A desert in the middle of a rainforest country… wait what!? Yes, it exists.
Tatacoa is a landscape with not one but two completely different deserts: the red and the grey. It’s hot, it’s relaxing and best of all, it’s undiscovered by most tourists making it a perfect place to visit. We’re pretty sure it’s set to become a Unesco Heritage site in a few years, so now is the right time if you want it all to yourself.
After visiting the area, we’ve put together a couple of guides to help you decide on what to do whilst there and what to get ready before hand. Both deserts are incredible, (though the red was our favourite), we recommend staying near to this one as it’s where you’ll find everything.
You can read our tips and advice on everything you need to know before visiting this hidden gem in our quick guide. So… what’s there to do in a desert:
What to do!?
1- Trek the Red desert
It’s quite literally out of this world. Have you ever dreamt of walking on Mars? You’ll feel like being on the red planet when exploring the many curios formations and vast fields of cracked red soil. The path is clear and sign posted, so don’t worry about getting lost. If you are lucky, you may even spot some desert wildlife!
It’s an easy trek that will take you a few hours and you can do it yourself, just take plenty of water, suncream & snacks.
2- Trek the Grey dessert
Ready to visit the moon? This desert is also incredible, the formations are a bit flatter and it’s a lot further from the hostels & observatory. You can walk there, though it’s far so we’d recommend getting a bike, quad or horse, (we took a horse) all are available for pretty cheap & can be arranged at your hostel or with the locals you will meet. Your chance to live life and roam!
3- Take on even more adventure activities
Quad biking – There’s nothing quite like riding a quad bike through a desert. You can do that in Tatacoa, bear in mind that you won’t be able to ride through the red and grey deserts, though you can go on the main paths around them.
Mountain biking – If quads are not your things, you can also rent mountain bikes and ride away! There’s plenty of hostels where you can rent bikes, our advice is to ask to different places and pick the bike you like most.
Horse riding – Maybe you feel like no machines and going back to nature, this is one of our favourite things to do for freedom and connecting with these animals. There’s one route around the back of the observatory through a less visited part of the grey desert, though you can also ask for a more tailored one. Again, there are a couple of places where you can rent the horses, so don’t be shy and bargain around to get a fair price, it cost us $15,000COP/$10dollars for both horses for 2hrs.
4- Watch an amazing sunset at the view point
Probably one of the most unique sunsets you’ll ever watch. The view point is right at the end of the red desert trek so you won’t miss it, some benches right at the top or some rocks a little further down you can sit on. Grab a couple of beers, put mosquito spray on and just relax, watching the desert change it’s colours whilst the sun goes down behind the far hills, it’s beautiful.
If you forget the beers, don’t panic: there’s a little bar by the viewpoint that will have cold beer for you. Salut, Cheers!
5- Stargaze at the observatory
Tatacoa climate is perfect for a clear sky at night, one of the best in the whole of Colombia so you can’t miss stargazing. There are two observatories, one of them is unofficial. The official one is the first you’ll find on your way into the desert.
It runs observation classes every night at 7pm for $20.000COP/$7dollars. They’ll show you the main constellations from the southern hemisphere (a must if you’re a northern hemisphere citizen) and then onto observations through the big telescopes. Their English is great, so you won’t miss any explanation!
This activity is well worth it and one of the main reason for visiting Tatacoa.
So there you have it, the incredible Tatacoa desert! Have you ever been to a place like this before? If you need any other tips or advice just drop us a message and we’ll help you out. Don’t forget you can also read our quick guide here.
Shay & Iban 👬🌵