The breathtaking deserts of Colombia
The rain falls softly, very softly. The sky is always clear and the sand sparkles in the sun. Even when simply reading these words a sensation of warmth creeps through the body: this is the effect of the La Guajira desert in the north of Colombia, where it is certainly extremely hot. The temperature reaches 42 degrees on a daily basis even if the heat is not usually stifling thanks to the wind that blows in from the peninsula, a dear ally of the sun which soars, free and refreshing, through the dunes until it reaches the sea again.
And so, the sun that accompanies the life of the inhabitants of these lands is not suffocating, but it is certainly magical and creates conditions in which we can witness natural phenomena that cannot easy be found elsewhere in the world. For example, in Guajira the sky turns pink: after just a few seconds our eyes recover from the spell and realize that in fact it is not the sky which is pink but the scores of flamingos that fill it, with their elegance and pride. Or, having travelled kilometers and kilometers of sand dunes, we see mountains of pure white snow appear before us; then we realize it is not snow, but splendid hills of salt. In Guajira the eyes are easily tricked, such as when the evening draws in and the sun’s flames burn until they almost seem ready to turn into ash, and then instead that intense orange color is none other than the vision of a perfect landscape which is slowly becoming reality.
The indigenous wayúu people inhabit La Guajira, the community that best resisted the invasion of the Spanish conquerors and succeeded in defending their identity and culture. For this reason, exploring the desert not only means getting closer to the magic of breathtaking landscapes, but also to the charm of these Indians, their wisdom and their holy lands.
And as if this destination was not spectacular enough, in Colombia there are also another two deserts, one in the region of Huila and the other in Boyaca, both in the heart of the Country, far from the sea and wind that refresh La Guajira.
Huila hosts the Desert of the Tatacoa, which has no dunes but instead mountains of earth of between 50 centimeters and 4 meters high. These form a rare landscape of red and orange mazes which invite us to lose ourselves by walking into their depths or, coax the more intrepid among us in on our bicycles. Those who explore this landscape have the impression that they are on Mars; an odd phenomenon given that this is a location frequented by scholars and fans of astronomy, because they consider it ideal for observing the firmament.
Instead, in Boyacá we find the Desert of Candelaria, which is very different from the sandy, hot ones we are used to seeing in films. Here the wind is cold and the land is fertile: it hosts corn plantations, tomato crops and several types of fruit. But there are also arid areas, covered in rocks and, as in all deserts around the world, here solitude, peace and silence reign supreme.