Gautape, a tiny pueblo less than two hours outside of Medellin is a popular destination for Paisa’s and international travellers looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
It is surrounded by a beautiful system of man-made lakes that shine turquoise, and is just a few minutes drive from the main tourist draw- La Piedra del Penol, a giant rock jutting out from the landscape with a staircase leading to the top.
Many also come to let loose on the lake, as is evident by the multiple party boats cruising the lake at any given time, but there are also so many options for those looking to get outside and soak up the fresh air and be active. There are a couple of delicious restaurants offering fresh, healthy food as well.
I arrived after a very bumpy bus ride from Medllin’s Terminal Norte, which took just under two hours. I was quite hungry after an active early-morning yoga practice, so I immediately made my way to Namaste, a veggie-friendly cafe I had read about online, running into a new friend from my writer’s workshop in Medellin along the way.
As I had arrived a bit late in the day, the friendly owner informed me that all that was left was a veggie stir-fry with quinoa and a salad. That of course sounded amazing. For $13 mil (about $6 CAD) I received a generous plateful of homemade deliciousness, including an amazing pickled red cabbage side and a fresh fruit juice. It doesn’t look like much, but it was really tasty and filling.
I settled into in at my hostel, Lakeview Hostel in the evening and was welcomed with an incredible view from my second-story private room ($75 mil) and socialised with some fellow travelers and fell asleep listening to the sound of frogs and horses outside my window.
This morning I met my friend Sarah and we took a collectivo (shared ride) to El Penol for only $2,700 mil. Even from the bottom of the rock, the view was incredible. We paid the $15 mil each to climb the 340 steps to the top and set off in the drizzle. By the time we had reached the halfway point I was glad for the overcast weather as I’m sure I would have been overheating in the sun. The view was not disappointing, either.
After the big climb, I decided to return to Namaste for today’s special, a yummy veggie pizza sin queso (without cheese), fresh juice and a vegan brownie for dessert. The brownie was surprisingly unsweetened, just how I like my desserts, and VERY chocolatey.
Feeling energised again, I decided to rent a kayak. Lakeview offers two-person kayak rentals for about $10 mil for an afternoon, so I recruited a fellow Canadian nature-lover and paddler to join me and we set out from just in front of the hostel. The lake is really a large series of connected lakes and so we explored the small bays and paddled past the town shore, stopping along the way for a swim in the warm water. Thoguh we both hoped to see some wildlife, there wasn’t much movement on the shore.
By the time we returned, I was quite hungry and decided to try Don de Sam, a restaurant on the waterfront with Indian food. Though somewhat more expensive than other restaurants, chicken masala did not dissapoint- it was tender and flavourful and still a great deal at $26 mil (about $11 CAD) with a small salad and rice. I also got naan bread, which was tasty as well.