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Traveling south to the desert and stone sculptures

Driving from Bogotá to San Agustín

On May 3, 2017, my co-worker and I set off to explore the south of Colombia from Bogotá and test the tourism potential. A further Colombia travel to discover a lot of exciting things. Our trip took us first to the desert of Tatacoa, which is located about 300 km south of Bogotá in the department of Huila. Due to “Pico y Placa”, a driving restriction for vehicles based on the car number, we had to pass the city limit before 06.00 am. We started at 5.15 am, but to our astonishment shortly afterwards we were already in the first traffic jam at this early hour. I have to mention that leaving Bogota to the south is always an ordeal and a constant traffic jam normal. Shortly after six in the morning we finally passed the city limits. The traffic got better, but we constantly had to overtake trucks on the single-lane roads, which reminded of a “jump and run” game.

A desert in the middle of the mountains

Sebastian navigated us across the back entrance to the desert instead of the main access route. That was much more interesting, albeit much slower. In this area there are fish farms, most of the fish is exported to the USA. The water needed for breeding is diverted from a nearby river. It was impressive to see the temperature rise continuously to 38 degrees. The desert of Tatacoa is not a typical sandy desert like the Sahara, it reminded me more of a kind of lunar landscape, although apparently there are microclimates. There are even isolated livestock and agriculture. There is also an astronomical observatory and a pool. I really liked the area, but it was too hot for me.

In Villavieja, the closest village, we finally went in search of local guides, hotels and tourist attractions. We made acquaintance with a very interesting contemporary. Ricardo introduced himself as the local competence in tourism. Although he did not have any documents about his activities, he told us many stories about his past experiences with tourists. He also described himself as a specialist in real estate, car trade, cattle breeding and many other areas. In the coming weeks he also called us almost daily.

“Unfortunately, his business card disappeared inexplicably during our trip ;-)” (sarcasm)

We decided to continue our journey and spend the night in Neiva, the capital of Huila. The heat was there too and we had to cool off in the evening with ice-cold beer. The next day we received useful information from representatives of the tourism office. Furthermore, there are some interesting hotels in Neiva. Otherwise, the potential for international Colombia tourism is rather limited. For the next day, however, a Miss election was announced and I saw already here and there pretty girls buzz around. Unfortunately, we missed the Miss election due to our tight schedule and we had to continue our journey south. I was sad for many days.

One of the best archaeological sites in Colombia

About 300 km southwest lays San Agustín, which is known for its archaeological excavations. We reached it in the afternoon and checked in. At the weekend also San Pedro was celebrated, which I did not know. Anyway, in the evening hordes of riders rushed in the village, rode on a circuit within the village and drank a lot of alcohol. It was quite a mess, but also very amusing. The following day we met a local tourist guide. He is 60+, had learned English only a few years ago, had a lot to tell and is an impressive personality. We spent the whole day with him and visited various archaeological sites. All infrastructures are very professional and the many stone sculptures impressed me a lot.

I can highly recommend San Agustín for Colombia vacation and is a bit interested in archeology and history. I’m not a pro in these areas, but I found it super exciting.

June 2017

Blog Frank Spitzer


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