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Tierradentro is in the department of Cauca in Colombia.


The Tierradentro Archeological Park is famous for its painted underground burial chambers, a UNESCO World Heritage site. These subterranean tombs were created around 700 A.D. and rediscovered and excavated between 1930 and 1995. Most tombs had been damaged and looted by grave robbers but the level of preservation of the actual structures is impressive. These tombs provide an unique opportunity to study an ancient pre-Columbian civilization, and for this reason the Tierradentro Archeological Park has earned its place on the UNESCO World Heritage List [1].


Not much is known about the pre-Columbian civilization who created the burial chambers.


Flora and fauna[edit]


Get in[edit]

San Andres de Pisimbala or simply San Andres is the tiny hamlet where most people stay.

  • From Popayan : several busses a day make the 5 hour ride to Tierradentro. Some will drop you off at a place called El Cruz from where it's a 2 km walk to San Andres.
  • From San Agustín : you first have to go to Pitalito and then get a bus to La Plata which leaves at 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. From there you can take bus to San Andres at 4 p.m.
  • From Cali : Currently there is no direct way to get in from Cali and it is recommended to go through either Popayan or San Agustin. Google maps states it is possible to take highway 37 after turning left at Corinto if driving. However as of July 2014 this road does not exist and the area around Corinto and south of it is in the "zona roja". There is a heavy military presence and the area in and around Corinto is considered very dangerous even by Colombian standards.

Get around[edit]

All sites are within easy walking distance. It's possible to visit all of them in one day.

See[edit][add listing]

Near the entrance of the park there are two museums. An archeological museum with pottery, statues and interesting information (in Spanish) and an ethnological museum with interesting information about the Paez Indians who nowadays live in the surrounding mountains.

From the entrance there are two walks. One will lead to Segovia a extensive site with the best preserved burial chambers and the only ones with light. Further up is the site El Duende with some more burial chambers. And close to San Andres is El Tablon with statues similar to the ones in San Agustín.

The other walk will lead to Aguacatala sitting on top of a mountain. The views are amazing, but most of the burial chambers are not maintained at all. Close to San Andres is the site Alto de San Andres.

Do[edit][add listing]

In addition to the ruins in and around Tierradentro, there are other ruins closer to Inza, a short motorcycle or car ride away. These include various statues, figurines, and monuments that are actually listed in Tierradentro "passport" given at the archaelogical museum. Most notably, there is a Pyramid rock (La Pirámide), an amazing pyramid-form rock with an amazing 360 view of the entire valley. There are also caves and tunnels around this formation. Many of the locals know how to get here, including the employees of the Tierradentro park.

Buy[edit][add listing]

There is no bank nor cashpoint. Take enough money especially in small bills, changing your 20.000 bills can be hard.

Bring a torch before going to Tierradentro. The ones available in San Andres are bad.

Eat[edit][add listing]

In San Andres there is only one restaurant, you can't miss it.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

There are several budget recidencials renting out rooms and cooking meals. One of them is a old lady called Marta which has rooms for COP$8.000 and a meal cost around COP$2.000.

Stay safe[edit]

Tierradentro is a guerrilla area, but up till now they haven't harmed any tourist. Armed conflicts between guerrilla and military aren't uncommon, so inform yourself of the situation before setting off.

Get out[edit]

Inza is the closest town.

Routes through Tierradentro
Cali  NW noframe SE  La PlataPitalito / San Augustin
Popayan  W noframe NE  NeivaBogota

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