Bearing a freakish resemblance to Rio de Janeiro’s Sugar Loaf Mountain, Piedra del Peñol, or simply “the rock”, rises spectacularly from the edge of Embalse del Peñol, an artificial lake some 70km east of Medellín, studded with islands. Locals may tell you that the 200m granite and quartz monolith is a meteorite. Whatever geological or intergalactic anomaly brought it here, it’s well worth climbing the 649 stone steps to the rock’s peak for phenomenal 360-degree views of emerald green peninsulas jutting into the azure Embalse del Peñol – a hydroelectric dam that submerged the original town of El Peñol in the 1970s.
There is a handful of restaurants and tourist stalls at the base of the rock, but it’s better to walk or take a jeep to the delightful lakeside village of Guatapé, 3km away, which is full of restaurants serving trout fresh from the lake. The palm-lined main square, Plaza Simón Bolívar, is well preserved, with its crowning glory the Iglesia La Inmaculada Concepción; throughout the town you’ll find colourful colonial houses adorned with intricate artistic motifs.