This week I’m featuring a photography of Tatacoa Desert taken by David Ouellette from the Guerrilla Gallivanter Blog.
David was born in Canada and his travels took him from the worst barrio in Mexico City to the rainforest of Borneo, he recently did a four-month gallivant from Colombia to Peru.
Picture Story: Tatacoa Desert
I took this photo in the Tatacoa Desert of Colombia. The Tatacoa Desert is really interesting because it provides a diverse array of desert terrain.
Some parts are a bright red labyrinth of flat hilltops with steep cliff drops into narrow valleys with some struggling vegetation and cacti.
I actually got lost in this terrain for a few hours on my first day after I decided to go off the trail, which was pretty scary.
While you might be able to see where you need to go after getting to the high ground, the contour of the land changes so radically that you have to find your way by trial and error.
In the desert sun with limited water, walking up several different hills to try to find your way back to the trail is a nerve-testing experience.
You only realise that you’re lost after you fail to get to where you want to go several times. It was actually like being in a maze that has two levels, and I’m really glad I got out!
While I typically meet people while travelling solo, I decided that going to the barren Tatacoa Desert alone was a good idea because I wanted to explore the desert without distractions.
Photography is one of the most important parts of my life – not only for creating images but on the hunt for interesting subjects and compositions.
My camera brings about an intimate connection between myself and my surroundings when I’m alone in a new place, so this was a perfect opportunity.
Walking around the desert with my camera in search of good landscapes was a really cool meditative and self-reflective time.
Being Canadian, I also hadn’t been in a desert before. So this was a unique experience to explore the minute details as well as the massive surroundings to learn about a new place.
I actually spent quite a few hours of each night doing time-lapse photography of the stars.
Committing to sitting in the dark in the middle of the desert alone for hours at a time also took me to a new level of seriousness about travel photography.
Honestly, I try to get lost anywhere I go. Getting lost intentionally is part of my personality and travel philosophy.
You are forced to learn so much and interact so much with your environment when you’re lost, and it almost always leads to a cool memory or story.
My first experience doing this was in Mexico City when I got lost and accidentally walked into the city’s most dangerous barrio – Tepito.
I didn’t realise the seriousness of what I had done until I told my Mexican friends I went there alone by accident.
I totally realise that this is a pretty reckless thing to do in potentially dangerous places, but I do it with a willingness to embrace the consequences and to absorb the experience.
Haven’t been killed, kidnapped, or robbed yet in all my travels, so I’ll carry on with this philosophy.
The Tatacoa Desert is the second largest arid zone in Colombia after the Guajira Peninsula. It occupies 330 square kilometers of land.
It is a rich deposit of fossils and is a great tourist destination. The Tatacoa Desert has two distinctive colors: ocher in the area of Cuzco and gray in the Los Hoyos area.
The Tatacoa, or the Valley of Sorrows, as it was called in 1538 by the conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, is not just a desert, but a tropical dry forest.
The name “Tatacoa” also given by the Spanish, refers to rattlesnakes.
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