Medellin Photo Gallery - El Penol

Visiting the 200m-high giant rock is an easy day trip from Medellin, one which can be done on your own. Head to the North bus station, which is on the metro line, and look for the bus to Guatapé.

The bus will continue to fill up as it makes its way uphill and out of the city, so be sure to get on at the terminus to secure your seat.

About an hour and a half later, the bus will pull into a gas station, where you can transfer to smaller vehicles for the uphill ride to the rock, or go up the staircase yourself.

This first climb is just a practice. The real thing is still 15 minutes away. In the meantime, enjoy the view of the surrounding countryside and lake during rest breaks.

After buying the entry ticket, the steep climb begins. Luckily, the steps are built well, there are lots of views along the way to stop for a breath, and numbers are painted on the steps to encourage your progress. There are over 600 steps to reach the top.

Drinks and snacks are served at the top to reward your climb.

The clouds started clearing out and some blue and sun emerged.

To manage crowds safely, climbing and descending tourists use different staircases for most of the journey. The concrete structure damages the exterior view to some extent.

If you left Medellin at breakfast time, you still have half the day ahead. Back at the bottom, negotiate with a driver for the short shuttle ride to Guatapé, a few kilometres away, for lunch, and an afternoon exploring the beautiful old town.

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