Road Trip Bogotá - Guatapé- Bogotá

Apr. 14, 2021 - Paola Olarte

How did the pandemic affect my travelling heart?

The arrival of the pandemic overshadowed perhaps the greatest adventure of my life, a Eurotrip I had been dreaming about for years and planning since mid 2019. I had to cancel my trip 8 days before my flight Bogotá - München, so yes, it was quite a blow. I used to believe that this COVID-19 thing was a temporary issue that I shouldn't be given so much importance. Of course, I was completely wrong and I admit that I am now one of the most fearful people you can meet when talking about the so famous virus. Especially, after testing positive for coronavirus in August and being sick for almost a month, recovering at home. Travelling was no longer part of my priorities once I became aware of the seriousness of our invisible enemy.

Travelling in Colombia during a global crisis

After being at home for almost a year, my family and I decided to travel! An activity considered as " high risk " these days. In order to take care of our mental health by travelling without getting infected again, we thought about places where we could breathe fresh air, be calm, biosecure and also that were pet friendly, without forgetting the road conditions. So we decided to travel from March 22 to 27 to Guatapé - Antioquia, a beautiful destination thanks to the reservoir and the massive stone that adorns the place.

How to arrive to Guatapé from Bogotá?

Although the fastest way to get there is by plane, Bogotá-Medellín in a flight that takes 45 minutes in total plus an hour and a half by road, we decided to go by car. The travel time is approximately 7 and a half hours; but since we decided to make some stops for breakfast and rest, it took us 9 hours one way and 8 and a half hours on the way back.

The road trip does not compare at all with the trip by plane, the landscapes that can be seen are breathtaking. I have travelled many times by road in Colombia, but I had never seen a highway as beautiful as the one that connects Bogotá with Medellín. You leave from Bogotá taking the Calle 80 exit and then heading to the Bogotá-Medellín highway, later on you will take one of the stretches of one of the most important roads in Colombia, the Ruta Del Sol. Part of the route leads you through the Central Mountain Range, where you can appreciate its incomparable beauty.

You will also see different types of landscapes, several hydrological sources and you will learn a lot about the type of fauna that can be found just by paying attention to the signs. The contrasts are incredible, like when you go from the plains of La Dorada-Caldas, passing through the majestic Magdalena River and later arriving to Doradal Antioquia, while enjoying the variety of vegetation and natural tunnels formed by the tree canopies.

Biosecurity measures everywhere

It is important to remember that no matter how safe it feels to travel at this time, it is impossible to forget about the virus. Everywhere we stopped by or visited there were signs reminding us of the constant use of masks, hand washing, use of gel or alcohol and of course every place complied with the minimum distance of 2 meters. We arrived in Guatapé during a Monday holiday and yes, the town was very crowded, so we just had lunch and went to the house that we rented for the whole week. The recommendation when travelling is to avoid weekends or holidays in towns or cities; that is the time when people go out more, of course avoid high seasons. I always avoid travelling during these times because everything is more expensive and overcrowded; during Covid times I follow this rule much more.

Recommendations and activities to do in Guatapé

On Tuesday we went to walk around and get to know Guatapé and for this we decided to hike from the house to the town. One advantage of staying outside the town but close to the stone, is that you can enjoy walking along the road and be surprised with the different hidden sections, like stairs full of nature. There are several hotels nearby, perhaps the best known is Los Recuerdos, but there is also the Zócalo Campestre Hotel, Bosko Hotel, La Mansión Hotel, among other multiple options for all budgets and travellers. It is great because they follow all the biosecurity protocols and since it was low season they looked very nice.

Of course we visited the stone!! I recommend you to go early in the morning and again during the weekdays; the entrance fee is 20.000 pesos for nationals and foreigners. Before the pandemic I had already been to the stone, this time it was wonderful because there were not many people. I think we were about 20 people in total when we got to the viewpoint and as we climbed the stairs up there was no one around. One of the best things about this trip was being able to enjoy such an iconic place without any discomfort. It is also recommended to visit the replica of the old Peñol to learn how the reservoir was formed, its history and how it changed the lives of many families. It is interesting to see how something so beautiful had a beginning that in my opinion is a bit shadowy. Enjoying water activities in the reservoir is a must, as well as doing a hike known as "Vuelta al anillo"; a walk of about 15 kms, where you can see the stone from different angles until you reach Guatapé.

How to get to Medellín from Guatapé?

Besides getting to know Guatapé very well, I went to Medellín for a day, since it is only an hour and a half away by car. It is reached by the Bogotá - Medellín highway, which is the best option because you go through the West tunnel or Túnel de Occidente in Spanish, there you literally go through the mountain and when you leave the tunnel you can enjoy a wonderful view of the city. I could say that it is one of the most impressive works in the region.

Some activities to do in Medellín

For those who have not been in Medellín before, it is recommended to visit the neighborhood El Poblado which has a wide variety of hotels, hostels and especially restaurants, even at this time there is a great offer and everything is very well conditioned in order to avoid being in closed spaces. All the museums were open, with a capacity of 35% and it is recommended to buy your tickets at least 24 hours in advance. Although nothing works 100% you can enjoy a good day. Going to Comuna 13 is a must to get to know a bit of the history of the city and its social transformation. Having at least 4 days to be in Medellin is ideal, as I knew it before one day was more than perfect.

This is what it is like to travel during the pandemic in Colombia, very different from what I knew, but you can travel! Of course, with all the precautions and fulfilling all the rules of the country you are visiting. In Colombia it is mandatory to wear a mask at all times, whether in open or natural spaces. Although not all the inhabitants fully respect this recommendation, at least 90% or more do it and in a way it has helped us to overcome the peaks and have a little bit of normality. Even in natural spaces, like in the walk around the stone we wore the mask, although it was an open area, there are many houses of farmers or vacationers and it is an obligation to protect them from a possible contagion. If I protect myself, I protect others.

Colombia is waiting for you!

Whenever you want to come to visit, the DE UNA Colombia team will be ready to advise and accompany you during all the stages of your trip. Colombia is open for international travellers since September 2020 and will remain so, there is no intention to close the country again, but there are adjustments or new regulations according to how the pandemic is advancing globally, all in order to ensure economic and social balance ... Colombia awaits you and we will be there to make your trip a pleasant experience according to your needs, tastes, budget and following all the biosafety protocols.