A Medellin Tour With Comuna 13 and Guatape

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What do you do if you happen to solely have per week or much less in a metropolis and need to see what actually makes the place tick? I took a Medellin tour with an organization primarily based within the area to see the highlights and get some background.

Medellin tour Colombia

In a metropolis of 5 million or extra, I didn’t need to take my probabilities making an attempt to determine the place out by myself. I additionally didn’t need to be a part of throngs on a bus to go out to Penol de Guatape, the most well-liked tour level within the area. So I related with a top-rated native tour firm, TWO Journey of Medellin, to get a non-public tour.

The corporate manages some luxurious penthouses and pool villas (like this) within the metropolis, which might be an effective way to expertise the ritziest a part of town with a bunch of buddies, however I used to be flying solo on this journey. I additionally handed on the lounge expertise they will provide, trying out the most popular nightclubs, however hopefully after I return I’ll have some firm for that.

A Medellin Metropolis Tour

Medellin seems like a metropolis on the rise. It had nowhere to go however up after the darkest days of the drug lords, after all, however a gradual finish to that period at first has picked up quite a lot of velocity within the final 15 years or so. In an natural manner principally led by buddies telling buddies, Medellin quietly superior to the highest spot because the digital nomad capital of South America. Now {that a} true visa for that crowd is out there, quite a lot of locals count on that development to choose up the tempo much more.

That’s only one development that helped town’s fortunes. It has additionally attracted a good variety of Colombians who have been searching for a substitute for Bogota, a metropolis that’s cleaner, with higher public transportation and higher climate. The federal government appears to be extra on prime of infrastructure wants general right here, particularly with tunnels that get folks to the place they should go sooner and gondolas that get residents up into in any other case tough-to-reach communities on the mountainsides.

My TWO Journey information for my Medellin tour parked close to a metro station that additionally capabilities as one of many cable automobile stations and we headed up over the rooftops. Often after I’m using a gondola up a mountain it’s with a pair of ski boots on, however right here that is transportation, not a leisure providing.

In areas that might take an hour or two to succeed in by automobile, on dust roads that may get flooded, these Medellin cable automobiles are a godsend for low-income residents who can now attain the city valley rapidly and get residence simply as quick, opening up many extra employment alternatives.

We additionally obtained an awesome metropolis view from Pueblito Paisa and Cerro Nutibara, two sights in a single. Nutibara Hill is among the easiest-to-reach overlook factors, with nice views of the middle of Medellin and the mountains past. (See the picture on the prime.) Pueblito Paisa itself is a reproduction of a typical city within the countryside of Antioquia—although after all full of vacationer retailers and providers.

Exploring Comuna 13

Comuna 13 Colombia we are all migrants

The neighborhood of Comuna 13 represents a tremendous transformation story, one which to this point has a really comfortable ending. It’s a uncommon instance of a tough a part of city getting actual assist from the federal government and making a partnership that advantages everybody.

Again within the days when the Medellin cartel was sowing violence and the paramilitaries created much more, this a part of town was, in no unsure phrases, a harmful slum. Murders, robberies, and extortion have been frequent and plenty of of Colombia’s worst (and most determined) criminals got here residence to right here or had roots within the space. Periodically town authorities would bulldoze the illegally constructed buildings on squatter land the military invaded in 2002 with paramilitary forces in an operation that left 18 lifeless however much more injured or rounded up indiscriminately.

Over the following years, nonetheless, town began to make amends, first constructing everlasting neighborhood facilities and different buildings, then in 2011 constructing the gondola system that gave the residents freedom of motion that raised their prospects. Led by a number of native visionaries from the neighborhood, road artists began placing up murals with a message and the murals began attracting curious guests.

Comuna 13 Medellin city tour

Quick ahead to now, after the set up of escalators, walkways, and extra everlasting retailers and this is among the metropolis’s liveliest business zones. The once-violent neighborhood feels safer than it ever has and it’s now a must-see for guests on a Medellin tour, a brighter story than the umpteenth telling of the Escobar legends.

This ended up being my favourite few hours in Medellin because of the entrepreneurial exercise on show in every single place: open-air bars, road meals distributors, and popsicle retailers have changed drug corners and duct-taped shanty homes, with exponentially extra money flowing to the numerous as an alternative of the few.

Because the day was ending, I returned to Strata 6, the place the opposite half lives, and settled into my night on the Intercontinental Medellin. It’s not typically I spend time within the poorest elements of a metropolis and the richest on the identical day. In many of the world there’s no official designation both, no clear demarcation about who’s incomes what quantity. In Colombia, it’s all laid out clearly in your handle.

I knew a very good bit about Colombia’s strata system from my earlier visits, however I relished the prospect to get the within scoop from a neighborhood. In fundamental phrases, the best way it really works is that you just transfer right into a neighborhood–designated by a lot of one to 6–primarily based in your month-to-month wage. For those who’re solely making the minimal wage or much less, you’ll be in Strata One. For those who’re so wealthy that you just’re making 25 occasions the minimal wage or extra, you’ll be in Strata 5 or Six. Everybody else is someplace in between.

This isn’t only a method to divide and outline folks although: it’s a progressive taxation system and a wealth distribution plan as effectively. These in Strata One get a number of authorities providers and sponsored utilities, however pay little or no for any of them. These in Strata Six pay three or 4 occasions the precise value for electrical energy and water, plus after all they’ve the very best property tax charges. Whereas a system like this may get howls of protest in lots of different nations, right here it appears to generate little or no opposition.

A Guatape Day Journey

view of Penol de Guatape from a lake tour

I hadn’t heard a lot concerning the “Peñol de Guatape” earlier than I obtained to Medellin, however I couldn’t get away from the picture of it after arriving. The large rock protruding up from a hillside is ubiquitous on journey company indicators, billboards, and brochures round city.

Not like most rock monoliths world wide, nonetheless, this one has steps going up the facet of it: 659 steps to be precise. They prolong to a platform on prime of the massive rock, 657 ft up into the air. Lower than two hours exterior of Medellin and even nearer to the airport, this in style attraction overlooks a man-made lake that overtook the lowlands when a dam shut off a river’s circulation.

The primary set of steps went up within the Fifties, however have been later changed by strengthened concrete ones that may help a snaking line of holiday makers who plod their manner as much as the highest, single-file. They nonetheless want common upkeep: one part was below restore after I was there, forcing the up and down visitors to push previous one another for one stretch.

It’s value all of the huffing and puffing although. After we arrived on the prime, a panoramic view stretched out earlier than us in all instructions. Not like with many deep, pure lakes, this one is dotted with tree-covered islands and peninsulas that create a hanging vista.

Guatape Lake Colombia

I actually wished to discover the realm extra and fortunately that was on the itinerary for our tour. Not one of many helicopter rides I noticed taking off from the Peñol de Guatape car parking zone, however quite a extra leisurely journey on the water to see some surprises.

Lake Guatape Boat Experience

After we walked aboard with life jackets on for our Lake Guatape boat journey, I used to be anticipating a pleasing journey across the waters to soak up the surroundings. I didn’t count on to be reminded, as soon as once more, of Colombia’s unusual latest historical past.

After we handed a flowery resort and assortment of villas, “Guess who owns these?” my information requested. “A really wealthy and well-connected household I assume,” I answered.

“Sure, and a infamous one,” he stated. “The Orejuela brothers of the Cali Cartel didn’t lose all the pieces, The forfeited two billion {dollars} value, however they have been bringing in seven billion a yr at one level.”

As if on cue, we then rode by a crumbling mansion lined with graffiti. “One among Pablo’s previous properties. He got here right here lots for conferences and had a number of locations across the lake. No one is meant to have the ability to go to that place,” he stated, pointing to folks strolling round it, posing for pictures. “You pay the best individual although…” and he trailed off.

Essentially the most hanging homes we noticed on the lake, nonetheless, have been two adjoining ones with a number of tales, infinity swimming pools, and social gathering terraces. “These each belong to well-known soccer gamers right here,” Arturo stated. One among them married the sister of the opposite, in order that they ended up constructing their trip houses subsequent to one another.


Are you headed to Medellin someday quickly? E-book a customized tour with TWO Journey to work with a neighborhood firm and get a bilingual information from town.

Then search flights to Medellin from your private home airport.


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