Aerial view of El Peñón de Guatapé, Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia
© Amazing Aerial Agency/Offset by Shutterstoc
A magnificent monolith
Towering more than 650 feet, El Peñón de Guatapé (The Rock of Guatapé) is an inselberg, which is geologist-speak for a stone monolith that stands alone amid relatively flat surroundings. This huge rock is found in northwest Colombia, a region once inhabited by the Indigenous Tahamí people, who are said to have worshipped El Peñón, as many locals now call it. Probably because it's so smooth, no one is known to have climbed the rock until 1954, when a small group of friends scaled it by wedging a series of boards into a vertical crack. It took them five days to reach the top.
These days El Peñón is considerably easier to climb, but it'll still make you work for that view at the top. Built into the same crack the climbers used back in '54, a masonry staircase now makes several switchbacks all the way to the summit. Each of the 740 stairs is numbered, so you can be reminded with each step just how many more remain before you arrive at the viewing platform up top. There you can buy drinks, snacks, and souvenirs while taking in the view of twisting lakes and small islands.