Paisa Tours: Guide to Medellin and Colombia


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San Agustin


NB. The British FCO website currently (2011) advises against travel to San Agustin for safety reasons.

Near San Agustin one finds some of South America's greatest, and most mysterious, archaeological sites. San Agustin, about 8 hours overland travel from Popayan, is one of Colombia's top travel highlights. The town itself is small and tranquil, and is the place to organise jeep or horseback riding tours to the nearby "Valley of the Statues" which has numerous huge stone carved statues that date back as far as 3000 B.C. There are a total of 20 well preserved sites to explore (and hundreds of statues), and many more remained undiscovered. Very little is known about the culture that produced these statues so long ago - it's all very mysterious....

The area is excellent for hiking and horseback riding tours, amongst other adventure travel activities such as whitewater rafting (Class 2-5 rapids) - you could easily spend four or five days exploring the area. Guides vary enormously in standard in San Agustin - if possible get a recommendation from your hotel rather than picking one up in the street. November to March are the driest months - the rest of the year it often rains, especially during the rainy season from April to June.

San Agustin Hotels & Accommodation

Almost all hotels in San Agustin are relatively basic - it's best to stay outside of the town centre if possible. None of these hotels are particularly expensive, some you might wish to consider include El Maco (an ecological farm just outside of San Agustin - this Swiss owned hostal is a good backpackers option), Finca El Cielo (a peaceful hotel with lovely views and an organic farm attached) and La Casa de Francois (a very reasonably priced French owned hostal). There's many other options in addition, such as Hacienda Anacoana, the mid range hotel Yalconia and the hostel El Jardin.

Sidetrip to the Tatacoa Desert

Those coming from or travelling to Bogota should consider splitting up their journey to spend a night or two in the striking landscapes of the Tatacoa Desert, which is found near Neiva - halfway between Bogota and San Agustin. The principle attractions here are the wonderful desert landscapes, the ability to be able to sleep in the actual desert and the excellent stargazing possibilities. 

The Tatacoa Desert (Desierto de Tatacoa) is found a few kilometres from the small desert town of Villavieja. In the desert there's a visitors centre as well as an observatory that can be visited. There's a few hotels in the town of Villavieja itself, but it's better to sleep in the nearby desert - there's campsites with open air hammocks that can be rented plus a couple of very basic cabin style hotels. Villavieja is one hour from Neiva, which in turn is 5 hours from both Bogota and San Agustin.

Other Side Trips from San Agustin

Those slow travelling through this part of Colombia might consider a stop off at Yaguara, which is 50km South-West of transport hub Neiva, which in turn is en route between Bogota and San Agustin. Locals hope that this is an up and coming tourist destination, the main activity being cruises along the beautiful lake formed by the nearby Betania Dam. There's a handful of budget hotels as well as some pleasant lake front restaurants in the attractive farming town.

Another sidetrip from San Augustin is to the rarely visited Cueva de los Guacharos National Park, which contains various enormous caves as well as plenty of cloudforest and rainforest. This National Park is a little South of Pitalito - and rather remote so check the security situation if visiting.

Mocoa, the capital of Putamayo department, is found South of San Agustin - most of this department is full of jungle and it's an area of Colombia that is has been particularly unsafe for a long time. It is possible to travel from San Agustin, to Mocoa, and from there travel on to Pasto, near the border with Ecuador.  In Mocoa you can stay at Belgian run Casa del Rio and experience a bit of the Amazon.  The spectacular road on to Pasto is known as the Trampoline of Death, as it is such a dangerous, winding route through which to navigate a vehicle.  The other border crossing into Ecuador is nearby at San Miguel -  its not so safe, and not recommended to cross there.  Check the local security situation before even thinking about visiting Mocoa or anywhere nearby.      





San Agustin, Colombia:
San Agustin Rock Sculptures
Rock sculptures of San Agustin

San Agustin, Colombia
Mysterious sculptures of San agustin.


San Agustin Video

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