Luís Simões, travel sketcher around the world
Sketching Colombia has been fun so far. However, we decided to put our bicycles aside for a while. By taking public transports, we explore more places in Colombia that we won’t pass by bike: The arid Tatacoa desert, home to numerous pre-Columbian – San Agustin, the center of the Guambiano region – Silvia, Salsa capital – Cali, and where Colombia’s national tree grows – Cocora valley.
This route begins with a message Luis received when we were at Dana’s sister’s house, Bibiana. Oscar Luna, one of Luis’s followers on social media, invited us to visit Neiva. It is in the center-south of Colombia, which is off the track of our bicycle route. After we looked at the map, there are some possibilities to see more appealing parts of the country and eventually, sketching more.
“Why not?!” we thought.
So, we put aside our bikes, brought our backpacks, and took a bus to Neiva.
Once we arrived in Neiva, Oscar Luna’s family welcomed us with their warmth. In this region, Oscar brought us to explore the arid desert of Tatacoa and camped there.
The next day, we walked through the two deserts – red and grey, tried goat milk, cactus juice, and swam in a cool pool located in the middle of the desert. Sounds like an oasis isn’t it? In fact, it is… If you look at it from a higher perspective, the blue color of the pool contrasts sharply with the monotonous color of the surrounding.
Although the sun shone in the middle of the day, it was a fun experience. We could imagine how cool it is to visit this desolate area by bicycle. Tatacoa desert is obviously one of the highlights during our journey. It’s on our list of best places to visit & sketch in Colombia.
The sketching of Colombia by bus continues. Instead of returning immediately to Bibiana’s house, we go 4 hours to the south by bus to San Agustin. Oscar’s family convinces us to visit there, as it is home to one of the greatest mysteries of ancient civilizations.
It was fascinating to see sculpted figures and tombs scattered throughout the areas. The interpretation of each statue usually has a different meaning, which made us curious. Or even simply questioning how pre-Columbians did it all. However, visiting all the sites here was inconvenient for us. The location of the sites is separate, that we had to rent a car or a horse to explore. Sounds fun, but – unfortunately – it was out of our budget. So, we just visited some walkable sites from the town.
Here, we have to pay a fee for every site we visit. Is it worth it? It depends. If you like old time story, what you’ll pay here is cheap.
Our next destination in this route is Silvia. We heard that it’s the Switzerland of Colombia. As I’ve never been to Switzerland before, this is more than enough – for me – to be excited.
People usually go to Silvia from Popayan. From there, it can be a day trip to visit the famous Tuesday market. It is the most important market of the Guambianos, the indigenous community that live in Silvia and its surroundings.
However, since we came from San Agustin, our journey was quite challenging. We even experienced a road blocked by the indigenous people on the way. Read the full story here.
Sometimes, what sketching Colombia about is more than making art. It is to experience and live the moment that makes it unforgettable.
Unfortunately, we came here on Thursday and to wait until Tuesday comes was too long to spend our time here. So, we left and continue our sketching Colombia to Cali.
Cali was surprisingly enjoyable. We heard that this Salsa capital has a warm climate that made us pessimistic in the beginning. But after all, the days were fresh during our visit. Luís even did more sketches in this city.
I think it’s because the iconic places are centered. It was easy to walk around which is a good reason for tourists to like to come here. Without a doubt, Cali is on our list of best places to visit & sketching Colombia along with more places that can inspire you!
Bibiana spoiled us
After exploring Cali, we decided to went back to Bibiana’s home. However, we didn’t immediately continue our adventure by bicycle. Bibiana brought us to Santa Rosa de Cabal to meet her family and enjoy a natural spring pool on a cold night!
Not stop until there, she even brought us to Filandia and Salento to enjoy Cocora valley. Nowadays, with the experiences we have, we would love to reach this natural beauty with our bikes. But that time, it was like a short cut – with less time to explore more places. Bibiana spoiled us.
It took us 2 weeks to do this whole bus loop – sketching Colombia. We had fun experiences along the way, but we missed our bicycles!
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It’s a touristy loop inside of the country.
- Neiva: The arid Tatacoa desert
- San Agustin: home to numerous pre-Columbian
- Silvia: the center of the Guambiano regio
- Cali: Salsa capital
- Cocora valley: where Colombia’s national tree grows
- Santa Rosa de Cabal: natural spring water
Colombia has affordable options to stay overnight. However, we camped a couple time during this bus loop trip which were in Tatacoa desert and San Agustin.
Colombia have good portion of complete menu (soup, main dish, and fresh juice) with affordable price everywhere.
Since we don’t have our own vehicle, we were depending on public transport most of the time.
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