Around Medellín

By the time they reach Antioquia, the Andes have almost petered out yet their foothills can still reach heights of up to 3000m. This gives the rolling green countryside around Medellín an agreeable temperate climate in which all types of flowers and fruit thrive, and the typical villages of the region make for popular daytrips from the departmental capital. One such excursion is known as the Circuito del Oriente and involves a tour through typical paisa villages such as El Retiro, La Ceja and Río Negro. Further on is the network of artificial lakes known as the Embalse del Peñol, towered over by an extraordinary granite rock that bears an uncanny resemblance to Río de Janeiro's Sugar Loaf Mountain. On the shores of the lake is Guatape, a sleepy town that livens up at weekends.

Further east still, as the road drops down towards the Río Magdalena, temperate turns to tropical and hidden in the jungle is the Río Claro Nature Reserve, where a crystalline river with a marble bed has cut a path through an enormous rock, creating a 150-m canyon. Just a few kilometres on is Hacienda Napoles, former home of drug baron Pablo Escobar, now a theme park with pretensions to be the new Jurassic Park. Due south is the beginning of coffee country. Enchanting villages such as Jardín, Jerico and Andes are seldom visited, a just reward for the intrepid traveller. Santa Fe de Antioquia, to the north, was once the departmental capital, but fortunately for architecture lovers it was eclipsed by Medellín, allowing it to take on a new role as Antioquia's very own time vacuum.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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