The early morning flight to Neiva takes an hour. On arrival you’ll be met by our representative and driven to Villa Vieja (37km). The tree-lined road runs alongside fields but the landscape becomes drier, with rolling hills dotted with cactuses as you approach the town.
This town epitomises Latin American Spanish colonial towns with a grid of quiet streets lined with one storey buildings and a large and leafy square. It prides itself on the remains of prehistoric creatures found in the vicinity and there is a small Paleontological Museum on the main square. The town, which sits on the banks of the Río Magdalena, is a pleasant place to wander around with flowers, mango trees, a pretty colonial church and chapel, a few shops and bars.
Your central hotel is a simple, contemporary and perhaps unintentionally minimalist hotel. Spotless with gleaming white décor air conditioning. There’s a restaurant where a good choice of home-cooked food is served - breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It is a surprise to come across what appears to be a desert in the context of the Andean tropical rain and cloud forest. It's a scorchingly hot region, with towering red rocks spliced through by dry canyons, and sun-bleached lava flows, dotted with cacti. This 'desert' is a result of particular meteorological conditions; the area is not huge but big enough for you to feel overwhelmed by the extremity of the place.
It’s a short drive from Villa Vieja to reach Tatacoa. You’ll have a gentle sunset stroll through an area of bright rust red rock (Laberintos de Cusco), undulating with canyon-like rucks over which short walking trails have been devised. You may also be attracted by an optional visit to the Astronomy Observatory 6km from Villa Vieja as star-gazing in the unpolluted skies can be rewarding on a clear night. (July-October best).