Tatacoa Desert

The otherworldly Tatacoa Desert lies in the Huila Department of Colombia, about 320km south of Bogota. Even though it is called a desert, the Tatacoa is actually a tropical dry forest. And it covers 330 square kilometers around the town of Villavieja.

Millions of years ago, the Tatacoa was covered with flowers and trees. But the area has gradually dried up. Today, it is the second driest area in Colombia, after La Guajira Peninsular, in the northeast part of the country.

The landscape of the Tatacoa is formed of rocky canyons with sporadically placed cacti and green bushes. Its walls are slowly being eroded by rainwater, creating interesting lines and patterns on this unique landscape. It also has two distinctive colors: the area around Cuzco is tinted deep ochre, and the area around Los Hoyos is ash-grey. The Cuzco area is especially beautiful around sunset time.

The best way to go around the desert is by joining a tour or rent a car. Bicycle and walking will be very tough, especially during the hottest part of the day; it is a desert after all. The best time for an excursion is early in the morning and an hour or so before sunset.

There are many accommodation options in the desert itself. Visitors can choose between sleeping in a hammock or in a tent. Some bigger places will have private rooms and restaurant service.