Salento was amazing, but eventually we had to move on. Our next stop was the capital city of Colombia – Bogota. Bogota is a massive city with around 12 million people (unofficially) who live packed together into an Andean valley.
Due to the size, we were only able to see a small part of Bogota and we really had to pack our trip in. With only 2 nights, we set out to see the most talked about attractions of the city. Our first stop was the Botero Museum.
Named after, arguably, Colombia’s most well known artist, the museum is mostly filled with paintings and sculptures by Botero, however, there are works from other well known artists as well.
We loved this museum. Botero’s art feels so lighthearted that you can’t help but laugh. Everywhere you look, there are fat horses, fat women and fat everything.
Next we walked through the main square over to the famous Gold Museum.
The Gold Museum came highly recommended and we felt like we had to visit it while in Bogota. Unsurprisingly, the Gold Museum has a lot of gold. There is so much gold that, unfortunately, you can’t help but zone out on some of the exhibits. After a while, you just get sick of gold breastplates, gold hair things and gold masks.
Honestly, they have so much gold that they just threw the leftovers into a weird room with funky music and people chanting. They don’t even know what to do with it all.
The next day, we decided to skip the other museums and instead try out a highly recommended graffiti tour. Our tour guide “Crisp” did not disappoint. Not only did he show off some of his and his friend’s awesome street art, but he also did a fantastic job explaining why graffiti is so common and accepted in Bogota (mainly due to the police having bigger problems to deal with than some paint). To save me a few thousand words, here are a few of the exhibits we saw:
Everywhere you look in Bogota, there seems to be some fresh paint. There is also an interesting code of conduct that most artists abide by, which allows the art to remain untouched for up to a year. Unfortunately, once our graffiti tour ended, our time in Bogota ended as well and we were soon on our way to the Tatacoa desert.
First off, Tatacoa isn’t actually a desert, it’s a tropical dry forest. I’m not really sure where they draw the line between the two, but thems the rules. Julia and I only spent one day and one night in Tatacoa, but we must have taken over 200 pictures. The landscape is absolutely breathtaking. The earth is bright orange-red and dotted with cacti and other flora that can handle the brutal environment. There are also a few locals that eek out a living mostly raising cattle and providing rooms for tourists.
On our tour, we even got to stop for a quick dip in a natural pool.
As the night closed in, Julia and I walked over to the observatory. Tatacoa’s observatory is run by a very enthusiastic astronomer who, unfortunately, speaks Spanish very quickly. We only caught bits and pieces of what he was saying, but he made up for it by showing us some incredible views through his telescopes.
It was too tough to pick what pictures to use, so here are some bonus pictures from our day in Tatacoa:
The next morning, we packed up and took the short bus ride to San Agustin.
San Agustin is mostly known for the pre-Colombian statues that are scattered around the surrounding area. The statues are pretty interesting, but (much like the Gold Museum) they start to get a little repetitive. For us, the real highlights of San Agustin were the beautiful countryside and the wonderful hostel where we stayed.
While in San Agustin, we stayed at Casa de Francois. Francois, the owner, had come to Colombia from France in 1993 (I’ve heard there may have been some rough patches for Colombia between then and now) and had stumbled upon this huge coffee farm just above the city of San Agustin. He decided to purchase it and live there. At the time, the entire plot was filled with coffee plants and he lived in a small brick house. Over the last 20 years, Francois has turned his plot into a relaxing villa aimed at backpackers. Now, most of the coffee plants have been replaced with gardens with native trees and plants. The modest brick home no longer exists and now there are several structures that have a quirky elegance to them. It was like spending a few days at a millionaire’s vacation home (for less than $13 a night). Being French, Francois also made sure there was a constant supply of delicious french bread available (a hot commodity in the land of sweet soft breads). On our last night, we decided to splurge a little and try the house specialty, steak dinner and a bottle of wine.
After saying our goodbyes, we were off to Popayan where we would prepare for our ride to Quito, Ecuador.
Up Next: Popayan and Ipiales