The best-preserved funerary complexes of the Agustinian culture are found at Alto de los Ídolos. The park stands out for its very particular characteristics in the representation of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic sculptures, their dimensions, the presence of sarcophagi and ceremonial baths made from stone, and the paintings of both the statues and...more
The San Agustín Archaeological Park, located on the Department of Huila, is the only place in the world highlighted by 500 imposing stone statues carved in accordance to the mythology of their Indian sculptors.Most of the statues were part of the funerary paraphernalia of the ancient inhabitants of the area and were related to funerary rites, the...more
The horse riding tour started in the morning from El Maco. We made the first stop just after a few kilometres to the north, in El Tablón, which is said to be dedicated to the Moon Deity. The site keeps an interest by the splendour of the landscape. You can see six sculptures in their original setting and visit the Museo Etnográfico. Several...more
Declared by UNESCO a World Heritage, Alto de los Ídolos is the second-most important archeological park in the region. It's far less visited and a bit smaller, but equally impressive as the Parque Arqueologico in San Agustin. It is located on the left margin of the Río Magdalena, 26 km north of San Agustín. It can be also reached from San José de...more
Horse riding is one of the most popular activities in the region. You can just stroll the surrounding or visit the archeological sites and other places of interest. The countryside provides a spectacular scenery for horse riding tours. Our guide Pacho was recommended by René, the owner of El Maco. We met Pacho a night before the tour so we could...more
Bosque de las Estatuas (Forest of Statues) is a little tropical forest with 39 stone figures of different origins. They are placed along the trail that snakes through the forest and are surrounded by the flora of the region. The statues were originally found in remote areas and then brought and grouped for display in a natural forest setting. The...more
From Fuente de Lavapatas a path winds up to the Alto de Lavapatas where the oldest archeological site is located. The climb is quite steep but it's worth the effort. When you reach the top of the hill you can see a series of wonderful statues. There are the oldest tombs and a children's cemetery protected by a beautifully carved large Doble Yo...more
Founded in 1935 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, Parque Arqueológico is the biggest archeological site (78 hectares) and only about 3 km from San Agustín. It's a complex with several spaces of great archeological importance. There are at least 130 statues carved by ancient sculptors and collect from other places as well. The park...more
From El Tablón there is a 3 km dirt downhill path through the countryside. In a spectacular setting half way down a canyon you'll find the massive rock carvings La Chaquira, perhaps the most impressive site of San Agustín. There are several figures, including La diosa de la Chaquira (the goddess of Chaquira). The main figure, with its hands up in...more
Archeological sites La Pelota and El Purutal are quite close to each other. La Pelota is known for two pieces, a warrior and an eagle with a snake carved in rock, that display an extraordinary perfection of sculptural art. El Purutal is a possible ceremonial site whose statues of the king (which is about to sacrifice a child) and the queen yet...more
After the night journey from Bogotá I arrived in El Maco at about 08:00 in the morning. To my surprise I met an American that I already knew from Platypus; he was just having his breakfast. He told me that he and three more people (another American and a Kiwi couple) were going to take a jeep tour in about half an hour and asked me if I would be...more
Our jeep tour was slowly coming to its end. We made the last stop at Salto de Bordones which is said to be Colombia's highest waterfall (400 metres) and second highest in South America. We left the car and walked down the winding path to the valley. After 15 minutes of trail we were almost in front of the waterfall. The view of the waterfall,...more
Restaurant/bar El Maco is located next to the reception and it's open every day of the week. Using only natural materials and nicely decorated gives a lovely homely feel. The upper level has several hammocks where you can relax before and after your meal. The restaurant is led by René's wife Paloma who prepares delicious, healthy meals with organic...more
La Brasa is said to be one of the best restaurants in San Agustin. Succulent local meat and great sausages! Prices range from 4-14$ which is not very cheap for Colombia but they are delicious! The service is excellent and the environment is nice.Calle 5 #5-23 across Hotel Yalconia. It is one kilometer out of the village on the way to the...more
There are only a few daily buses from San Agustín to Popayán. You have to book ahead since some of them only stop if there are reservations. I booked a previous day at the Tourist Information Office on the main street (Calle 3). Next morning at breakfast I asked René, the owner of El Maco, to call a taxi for me. When the driver brought me to the...more
I wanted to save some time so I took a night bus from Bogotá to San Agustín. To get from Platypus to the terminal I took a taxi. Due to very busy traffic it took almost an hour instead of usual 20-25 minutes and it costed 14.000 COP. Fortunately, I left early enough to catch my bus.I took Pasajes Verdes bus at 09:30pm and payed 40.000 COP (December...more
I came to San Agustin by bus from Popayan in 8 hours. You can also visit it from Bogota for a couple of days or get on the public bus and stay there more, hike and enjoy the bright pure nature. Hiking is as easy or difficult as you want it to be. If you want to go to Tierradentro it will probably take you more than 6 hours as you will have to get...more
On Saturday, there was a market in San Agustin. They sell basically everything from fruit to clothes to 1980's telephones.
For us budget oriented travellers, markets are always a good source of cheap food. We were given free samples of random different exotic fruits I'd never heard of from people tending the different stalls. We also bought tons of exotic fruits who's names I mostly can't remember, and were eating fruits and making juice for the next few days. It was great, and dirt cheap.
San Agustín is known for the cultivation of sugar cane. There are at least 30 families in the area that still produce raw sugar in their small factories using traditional techniques. Visiting one of such factories was part of the jeep tour. We could see the whole process. First they have to extract sugar from freshly harvested sugar cane; the sweet juice come out and the cane fibre is carried away. After cleaning they place the syrup into a very large pan for boiling. In this stage even more water is boiled off until sugar crystals begin. They are then given a final dry before being stored.
Uses of sugar cane include the production of sugar, molasses, rum (Colombia is among the world's most important producers) and cachaça (national alcoholic beverage of Brazil, also known as aguardente). In Colombia aguardiente is an anise-flavoured liquer derived from sugar cane, popular in the Andean region. Pieces of sugar cane are chewed for their sugary syrup and in some places they are a popular street food, as is guarapo or guarapo de caña (sugar cane juice).
Don't book at the tourist information as soon as you come off the bus. Shop around because they are not what they claim to be. They are just travel agencies and having put up these false signs they get all the tourists every time the bus arrives. The rest of the locals are complaining because sometimes independent local guides, who have spent all their life there, are better and cheaper. You can go on horseback, too. Prices are about 15$ for jeep tours, 10$ for horseback riding and entrance to the Archaeological Park is 3.5$ plus 1$ and later 2.5$ more extra for the sites.
( According to updating information that came to me from the official guides of the park in Oct. 2010: "The guides ask for 40.000 pesos in spanish and 50.000 pesos per person or group in english, and you can find them at the archeological park, only, and all of
them have a professional card.")
Salto de Mortino is the lesser accessible of the two waterfalls in the area. It is located on privately owned land. You can drive up to the gate, where the guy hangs out and he will take 1,000pesos (less than 50cents) from each passenger. You then proceed through a feild a short way to the waterfall. This one has a little overhanging viewing...more
Salto do Bordones is one of two waterfalls in the area. This is the easier accessible of the two, as it has paved road going to the top, where there is a (seemingly abandoned) restaurant or hotel.There is a viewing area, with guardrails and such. For the braver you can follow a narrow path that zig-zags down the slope to the river at the bottom....more
As I mentioned earlier in the off-the-beaten path tips, I took a jeep ride to some of the far away attractions in the area through what they call el Anillo Touristico. This was an amazing day. The trip was a bargain at about $16 USD per person (only 3 in the jeep plus the driver, usually it's cheaper with 4 or 5 passengers in the jeep)
The only thing that was disturbing was that the sites are too well 'maintained'! The sculptures stand in a clearing with no vegetation. So the place around the monuments looks less wild and less magic. I don't know if they have cut trees to present this 'serene' touristic ambient but I'd prefer it the way it was when found. Sorry if I do wrong to...more
Even if you're not an archeology buff like myself, San Agustin offers several attractive hikes and beautiful natural spots nearby. From a walk to the actual Archeological park to the so called Annillo Turisitco. This area of Colombia is one of the most beautiful areas in the country! Don't underestimate the town itself. The town offers a very...more
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