Our last few weeks in Colombia were spent exploring a few final spots in the south. We had already passed the 3 month mark in Colombia and were eyeing Ecuador, so the only way to go was south!
From Bogota was the first of many long drives to the Tatacoa Desert. We were looking forward to wild camping among the unique landscapes much different from what we’d seen the last half year traveling through Colombia and Central America. We found that, but also we found BUGS. LOTS AND LOTS OF BUGS. The first spot we stopped at gave us a beautiful sunset and at that moment we had a bug invasion. So we packed up, hit the road again. It was dark out, and we avoid driving at night whenever possible – but those bugs were relentless. We found a less buggy but less windy sight down the road and as we tried to sleep in that heat we swore we wouldn’t stay here a second night. Morning came, we packed up, cranked up the AC, and enjoyed some sightseeing from the car.
The next day was a second day of driving long distances. Luckily the roads here were good and there wasn’t much traffic, so it was almost relaxing to not scream at all the crazy drivers! We stopped in San Augustín for two nights. Not that it was a particularly beautiful town, but we needed a break from driving! We visited the local Archaeological site, our first in South America. This is a UNESCO world heritage site because it is “the largest group of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America.” Pretty cool, right?! We also ran into a couple guys in town that had been in our Spanish school in Medellín while walking to town. Small world, literally!
Out of San Augustín we visited a nice waterfall off the main road, Salto de Bordones, and enjoyed a Lulo Juice with a view of the falls. Such a lovely and relaxing moment before the total chaos of the road ahead. Let’s not relive that moment, but suffice it to say it was the worst road we’d taken in Colombia. We spent the night at some hot springs, hoping to unwind and relax. Turns out these hot springs have so much sulpher that it was like soaking in a pool of rotten eggs. After about 10 minutes of soaking, we couldn’t take any more and left.
Next stop was Silvia! This tiny mountain village is known as the Switzerland of Colombia.. we can’t really agree with that, but it was a pretty location none the less. Silvia is famous for its market day. On Tuesdays the Guambiano (local indigenous people) come into town to sell their goods. It was a smaller market, but not touristy like other famous markets we’ve visited. We loaded up on fruits and veggies and enjoyed being the only Gringos there in the morning! We also attempted to go for a bike ride out to nearby villages. Unfortunately, the bikes we borrowed were pretty clunky and the roads full of rocks and potholes, so we didn’t make it too far.
After the proclaimed Switzerland of Colombia, we found the place that really deserves the title – Laguna de la Cocha. We felt like we could have been sitting at Thunersee or Obersee, complete with cows grazing on the hillside and a German speaking host at the campsite! We spent two nights just soaking in the views and cooking up Rösti.
Final stop and final log drive of Colombia was to the Santuario Las Lajas. The drive was typical awful, with lots of roadwork and insane truck drivers. Then we got to this beautiful santuario and could relax. It is the spot where most southbound PanAm’ers spend their final night in Colombia, or northbound their first. It was a good way to say goodbye to Colombia before our adventures in Ecuador begin!