In 1851, slavery was abolished in independent Nueva Granada (modern day Colombia), and in honor of the new law, on 5 October of that year, a tree was planted in the center of Gigante’s plaza.
While battling a fungus eating away at its roots, the La Ceiba de la Libertad continues to grow and is a proud symbol of the town. You can’t get up close to it because it’s fenced off in the center of the plaza, but it’s an impressive site nonetheless.
La Ceiba de la Libertad is shrouded in legends. Some say that if the tree dies, there will be grave consequences for Gigante, such as the return of slavery. Others believe that there’s a giant sinkhole under the tree that will swallow the town. Another legend says that the trunk of the tree contains a column of gold. In any case, they’re doing their best to preserve the tree.
The other attraction on the plaza is the nice church.
Outside of Gigante there are numerous cacao plantations, making the town the “Cacao Capital of Colombia”. Some of these plantations can be visited for a demonstration on cacao production. There are also a few small nature reserves for hiking.
Lunch at La Ceiba
For food, we had an overpriced lunch at La Ceiba, a restaurant located on the plaza. The quality of the food was good and so was the service, but the cost should have been half of what they charged us.
Gigante is on the road between Neiva and Pitalito. Every bus traveling between these towns will pass through Gigante. Cootranshuila and Coomotor are the big ones, while Cootransgigante offers a speedier direct service to Neiva that bypasses the bus terminal and drops you off in the city center.