So my dad is joining me for one month of travelling. From Colombia to Panama. He wants to see where I’ve been working before and he wants to see the beauty of Colombia. I couldn’t be happier to show this beautiful country and visit some sites where I have and haven’t been before. We started in the south of Bogota to places I haven’t been before.
After Bogota my dad and I went to the Tatacoa desert, this desert is quite a travel. 7 hours on a good road from Bogota and another 1,5 hours on a bumpy ride into the desert, we arrived in the evening while it was dark. So unfortunately it was cloudy and we couldn’t see the beautiful stars, one of the main attractions that is supposed to be very beautiful.
The Tatacoa desert is not like the desert you’ll see in the cartoons or in the movies. Half of the desert is white/yellow and rocky/muddy/sandy and beautiful in all different shapes and with some cactuses. The other half of the desert is red and rocky/muddy (no sand) this is a big labyrinth and without a guide we would for sure get lost! It all looks beautiful especially the red part because it seems so unusual!
With the guide I talked about the people living in the desert. There are not really any indigenous people left around here but the 30 families with all about 6 children (no electricity, no TV so more time to make some babies…) They have about 8 schools that must be plenty and since tourism is rising in Colombia, people here are making a better living as well.
After only one night we had to leave the hostel was suddenly fully booked so we had to move to another hostel, so we went for another hostel in San Augustin.
From the desert to San Augustin is a 1,5 hours on a rocky road and 4 hours in a bigger bus, this small village surrounded by beautiful nature and indigenous statues. We stayed 3 nights. The first day walking around in this small village, a very local lunch at the market, taking it easy and at night supporting the Colombian team in their football match against Paraguay, locals are sooo into football. The whole day about 50% of the people were wearing their yellow football shirt. Unfortunately Colombia lost, only the last 4 minutes Paragauy made it 2-1, while Colombia was playing so much better. (even I could see that) In the local bar they were sad for 2 minutes and then started the salsa and bachata music, so I could practice my salsa and bachata. How I missed this atmosphere of Colombia!
Second day in the jeep and seeing many sights of the indigenous statues and we went to the river of Magdalena (this river starts at the south of Colombia and goes up all the way to Barranquilla, more than 1.500km) This is the most narrow part of the river and 80km further is where this river is ‘born’. The indigenous statues are there to protect the graves of the important indigenous people, on the statues you can try to understand the profession of the person we went to two sights and saw several different tombs.
According to the guide we could eat the ‘Basura’ (garbage) of Colombia. Fruits and vegetables that grow everywhere but the locals won’t eat it, while it’s for free! So the guide picked vegetables and made a very delicious soup for our lunch. He kept saying that locals treat these fruits and vegetables as garbage. He is right it is delicious and a waste that people in cities are hungry while this food doesn’t get harvest.
And the third day we left again, we woke up really early to leave for the next place, Popayan.
San Augustin to Popayan is a short distance, only 136km but it takes about 5.5 hours by bus the road is quite hard. But also beautiful. It was so cold in the bus, when we finally had a stop I thought I would have go outside to get warm, but is was even colder. After a local breakfast of aguapanela y queso (hot sugarcane water with cheese they like to dip the cheese into the aguapanela so it will melt) we went on to Popayan. Popayan the white village of Colombia, the second colonial city of Colombia according to our guide. We did a free walking tour that I can definitely recommend! They tell all about history, local heroes and beautiful sights even though it shows modesty is not one of the characteristics of the people of Popayan(or at least our guide).
The next day again an early rise too hike up to a volcano. This volcano Purace has a height of 4650meters but after 4100 is was so cold, without any good breakfast and the steepest part was yet to come. So we went down and had the most beautiful hike but without seeing the crater. (it was also in the clouds so we wouldn’t see much anyway).
The guide told me about the indigenous people who offer water to the volcano, about his family and about his work. He works 7 days a week, only once or twice a year he takes 2 days off. Then he can go to Popayan or to Neiva. He had never seen the ocean, the desert and most of the cities. Going up the volcano 3/4 times a week and if there are no tourist then he’s a potato farmer. So this hard working men, with 3 teeth in his mouth is so, so strong. Another 5 years and then he can retire.
On the way back we didn’t go back with a normal bus, but with a ‘Camioneta’ where they transport everything in, and in our case 12 big boxes of vegetables and fruits and 3 Colombian, 2 Danish, 1 German, 2 Dutch and after this photo also 4 Spanish people fitted in this van.
From Popayan to Salento. An early rise again change busses 3 times and 7 hours later arriving at rainy beautiful Salento. This colorful village is still beautiful even when it rains. Tomorrow we will go hiking the Valle de Caucora and see those high palmtrees. Fingers crossed for better weather!
Next steps will be discovering more of Salento, Medellin en then to the coast. Most places I already know. But it feels so good to be back!
Hasta la proxima!