Colombia is a country of breathtaking diversity. You can hike snow-capped mountains, explore the Amazon rainforest, relax on Caribbean beaches and that’s just to start. Last week I went to Tatacoa Desert for the first time – another type of landscape to add to Colombia’s already impressive list.
Arriving to Tatacoa it can be difficult to believe that somewhere in the region lies an arid desert – the surrounding areas are marked by lush, rolling hills and verdant greenery. Before you know it, however, the green starts receding and the vibrant greens turn to reds and greys. The trees you were passing turn to cacti, and the chance of rain you thought you sensed all but dissipates. You are now in the desert.
Travel to Tatacoa will usually involve 2 days. In the first day you’ll explore the ‘red area’ of the desert. Spectacular in its distinctiveness, the rock formations are drastic and the colors easily rival Argentinas ‘Mountain of Seven Colors’. As we wandered round, we began to hear strains of vallenato floating through the air. We explored further and stumbled upon a small group with a young girl in the middle, playing the accordian like a pro. If you know Colombians at all, you’ll know that they were all dancing, singing, and clapping along. The parranda had arrived in the middle of the desert.
At night I’m told the stars are spectacular. We experienced a full moon – a bright, bright full moon – and so the usual lack of light pollution that allows for a clear view of the night sky was actually obscured by the amount of light coming from the moon. Nonetheless, we spotted Saturn, Mars and more before turning in.
The following day was spent exploring the ‘grey area’ of the desert. Just as impressive, if not as vibrant, its an area that wouldn’t look out of place in a Star Wars movie. In fact, it pretty much looks like what the moon would look like if it could grow a little vegetation. The walk takes you to a natural pool in the middle of the desert, where you can recuperate from the hike having one of the most unusual swims of your life.
How To Get To Tatacoa Desert
Getting to Tatacoa takes about 6 hours by land from Bogota. if you’re going by yourself need to grab a bus from the Terminal in the city, which will take you to Neiva. From here you can either take a taxi direct to Tatacoa, or if you’re finding it hard to get one, take a bus to Villavieja which is right next to the desert. From here you can easily grab a taxi, or find a tour guide who will look after you for your trip.