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Fri Mar 07 2014: Redshift

Colombia is dominated by the colour green. From the green carpeted mountains of the Caribbean coast to the rain-forests and jungles of the interior, you can't entirely escape from the colour of lush nature and fertility. That is, until you venture into the Tatacoa Desert.

Welcome to the Tatacoa Desert!

Today we're exploring Red. Or what the fancypants called Ochre. The Martian-like landscape of dry, cracked red soil is concentrated in the area of the desert called El Cusco, which is hard to miss because it's right at the entrance to the park and it's one of the first things you see. It's right across from our farm, so one evening, we hired a guide who worked at the farm to show us around.

Nacho (short for Iganacio), our desert guide

Maybe he was pulling our leg, but Nacho had never heard of the Mexican food "Nachos" before. In Latin America, they're called tortillas.

High atop the Laberintos (Labyrinthe) de Cusco

They say the Tatacoa Desert was a result of a lake that dried out. Within the shapes of the labyrinth, you can make out the areas where water once flowed to sculpt these weird stone shapes that we were walking around and on top of.

Desert is host to a lot of wildlife. This cactus bears fruit to feed thirsty motorcycle travelers

The inside is juicy and tart and full of black seeds

After Neda is done, there will be none left for the rest of the wildlife in Tatacoa

Nacho explained all the different species of trees, plants and cactus as we walked past them. We had a bit of a laugh because everything he pointed out had "medicinal" properties. It sounded like you'd never need to go to the doctor if you just ate everything in the desert every day!

Colours are so rich and vivid, very different from anything we've seen in Colombia

A lot of it reminded us of the red rocks we had seen in Utah

Every morning, the goats in the area are let out to feed.
They've learned to find their way home by themselves when it gets dark

Goats are ravenous creatures and will eat anything. It was quite a selling feature of the Tatacoa Desert to see these goats eating the leaves of these trees, because the branches are so thorny. Over time, the goats have learned to eat around the thorns to get to the juicy leaves.

How do goats eat these leaves? Very carefully!

You can picture where the water once carved through the area

Proof that I was there too... :)

Easy to map a way out of the maze when you're standing above it!

American Kestral (Sparrow Hawk) watches us warily out of the corner of his eye

Descent into the Labyrinth

Last look around before it got too dark

Nacho points out more interesting, nature-y things to Neda. I just take pictures.

Hiking around the desert was a very nice change of scenery from all the cities and towns that we've been in, and the hot and dry days were welcome after enduring the rains around the Andes mountains. Tomorrow we're going to shift away from Red and explore the Gray of the Tatacoa. With our motorcycles!

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