Imagine a desert in the middle of a rainforest… It seems impossible, though this is Tatacoa desert!
It might be off the beaten track, though believe us when we say it is worth the adventurous trip. You can chill or you can go full adventure on quads or horse riding.
Here’s our quick guide on what you need to know before going, to help you plan your trip.
You can read the Top 5 things to do in Tatacoa desert in our other post here.
Our top tips
Time needed: If you are short on time we recommend to stay at the minimum 1 night as the sky is one of the best in South America for stargazing. We were lucky enough to see a meteorite entering the atmosphere, a truly remarkable show! The best way to explore it properly and without any rush is spending 3 days, 2 nights there.
Getting there: You’ll be heading to a fairly remote part of Colombia, so prepare for an adventure! The closest city that your bus will take you to is Neiva (6h from Bogotá). Once you get there, ask someone to point you in the direction of the minivans/colectivos that go to Tatacoa or Villavieja (their located out the back of the bus station). Fri-Sun they go straight to Tatacoa, Mon-Thurs they go to the nearest town Villavieja.
If you’re travelling from Villavieja, the final leg of the journey to Tatacoa will take around 45mins, be ready for a bumpy ride in a motocar/tuk tuk, these will be available in Villavieja to take you to the desert. Our advise is to arrive in the desert well before the amazing sunsets. You won’t want to miss it plus travelling in the light is easier.
On the way back, just ask your hostel to arrange your minivan/pickup back to Villavieja or Neiva depending on the day, and repeat the above.
Food: In short, there aren’t many options. You’re in a desert, so resources are scarce. Hostels will offer food, likely to be the same each day – rice / salad & plantain, so no Micheline star meals. On the bright side, food is cheap & you’re here for the amazing environment.
Weather: HOT, and we mean it. The sun shines from 5:30am until 5:30pm and it’s burning. Take plenty of sunscreen, cap/hat and lots of water, you’ll be sweating. Try and make sure your room has a working fan and don’t forget the the mosquito repellent.
Safety: Completely safe. The people running the hostels are born and raised in the desert, it’s a community. Everyone knows each other and it’s completely fine to walk even at night through the paths, probably you’ll be followed by some dogs that want to escort you to your hostel. That being said, normal awareness rules apply.
Cash, cash, cash!: There aren’t cash machines and no one takes cards, so the best option is to budget the daily spending and take it out in Neiva. The bus companies don’t take card either so make sure you take cash out in Bogota or Neiva bus station at the latest.
Leave us a comment or drop a us a message if you need any more information & we’ll help you out. We hope you have an incredible time in this unique desert, it was one of our favourite places in Colombia.
Shay & Iban 👬🌵