The Tatacoa Desert, in the South of Colombia is in the “top 10 things to do in Colombia” of all travel guides and most travel blogs.

I disagree! In particular, I think that the La Guajira desert offers a much better experience with more variety.
However, I must admit that the most famous part of the Tatacoa desert is beautiful and rather photogenic. In fact, all Instagrammers go there to take the perfect picture. But beware of this type of photos, often modified, they can make disappointed people.

Even if, the landscapes are unusual, I do not find it wise to make a detour only for the desert of Tatacoa.
On the other hand, it is a destination that can fit into your itinerary in Colombia if it is on your way when you move from one city to another. For example, if you travel from Bogotá to San Agustin. In this case, you can even add a stop in Paicol to split your journey in two.

To get to the desert, you must first reach the city of Neiva. There, take a bus to Villavieja. This village is at the gates of the desert. There you will find tuk-tuks and guides who will take you on a tour of this vast plain worthy of a Star Wars setting.


Getting to Tatacoa? (+)

From Neiva to Villavieja:

  • Many buses from  5 am to 5 pm from the main terminal | Coomotor | 1 h

From Bogota to Neiva:

  • Many buses from the main station (Salitre) | Coomotor & Lineas Verde & Expreso Bolivariano | 5-6 hours
  • A few flights per day from the airport | Avianca | 1 hour |

From Armenia to Neiva:

  • A few buses per day from the terminal. Schedule – double-check with the bus company | Cootranshuila & Coomotor | 7 hours

From Pereira to Neiva:

  • A few buses per day from the terminal. Schedule – double-check with the bus company | Cootranshuila & Coomotor | 8 hours
  • Flights from the Pereira airport but with 1 stopover | Avianca & Easyfly | 4 – 5 hours |

From Cali to Neiva:

  • Bus at the main terminal. I recommend a night bus. Schedule – Double-check with the bus company| Flota Magdalena & Coomotor & Expreso Bolivariano | 11 hours
  • Flights fom the Cali airport with 1 stopover | Avianca | 4 – 5 hours |

From Medellin to Neiva:

From Cartagena to Neiva:

From Santa Marta to Neiva:

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Where to stay in Neiva

To stay in Neiva could be a good option if you wish to save some time on your Colombia Itinerary. Pick a lovely place and book a reliable partner to visit the desert in 1/2 or 1 day.

  • B. & travelers

    Hostel - $

    B. & travelers

    Economical options, "near" the airport. They offer good tours to the desert. Great value.
    Get the best price
  • La Cabrera

    Hotel - $$

    La Cabrera

    Modern design. Large bedrooms with comfy beds. Perfect location. Good service.
    Get the best price
  • Rosales

    Boutique - $$


    Modern boutique hotel with a nice rooftop and a view of the park. Great facilities.
    Get the best price

Where to stay in Villavieja

Villavieja is the closest town to the Tatacoa desert. Every day, many tuk-tuks leave from the main square to bring the tourists there. We discovered there are many illegal accommodations in the Tatacoa desert - as it's a reserve, it's forbidden to build anything there. Moreover, these establishments dig swimming pools in Tatacoa. It makes no sense to us. Therefore, we recommend you to avoid picking an hotel/hostel in the desert. Let's protect our environment!

  • Villa Paraiso

    Hotel - $$

    Villa Paraiso

    Standard hotel with a pool and a garden. Good value for money, although rooms are basic.
    Get the best price
  • Casa del angel

    Boutique - $$$

    Casa del angel

    Peaceful hotel with a superb courtyard. Rooms are vast and well decorated. Great service.
    Get the best price

Things to do in Tatacoa

The Tatacoa desert is split into 2 main parts: Cuzco (The red desert) and Hoyos (the Grey desert). The most beautiful part is Cuzco. It's also the closest and the smallest part. 1.5 hours is enough to enjoy it. Then, you have to decide if you want to do the loop and explore the other "less" photogenic areas of Tatacoa.

  • Cuzco

    2 hours | $


    The most photogenic part of the Tatacoa desert. A short walk and some good viewpoints.
    Learn more
  • Hoyos

    2 hours | $


    The Grey desert is the largest part of Tatacoa. It's also called the "ghost" area. 1.5h hike.
    Learn more
  • La Ventana

    10 min | $

    La Ventana

    A lovely viewpoint where travelers can try to spot animal shapes. Would you be able to find them?
  • Picilodo

    3 - 4 hours | $


    A peaceful place where you can cover your body with mud and get to a natural swimming pool.
  • Astronomy

    3 hours | $


    Observe the stars at night in Tatacoa. Great explanation in Spanish & English. 2 telescopes.

Where to eat & drink?

For us, good restaurants and exciting nightlife are important when traveling. We gathered our favorite picks on an interactive Map. Download the APP "Mapstr" and look for "Colombia Insider"!

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