When we were heading south that morning to the Salto de Candelas waterfall, we got some glimpses of Lake Tota below us. It looked gorgeous, and I started wondering if we had not made a mistake going to the waterfall instead of exploring the lake. A couple of hours later, after a pleasant hike to the spectacular waterfall, we are sitting on a wall alongside the road. Trucks pass by, and when a car stops, I feel it stops for us. Others ask the driver to take them to Sogamoso, but when I arrive at the car, the driver invites us in and leaves the others on the roadside. The friendly and talkative driver takes us up the beautiful road towards Sogamoso, and when we arrive at El Crucero, the turnoff for Lake Tota, it is already almost 4pm. I ask our friend Willian if he is in a hurry, and offer him some money to take us around the lake. It is our only chance to get more than just a glimpse of Lago de Tota.
We know we made the right decision when a soft afternoon sunlight glows over the lake and the surrounding fields when we make it down to the lakeshore. Farmers are working the fields: Willian tells us Lake Tota is famous for its special type of onion which are sold all over the country. As we drive around the east side of the lake, we see islets, hills on the other side of the lake, trout fishing facilities floating in the lake. In the distance, clouds floating over the water and on to the hills and mountains. When we reach Aquitania, we stop at the central square. A church stands at the eastern side and is basking in the afternoon sunlight. On top of the roof we see a statue of Jesus on a raft. He seems to be greeting the sun. On our way out of the small town, we see a bright rainbow over the hills. On our right hand side, there is a peninsula, and we now see the sun slowly but surely disappearing behind a thick layer of clouds.
At the south side of the lake, it becomes clear that we are further away from towns and villages. We see more men in ponchos, on horseback, than we see cars. It gives our drive around the lake a more authentic feel. At the south of the lake, Willian stops, and when we get out of the car and look below, we finally see the famous Playa Blanca, a white sand beach that would be a drawcard in the Caribbean, but instead lies over 3000 metres high and is surrounded by mountains. It is impossible to get down to the lake, which unfortunately is not freely accessible. Thick clouds now give Lake Tota a completely different look, spectacular threatening skies. And then, it is time to say goodbye to the lake: we take the inland road passing a couple other villages on the way to Sogamoso where we even get stuck in a small traffic jam. A far cry from the quiet mountain lake that is so close.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Lago de Tota (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 Lago de Tota. Read more about this site.