Guatapé: keep on dreaming!
This quarantine gives us the time to stop, read, discover, think, listen and focus on those things we never give priority or the right space. The eyes and the body might feel caged but the head can breathe and organise new travel horizons. So I start taking up the stories from Colombia ... Guatapé was one of the most beautiful places, a village overlooking an immense lagoon with a jagged coast that creates thousands of small bays, all to be explored.
Arriving to town with a small bus from the North Terminal in Medellin, I went to the Lake View Hostel, a modest hostel but with a huge window overlooking the lake and convenient for visiting the region. Another excellent hostel, hippy and more immersed in nature is Casa Cayam. After renting a bicycle at Colombia GateAway (https://www.colombiagetaway.com), I cycled up to the Piedra del Peñol and then climbed the 676 steps up to the top. Here there is a wonderful view over most of the lagoon. Incredibly, on the summit there are two bars serving ice cold beer mixed with mango juice and jugos naturales for all tastes.
While going back to the village I came across a wonderful lady who was frying a huge "sheet of flour": the ojuela, a kind of carnival sweet but much flatter and giant, excellent. Then, not to miss anything, when I arrived at the main square of Guatapé, I tasted the empanadas of someone who seemed to know much about it ... and in fact they were just the best I have ever eaten in Colombia (their banquet is located in front of the church).
The town is super cute, certainly very touristic, but still enjoyable: the houses are all colored and decorated by zocalos, reliefs that represent the local culture. Explore its streets and then reach the piazza de los zocalos, stop to eat an ice cream, a filled oblea or have a coffee or a beer while listening to the street performers.
In the evening I offered myself a slightly more chic restaurant (but we are talking about € 8 for a very generous dish) called the Terraza Blu (on the 4th floor of one of the buildings in the square), with huge windows and a beautiful panorama . A Venezuelan cook I met in a bar recommended it to me, saying that I would eat the best trucha a la marinera (grilled trout with a creamy and delicious seafood soup). And in fact he was right, if you go to Guatapé, go there! Other places they recommended are the two restaurants at the right of the church. If you like to drink something go to the GateAway Pub where they also make live music.
The next day I rented a kayak and went around the lagoon until I entered a suggestive but at the same time a little weird bay, because being the low season (dry and therefore the water level in the lagoon is 3- 4 meters lower), the normally submerged part of the coast is orange, making the landscape a little Martian. After helping a couple who was stuck in their kayak due to a tree branch (because of the low water), I found the Bosko habitat Natural, an eco friendly hotel with igloo-shaped rooms on the hill overlooking the lagoon (I don't know the prices but I recommend taking a look).
Other activities that are worth doing are a horseback ride on the mountains around the lagoon and a trip to San Rafael: take a bath at the waterfalls and then end with style by finishing the day with a tasting of local chocolate.
This is a place where to come back, with more time, during the high season, when the water floods the lagoon, when the sunlight reflects on the water the sinuous shapes of this region, when the fishermen come back and open the markets at dawn.