The Tatacoa Desert or "Sadness Valley", the second largest arid zone in Colombia after the Guajira Peninsula, is one of the most attractive scenery in Colombia. It occupies 330 square kilometers of land in ocher and gray brushstrokes of green cactus. The Desert Tatacoa has two distinctive colors: ocher in the area of Cuzco and gray in the Los Hoyos. The Tatacoa or the Valley of Sorrows, as called in 1538 by the conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, for traces of deterioration noted in its territory is not just a desert, but a tropical dry forest. Its name "Tatacoa" also given by the Spanish, refers to rattlesnakes and not, as you might think, harmless black snakes. As revealed by scientists, during the Tertiary Period Tatacoa was a garden with thousands of flowers and trees that have gradually been drying up to become a desert. This semiarid region is located north of Huila Department, 38 km from the city of Neiva in Colombia and 10 miles from Natagaima in Tolima. It is a rich deposit of fossils and is a great tourist destination.
Its area covers an area of 330 square kilometers. Located close to the urban area of the municipality of Villavieja. The location is 3°13′ north latitude and 75° 10' west longitude. The area is heavily eroded and crossed by dry canyons that develop transiently in the winter months. These mysterious shapes are created on clay surfaces, creating labyrinthine gullies in the landscape that can reach 20 meters deep.
Fauna and flora
In the Desert of Tatacoa there is relatively little excessive runoff and animal and plant life that has perfectly adapted to the minimum conditions of humidity and high temperatures. The plants in this area are adapted to climatic conditions through the development of horizontal roots up to 30 meters and 15 meters vertical roots deep that facilitate access to water. You can find there: turtles, rodents, snakes, spiders, scorpions, eagles, alligators and wildcats who share this space, hiding in the dry, cactus reaching between four and five meters high.
The astronomical rise
The Desert Tatacoa is a geographically privileged location 3°13′ north latitude and 75° 10' west longitude, near the Ecuador Land. From there, you can:
- Observe the 88 constellations.
- Tours around the various sites.
- Appreciate phenomena such as meteor showers.
In addition to its geography, its atmospheric conditions are perfect for observing the celestial bodies,
Tatacoa has no light pollution or noise. This attracts the attention of tourists who stay there to enjoy the silence, the scenery and tranquility of the place.
At night you can see the stars due to a cloudless sky most of the year. This motivates many tourists who stay there to enjoy the silence, the scenery and tranquility of the place.
How to reach the Desert Tatacoa?
- By Air: The flight from Bogotá to Neiva takes about 30 minutes.
- By land: the road trip from Bogotá to Neiva takes about 6 hours.
- From Neiva to the town of Villavieja, the trip takes 45 minutes by road and from there to the entrance of the desert are about 15 minutes of travel.
- If you do not have the car, motorcycle taxi service is Villavieja to the desert.
- Desert Tatacoa: Official tourism site (in spanish)
- Tatacoa Desert: an astronomical observatory (in spanish)
- Tatacoa Desert: An Amazing Natural Destination (English)