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Sunday, 01 July 2018

Colombia's Tatacoa Desert: The Ochre Valley of Sorrows

Written by Yuri Drobkov
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Have you ever been drenched by a desert rain? The Tatacoa Desert is the place to find one, with its reddish arid expanse stretching from one wall of mountains to another, riddled with sudden drops and numerous cacti.

“I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams...”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

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The Tatacoa Desert, or the Valley of Sorrows, as it was called in XVI century by a Spanish conquistador, is a massive swath of arid land in the South of Colombia. Located between two Andes ridges – 330 square kilometers filled with incredible vistas and landscapes – and also renowned for its fossils and clear night skies. It doesn’t look like a typical desert one tends to imagine – an endless sea of yellow sand dunes. Depending on the particular location, the dominant color of the place is either ochre or gray, always with a dash of green as it has plenty of plants, too. Despite being a desert, the Tatacoa has a lot of flora and fauna that will be of interest to a curious explorer willing to leave the beaten trail and tread the dusty silence alone.

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An empty remote wasteland where eagles and vultures rule the sky, devoid of human pollution and far from the big city lights, it’s a great place to observe the vastness of the universe at night. There are multiple observatories, at least one of them is free for everyone to visit and stargaze after sundown. Be advised, however, that things may go south if the rain clouds come.

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Last modified on Monday, 02 July 2018

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