Wednesday, July 17, 2013

#804 Piedra del Penol, Guatape, Colombia

A 200m monolith rising from the rolling hills is about as incongruous as possible 2 hours out of Medellin (#936). Nothing in the area comes close to its elevation (2100m) or its geological makeup. Seemingly floating on an island of the Embalse Guatape (a dammed lake), it mars the landscape with either majesty or ugliness.

70 million years old, it was worshipped by the Tahamies Indians formerly of the region, and it was first climbed in 1954. Fascinatingly, German scientists found a new species of plant at the top! The G and incomplete U painted on the side of the rock are evidence of disputed ownership between Guatape and Peñol. 

649 or 740 delightfully constructed steps lead up the southern crack of the rock, getting so busy at times that the more recent renovations have made 2 sets of stairs with one direction only! Magnificent views abound, but also the bizareness of having a coffee shop and a 4 floored tower on top! Peñol is actually the town before you get to the rock -- ask for La Piedra!

Source: Lonely Planet Colombia 6th Edition

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