4.000 to 5.000 years ago two indigenous cultures lived in the river valleys of Rio Magdalena and the Cauca. The rivers were their highways and the headwaters of both rivers lie near San Agustin. It was here that these cultures met for trade and to bury their dead. Today there are more than 500 statues in the region, mainly linked to tombs. There are several archaeological sites to visit. Apart from that, the area around San Agustin is full of coffee and fruit plantations as well as beautiful scenery.
The bus ride from Popayán to San Agustin was one of the worst of our whole trip. Six hours in a small mini-bus with our backpacks on our knees on an unpaved road in the worst conditions. We hope the roads get better in the rest of the country! But when we arrived we were rewarded with one of the nicest hostels ever. Casa de Nelly – outside the city in the mountains, surrounded by a beautiful garden. The whole place had plenty relaxing areas with hammocks in the garden. At night, everyone got together with some beer or wine at the huge table to either enjoy their self-made dinner or the one that was served in the hostel. I don´t think we ever posted hostel-pictures, but this one is worth it:
In the area around San Agustin there are several sites to visit and see the statues:
The biggest park in the area also has the largest collection of statues. We learned a new way to save money here – the German driver license was accepted as a student ID card! The signification of the statues remains unknown and there are several theories. We have our own – the statues are just figures of the dead and somehow relate to their characters. We had a lot of fun guessing what kind of person was burried with each statue 😉 Wanna make a guess?
There is also a stream on a rocky bed carved with images of serpients, lizards and human figures.
El Tablón & Chaquira
There are several small sites around San Agustin. Close to town we visited these two. El Tablón shows just another three statues like the ones we had seen in the park. Chaquira is more a beautiful view point than an archaeological site. We only found one face carved into a stone. But it was a nice picnic spot.
On our second day here we went on a tour in a jeep to visit the more remote sites. A jeep is necessary because the roads are unpaved and the ride is really uncomfortable.
El estrecho del Rio Magdalena
This spot would be the perfect picnic or swimming spot – if you have time. We only stopped here shortly to have a look at the river.
Alto de los Ídolos & Alto de las Piedras
The second biggest park shows the tombs in more detail and gives a better idea of how things must have looked like in the past.
Salto de Bordones & Salto de Mortino
These two waterfalls are well worth a visit. At Salto de Bordones you can also hike down to the valley and swim, but it takes all day.
We spent one more day just relaxing in our beautiful garden. The region is so peaceful and it is the perfect place to recover some energy for the next days in Bogota!