After spending some time in the mountains of Columbia we were looking forward to visiting the warm climate of the Tatacoa Desert, which covers 330 square kilometers around the city of Villavieja.
The area is heavily eroded and crossed by dry canyons that develop during the winter months. These shapes are created on clay surfaces, creating labyrinthine gullies in the landscape that can reach 20 meters deep (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tatacoa_Desert).
The average temperature is 28° C; yet on sunny days, it can go up to 40° C. This was a really warm day, but geared up with our camelbacks we decided to explore the area. Walking through the amazing landscape. You can hire a guide to show you around, or there is a map over the tourist attractions in the desert. Take a picture of the map and go exploring the desert on your own.
Taking in the panoramic view of the desert…
The Tatacoa Desert is the second largest dry area in Colombia after the desert of La Guajira. Can you find us on the pictures?
Did I say that it was a really warm day? We don‘t know how warm, but I read in the tourist book (Lonely Planet) that it can reach up to 50 Celsius. It was just to hot to do anything, even been a loving couple and been close together was impossible… or it just got really sweaty and uncomfortable. So it didn’t get HOTTER than this.
After the walk our bodies were overheated and we felt sick. The only way to get better was to find a place in the shade and get something cold to drink. For the next 2-3 hours we just sad, trying to get hydrated and played a dice game called “Farkel”. The desert was just to hot for us .
We camped behind the observatory, which was solar powered – that is a great idea in a desert and good for the environment.
But it seems that there is always a downside… like in Mexico and Central America, we have been concerned about the garbage situation. Here in Columbia we have noticed it to. The solar panels were charging batteries, but what happens with the old batteries when they have to be replaced by new ones? Here is the answer (left picture) together with the ashes of burned garbage behind the observatory.
On top of that the chickens were eating flamingo, because things/garbage were just laying around
Now you have already seen a little bit of the garbage situation here in Columbia, but there is more to it. I just read on a Danish news channel, that 7 houses in an area, have been flushing the wastewater from the toilet directly into the ocean, because of a connection failure to the sewer system – it was a scandal! Here in Columbia, Mexico and Central America the sewer system is really bad or there is no sewer system, so the wastewater end up in creeks, rivers, lakes and the ocean everyday. That is why you always put the toilet paper into the bin next to the toilet and not in the toilet in these countries. We have still seen garbage laying around here in Columbia, but so far we have seen less than in Central America.
This picture was taken in Valle de Cocora, were a garbage truck came to pick up the trash. The trash was already sorted in three: organic, recycle (primary plastic) and the rest. It was a dirty job collecting garage, because they went through a lot of the garbage before throwing it onto the truck, trying to make some extra money. People are still really bad at sorting the garbage, and a lot of people (including kids) just throw bottles, candy paper, plastic bags etc. out of cars or on the street. Columbia is trying, but the people of Columbia need to do more, and be a role model for their kids.
We were lucky that on the second night the weather cleared, so during the astronomy class we could see in the three tripod telescopes: (1) Planet Saturn with the rings around it. Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun and the second largest planet in the solar system. (2) 4 of the 69 (probably more) moons of planet Jupiter and (3) a supernova, which is an astronomical event that occurs during the last stellar evolutionary stages of a massive star’s life, whose dramatic and catastrophic destruction is marked by one final titanic explosion. This causes the sudden appearance of a “new” bright star, before slowly fading from sight over several weeks or months. The astronomy class was great, but it is just really hard to get good pictures – you have to blame Esben.
Enjoy the sunset in the Tatacoa desert
The next morning we left the desert and headed for San Agustin.