Archeological San Agustín

For my holiday I always like to do a combination of beach, shopping, food, activities, nature and culture. In San Agustín you can at least do tree at the same time; activities, nature and culture. I noticed that I didn’t see that many tourist here, compared to Salento for example, but to admit it has its special charm and beauty. See below my inspirations for you why you should visit San Agustín!

Travel

The distance from Bogotá to San Agustín in the Huile department is over 500 km, but through the mountains it’s quite a journey. You can fly, but you still have to travel a significant distance with the bus, because San Agustín doesn’t have an own airport. I had chosen to save some time and travel by night, spent the day in Bogotá and had cheap accommodation for the night; the bus. Back home I already booked the bus ride online via Redbus.

I treated myself to the luxury first class seat in the bottom of the night bus COOMOTOR Navette XL bus for 87.000 COP. The normal ticket is 75.000 COP, but for that couple of COP more you get a lot more comfort. I left Bogotá at around 22:00 PM and I arrived in San Agustín, behind schedule at 9:30 AM, indeed a long journey, but still remember the moment of waking up in the mountains with a picture perfect view!

Tip: Take some melatonin/sleeping pills before you go to sleep, use earplugs and a mask to cover your eyes, the blankets are provided. Sleep well!!

Accommodation

I chose not to stay in the city center of San Agustín but preferred the nature, quiet and the views over he hills, after my city live in Bogotá. I slept at the recommendable Finca El Cielo. The view from my bamboo room was amazing.

The people that are working here are so helpful and friendly. Besides that, it was a good way to practice my Spanish because they barely speak English. The room was so romantic with all the bamboo and linen, the balcony with bamboo chairs finished it. I love flowers and the garden was full of colorful tropical plants everywhere.

If you are lucky you can sleep in the tree house!! I ordered breakfast and dinner in advance to eat at the premises; they even take into account what you prefer! Compared to the rest of Colombia the accommodation was one of the cheapest I had, with a private room and fantastic view over the orange mountain sunsets.

Tours

The main attractions in San Agustín are the archeological sites from 5,000 years ago. In total there are more than 500 statues scattered over a wide area in the green hills of San Agustín. I will recommend visiting two tours in two days around this cultural event.

 1.  Hourseback riding

The first trip is a horseback ride tour; here you combine an activity in combination with culture! I used to ride the horse when I was young and it was great to get back on the horse again.

My guide Sandro, who was the manager of the Finca El Cielo as well, showed me the whole area including a trip with viewpoint to the famous and magic Magdalena River. I organized this trip the morning I arrived with the night bus and started around 2:00 PM and finished just before sunset. We started our tour visiting the La Pelota and El Purutal sites; these sites are unique because here you can find the only colored painted statues in the area. A must see!!

We had a break a local shack, where we drank my favorite delicious maracuya (passionfruit) jugo and I got an explanation and tasting of different fruits. After the break we galloped back through the magical landscape to the Magdalena River. These historical sites are called El Tablón and La Chaquira and are in the passport as well (see below). We parked our horses and walked all the way down to a platform with a magnificent view over the Magdalena Strait (in Spanish Estrecho del Magdalena).  Here you can see divinities carved into the mountain face overlooking the stunning Río Magdalena.

The sun was already going down which made the light and view so mystique and romantic. I totally understand why the young couples come here to kiss and make out. The steps up where challenging but knowing my horse was waiting for me up the hill and with a beautiful view in my back, I kept on smiling after an awesome day!

2.  San Agustín Archaeological Park

The second trip I will recommend to you is to visit the main UNESCO World Heritage archeological site of San Agustín. Busses leave town regularly that counts the same for the return trip. At the entrance you buy a sort of passport for 25,000 COP with a map and explanation of the area. During your walk through the park you can achieve several stamps in your passport, this motivates to get and see all of them!! Many of the figures are anthropomorphic, some realistic and others resemble masked monsters. Other sculptures worship sacred animals like the eagle, frog, bird and jaguar. The native people from the San Agustín area didn’t have a written language that is why we don’t know much about them, only these amazing and mystical creatures in a mesmerizing landscape.

The park consists of 8 separate sites, I took the following route:

  • Casa Museo Mesita D (close to the entrance)
  • Mesita A
  • Mesita C
  • Fuente Ceremonial de Lavapatas (water part)
  • Alto de Lavapatas (the higher part of the park)
  • Mesita B
  • Bosque de las Estatuas

The Alto de Lavapatas is a huge climb to the top of the hill, but the view and high statues are amazing and worth the climb. In the park there is a coffee shop where you can rest and chill a bit, this is near the Fuente Ceremonial. I liked this part of the park very much; it’s different than all the others. I didn’t book a guide, but the passport and descriptions are clear and sometimes I overheard some stories of guides in the park. It is a well maintained park with easy to walk paths and routs, you can spend a long day if you like. Me walking fast; finished the park in over half a day. Round 2:00 PM I took the bus back, grabbed some fresh empanadas in town and chilled on my balcony with the spectacular view. Preparing for my long and heavy bus ride to Popayan tomorrow……..

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