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Tatacoa Desert

Tatacoa Desert is only available when incorporated in a trip to the South of Colombia that includes San Agustín or Tierradentro. The Tatacoa Desert also features in our round trip The Colombian Heritage Experience.


The Tatacoa Desert at 300km² is Colombia’s second largest desert after Guajira. Located in the Huila department just 38km from Neiva, the desert is accessible but off the tourist trail due to Neiva’s lack of prominence as a tourism destination.

Unaffectionately described as The Valley of Sorrows by Spanish conqueror Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, the arid desert landscape is best known for its mellow ochres, its deep rivened landscapes and its dry tropical forest.

The name Tatacoa is actually onomatopoeic and comes from the sound of the rattlesnake, unusually so as there are no rattlesnakes in the desert.

Flora and Fauna

The dry tropical forest is home to numerous plant species with highly adapted root systems that span up to 30m wide and 15m deep. The desert’s cacti can reach up to 5m in height.

Animal species found in the desert include turtles, rodents, snakes, spiders, scorpions, eagles, alligators and wildcats.

Tour outline

We offer no fixed itinerary for the Tatacoa desert and all trips are arranged according to the rest of your travel plans in the Colombian South. The desert is included in our round trips The Colours of Colombia and The Colombian Heritage Experience.

Typically your tour will include private transport from Neiva Airport via Villavieja with onward travel afterwards to San Agustín or Tierradentro. Our local guide is expert in the history and geography of the desert and ensures a captivating visit to the area. To beat the overbearing afternoon sun, the tour will normally take place in the morning or at sunset.

We say

  • A perfectly unique destination with spectacular lunar-like landscapes
  • Consider spending a night in a simple farmer’s cottage, the lack of ambient light makes for incredible stargazing
  • We have an ongoing travel advisory for people spending the night in the desert


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