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Peñol de Guatapé + Finca la Manuela (Pablo Escobar), Colombia

Updated: May 25, 2023

80 km from Medellin is the small village of Guatapé, which attracted us for its huge 220m high monolith with a very particular shape (Peñol de Guatapé). We discover by chance that Pablo Escobar once had a vacation home near this place (Finca la Manuela, bombed in 1993) and that it is possible to visit it!

Piedra del Peñol, ce monolithe de 220 m
Piedra del Peñol, this 220 m monolith
fast stats guatapé

Transportation Anecdote

Did I mention Colombians drive like crazy? Generally in South America, yes. But in Colombia... it's really the place where we had the most cold sweats. We decide to take a bus to Guatapé from Medellin, which takes about 2 hours. South Americans have this nasty habit of overtaking on double lines, and there, we cross mountains, curves, roads under construction at night, all at the same time, and our driver doesn't seem to want slow down for a moment. We said to ourselves: lucky that we lived our life at 100% (haha)! Hearing us speak English (Cameron is American), a guy sitting next to us asks us (with a lot of energy...) the typical travel/existential questions (who are you, where are you from, where are you going, how long have you been here? Us: where? Medellin, Colombia? South America? How long will you be staying in Guatapé? Which hostel? etc.) and funny, he tells us that he works exactly where we are going to sleep, and that he is 4 hours late for the start of his shift. At first we find it funny and rather incredible, and it is nevertheless, but let's say that I don't tell him that I am dragging a camera and that I am making a film so as not to attract his attention (usually, I wait for a shortly before talking about it, to be sure to be able to trust). Getting off the bus, he even offers to show us where our hostel is (again with a lot of enthusiasm and energy). The coincidence is so strange, that I'm starting to find his story a bit dodgy. Tsé, we're at night, in a city we don't know, a guy we don't know offers to show us the way...(!) I share my concerns with Michaël and while walking, we let's see if it really gets us where we want to go. You will find it as incredible as we do: his story was true! He was actually working there, 4 hours late, and he was even our server at the hostel restaurant... a very bad server, but that's another story!

Levé du soleil sur le réservoir du Peñol
Levé du soleil sur le réservoir du Peñol

Guatapé + Piedra del Peñol

The next day begins our exploration of Guatapé. I was very eager to climb the monolith. We explore the water's edge a little on foot and at the first tuktuk we see, we take it. Near the entrance, we observe a sign where it is written: ''the most beautiful view in the world!'' Wow, well it must be rather extraordinary, up there! But we also remember that South Americans would do anything to sell their salad. ''Big statement!''... We laugh, but still, we are really captivated by the sight of this huge stone, which seems to have fallen from space.

Now we go up! ''700 steps, there's nothing there, I did the triple when I was in India at 3am (etc)...'' exclaims Michaël. Indeed, for the guys it seemed rather easy. I always have a little more weight on my back with my camera, but I constantly tell myself in these situations that it can't be worse than the Inca trek in Peru! At around 2000m it's not so bad, but some might find it more difficult. The view is really superb and the more surprising the higher we go, it motivates the climb.

Vue de Piedra del Peñol, environ à 300 marches...
View of Piedra del Peñol, about 300 steps...

To finally reach the top! We're happy and satisfied, but to go from there to saying that it's the most beautiful view in the world... in short, we started joking again. The Peñol tank really makes the view unique, for $7.50, frankly, you have to do it! Especially since I'm not dragging a drone, views like this are really appreciated in my films.

Piedra del Peñol ''¡La vista más hermosa del mundo!'' (la plus belle vue du monde)
Piedra del Peñol ''¡La vista más hermosa del mundo!'' (the most beautiful view in the world)

Finca la Manuela

The visit having been shorter than expected, we have time to explore Guatapé on our return (Guatapé and the Peñol are about 15 minutes away). We are accosted in the street by a salesman who offers us a tour of Pablo Escobar's former vacation home for a really ridiculous price ($15 per person). The tour lasts about 2 to 3 hours and we had enough time before taking the evening bus to return to Medellin. We don't really know what to expect, at this price... but as we often say, it's worth the boat trip! And you never know what plans will be made for the film.

NB: I wrote this post in 2019 and I heard several rumors that it was no longer possible to do this tour. Find out before you go.

Once again, we're satisfied, and I, on the video side, didn't ask for the same! The site is really beautiful. One can observe several mansions of celebrities who have decided to make the Guatapé reservoir their place of paradise. And it's really exceptionally beautiful, we understand why! We never ceased to be impressed, but our astonishment was at its height when we landed at the Finca la Manuela estate of Pablo Escobar (named after his daughter). Abandoned since the bombardment in 1993, nature has resumed its course there. We visit the multitudes of buildings and land that covers this small private island. The trees are special and add a touch of fantasy to the landscape: with his fortune, Pablo Escobar had decided to plant trees from all over the world. There are even trees native to Australia! Really, the look is atypical. There is even a section on the island dedicated to paintball! We keep saying ''it's crazy, it's crazy!'', we can't believe how lucky we are!

Finca la manuela Pablo Escobar Guatape
''Finca la Manuela'', (Pablo Escobar), Guatapé
Finca la manuela Pablo Escobar Guatape
''Finca la Manuela'', (Pablo Escobar), Guatapé
Finca la manuela Pablo Escobar Guatape
''Finca la Manuela'', (Pablo Escobar), Guatapé

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