GUATAPE AND SAN CARLOS WATERFALLS

ADVENTURE MOTORBIKE TRIP

RIDE DESCRIPTION
HOW MUCH

Want to explore beyond Guatape? This trip is for you! San Carlos is a small pueblo near Medellín that hasn’t yet been discovered by many foreigners. But it’s a hidden gem surrounded by mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and nature.

An adventure motorbike tour to Guatapé is a great one to get your feet wet. But some excellent dual sport riding is to be found if you keep going to the next towns of San Rafael and San Carlos. These are two small towns that are hidden gems near Medellin and are surrounded by mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and nature. The best part is that they haven't been discovered by tourists yet!

The main roads are paved, but everything else is not. First off the road from Guatapé to San Rafael is a 35 kilometer, twisty as hell rip of a road with an elevation drop of over 1,000 meters. I would suggest if you want to stretch out a trip to Guatapé to two or three days, you can’t go wrong staying in one of the resorts around San Rafael, and using it as a base to explore the unpaved countryside.

 

The food and booze is cheap, the coffee is great, and unlike Guatapé, you won’t need a jacket at night.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Guatape

  • El Peñol Rock

  • Waterfalls in San Carlos

  • Snaking through mountain roads 

  • Beautiful scenery the entire time

  • Steak dinner on the town square

ITINERARY

DAY 1 - MEDELLIN TO SAN CARLOS

Recommended Hotel: Hotel Campestre La Cascada

 

This adventure motorbike tour to San Carlos takes you through a winding road passing through the town of Granada. The road is totally beautiful with spectacular views. Sometimes there is mountain mist which makes the scenery even more magical.

Once you get to San Carlos, we recommend taking a hike to the 30 meter tall La Viejita waterfall. La Viejita is a nature trail of approximately one mile (900 meters) with easy access and is one of the most beautiful trails in the area.  Climbing up further along the trail, you come to a second waterfall known as “La Cascada” that has a pool of water at the bottom for swimming.​ If you want to explore other waterfalls and swimming holes we recommend getting a local guide. You can check with the local tourism office, called SENA, located in the town square to find reputable guides.

Located walking distance from the Hotel Campestre La Cascada is the San Antonio waterfall. The path has a couple of covered bridges that cross a stream and the paved trail is covered by trees and surrounded by nature. The hike and seeing the waterfall makes for good photo opportunities but they aren't exactly the best for swimming due to the rushing water flowing through. 

A short motorcycle ride out to the other side of San Carlos is the huge Piedra del Tabor that dominates the landscape. This gigantic Stone Monolith rises to a height of about 9,500 feet (1,800 meters) above sea level. It is possible to get here on an 8 hour round trip while going through thick vegetation.

Steak dinner on the town square is a great evening activity. We recommend checking out the Al Carbón de Leña restaurant that has great steak. La Costica Dulce restaurant is also recommended and has a great view of the town square from the second floor. 

DAY 2 - SAN CARLOS TO GUATAPE THEN BACK TO MEDELLIN

 

Day two is another great day and the ride to Guatape is beautiful. Leaving San Carlos, head north past the Mirador San Carlos lookout point towards San Rafael. This road is rugged and unpaved and starts off taking you across the top of a mountain. Dropping down from the mountain, you will ride off-road through a valley before arriving in the town of San Rafael. San Rafael is a convenient place to stop and get a quick cup of coffee before riding the final 45 minutes to Guatape on pavement.

 

Guatape is a nice town but can be quite touristy and crowded, especially on weekends and holidays. There are shops selling t-shirts, wood carvings, and other souvenirs on pretty much every corner. 

 

The big draw here is the famous Piedra del Peñol and the view of the lake and surrounding area from the top. The Piedra is a high granite monolith (technically an inselberg) that rises from near the edge of a man-made lake called the Embalse Guatapé. A brick staircase of 659 steps rises up through a broad fissure on the side of the rock. From the top, you’ll soak up magnificent views of this fertile region, the fingers of the lake sprawling amid a vast expanse of green mountains. 

 

The ride to Medellin takes around two hours on a paved road and is fairly uneventful if there isn't any traffic. Starting about an hour after leaving Guatape you will notice that the traffic begins to get heavier. Highway congestion from busses and people returning to Medellin can make the highway more challenging. The last leg of the trip dropping into Medellin's valley is a bit steeper so be sure to watch your speed and increase your following distance.

Self-Guided

  • $280USD per person based on shared occupancy

  • +Add Pillion/Passenger $175USD ($25USD/Day)

  • + Upgrade Single Room: +$300 USD

  • - (Fuel not included but it's not expensive)

  • Downloadable GPS route included 

ALL GEAR INCLUDED

For maximum comfort and convenience, we recommend that you bring your own riding gear but if you need something we have quality gear available for you at no extra charge.   

INCLUDED

 

We aim to provide you with the best value for your money. Our trips and rentals include great bike, all riding gear, and clean, budget-friendly hotels off the beaten path for an authentic experience in Colombia:

  • Bilingual Guide / Photographer

  • Fuel and Road Tolls

  • Unlimited Kilometers

  • Hotels - Clean, budget-friendly hotels

  • Helmet

  • Cell Phone Holder with Wireless and USB Charging

  • SOAT - Colombia's mandatory liability insurance

  • Medical Insurance - (Just in case)

  • High-quality 50 Liter dry bags 

  • Emergency Tool Kit and Spares 

  • High-Quality Rain Jackets

  • GPS Tracking Device

  • Gloves 

  • Jacket 

  • Top box 

  • Luggage Storage

  • Optional Motorcycle Lowering Kit

  • Flexible Refund Policy - Cancellations 31 days or more will be allowed to reschedule or given a full refund. Cancellations 30 days or less prior to rental will be allowed to reschedule their trip at no cost. If rescheduling isn't possible you will be refunded the full price of the trip excluding the price of the hotels.

IS COLOMBIA SAFE?

Now it is. Gone are the days of kidnappings, drug lords, and guerrillas. We routinely encounter Colombian military checkpoints that ensure safe travel throughout the country. We've led hundreds of tours around the country and have never had any problems with security. 

 

Anthony Bourdain summed it up perfectly:

 

"If you want to find bad people in Colombia, you can surely find them, as you could in New York or Los Angeles. But nowhere have my crew and I been treated better or with more kindness and generosity. I'd bring my family on vacation there in a heartbeat. And hope to soon. As I said before: Colombians are proud. Let them show you what they are proud of."