Visiting El Peñón de Guatapé (Everything You Need to Know)

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TLDR? El Peñón de Guatapé is a towering monolith located just outside Medellin.

El Peñón de Guatapé, or El Peñol, is a highlight for tourists coming to Medellin. This incredible rock offers tons of photo opportunities, and the views from the top of the hill are breathtaking.

But, there’s a lot more to visiting El Peñol than just pretty pictures.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at how to get to El Peñol from Medellin, how long it takes, and what to expect when you arrive.

The Rock of Guatapé

The Rock of Guatapé

The Rock of Guatapé, El Peñol, or El Peñón de Guatapé, is a monolithic granite outcrop located in the town and municipality of Guatapé, Antioquia Department. It’s surrounded by Lake Peñol-Guatapé.

With an elevation of  2,135 meters (7,005 ft) above mean sea level, the Rock of Guatapé is one of the tallest monoliths in the world. The stone has a length of 285 meters (935 ft), a height of 200 meters (656 feet), and 110 meters (360 ft) wide.

The rock itself is composed of quartz, feldspar, and mica. In addition, it’s estimated to weigh 65 million tons (that’s heavy).

Both Guatapé and El Peñol have claimed ownership of the rock. So, who actually owns it?

That’s still an ongoing debate, but the fact of the matter is it’s a hot tourist spot for both towns. If you are visiting Medellin, it is definitely worth a day trip to see this natural wonder.

Getting to El Peñón from Medellín

The trip to El Peñón from Medellín is quite easy and takes around two hours depending on traffic.

You can get to El Peñón from Medellin in a few different ways, but let’s focus on the three most popular methods.

By Bus

By Bus
Bus rides to El Peñón leave from Terminal del Norte.

The first and most popular way to get to El Peñón is by bus. This is also the cheapest option, as buses in Colombia are very affordable.

To get to El Peñol by bus, you will first need to take a bus, taxi, or rideshare to the Terminal del Norte in Medellin.

Once you arrive at the Terminal del Norte, you will need to purchase a ticket to Guatapé.

The bus ride from Medellin to Guatapé takes approximately 2 hours and costs around 17,000 COP (subject to change).

Keep in mind that even during the rainy season, El Peñon is a busy place. So, we recommend getting to Guatapé early to avoid the crowds.

We personally took the 7:30 am bus but wish we would have taken an earlier one.

Private Transportation

The second way to get to El Peñón is by private transportation. This is the most expensive option, but it is also the most convenient.

If you are traveling with a group of people, we recommend renting a car or hiring a private driver.

Renting a car in Colombia is very affordable, and we found that it was the best way to travel around the country.

The drive from Medellin to Guatapé takes approximately 1.5 hours and is a very scenic route.

If you decide to go this route, we recommend using Waze or Google Maps for navigation.

It is also important to note that you will need a toll when leaving Medellin and returning.

The price for the toll is 8,000 COP (subject to change).

Tour

The third and final way to get to El Peñón is by taking a tour. This is the most expensive option, but it’s also the most hassle-free.

In addition, if you’re learning Spanish, then this could be a great option for you.

There are many different tour companies in Medellin that offer day trips to El Peñón. The tours vary depending on the company, but they usually include transportation, a tour guide, and lunch.

In addition, you can book some that offer a visit Guatapé as well as a boat ride on the lake.

Arriving at El Peñón

Arriving at El Peñón

Once you can see the massive rock from your bus or car window, you know you’ve arrived in El Peñol.

If arriving by bus, it will drop you at the second gas station across the bridge from the lake.

From there, it is a 10-minute walk to the entrance of El Peñol. It’s a steep walk, so you can also get a cheap ride from a motorbike taxi.

We personally walked to the entrance, and it was a good warmup before the real hike began.

Tickets to El Peñon

The cost of the ticket to El Peñón is 20,000 COP (subject to change). This price includes the entrance fee and the return trip on the gondola.

We arrived at the ticket booth around 9:30, and there were few tourists. There are several gift stores and restaurants at the base of El Peñón. However, we recommend going to those after the hike.

You can also find bathrooms here before beginning the hike to the top. Keep in mind the rules when going to El Peñón, including:

  • No food or drinks.
  • No drones.
  • No pets (sorry, dogs can’t come on this hike).
  • No firearms.

Hiking to the Top of El Peñón

Hiking to the Top of El Peñón
You’ll break a sweat on the hike to El Peñón.

The hike to the top of El Peñol is a steep hike that totals 740 steps. The stairs are nicely done with a handrail the whole way. The stairs are also numbered so you can keep track of your progress.

The views from the top of El Peñol are incredible and definitely worth the hike. You can see for miles in every direction, and on a clear day, you can even see Medellin in the distance.

While the hike is steep, it will only take 15-30 minutes, depending on your fitness level.

If you get tired, there are several stopping points along the way. Plus, it is a great time to take some pictures or enjoy the views.

Once you reach the top, there are several places to sit and relax. You can also buy drinks and snacks from the vendors.

We recommend taking some time to enjoy the views and take plenty of pictures.

The View from the Top

The View from the Top
The view from the top of El Peñón is breathtaking.

The views from the top of El Peñol are incredible. You can see for miles in every direction, including the town of Guatapé and the reservoir.

There is food and drink vendors at the top, but we recommend going down to Guatapé for lunch.

Take your time and enjoy the views from the top before heading back down.

Hiking Back Down

After enjoying the views, it is time to hike back down. The steps are the same as on the way up, but they are much easier going down.

However, they are steep, and falling would not be fun, so take your time.

There are also many people coming up as you are going down, so be aware of oncoming traffic.

The hike back down will only take 10-15 minutes, and before you know it, you will be at the bottom.

What To Do After Hiking El Peñón

What To Do After Hiking El Peñón

Once you have completed the hike, you have several options for what to do next. We personally celebrated by going to one of the lookout restaurants at El Peñon and enjoying some drinks.

Since it was the beginning of June when we arrived, the thunderstorms rolled in, and we had an incredible view of the storm over Guatapé.

However, if you come during this time, this is where hiking early in the day comes in handy. It wouldn’t be fun doing the hike with so many tourists and in a thunderstorm.

You can also spend this souvenir shopping or eating lunch, but since it’s a touristy place, the souvenirs, food, and drinks are more expensive than in Guatapé.

Go into Guatape

Go into Guatape for lunch and explore the town. It’s a short walk from El Peñon, and you can grab a moto-taxi if you don’t want to walk.

We recommend getting a ride if you don’t have your own transportation because it is a busy highway.

When you get to Guatape, you can rent jet skis, take a boat ride, or eat at a local restaurant.

There are plenty of things to do, and it is a great place to spend the day.

What To Bring to El Peñon

El Peñol is a hike, so you need to be prepared. We recommend bringing the following items:

  • Hiking shoes
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat or sunglasses
  • Raincoat (during the rainy season)
  • Bug spray (during the rainy season)
  • Water bottle
  • Camera

No matter what you bring, go early, and enjoy the hike. It is a great experience, and the views from the top are incredible.

Why You Should Go to El Peñon

There are many reasons to go to El Peñol, but the main reason is the views. For the short amount of time it takes to hike, the views are incredible.

You can see for miles in every direction, and on a clear day, you can even see Medellin. It is an experience that you won’t want to miss.

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