Backpacking In The Tatacoa Desert
Among all the landscapes that you can enjoy in Colombia, one of the most impressive, due to its greatness, its natural rarity and its peculiarity, is the Tatacoa Desert. Located, near the town of Villavieja, in the department of Huila, the Tatacoa Desert is one of the most iconic places in Colombia. Despite the particular geographical conditions -a cavernous desert- and the difficult climatic conditions -low humidity and high temperatures- this place has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. For all of you who are interested in backpacking in the Tatacoa Desert, this is what you should have in mind before packing your bags.
How To Reach the Tatacoa Desert
The easiest way to get to the Tatacoa Desert is through the city of Neiva, the capital of the department of Huila. To get to Neiva, the easiest way is on a bus from Bogota. From the capital of Colombia you can take a bus and the trip will take you around 5 hours. The ticket, in the most luxurious fleets, will cost you a little less than 20 dollars. If you want to save a little bit more -although we recommend you take the trip in the most comfortable bus-, a bus ticket with fewer amenities will cost you around 15 dollars.
Once you’re in Neiva, unless you want to walk a couple of hours or spend the night in this city, stay at the bus terminal and wait to take a one hour bus to Villavieja. This ticket will cost you around 3 dollars. In Villavieja you must take a motorcycle taxi -a motorcycle with a small car behind it- to the Tatacoa Desert. This trip will take you 20 minutes and, due to the monopoly of mototaxis in the town, it will cost you a little more than the trip from Neiva to Villeviaje: around 8 dollars. Once you’re in the desert, it’s time to camp or find a comfortable hostel.
Where Do I Stay?
Due to the geographical conditions of the Tatacoa Desert, it’s clear that you won’t find luxury hotels. However, both on the Villavieja road and in the desert, you will find small hostels and camping areas. If you don’t mind the cold of the nights in the Tatacoa Desert, camping will cost you a little more than 5 dollars. If, on the contrary, you are looking for something a little more comfortable, you can look for a hostel on the Villavieja road and, while you will be about 10 minutes from the desert, it won’t cost you more than 20 dollars a night.
Camping in the Tatacoa Desert, even with cold nights, is an unparalleled experience. The sky that covers the desert is one of the clearest in the country. So much so that this is the best point to witness astronomical phenomena. The greatness of a desert lies on two things: the colors during the day and the stars during the night. The cavernous landscape of the Tatacoa Desert will keep you occupied and in awe during the day, and the open sky makes the night the most beautiful and romantic spectacle you’ll ever have the chance to see.
Is It Worth It?
You bet it’s worth it. The Tatacoa Desert is one of the few places where the sky always seems majestic. Here there are blue skies during the day and endless constellations at night. The cavernous landscape of Tatacoa gives you the constant desire of exploring the ancient caves. And the vast sky will always give you a reason to go to bed counting the stars.