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The sign at the entrance to Hoyo del Aire (literally ‘Air Hole’ in English) near the small town of La Paz in Colombia’s Santander department, says that it is the second-biggest hole in the world.
One assumes this means naturally formed and on land as opposed to underwater. Whatever the case, do an online search for the world’s biggest/deepest holes and this Colombian wonder doesn’t tend to feature on any list.
For the record, from its base to the highest point above, the depth is 220 metres (almost 722 feet for the imperialists amongst us).
Locals seem to be in agreement that it was formed by a meteorite. That may be so; I’m certainly no expert on the subject. One thing that appears undisputed is that the hole was a convenient place to dump bodies — both dead and alive — during Colombia’s more violent days. (I heard similar stories during my 2014 visit to the town of Pandi where there’s another “convenient” natural hole for such macabre undertakings. See https://wwcorrigan.blogspot.com/2014/11/fine-and-pandi.html.)
That aside, why it’s not more internationally known is somewhat beyond me, especially considering the rapid rise in foreign visitors of all kinds to Colombia in the last decade as the country has left those more violent times behind it.
Plus, there are a number of other attractions around La Paz itself, 30 km north of the bigger and easier-to-reach Vélez, capital of the eponymous province in which both towns are situated and one I visited back in 2018 (see https://wwcorrigan.blogspot.com/2018/03/a-rewarding-velez-view.html).
The fact that it’s mostly a dirt track from Vélez to La Paz, meaning that the aforementioned 30-kilometre trip takes about an hour to cover by car, is probably one reason why Hoyo del Aire and its surrounds remain something of a hidden gem, internationally speaking at least.
As is usually the case with such sights, photos don’t tend to do Hoyo del Aire justice, hence the following link to a short video for a somewhat better idea of its impressiveness, https://youtu.be/OrSHRKhYvuw. The aerial shot on the official sign, see photo above, does give some decent perspective, too.
Apparently, rappelling was available as a tourist activity in the past but it’s no longer carried out after an “incident”. I was told nobody died but the local authority decided to discontinue the practice.
One senses a business opportunity. You read it here first!
Listen to Wrong Way’s Colombia Cast podcast here.