Guatapé and El Peñol, two small towns in Colombia, might just be South America's emerging glamping epicenter.
Take a stroll through El Poblado, a boutique and cosmopolitan hotel-draped neighborhood in Medellín, Colombia, and this much becomes clear from the sporadic leaflet: The towns of Guatapé and El Peñol are the go-to day trips for locals and tourists alike.
Tucked approximately 90 minutes west of Medellín in the Colombian state of Antioquia, Guatapé is most renowned for its neon building-filled town center, and in nearby El Peñol, there's a towering rock formation with more than 700 steps carved into its side that people can climb. The trek to the top is worth the reward: 360-degree views of the jagged Andes skyline as well as an expansive human-made reservoir sparkling below.
What you likely won’t squint and see from the peak, however, are the vast number of glamping establishments dotting the turquoise water’s shores. In fact, there are now more than 100 of them, turning this day trip hot spot into an emerging, multiday glamping destination within the country.
"In Guatapé alone, we handle approximately 990,000 tourists and visitors a year," Estefania Jiménez Herron, secretary of economic development and tourism of the municipality of El Peñol, tells Travel + Leisure. "The landscape stands out and makes these two municipalities an ideal glamping destination. This beautiful water reservoir seems like a lake, so it's desirable for tourists and visitors, especially couples, because of the surrounding atmosphere.”
Similar to Medellín, which is known as the "City of the Eternal Spring," there's no bad time of year to visit Guatapé. Throughout the year, the high temperatures hover in the mid-70s, while the lows fall in the upper 50s. On a given day, its reservoir is swirling with water sport activities, driven in part by jet-ski rentals and an inflatable water park.
The glamping establishments along the water tend to complement the active vibe. “It's a landscape of romance... peace, perfect views, and total tranquility,” says Herron.
Popular spots include Domus Glamping, which offers kayak, water bicycle, and fishing excursions. Its grounds include six igloo-shaped tents that are positioned on wooden decks overlooking the water. At Glamping La Cepa, each room is a wagon that has been morphed into a luxurious Western-inspired room with a jacuzzi, private barbecue area, and open-air shower.
While certainly more saturated near the reservoir, there are secluded glamping options nearby, too. For example, Grinta Finca y Glamping is tucked approximately 15 minutes south of El Peñol’s main square and is considered a “love hotel” that caters to couples, complete with views of the Andes, room service, and an on-site coffee farm.
"Colombia is a great destination for international travelers seeking unique and transformative experiences," Carmen Caballero, president of ProColombia, the country's tourism promotion agency, tells T+L. "Because of its natural wealth, it's one of the most biodiverse countries in the world and an ideal destination for nature tourism."
According to statistics provided by ProColombia, approximately 17 percent of the country’s glamping establishments can be found in the state of Antioquia, with Eje Cafetero (Coffee Axis) and the states of Cundinamarca (where Bogotá is located) and Boyacá being home to a growing number of glamping-centric businesses.
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