Medellin is a valley city, surrounded by mountains. We were excited about the possible hikes we could do. According to the Google maps terrain feature, the surrounding mountains would provide hikes with elevation gains around 1000m. Our only downfall in our quest in finding trails was not knowing Spanish. This has made finding information on hiking in the local area extremely difficult. We also had difficulties finding locals who knew where to hike. Nonetheless, we did find some walks, hills and hikes to keep us busy during our 2 month stay.
This is one of the most popular walks in the city for tourists. It’s a tiny replica of a the type of towns you can find in the department of Antioquia. It’s located on top of Cerro Nutibara (Nutibara Hill), an easy location to access from anywhere in the city. If you stay in Laureles, you can probably walk to Cerro Nutibara, like we did. It’s located on the corner of Avenida 33 and Autopista Del Sur. If you’re staying in another part of the city, take the metro to Exposiciones and then walk east. The walk up to Pueblito Paisa will take about 10 or 15 minutes at most. You can follow the road or the paths that weave up the side of the hill.
Cerro El Volador
This is the largest natural park in metropolitan Medellin. There are several paths leading up it. Here you will find families and couples having a picnic, people flying kites and others out for their daily jog. You will find this hill located next to the National University of Colombia. If you’re staying in Laureles, walk north on Carrera 70 until it ends. You’ll find the path going up Cerro El Volador just to the left of where Carrera 70 ends. The walk up from the end of Carrera 70 will take you about 15 – 20 minutes. You’ll be pleased with the beautiful view of the city in all directions.
This nature preserve is located on top of one of Medellin’s east mountains. The cooler temperatures in the park are a refreshing change from Medellin’s hot and humid city center. The park offers guided walks that last about an hour. They cost $2000 Colombian pesos per person. Somehow we missed that little detail on our tour. The walking tour is less than impressive. You follow 30 other people, usually single file, along a pathway that has a barbed wire fence on both sides, preventing you from wandering off and walking on the delicate eco-system I presume. But it’s not very welcoming to have barbed wire all around you. Also, you are not allowed to hike in the park without a guide. The trails are not marked. I would honestly recommend that you rent a bicycle for your time in the park. The park is very large and attractions are spread out along a roadway. There is a pond and a treetop obstacle course that we didn’t have time to see since we underestimated the spaciousness of the park. The highlight of this trip for us was the metro cable car. It’s a gondola exactly like you’d see at a ski resort. From the Acevedo metro stop, you can take the first cable car up three stops to Santo Domingo. This cable car ride up over the poorer areas of Medellin is fascinating. Lots of people only go this far, staying on the cable car and going back down, at no extra cost. However, to get to Parque Arvi, Santo Domingo is your stop. The Parque Arvi cable car is connected by a walkway and costs $4600 COP extra each way. This second cable car takes about 20 minutes to reach Parque Arvi.
This is a little town that is located about an hour southeast of Medellin. From the main town square you can walk about 5 kms along rural country roads to reach a large hill surrounded by farm land. I can’t find the exact name of the hill, and you may need to ask permission to cross farm land to reach the trail. We went with a group called Medellin Bungee, they all spoke Spanish and we understood very little. This hill seemed to be popular with the locals as it has a well defined trail and a religious statue at the top. We had the opportunity to rappel down 90 meters instead of walking down. It was a bit scarier than I had imagined but a ton of fun to rappel that far.
El Cerro Quitasol
This is a fantastic day out. I highly recommend you do this hike. I liked it so much that I even created a separate blog post about it, HERE. It’s Medellin’s most accessible big hike, accessed directly from the northern most train stop. There are several different paths leading up and around the mountain, you could hike it several times and see something different each time. Cerro Quitasol has a historic cobblestone path, believed to be an indigenous community road. You can find the remains for an old chairlift and waterslide that was once supposed to be part of a community park but the plan was abandoned in 1998. What remains of the chairlift and waterslide are falling apart and while we were there, city workers appeared to be dismantling it. For the specific how to details about this hike, check out my separate blog post, it’s all listed there.
El Peñon de Guatape
This is one of those activities that every guide book and blog post about Medellin tells you that you need to go do. It is an interesting rock. It seems so very out of place among the lush green rolling hills that surround it. The best thing about this rock is definitely the view. I can’t imagine a better location to view the surrounding countryside. I also thoroughly enjoyed the lack of mainstream tourism that comes with such an attraction. Yes, there are booths selling knickknacks and snacks, but there isn’t the constant bombarding and pressuring you to buy things like you would get in places like Mexico, for example. No one is saying “come into my store”, “cheap, for you one dolla”. You will hear the occasional “a la orden” , roughly translated to: at your service, which I much prefer to the “come look” phrases that you get elsewhere. The 740 steps to the top will cost you $12,000 Colombian Pesos. You can read more about our trip in our post about it.