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After staying in Bogota for nearly 3 months, we finally continued our Journey South. The first stop was the Tatacoa Desert, he second largest desert in Colombia, covering 330 square kilometers. Famous for its beautiful, dramatic colors and gorgeous clear sky, perfect for stargazing.

Because our bus from Bogota got in late at night, we stayed the first night in Neiva, a small city about 45 min outside the desert. The next day we caught a taxi to the desert. There are buses that go towards the desert, but they stop in a town called Villa Vieja, and then you have to hire a taxi to take you the rest of the way. If you have 2 or 3 people it works out about the same for a taxi, which should be 50-60k.

After driving through the dull, dry transitional plains for 40 minutes, the little taxi crested the final knoll and the desert spread out before us, living up to its breathtaking reputation. On one side of the road, the earth was a brilliant rust red and about 50 yards to the right the ground crumpled and crackled like tin foil into a sea of ridges. To our left, the desert spread out flat and grey as ash, only penetrated by large boulders and mounds in the distance. Here, the highway faded into a small dirt road and continued to stretch out into the desert, perfecting dividing the rust colored ground from the ashen grey.

As we coasted down the hill, we passed a white building with a round dome perched at the top of the hill to our left. At the base of the hill, immediately to our right, was what looked like a small hacienda, so we called to the cab to pull into the gap between the barbed wire fence.

After speaking briefly to the kind woman that run the establishment, we got the keys for a little cabana about 20 yards from the main building. Though basic, it had its own porch complete with a hammock that looked out directly to the section where the land crumpled and fell into a deep gorge just 30 feet from our door.

That evening we wandered up towards the white building, which we knew was an observatory that held nightly talks. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to see any stars that night, so we spent the evening on our porch enjoying the serenity of the desert. Night comes early there, as darkness fall the small haciendas that pop up on either side of the road, turn on their generators to power a few weak lights for just a few hours. By 9, everything was turned off and the silence was complete.

The next morning we wandered down the road a couple hundred yards to the next hostel where we had breakfast for 5k. After fuelling up, we found our way down into the gorge and explored the maze. You can do a 5k trek that takes you around a loop through the most dramatic desert landscapes, but we stuck to the red rock formations. After a few hours we managed to make our way back to camp.

On the way home we met a sickly little pup who followed us around the rest of the day. We have a bit of a soft spot for strays, so we had to sneak the pup leftovers.

On the second day, we hired a tuk-tuk for 30,000 COP to take us to Los Hoyos, a pool nestled in a rocky canyon with natural mineral water. We snapped some photos and enjoyed the grand-canyon like feel of the “grey” side of the desert. Unfortunately, our tattoos were still too fresh for us to jump in the water and enjoy the pool.

The following morning the same tuk-tuk took us back to Villa Vieja for $15K. There we hopped on a bus to take us all the way back to Neiva, and bid our farewell to the Tatacoa..

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