Guatepe is a small lakeside town no further than a few hours from Medellin. I had heard it was a wonderful place to visit as my sister was here several months ago. The town is best known for 2 things; Embalse El Peñol, a man made lake of huge significance to Colombia and El Peñol, a 10 million ton rock that reaches 200 meters up into the sky.
In terms of the lake, its significance is simple – elements of it were created in order to construct a hydro—electric dam, which as it turns out provides Colombia 30% of its electrical supply. I’m no expert from National Grid, but i know that’s a lot of electricity! Even more impressive considering the project was completed in the late 1960s.
Despite this engineering feat, El Peñol (The Big Rock) is the real attraction here. The view from the top is stupendous and the walk up (“climb” is probably more fitting) that seems like a million steps is worth all the huffs, puffs and beads of sweat.
Not only is the view incredible, but the rock has a little story behind one of its features. Upon arriving at the town, you cannot help but notice a large “G I” in white writing that looks just like the word font IMPACT written on the side of the rock itself. That’s what i thought of at least. How sad.
Anyway, the reason behind this writing was actually down to a battle of ownership between the 2 local towns; Guatepe and El Peñol. One day the townsfolk of Guatepe woke up and just thought, “You know what, lets just write Guatepe down the side of it. That way it clearly belongs to us”. Basically a Colombian Hollywood sign without all the films and heritage. And guess what, they actually did it. Or rather, they tried… Fortunately, or unfortunately (depending whose side you’re on), the townsfolk of El Peñol saw the crafty move. In response, they decided to sort things out the old fashioned way. A mob was created, they paid Guatepe a friendly visit and that was that. No more letters. They got as far as “G” and 1/3 of a “U” so it just looks like an “I”. I wonder what rock thought of all this fuss… Cool story eh? You can thank me later. Here are some photos…