How to Visit El Peñón de Guatapé (Piedra del Peñol) in Guatapé, Colombia

Located in Colombia, just a couple hours outside of Medellín, the charming town of Guatapé is perhaps best known for its large, climbable rock known as El Peñón de Guatapé (also known as Piedra del Peñol, or simply, “la roca” to locals). This popular tourist attraction has attracted visitors to Guatapé from all around the world (including me!). El Peñón de Guatapé is home to one of the most beautiful views in Colombia, overlooking Embalse del Peñol, and lush, tropical rainforest. If you’re looking for the best day trip from Medellín, look no further than Guatapé.

Although Piedra del Peñol may look intimidating, walking your way to the the top couldn’t be easier. Having read some existing guides prior to visiting, I certainly thought it would be strenuous and lengthy. Turns out, there was nothing to worry about! Thinking about going to one of Guatape’s best things to do? Here’s what you should know before visiting Piedra del Peñol.


how to visit el penon de guatape colombia large rock staircase Embalse Del Peñol blue lake


GETTING TO PIEDRA DEL PEÑOL IN GUATAPE, COLOMBIA FROM MEDELLÍN

RENTAL CAR IN MEDELLÍN

Rental cars are readily available at Medellín’s airport, Jose María Cordova Airport (MDE). The drive between Medellín and Guatapé is certainly not difficult, however about half of it does require through narrow mountain roads. Expect the drive from Medellín to Guatapé to take 2-3 hours, do not trust the Google Maps estimation.

Traffic in Colombia is hectic, to say the least. I do not recommend driving in Colombia unless you’re a very comfortable, experienced driver. You can rent any type of car to go to Guatapé — there are very few dirt roads, and many of them are in fair condition.

Having a rental car to use when in Guatapé is certainly convenient (especially if you’re staying at one of Guatape’s luxury glamping resorts). As Guatapé is full of tuktuk taxis, I wouldn’t say that having your own vehicle is necessary. It will, however, give you better flexibility. If you’re staying at one of the popular luxury clamping resorts such as The Bosko or BubbleSky located outside of Guatapé, I’d recommend having a rental car (although it’s certainly doable without!). Click here to explore rental car rates in Medellín.


PRIVATE DRIVER OR TAXI

One of the most popular options for visiting Guatapé from Medellín is to hire a private driver, or taxi. We found our driver by complete chance. We didn’t have a transfer lined up when we landed in Medellín, however, we made friends with a Colombian seated behind us on our flight from Bogotá to Medellín. She had a friend in Medellín that was a driver, and able to take us. Private drivers from Medellín to Guatapé for tourists is typically $100-$150 roundtrip. We made friends with a restauranteur in Guatapé who was able to arrange a much less expensive private transfer for us on the way back, but that’s another story for another post (it involves la policia and the only ATM in town).

We paid $225.000 COP ($50.34 USD) from Medellín to Guatapé, and $100.000 COP ($22.38 USD) from Guatapé to Medellín, after negotiating our fare with our driver.

A private transfer will take the same amount of time as driving a rental car yourself, but it comes with the added convenience of not having to navigate Colombian traffic yourself. For us, this was so worth it. Our only slight pain point was that our glamping resort was located outside of town, where the beautiful fincas are (farms). Out there, tuktuks are few and far between. They were able to call us a taxi when we needed to go somewhere, however it came with a slight wait (10-30 minutes). We were suspicious he was upcharging us, and later had that confirmed (again, many thanks to our restauranteur/hotelier friend). Be sure to negotiate all tuktuk fares! Click here to explore private transfers from Medellín to Guatapé.

finca farm reservoir view guatape antiquoia colombia rolling green hills mountains
Embalse El Peñol-Guatapé (Embalse Del Peñol) is a man-made reservoir in Colombia, and one of the country’s largest lakes


PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION FROM MEDELLÍN TO GUATAPÉ

Public transportation is available to reach Piedra del Peñol from Medellín. Buses run regularly between Medellín and Guatapé from Medellín’s Terminal de Transporte Norte. Expect to pay 17000-18000 COP ($3.86-$4.03 USD) one way for Medellín to Guatapé bus. Sotrasanvicente & Guatape Las Piedras SCA and Sotrapeñol operate these bus routes.


EL PEÑÓN DE GUATAPÉ TOURS

Piedra del Peñol is a popular day trip from Medellín. As such, it’s easy to book a tour to El Peñón de Guatapé online that includes transfer between Medellín and Guatapé.

Although Piedra el Peñon is a popular day trip, I don’t recommend it. Guatape is a charming, colorful town with so much to offer. Although it may not have the plethora of tourists attractions that other cities in Colombia have to offer, what makes this town so absolutely delightful is the people. We traveled through Bogotá, Medellín, Cartagena, and Ipiales while in Colombia in addition to Guatapé, and although we were blown away by the people in every city we were in, Guatape was truly the most special. Life in Guatapé may be slower than sexy, cosmopolitan Medellín, but it’s relaxing, and communal. I recommend spending one night in Guatapé, rather than booking a day trip tour to Guatapé from Medellín.

If you are interested in tour to Piedra del Peñol in Guatapé from Medellín, click here.

top of El Peñón de Guatapé la roca lake guatape reservoir colombia antioquia


EL PEÑÓN DE GUATAPÉ HOURS

El Peñón de Guatapé is open from 8 am to 6 pm daily.

I recommend visiting as early as possible. Piedra el Peñol is not an off the beaten path destination in Colombia. It is popular with both domestic and international tourists, and as such, gets busy quickly. We went within an hour of opening and only encountered a few other people on our way up. When we came down, El Peñón de Guatapé was certainly much busier. Keep in mind that Piedra del Peñol is also a popular day trip from Medellín. The later you go, the more likely you are to encounter large tour groups.

EL PEÑÓN DE GUATAPÉ ADMISSION FEE

Piedra del Peñol has an entrance fee of $20.000 COP ($4.47 USD). Admission to El Peñón can be purchased at the base of the rock, and allows to to climb all 740+ stairs.

la piedra del penol El Peñón de Guatapé tickets admission fee colombia


HOW MANY STEPS DOES EL PEÑÓN DE GUATAPÉ HAVE?

Piedra del Peñol has 740 steps to the top. The rock only advertises 640, however to reach the top of the rock, you will need to climb an additional 100 steps.

piedra del penon El Peñón de Guatapé stairs to the top colombia
All 740 steps of El Peñón de Guatapé are suspended between a split in the inselberg


HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO CLIMB PIEDRA DEL PEÑOL IN GUATAPE, COLOMBIA?

Climbing Piedra del Peñol takes 15-20 minutes if you’re in fair physical condition. The rock has a paved staircase to the top, with multiple platforms to stop and take a break. We took a couple breaks, and still reached the top in 15 minutes. Climbing to the top of El Peñón de Guatapé is nowhere near as daunting as it looks or sounds. Going down is even easier.

I could not find this answer anywhere in my Piedra del Peñol research, aside from a post citing it would take 1.5 hours to climb. After asking around to some friends who have also made the trip, and my own experience, I’d say that 20-30 minutes is what most in average physical condition would need. That being said, your time on the rock isn’t timed, so take as much time as you need! Quick elevation gains can be taxing on anyone, and it’s important to be mindful of your health and safety while climbing (hence the need for lots and lots of water).

Eva Phan woman standing at the top of el penon de guatape in colombia wearing white iridescent aehva bike shorts, rose gold apl sneakers, lavender lululemon define jacket, and light blue sports bra in front of penol guatape reservoir


WHAT TO EXPECT AT EL PEÑÓN DE GUATAPÉ

AT THE BASE

At the base, expect tons of vendors for snack, drinks, and souvenirs. There’s parking at the base, as well as a spot for tuktuk drop-off. You can purchase your admission at the entrance to the El Peñón de Guatapé stairs. Hungry? There’s a food court open around mealtimes. Forgot water? Purchase it from one of the many vendors here.

Don’t skip the paletas when you come down. These popsicles are popular in Latin America and range in consistency from yogurt to frozen fruit. There’s no shortage of these at Piedra del Peñol. There’s a few paleta vendors at the base.  We got a creamy mango paleta, and it made for the perfect post-climb treat!

CLIMBING EL PEÑÓN DE GUATAPÉ

The climb to the top of Piedra del Peñol is very straightforward. Expect a paved staircase, with platforms to rest. No need to count your steps, there’s painted markers periodically to the top. About halfway up is a viewing platform, with a shrine to the Virgin Mary. There are also first aid stations throughout the climb, in the event of a medical emergency.

REACHING THE TOP OF EL PEÑÓN DE GUATAPÉ

After 740 stairs, you’re at the top. El Peñón de Guatapé has a large viewing deck, complete with souvenir vendors, and cafés. Take alllll the photos, the view is gorgeous!


WHAT TO BRING TO PIEDRA DEL PEÑOL

WATER

First, and most important. Although the walk to the top of Piedra del Peñol is relatively straightforward, it is still a quick elevation rise. Bring your own water, or purchase water at one of the vendors at the base of the rock.

If you’re environmentally conscious and want to bring your own water, no need for an extra filter! Tap water in Colombia is totally safe to drink.

TENNIS SHOES

You’ll want comfortable shoes for making this climb. Wear sneakers and activewear to avoid any discomfort or clothing malfunctions.

BACKPACK

You’ll want your hands free while climbing la roca because well, safety first. About halfway in, you’ll start to feel the burn and that quick elevation gain will start to take effect. At that point, you’ll be glad your hands are free to grab the railing or take a sip of water. Frankly, I wanted my hands free because taking a stumble on one of those 700+ steps and not being able to catch myself was not a situation I wanted to be in. Choose wisely.

SUNSCREEN

The climb to the top of Piedra del Peñol is full sun. If you’re like me, and burn baby burn (or even if you’re not), wear sunscreen. I recommend a reef safe sunscreen, especially when in areas with water.


DRONE AND CAMERA

Piedra del Peñol makes for a beautiful drone flight. At the top, you can see miles of beautiful lakes, mountains, and rainforest. Even if you’re not an experienced drone pilot, bring a camera to capture the stunning view from the top.

CASH

Although Colombia is card-friendly overall, we learned the hard way that Guatapé only has one ATM, in the center of town (that eats debit cards). You’ll need cash to pay your tuktuk driver, and cash if you’re purchasing food or souvenirs at the base or top of Piedra del Peñol (the paletas are not to be missed, and much needed after your climb). There is a Bancocolombia window at the base of Piedra del Peñol, however its hours are limited, and it was closed when we were there.

top of El Peñón de Guatapé colombia finca reservoir lakes

WHERE TO STAY NEAR EL PEÑÓN DE GUATAPÉ

BUBBLESKY GUATAPÉ

Bubblesky Guatapé is a luxury glamping resort in Guatapé known for its clear, bubble-shaped domed tents. This is where I stayed in Guatapé. Although there were a few issues with communication with staff, and how our tent was described, it was still a unique experience.

Bubblesky tents include heated mattresses, a kitchenette, outdoor bathroom with running water (the BEST shower I had in Colombia), outdoor jacuzzi, and those oh-so-Instagrammable overhang nets. Tents have multiple outlets, and full lighting. 

I don’t recommend purchasing the decoration add-on, as it looked nothing like the online images. For my fellow stargazers, don’t expect to see stars from your tent: at night the bubble gets foggy due to the internal heat.  Unfortunately, the view from our tent also didn’t live up to the online images. We strategically picked our tent because it looked like it had a beautiful, open view, only to arrive and find that it was totally enclosed and surrounded by trees (much better for privacy, though).

What exceeded our expectation was the jacuzzi, kitchen, bathroom, and tent itself. Staying at BubbleSky Guatapé certainly lived up to the term “glamping,” and felt like an outdoor hotel room. Even better, it was only a fraction of BOSKO’s room rates.

Bubblesky Guatapé is available for booking through their website, or through AirBnB. Click here to view current room rates.


BOSKO

Known for their faceted dome shaped tents called “MushRooms,” Bosko is the best luxury glamping resort in Guatapé for its infinity Sky Pools, water sports offerings, and onsite amenities. Although BubbleSky Guatapé is a fraction of the price, BOSKO is the glamping resort in Guatapé I recommend staying at.

BOSKO is in a much better location than BubbleSky. The resort is just 1 km from town, and 1 km from the Rock of El Peñol. Unlike BubbleSky, BOSKO offers a shuttle service between the property and town, as well as between the property and El Peñol.

BOSKO offers onsite dining, having a restaurant with views of Piedra del Peñol and the lake of Guatapé. For breakfast, guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast on their private terrace. Also included in your reservation are standup paddleboards, kayaks, and BOSKO’s oh-so-instafamous Sky Pools, which are included in your reservation.

Looking for more adventure? For an extra fee, BOSKO guests can take a private helicopter or speedboat tour, go tubing, try their hand at wakeboarding, or enjoy a romantic dinner with a decoration option.

For current BOSKO room rates, click here.

Embalse El Peñol-Guatapé resevoir top of El Peñón de Guatapé colombia blue water


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