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San Agustin

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Earth : South America : Colombia : Andino : Huila : San Agustin
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San Agustín is a small town in the department of Huila in Colombia that is famous for its pre-Columbian statues.


San Agustín is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Embedded between lush green hills near the river Magdalena, San Augustin is the gateway for visiting numerous stone statues.

Get in[edit]

  • From Bogotá : You can take a bus (10 hours - 520 km), the way through Neiva is safe and there are beautiful sights on the way, like the Tatacoa Desert or the Magdalena River, the most important of Colombia. The bus goes to Pitalito, and most have AC, toilet, TV, but make sure you take a direct one. From Pitalito you can take a taxi (50.000 COP) or a minivan or pickup (~5.000-15.000 COP per person depending on the comfort level). The night bus from Bogota (the direct one leaves around 9PM as ofApril 2014) takes a few hours less due to less traffic, but make sure you take a direct one, not the "lechero" that stops in every town. As of April 2014 the area has been safe from guerrillas for many years. As of Sept 2016 there is a bus that will take you direct to San Agustin and stop at the city center (69.000 COP). You can also fly from Bogotá To Neiva with Avianca, LAN or EasyFly, and then take a taxi to the Terminal de Transportes where a high variery of transport options are available to Pitalito. Seats in the minivans are assigned, so make sure you know which seat you are getting, and that you are taking a direct vehicle that will not make any stops. The problem with flying is that you lose the whole day.
  • From Cali : There is one regional direct flight per week with Satena, it's a 1h10 flight leaving on Sundays at 12:35 and arriving at 13:45 (around 52€ single trip).
  • From Popayan : There are several direct buses, it's a long 5 hours bus trip (135 km) of which roughly 50% is unpaved and very bumpy (33.000 COP).
  • From Tierradentro: Take the jeep leaving San Andres at 6.30 a.m. or 8.00 a.m. to Plata (1,5h 10.000 COP). From there you can take a minivan to Pitalito at 9.00 a.m. or 12.00 a.m. (3h, 18.000 COP). From the bus terminal in Pitalito are regularly leaving shared taxis to San Agustin (45min, 5.000 COP).
  • If you go to Tierradentro take a bus to Pitalito. From there you have to take a bus to La Plata either at 6 a.m. or 10 a.m. From there you can make connections to Tierradentro.

Get around[edit]

There different archaeological sites are scattered over a large area. If you have the time walking is the best option, the scenery on the way is amazing. Hail down the local busses to El Parque arqueologico or El Tablon at any point for the longer distances along the road (1500 COP). It is also possible to rent horses. Several agents run jeep tours to some of the more remote sites.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Parque Arqueologico (open 8AM-4PM everyday except Tuesday, entrance fee is an extreme 50.000 (!) COP for foreigners, Colombian adults COP 25,000, Colombian students COP 15,000, children under twelve: free) is San Agustin's main attraction. It features several ancient burial sites, a lot of statues and a small museum. It's 3 km west of San Agustin and can be reached by frequent minibusses.
  • Alto de los Idoles (open 8AM-4PM everyday except Tuesday, entrance adults COP 20,000, students COP 10,000, children COP 5,000) if far less visited, a bit smaller, but equally impressive as the archaeological park. The views from the park amazing. There is no transportation to and from San Agustin, only to San Jose de Isnos.
  • Within easy walking distance are the four small sites El Tablon, with several statues; La Chaquira, carved rocks dramatically set overlooking the valley of the Rio Magdalena; La Pelota, with some coloured statues in excellent state and El Purutal. These can easily be visited in one day walking.
  • Far north of San Agustin is Obando a small sites with some underground tombs and a tiny museum with some of the excavated pottery. There are carros going to and from San Agustin to Obando.
  • Other archaeological sites are Alto de Las Piedras, Alto de las Guacas, Alto del Mortiño o del Tigre, Granada, El Jabón, Lavaderos o Naranjos and La Parada.

Besides the archaeological sites there is some beautiful nature to visit.

  • El Estrecho is the place where the Rio Magdalena is at its narrowest.
  • Salto de Bordones and Salto del Mortiño are two waterfalls.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Take a carro to Obando and walk the beautiful way back to San Agustín and visit El Estrecho on the way. It's about five hours walking.
  • Walk to Alto de los Idolos and back. Leave early because it is a long walk. You can visit Granada on the way and if you have some energy left take the detour to Alto de las Guacas and Alto del Moriño o del Tigre.
  • Horse riding. Many of the hostels can arrange riding trips to the archaeological sites and the surrounding countryside. Around 25,000 COP for 5 hour trip.  edit
  • Jeep tour. To visit the more remote sights in one day, you can take a jeep tour. Usual circuits allow you to see statues at Alto de los Idolos, waterfalls at Salto Bordones and Alto del Mortiño, Tombs and museum in Obando and the estrecho del Magdalena. Around 30,000 COP for 7-8 hour trip.  edit
  • Walk. To Chaquira for the amazing views and some more archeology. Nearby is also a hill called La Pelota where the views are amazing and you will be alone. El estrecho del Magdalena can be done with public transportation in the same day as the walks above.


There are several ATMs in San Agustín, but they can sometimes be out of cash at the end of long weekends. To get money you may have to go to Pitalito. Bring your passport or you might end up in the DAS office in Pitalito.

Eat[edit][add listing]

In some cheap local restaurants and at the market there is "menu" lunch for COP4,000.

  • Donde Richard / Mister Cuy, (On the way to the Park). BBQ places owned by brothers and located next to one another that serve big plates of the tipical asado huilense.  edit
  • El Fogon, Calle 5 (5th St) and Carrera 15 corner. Typical Colombian plates, good service, was not hard to get a vegetarian meal. Also had various types of whole fish. Nice view to the street for people watching.  edit
  • Tomate Vegetarian. On the road to the main entrance of the park. Open 8am to 3pm Thurs - Mon. Closed Tues & Wed. German owned. Thus, real bread. Excellent homemade pastas some days. Runs out of food by closing time. Go early. Set lunch 9,000 COP.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

This region is rich in coffee, drink very common in the rural community, as well as drinks and chicha guarapo alcoholic beverages that are used by the aboriginals ansestros and even today are consumed by local residents.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Hostal San Luis, Cl 5, #13-25, [1]. Very nice and friendly hosts. Offers roof-top terrace and kitchen. $15-35 per person.  edit
  • Finca El Cielo, Vía Estrecho km 3, +57 313 49 37 446 (), [2]. checkin: 24 hours. Very beautiful farm hotel 3 km of San Agustin near to fascinating archeological sites. Owned by a Swiss (Dominique) and run by a friendly Colombian family. Beautiful view over the Magdalena canyon. Ample and very comfortable rooms with modern bathrooms. Swimming pond. Camping. Tours. Restaurant. Bar. Shop. 60,000 COP.  edit
  • Finca El Maco, (On the way to the park, take the track going up the hill right after the restaurant Donde Richard. On your right after the steep climb.), 311 271 4802 (), [3]. Run by an extremely friendly Swiss (Rene) and his wife (Paloma), Finca el Maco is a little piece of paradise located about 1 km out of the town. Dorm beds and private rooms are available and there is also a restaurant and bar which serves incredible meals. dorm : 16,000 COP.  edit
  • La Casa de Francois, (Beautifully set in the countryside, a short walk from downtown), [4]. Beautiful views, exquisite breakfasts and dinners prepared by request. Both dorm and private rooms available. Excellent backpacker hangout with all of the amenities. Dorm : 15,000 COP / Double : 35,000 COP.  edit
  • Hostal Alto de los Andaquíes, Vereda Nueva Zelanda, 3124447368, [5]. Rustic coffee farm, with the best viewpoint of the village and its surroundings, comfortable rooms with private bathroom, hot water, television, restaurant, surrounded by beautiful gardens and nature. Coffee free. 20,000 COP.  edit
  • Hotel Cambi, Cra 13 No. 3-36 (5 min walk from center of town), 8373357, [6]. None of the hotels in town even approach mid-range quality, but this is a friendly, basic, clean place that is also very inexpensive.  edit
  • Hostals and Camping Gamcelat, Vía al Parque Arqueológico San Agustín, Huila (5 minutes from centre towards Archeological Park), 837-36-49/ gsm:313-245-83-73 (), [7]. Gamcelat is a family run hostal/organic farm. It is a natural place where you can relax in hammocks, be part of the daily work of the field, use one of the prepared tours and explore the incredible archeological sites that the surrounding area has to offer.  edit
  • Yuma hotel San Agustin, 50 mtrs. Via Vereda Estrella, +57 311 281 3157 (), [8]. checkin: 24 hours. Very beautiful farm hotel 200 mts. from San Agustin center. Owned by a Don Emiliano and his wife Olgita. The will give you the time of your life during your stay. Very friendly personal. Beautiful view of the valley. The finca has its own coffee-farm. Possibility for bird-watching. Ample and very comfortable rooms with modern bathrooms. A spa, turkish bath and Jacuzzi are under construction. Tours are available. Restaurant and Bar service. Restaurant has a fireplace. Prices vary during the different seasons. Please check.!  edit
  • Hostal Bambú, Cra 13 # 6-78 (5 min walk from town center), 3113606841, [9]. Backpackers friendly hostel. Economic, clean, well located and great atmosphere. There are Dorms (15,000 COP) Private rooms with and without toilet (20,000 / 25,000). The hostel provides free WIFI, hot showers, coffee in the mornings, Landury services, well equiped kitchen and a Chill-out Terrace with spetaculer views.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

Most guidebooks may tell you this area is guerrilla territory, but this is no longer the case. If you are going to Popayan, Tierradentro or Mocoa, it is still best to avoid travelling by night.

Some of the agents organizing jeep tours are more interested in your personal belongings. Set up tours at your hostel.

Get out[edit]

  • Bogotá: Coomotor has three daily buses (12h), one in the morning and two in the evening. These buses pass through Neiva. There are also direct buses to Cali, Popayan and Tierradentro. To get to Mocoa you need to transfer in Pitalito. Pitalito is a bigger city about 45minutes away, from here there are more buses to Bogotá.

Routes through San Agustin
Popayan  NW noframe E  Pitalito
BogotaNeiva  NE noframe SW  Pasto

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