Guatape – small town, big heart

“Why do the directions take us through a pitch black building site! Oh my God, dogs coming at us, s@!t!…We should be close though… Oh no, maps.me just jumped, we’re nowhere near, I’m so confused…” exasperated, I look at Reid, barely making out the whites of his eyes in the dark. I trip over some rubble. “ARgh, lets just give up!”  

Guatape is a very small town, brightly painted, on a river and right next to a rather large but very picturesque rock. Most people make this a day trip from Medellin but we felt time-rich so we spoiled ourselves to two nights in this cute town. Feeling cocky after having triumphed in two of Colombia’s largest cities, we saw no issue with a ten minute walk through this quintessential village at night. However, after several attempts to find our hostel, defeated, we ended up retracing our steps and caught a motor taxi instead… Not so savvy after all!

We had chosen Casa Kayam for its proximity to the waterfalls and all round good vibes. As one resident said, “Kayam is more of a refuge, I’ve been here for months”, and I believed him. There was a space for everyone at the table here and the newly born litter of puppies made for an excellent start to the day.

The waterfall trail from Kayam isn’t actually marked anywhere and relies on word of mouth so, with some hastily translated directions (travellers see below), we set off on our morning adventure. En route we also met some locals who cheerfully confirmed we were headed the right way. In the same breath however, they also advised that a Chilean had gone on past the waterfalls just a couple of months ago. She was found alive but very lost three days later so we mustn’t leave the river…slightly concerned, we assured them we would stick to the river like Theresa May is sticking to Brexit and marched onwards.

Reid avoiding spiders

It was an exciting, barefoot, wet scramble to our destination, taking around an hour. Ducking under vines and tightrope-walking over fallen logs made for a nice change to the rainy, steep mountainous walks we had already experienced. With all potential dramas and hazards avoided, we triumphantly arrived at the top of the river, keen to stretch out and refresh in our discovered oasis. A patch of sunlight kept us company at the deserted, ice cold pool with fresh cascades plunging into its depths. I confess, we braved the fresh water for as many seconds as we could before rewarding ourselves with lunch and some deserved rock lounging, delighted we hadn’t got ourselves lost.

I feel Guatape is the right juncture at which I want to introduce you to the concept of Type 1 and Type 2 Fun. This insight was passed onto us by a friend in Minca and goes something like this:

  • Type 1 Fun: Instant gratification, the easy stuff. Examples: eating chocolate, playing a game, being with friends, dancing.
  • Type 2 Fun: Reflective satisfaction, work hard at the time and enjoy later. Examples: running a marathon, building something, hiking a mountain..

Of course it depends on the person but you get my gist.

The rest of the day primarily comprised Type 2 Fun being that it was an 18km loop from the hostel to el Peñol, the large rock I mentioned above. I’m sure the views from the top are stunning (I’ve heard they are) but the entrance is pricey and by the time we’d completed our hike, the gates were shut. Nevertheless it had been a stunning day, filled with ‘would you rather’ games and Dark Stories all in the company of an adoring stray dog with a heart mysteriously on his chest. Entrance granted or not, I would happily do it all again.

Lazy Cat mojitos slipped to second place that night as we tripped upon a rooftop bar serving mango daiquiris (the waiter’s own secret recipe). Reid even knocked his over in an excuse to buy two more..it was happy hour after all. The evening was finished off with dinner at the imaginatively named cafe, Guata-crepe before returning to the hostel to watch some impressive guitar playing as another epic thunderstorm closed in around the mountains.

The rain didn’t let-up and was still drumming down when we woke at 6am for the bus to Salento via Medellin. Our hesitation in leaving shelter almost cost us however as, somehow again, I found myself running for transport, no second left wasted as we hailed down the bus and gratefully collapsed into our seats, rain-drenched and tired but, as ever, ready for the next adventure.

Seconds to make count

Don’t let rain deter you, always have a backpack cover and some plastic bags ready and you’re set!

Check when your destinations open and close

Always have some games at the ready… (personal preference)

Don’t just rely on your phone for directions, check if there are written ones somewhere available too 😊

b>Location: Guatape<<<<
el: Casa Kayam, Duration: 2 nights<<<<
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