourselves up the last 500 metres.
The base of La Piedra offers amazing views itself but we wanted more...more exercise that is. So paid the fee (about $10 if I remember correctly) and started climbing - 740 stairs cleverly built into a gap in this massive rock to the tip top and worth every step and sweat bead. The view is indescribable...I could have stood there for hours and hours and not taken it all in. The pictures speak for themselves I think. What a magnificent place and although man-made it has to be one of the best views I've ever seen and will rank up there with the best in the world.
After a million photos and an expensive, but well earned, beer and cider we headed on down the stairs and began our hike back to the hostel. Nothing hectic but a good trot in the fresh country air. Took us about 3 hours to walk back along dirt roads past many farms, over gurgling rivers and through some little settlements back in time for sundowners again...love sundowners over water.