Statues San Agustín Archaeological Park

Things to do in & around San Agustín (Colombia): Attractions

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San Agustín is a small town located in southern Colombia. The town and its surroundings are mainly known for the archaeological parks that can be found here. Despite the fact that many travelers skip San Agustín, we found it one of the best destinations in Colombia. In this article I tell you all about the sights you can visit and what activities you can do in and around San Agustín.

We slept three nights in Masaya San Augustín, a super nice accommodation just outside the center of San Agutín town.

How to get to San Agustín.

From Bogotá

Are you traveling from Bogotá to San Augustín? Then flying from Bogotá to Pitalito is the fastest option. We paid €110,- per person for a plane ticket. In Pitalito we took a taxi to San Agustín for € 20,-. Do you have a lot of time and/or not such a big budget? Then taking the bus is a the best option. Cootranshuila offers a direct bus trip from Bogotá to San Agustín for about € 30,-. This bus ride normally takes about 10 hours, but keep in mind that it can sometimes take longer due to road conditions.

Making a stop in the Tatacoa Desert

Are you traveling by bus from Bogotá to San Augustín? Then you can also choose to make a stopover in Neiva to visit the Tatacoa Desert from there. This desert is known for its unique landscape and is a popular destination for stargazing.

From other places in the area of San Agustín

You can take a direct bus to San Agustín from several towns in the area, such as from Neiva, Pitalito, Cali and Popayan.

Where to stay in San Agustín?

Our favorite is definitely Masaya San Agustín, a beautiful hostel that offers both dorms and private rooms and above all is very affordable. Masaya is set up incredibly beautifully. Their huts have a fantastic view over the Magdalena River. They serve delicious food and there is a nice public area with a bar, where you can enjoy a nice drink or a cocktail.

The hostel is located just outside the city center of San Augustín. You can walk to the center in about 25 minutes, but you can also take a taxi for a few euros.

Things to do in San Agustín

Archaeological Parks

San Agustín Archaeological Park

San Agustín’s largest archaeological park has the largest collection of religious monuments and megalithic statues in Latin America and is considered the world’s largest burial site. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

You will find more than 500 statues and many tombs in the park. The sculptures represent gods and mythical animals, but other than that little is known about the sculptures. For example, no one knows for sure when they were made. It is thought that they date from 5-400 AD.

The statues are spread over an area of 50 km2. You will need at least 3 hours to visit the whole park.

You can walk to the archaeological park from the center of San Augustín or you can take a taxi there for a few euros. If you buy a ticket for the park, which cost us 12.50 euros per person, you will receive some kind of a passport. With this passport you also get access to other archaeological parks in the area of San Agustín.

Alto de Las Piedras

Another archaeological site near San Agustín is the park Alto de Las Piedras. This park is located in the town of Isnos, about a 45-minute drive from San Agustín. Here you will also find statues, which are supposed to represent people and animals, and tombs.

Alto de Las Piedras is a lot smaller than the archaeological park of San Agustín. Here there are only 10 statues, but the statues are in slightly better condition than those in San Agustín.

Did you buy a passport in the archaeological park of San Agustín? Then the entrance fee to this park is also included. Otherwise you can buy a passport here. We paid 12.50 euros for it.

Alto de Los Idolos

A third archaeological park near San Augustín is Alto de Los Idolos. Again, this park is not as large as the large park in San Agustín, but it is larger than Alto de Las Piedras.

In Alto de Los Idolos, as in the other two parks, you will find stone statues and tombs, including the largest statue in the area. This statue is about 7 meters high, but only 4 meters of the statue rises above the ground. Another unique statue in this park is a statue of a crocodile, as there were no crocodiles living in this area at all. People wonder why and how it is possible that this animal was carved.

Did you buy a passport in the archaeological park of San Agustín? Then the entrance fee to this park is also included. Otherwise you can buy a passport here. We paid 12.50 euros for it.

Waterfalls

Salto del Mortiño (the Mortiño waterfall)

About a 20-minute drive from San Agustín you will find the Mortiño waterfall. This waterfall is more than 200 meters high and is considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls in South America. To gain access to the grounds where the waterfall is located, you pay an entrance fee. We paid about 1.25 euros per person.

You can enjoy various activities in the park, like ziplining, swimming and swining above the waterfall.

Salto Bordones (Bordones waterfall)

Did you think the Mortiño waterfall was big? The Bordones waterfall is even twice as high, namely more than 400 meters!

This waterfall is about an hour’s drive from San Agustín. If you walk down a little from the parking lot you can enjoy a beautiful view of the waterfall for free.

Stroll through the center of San Agustín

San Agustín is a nice, small town. It is fun to stroll through the center. Most houses are white with green accents and some buildings are decorated with graffiti. Also the streets are decorated here and there with fun and colorful garlands. Around the central square Parque Simon Bolivar you will find various street food stalls, where you can enjoy some typical Colombian dishes.

Visit a sugarcane factory

As you drive through the San Agustín area, you will see large, gray clouds of smoke in the sky here and there. These smoke clouds come from sugarcane factories. In these factories so-called panela blocks are made. Panela is a popular product in Colombia and has a sweet caramel-like taste. The product is considered a healthy alternative to refined sugar and artificial sweeteners.

In a sugarcane factory you can see how the sugarcane is transformed into hard panela blocks. Very nice to see!

Estrecho del Magdalena

The Magdalena River is the most important river in Colombia. The river originates in Huila and empties into the Caribbean Sea near Baranquilla. The river has a length of 1,540 kilometers.

About a half hour drive from San Agustín you will find “Estrecho del Magdalena”, “the narrowest part of the Magdalena River”.

Note: The water in the river may look great for a refreshing dip, but absolutely do not go swimming here. The current is very strong. People have died here on several occasions.

Obando museum

In the Obando museum you will find excavated objects from the area. You will also find a number of tombs on the grounds, some of which you can enter.

We paid 0.75 euros per person to visit the museum.

Tip: It is nice to walk through the street where the museum is located. Here you will find all kinds of cute, colored houses and you can buy a delicious homemade ice cream!

Horseback riding in the area

In the area of San Augustín you can find a number of small archaeological sites. A fun way to visit these small sites is on horseback. The most popular horseback riding route takes about four hours and goes past the sites of El Tablon, la Chaquira, El Purutal and La Pelota and a number of waterfalls. The cost for such a horseback riding trip was about 15 euros.

Choose an organized day trip

Do you want to visit the above sights, but you don’t have a (rental) car? Then you can opt for a day trip. We didn’t have a rental car ourselves, so that’s why we inquired about the options at our hostel. We opted for a day tour, during which we visited the following sights:

  • Alto de Las Piedras
  • Alto de Los Idolos
  • Estrecho del Magdalena
  • Obando Museum
  • Salto del Mortiño
  • Salto Bordones
  • Sugar cane factory

Very convenient! A total of 7 people could join the tour, but there were only 4 of us! The cost for this day trip was about 12.50 euros per person, excluding the entrance fees of the various attractions.

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Romy

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