Starstruck in Tatacoa dessert

I used to live to work, now i work to live. (Bernhard, Lille, France)

Today I had no hiking or other activities involving hills on my agenda, but a trip to Tatacoa dessert. From Neiva its an hours jeep ride to the closest village (Villaveija) and then another 20mins onwards (the former is COP7,000 while the latter COP8,000). On the trip i met a German & Dutch guy travelling together (both a little awquard) and a french girl (Justine) with her dad (Bernhard) from Lille. these two are great (although i have to admit i had mistaken them for a couple at first with a rather large age gap … never make hasty assumptions ;o).


Justine spends a year in colombia on a work & travel visa. She lived a month in Guatape near medellin, spent time with venezuelan refugees in medellin (and donated all her selfmade bracelets for them to sell & ultimately survive) and, partly together with dad bernhard, two month in the amazon region working with an organsartion looking after endangered monkeys. she abolutely adores the country and her dad thinks a year is nowhere near enough for her.

Bernhard, a trucker by trade, has its own story. job loss and separation have hit him in the past few years. but not to no avail … he changed his life too. he said “I used to live to work, now i work to live.  for my employer i am just a number. completely replaceable.”. I couldn’t agree more. with bernhard I had generally some great conversations about his reflections on colombia. how easy we have it in europe, how old people still have to  make a living here (but on the flipsiude don’t sit at home alone all the time like often in europe), how people sell single cigarettes or sweets just to get by and a lot more. 

Great people both of them. Real pleasure to meet and travel with a tiny bit. 


the three of us went straight into tatacoa and to the hostel le bleues had booked (‘noches de saturno’). great news – it had a pool. i mean, how many deserts offer that. no question, i was swimming right after i had put up my tent (not carrying the thing for nothing all through colombia!). with me in the pool was maria – the only other german in the camp. that means something, since germans are the largest group of travellers judging by my guts so far. she is from Mainz (east germans remain elusive so far) and interns at a travel company in bogota for six month. she came to tatacoa to get some warmer weather given relaltively cold temperatures in 2,600m high Bogota.

Tatacoa dessert: its not really a dessert by scientific definition, but rather a semi-arid zone of 330sqkm or in other words a dry troipcal forest.

she mentioned a short dessert circular walk nearby, which I hilked once the post lunch heat had settled down a bit. breathtaking sand and rock formations, supersized cactusses and all sorts of pastel, sand colours you can imagine. great walk round and best rounded off with a sunset and a cold lager in your hand, which i enjoyed with a polish & a colombian traveller. by then it got dark quickly (abouyt 5.50pm), but in tatacoa that doesn’t mean the end (or the sign to get changed for a hot salsa night out) …

Given its low light pollution, the dessert is used as an obersavortory and offers great views of the stars. We joined one of the (Spanish) presentations at the observatory (COP10,000 pP). I wished I had understood more of this seemingly entertaining presentation on the planets of our universe, zodiac signs, the relativity theory, how everything is created etc. Anyway, I got my first ever view of saturn, saw my own zodiac sign (saggitarious) and figured out that the blinking, bright star I have so often seen is vega. Bernhard invited me to a snack and a beer after, which i welcomed since I had run out of cash and card payments are a no go in this part of colombia (I literally just use it to get cash from the bank).

Off to my night in the tent. While it had cooled off a bit, i still didnt need much of a cover. Nite,  nite Tatacoa …

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