After a long drive from El Oso, we arrive in La Neiva well after midnight, and I am keen on visiting the Tatacoa Desert the next day. A quick research teaches me that we are sleeping close to the small airport, and I am up early the next day to go there, rent a car, and drive up north. The local road takes me past Villavieja, after which I make a first stop when I see a quite drastic change in landscape. It does not take long before I drive past cacti and dry hills. A few kilometres later, I park the car, and take in the views from a viewpoint. Below me, I see canyons cutting through a dry landscape of rugged, heavily eroded, reddish earth with many folds. Further away, I see larger formations of rock and earth. On some of them, I see large black birds sitting. It is time to walk down.
Once at the bottom of the canyon, I start walking the Sendero Cusco, through labyrinthine canyons, past earth formations with deep folds, sculpted by the wind, and stop many times to take in the landscape, to study the sometimes peculiar cacti, to take pictures. The path meanders through this desert landscape, past always different formations: some small, some like a several-story building. I walk up one of the formations to have an overview of the landscape, then continue the path towards the south. There are supposed to be fossils here, but I do not see any. I squeeze myself through a narrow opening in one of the many walls, stay a while to watch big birds circle above me before they land on one of the walls. From here, the path turns north, and the desert formations are always more spectacular. Huge walls, some with tall cacti precariously standing on top, rise out of the rather flat earth. Fragile pillars pointing towards the sky. I want to come back here with a full moon.
When I get closer to the road, I see more people. After completing the half circle path of Cusco, I walk up to the ridge, and walk back towards where I parked the car. I now get a fresh look on the desert landscape below, start to see the bigger picture, with haphazard lines in the landscape which, in combination with the ochre, grey and green colours, make for a piece of wild art. A short drive, taking me past an observatory (this area is renowned for good star gazing at night with the clear skies) takes me to Los Hoyos, where I descend into yet another canyon of Tatacoa Desert. The landscape is similar in shapes, with rugged earth-and-stone hills, pillars, and folds, but Los Hoyos is solely grey. This monochrome landscape soon gets its own appeal to me, and the shorter walk through canyons in which I even find a trickle of water is on a par with the more colourful Cusco area. At the end of the canyon, I find a man-made swimming pool. After walking under the relentless sun through the hot landscape of Tatacoa, the magnet of the swimming pool is powerful. but I manage to withstand the attraction as I have a flight to catch.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Tatacoa Desert (Colombia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Tatacoa Desert. Read more about this site.