T – We wanted to try to beat the tourist hordes out at the rock this morning, so that meant an early rise and a quick pack up. It wasn’t long before we were out of town and parking our bikes in the parking lot of El Penol.
The rock was huge! The stairs jammed into the crack of the rock looked a little steep and there looked to be a lot of them! We paid our entrance fee and started to climb.
Wow what a climb. It was hard work and soon we were both drenched in sweat and had to have several rests where we sat on a step and gasped air into our burning lungs. But every time we stopped we were presented with bigger and bigger views over the surrounding countryside. We could see forever!
C – It was a fantastic climb and I really enjoyed the exercise, after really not doing much at all. We both noticed the difference though, exerting yourself at some altitude and we did have to stop a few times along the first 650 steps.
T – Finally we passed the 650 step mark and walked out onto the concreted top of the rock. It has become quite the tourist drawcard and there were a few shops up here selling water and tourist tat. We had a squiz at the views and sat down to enjoy a cold water and a coke. We still had another 100 odd stairs to climb up a tower but first we needed to get our breaths back.
We trundled up to the very top. 740 steps up from ground level. The views were breath taking, if we had any breath left. We spent a few minutes enjoying it and then started the climb down. We could see the carpark below us slowly filling with tourists and thought we should move out of there before it became too crowded.
The climb down was just as hard as the one up. My calf muscles were not happy and protested loudly and painfully all the way. There is a second staircase hidden behind the main one and is used by people descending only. It has tight spirals and very narrow steps.
C – After my last job, I take an unusual interest in land slips/rockfall risks and we were both pleased to notice that at several times on the way down, we were walking directly under large boulders which had the look that they may wish to dislodge themselves, given the right situation! I would not like to be climbing that during an earthquake!
T – From there it was time for us to head into the city of Medellin. It wasn’t a far ride but we did end up on a major highway full of buses and trucks. It was awful! But it was nothing compared to when we finally made it into the city proper.
The traffic was mental. We saw bikes lock up and nearly collide with other bikes, cars drifting in and out of lanes as their drivers texted, trucks cut us off and forced us out of the way, oh it sucked big time and it wasn’t long before Chantelle told me that she was scared shitless.
C – We came into town on the autopista and honestly, it was the most terrified I have been on my bike this trip. Everyone was moving at around 70km/hr and nobody actually seemed to be paying attention to where they were driving. I can not describe in any other way other than seriously terrifying!
T – We decided right then that we would avoid any more cities for the time being as we have heard they only get crazier the further south we go.
We ended up being sent to a hostel in the nice part of town and once we were unpacked we wandered off to have a look at the nearby square and to buy a few items. The hostel next door had a couple of other overlanders staying there and we caught up with one of them for a few beers and a chat before calling it a night.
Both of us are getting a little tired of the hotel scene and can’t wait to get back into camping. First though we need to find a new sleeping mat for me!
Tomorrow we are going to go look at Pablo Escobars old mansion in the city near to us and take a trip out to the favelas (shanty towns) to have a look.