Guatapé, Colombia – Tuesday Travels

Guatape Colombia | She Paused 4 Thought

Travel Tuesday takes us to the dazzling yet quaint lakeside town of Guatapé, which is less than two hours outside of Medellín, Colombia.

Our first introduction to the area was El Peñon de Guatapé, commonly referred to as La Piedra (The Stone). You can’t miss it as it towers over this region dominated by lakes.


This summit of this massive rock can be reached via 740 steps, a trip that takes about 30 minutes. There, you’ll discover a snack bar, gift shop and an understanding of how out of shape you are. This is quite a difference from the first time the rock was climbed, in 1954, when it took five days to make the trip.

Guatape | She Paused 4 Thought

The spectacular view of the majestic surroundings overlooks one of the country’s largest lakes.

Pablo Escobar house | She Paused 4 Thought

Naturally, a boat trip is a must to experience the surrounding beauty and to see La Manuela, Pablo Escobar’s former mansion, which is now a bombed-out ruin.

 Guatape | She Paused 4 Thought

When we arrived at the town itself, an explosion of color took our breath away.

Guatape | She Paused 4 Thought

The cobblestone streets added to its quaint, old world charm.

Guatape | She Paused 4 Thought

We were greeted in the town center by these 3-wheel tuk-tuk style taxis, which was the perfect way to view the highlights of this delightful place.

Guatape Church| She Paused 4 Thought

The Church of Our Lady Carmen is ornately adorned inside and out and towers over the main square.

Guatape | She Paused 4 Thought

Vibrant wall art known as zócalos, are beautifully sculpted and painted depictions of village life that embellish the lower half of most buildings.

Guatape | She Paused 4 Thought

Each zócalos reflected an aspect of the inhabitant’s occupation, interest, history or sense of humor.

Guatape | She Paused 4 Thought

Guatape Colombia | She Paused 4 Thought

All the ‘zócalos’ were re-painted in 2011 in an initiative to encourage tourism, as Guatapé turned 100 years old.

Guatape | She Paused 4 Thought

We met two of the zócalos artists and learned how they mold, carve, polish and paint the cement figures.

 Guatape | She Paused 4 Thought

Guatape | She Paused 4 Thought

According to legend, these zócalos were originally designed to stop chickens pecking at the walls.


Guatape | She Paused 4 Thought

I was visiting with my parents, who loved this vibrant and historical town as much as I did.

Guatape | She Paused 4 Thought

Although, we did encounter this lettuce-eating fish that my mom had a battle with.

Guatape Colombia | She Paused 4 Thought

This catch of the day didn’t want to spend any time at all in my mom’s stomach, so she had to let him go. The wrestling match took about an hour, but she was good to go after that. I told her that she was supposed to throw the fish back, not up… live and learn.


If you are ever in Medellín, a few days in Guatapé is is a great place to enjoy outdoor activities, colorful art or simply reflect on all of God’s beauty.
…and then, she paused for thought.

About Cathy Arkle

Cathy Arkle is a food blogger, culinary explorer, graphic artist, and cooking class junkie. Her inspirations come from her travels across the globe (50 countries) in the last 20+ years partaking in various ethnic cuisines while working as a graphic artist for major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX & ESPN). She has collected a few Emmys in the field of graphic design for sports & entertainment. Cathy is also a graduate of the Pro Chef courses at The New School of Cooking in Culver City, CA

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20 Responses to Guatapé, Colombia – Tuesday Travels

  1. cookingontheweekends February 23, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

    What a beautiful post, Cathy. I am in love with your pictures of those streets full of vibrant colors. I could sit was just stare for hours — even the vehicles are pretty and colorful. I’ll be adding this to my travel list, for sure. 🙂

    • Cathy Arkle February 23, 2016 at 8:35 pm #

      Thanks Valentina. I could have camped there for weeks. It was truly magical. I hope you get there some day.

  2. Judy at My Well Seasoned Life. February 23, 2016 at 1:40 pm #

    Cathy, the colors and scenes you have captured are stunning. Now more than ever I want to visit Columbia.

    • Cathy Arkle February 23, 2016 at 8:38 pm #

      Judy, Colombia is calling your name. I know you would capture it well with your amazing photographic skills.

  3. Maggie Zeibak February 23, 2016 at 3:42 pm #

    Fabulous pics, Cathy! Columbia gets higher on my list each day although I just returned from India and turning around and leaving next week for SE Asia. Fried crickets, you say??…

    • Cathy Arkle February 23, 2016 at 8:40 pm #

      India is so incredible, I know you had a unforgettable journey. So excited you are going to SE Asia! Yes, try the fried crickets and tarantulas. If you don’t know how to eat one, check out my guided on How to eat Tarantulas –

      • Linda February 24, 2016 at 7:17 am #

        Cathy, your pictures and stories are SO fascinating. The HUGE stone and how steps were built is mind-boggling!! You have an exceptional eye for photography and you are a great story teller (your humor with the lettuce eating fish … it looks like it’s eating the lettuce but then, oh … your mom’s stomach … the plate of food looks fantastic … BUT!)

        You know how people create coffee table books … you could create several with all of your world travels because your photography, stories and details are SO interesting and captivating!

        You could also create books on foods in foreign lands, entrees, desserts, etc. The pictures you include with your recipes make me want to make and eat everything you display! Also, I learn so much from your interesting stories about a lot of foods I’ve never seen or heard of before!

        You truly are an exceptionally creative, artistic food blogger!!

        • Cathy Arkle February 24, 2016 at 9:03 am #

          Thank you Linda for your very kind words, great ideas and encouragement. I am so happy you are enjoying the post. I really appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment.

  4. Nan February 23, 2016 at 5:33 pm #

    Love this post! Love your pictures. Most of all I love your choice of that last magical photo, very sweet, thoughtful, nice and loving. Hugs!

    • Cathy Arkle February 23, 2016 at 8:41 pm #

      Thanks Nan. The last photo of my dad sitting on the rock holds a very special place in my heart. 🙂

  5. Trish Chitty February 23, 2016 at 7:01 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this amazing place so colourful in so many ways. blessings Trish

    • Cathy Arkle March 31, 2016 at 4:38 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed it Trish! Thanks for stopping by.

  6. cheri Newell February 25, 2016 at 2:10 pm #

    CATH… I get to live vicariously through you right now!!! The photos pulled at my heart strings and soul!!! It makes me want to be there!!! I think your next project should be a “Memoir”… it’s calling to you!!! Let it percolate a few more years!!! You gotta do it!!! Big kiss!!!

  7. sippitysup February 29, 2016 at 9:54 am #

    Wow! Next stop Guatapé for sure, GREG

  8. Priscilla | She's Cookin' April 8, 2016 at 8:59 pm #

    I sat through many episodes of a Pablo Escobar series that hubs was into, and Columbia suffered greatly from that era. Love how vibrant and colorful Guatapé is – your photos are so evocative and your humorous anecdotes make me smile 🙂

    • Cathy Arkle April 10, 2016 at 11:54 am #

      The history of Colombia is a sad one, but they are on their way back up. We found all of Colombia to be endlessly fascinating, strikingly beautiful and surprisingly delicious. I will go back there again, and I can’t say that about everywhere I have traveled.

  9. Melody Welch May 23, 2016 at 11:18 am #

    Your poor mom! But I so enjoyed how you creatively included the escaping fish into your article!! Hilarious

    • Cathy Arkle May 23, 2016 at 11:47 am #

      It was a bummer, but she had a quick recovery and we all enjoyed the town so much.

  10. Lynne@CookandBeMerry May 27, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

    This is a really interesting place. I like the big rock with the stairs and all the wall art. And, girl, do you look like your Dad or what.

    • Cathy Arkle May 27, 2016 at 10:16 pm #

      Lynne, you would love this place, and yes, I do look like my Dad! 🙂

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