Travel Blog: Lulo Colombia´s travels of July!

Lulo Colombia working out of office and visiting some of the country´s top destinations!

 

For us at Lulo Colombia it is important to keep traveling as well. Colombia is out there, not in our offices. So, I decided to travel for 3 weeks to some of our top destinations in the country. I wasn´t alone on this trip but was in some great company of other travel enthusiasts who wanted to discover the magic of Colombia.Together we made a gorgeous trip and our experience can be read below.

Destination 1: the Tataoca Desert! We started driving over curvy roads and through beautiful valleys. A good 7 hours later we arrived, well shaken, at our destination. The absolutely unique and beautiful Bethel Bio Luxury hotel is something from another world. It is located in the middle of the desert, which is actually not a desert we found out on the tour the next day, and doesn’t offer the usual type of accommodation.

 

We spend the next two nights in a bioegg. A specially built construction in the shape of a huge egg with a private terrace and a bathroom in a cave like structure next to the egg.  After some amazing stargazing we went to sleep full of curiosity of what to discover on the next day.

 

Waking up in a desert in an almost open room is fantastic! The weather was great and we couldn’t wait to get started. We were picked up by our local guide and he took us to the first stop: Los Hoyos. This is part of the desert that is grey-yellowish colored and where, thanks to the erosion, the landscapes always look different.

 

Next on the tour was a stop at some really cool rocks in the shape of animals and after that, it was time to pay a visit and walk through the most impressive part, which is the reddish part of the desert. The views are spectacular and it was good to see that they decided to regulate the walk a bit in order to protect the shapes and soil better. It is really hot in the desert so the next stop at a hot spring was perfect to cool down.

 

For lunch we had, of course, goat! This is the typical dish of the region because these animals are well adapted to the vegetation that grows in the desert. We spend the rest of the afternoon in the chalk-stone swimming pool of the hotel with views over the desert. Not a bad start of the holidays!

The next day it was time to set course to the green and mountainous south of Colombia: San Agustin! We had great weather so we were treated to great views over the mountains, valleys, rivers, and many plantations on the way. We arrived right before the falling of the dark so we enjoyed the astonishing views over San Agustin from our lodge on one of the hillsides.

 

Time to wake up and it was raining cats and dogs. But, don´t underestimate a true travel spirit! After some delicious breakfast with arepas and the obligatory eggs we left full of energy and hope the weather would get better. Our amazingly kind and passionate guide, Marino, joined us in the van and started giving the first explanations about the discoveries done in the region.

 

We first drove to two sites located at an hour outside of San Agustin. Most of the statues and tombs found there are still in situ, which gives you a bit the chills because it is highly possible that the whole area is still full of undiscovered tombs. I can´t think of a more beautiful place to be buried.

 

We learned a lot and got our first impressions and lessons on how to read the tombs and statues. After a really good lunch of barbecued pork meat with local vegetables and starches, we had some horseback riding waiting for us! By going by horse you can get to some archaeological spots that are a bit more difficult to reach and, above all, it gives you a great feeling to go through all the plantations and little hidden roads in the valleys.

 

In La Pelota site you can see two statues that are still very well colored what gives you a good idea of how the statues looked like in their time. We returned to San Agustin after dark, tired but really satisfied with what we had seen, learned, and done that day.

The last day in San Agustin was spent in the archaeological park. This is an UNESCO world Heritage park where you can find many tombs and statues together. By this time we more or less knew how to interpret and understand some of the statues which made it fun to actively participate in the guide´s explanations. That afternoon we had a flight back to Bogotá. Time to do some laundry and pack our stuff for the next part of the trip: The Coffee zone!

One morning flight later we set foot in the airport of Periera from where we decided to travel local style. We took a bus in the bus terminal and it took us in a good hour all the way to Salento, the coffee zone´s backpacker’s capital thanks to its near location to the Cocora valley.

 

Our hotel was not in Salento itself but already on the way to the entrance of this famous valley. We arranged for a Willy to bring us to the hotel. The Willys, traditional jeeps used to carry and transport coffee originally, are the most common means of transport in the coffee zone.

 

We made ourselves comfortable in our coffee finca and went on some shorter walks in the reserve of the hotel. The place is a birdwatching paradise and it also tries to attract the birds with feeders so no need to even go for a walk if you are not in the mood.

 

The next day it was time for the Cocora valley, after, obviously, a birdwatching walk in the reserve of the hotel in the morning. We were brought to the start of the walk and took the deliberate decision to go counter clockwise and do the best part of the walk first.

 

The weather was so spectacular that we didn’t dare to take the risk to only get to the palm forest in the afternoon. This meant that we walked extremely slowly at the beginning because we were taking so many pictures of the endemic Quindio Wax palm trees!

 

After photo 3 million, we finally started walking in the cloud forest and made our way up all the way to ´La Casa Del Colibri´ where you can find hundreds of hummingbirds attracted by the many feeders.

 

A horrible hot chocolate with cheese and some more pictures later it was time to continue our walk down. The path led us next to a river, sometimes crossing it over some rickety bridges, all the way through a valley with cows and some more of the typical palm trees. Another rewarding day!

 

For our second day we had arranged to go on a mountain bike tour in which they promised us: You won´t even have to pedal once! I have to admit, I probably pedaled at least 20 times.

 

But, the road downhill really is amazing and you start from a stunning viewpoint from where you have a 360 degree sights over palm forests that are even more abundant than in the Cocora valley. The perfect spot for a picnic before heading down to Salento town.

 

In the afternoon we paid a visit to a coffee farm near Salento, I mean, you cannot be in the coffee zone and not visit a coffee plantation and try the coffee!

After a week of nature and archeology we planned a visit to one of Colombia´s most beautiful colonial towns: Barichara! We were picked up by Daniel, manager at Lulo Colombia, and he drove us in a good 7 hours from the airport to our hotel, which was the cutest little colonial house in the town! We had two great days of relaxing, amazing walks on old roads to nearby sleepy villages, bird spotting, and great food in Barichara.

Next on the planning was Villa de Leyva. This place is competing with Barichara for the tile of the most beautiful colonial town of Colombia. I still don´t know which one I prefer!

 

On our way we took a detour right into the mountains to visit a place we had only seen pictures of, Quebrada de las Gachas. We managed to drive over a gravel road up to a point from where it was too muddy and inclined to continue so we walked the last 2 kilometers to this river that has some holes in it. It was just us and like 5 other people and we had great fun in our private tubs in the middle of nowhere.

 

In the late afternoon we got to Villa de Leyva and had some of the best food that you can get in the country!

On this trip we didn´t plan much time for exploring Villa de Leyva so we just had a morning discovery walk and around 11 we went to the bus terminal because the goal of the day was to get to another cute colonial village called Mongui.

 

3 buses and some great encounters with locals later we succeeded and checked in in our hotel on the main square. We had the evening to mentally prepare ourselves for a challenging walk up in the Paramó of Ocetá for the next day.

Rain. Everything was grey and wet. But, as mentioned before, we are true travel spirits and we don´t let ourselves be discouraged by some water pouring down over us. It is not uncommon to rain in the paramós as they are some of the world´s biggest water reservoirs. They only exist in 7 countries in the world and only above 3000 meter. The vegetation is super specific and is perfectly adapted to the weather circumstances.

 

The leaves of the frailojones are really soft and designed to capture the rain and hold it so when the sun comes the water vaporizes and creates clouds that bring rain to other parts of the country.  We got up to a point at 4000 meter from where we had spectacular views over the mountains, rivers, rocks and special vegetation.

 

It was a rewarding hike of in total 7 hours and filled with interesting stories about the Spaniard and local Muisca people told by our guide.

 

The lasts part of our trip was coming closer by now. I had decided that I really wanted to visit the Casanare region again. I fell in love with it the first time and wanted to show it to other travelers as well.

 

A very early morning flight took us from Bogotá to Yopal, from where our 3 day tour started. The first 2 hours was driving away from the mountains into the plains of Colombia. Rice fields surround you from both sides and it is possible to spot many herons, falcons and other types of colorful and rare birds from the car.

 

Our goal of the day was to visit a typical cowboy ranch and learn more about the Llanos culture. Once there we had to take a horse to make it to the ranch where we were welcomed by El Llanerazo. He showed us around on the farm and introduced us to his self-made museum of Llanero culture.

 

We admired some archaeological objects he has found in the area and the many tools and ways of how the cowboys live and work now, and in the past. We spotted monkeys and birds and Seudiel showed us how he crosses deep rivers with his horse.

We started the next day again early because we were anyway woken up by the loud noises of the howler monkeys living in the area. The plan was to go from some birdwatching in the fields around the hotel. However, we were incredibly lucky and didn´t only spot birds but also a small anteater!

 

After this great walk we were driven to el Hato Matapalma and we spotted our first of many capybaras and deer on the way. It is known that in the trees near the ranch, lives a family of three horned owls. Luckily our guide and driver have amazing eyes and were able to spot the animals almost right away.

We had a great lunch in front of the lake with views over the plains and some sleepy capybaras sunbathing near us.

 

In the afternoon they had arranged for us to go by horse and explore the immense flat lands as if we were true cowboys. The trip was absolutely stunning and brought us through little creeks, bushes, and open fields full of thousands of birds, caimans, lizards, deer, and capybaras.

 

We rode all the way to a place called ´La Garcera´, an area full of lower bushes where all kind of herons and spoonbills come together to lay their eggs and care for their young. A truly incredible spectacle.

 

When the sun started to set we returned home and were especially lucky when we found an adult anteater just strolling around in the open fields.

 

This was not all, the next day we went for a walk to a place where you can find many land turtles and in summer anacondas. I can´t describe how amazing it is to be able to spot all these animals in the wild.

 

So, this was a ´brief´ description of our trip through Colombia of July. I hope you enjoyed reading it and that it ignited some desire in you to come explore this amazing country with us!

 

Interested in traveling to Colombia Lulo Colombia Travel? Find out more here

 


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