Seeing the Archeology and Nature of San Agustín, Colombia
San Agustín is located in central southwest Colombia. A lesser-known area to foreign tourists, it has some terrific and well-preserved examples of pre-colonial indigenous art sculptures. It also has gorgeous scenery with green, tree-covered hills and mountains. Learn all about San Agustín, Colombia here.
San Agustín, Huila
San Agustín is a small town in the Huila province of Colombia. Nestled in the Andes of southwest Colombia, it is relatively close to the cities of Cali, Popoyán, Pasto, and Neiva. It’s also close to the Tatacoa Desert and makes the perfect complement to a trip there. It remains relatively unknown to foreign travelers, but is a great stop on a trip through this part of Colombia.
In addition to the excellently preserved indigenous sculptures at several archaeological parks, it also is gorgeous. It’s a great place to visit a coffee farm, enjoy a day of horseback riding, or simply take in the views of the mountains, canyons, and waterfalls.
San Agustín Archaeological Sites
San Agustín is most well known for being one of Colombia’s most important archaeological zones. Dozens of examples of large sculptures that adorned the burial sites of the indigenous peoples in precolonial times have been discovered. Fortunately, many have been very well preserved, and some of the most important sites are protected in parks open to the public today.
San Agustín Archaeological Park
This is the main site to see the indigenous sculptures. Here there are a number of burial mounds, where some of the most impressive examples of intricate sculptures have been found. Atop the largest hill, you will get an incredible view of the surrounding mountains. This is perhaps the largest and most important archaeological site in Colombia and is a must-visit in San Agustín.
In this small town located in the mountains above San Agustín, there are several more examples of burial tombs. There is also a small museum that examines the way of life of the ancient indigenous peoples. It makes for a perfect stop to learn more while on the way to other sites higher in the mountains.
Alto las Piedras
This site, administered by the Archaeological Park, has a few burial sites located up a tall hill. There are great views here, however, what sets it apart as significant is a unique sculpture that was found here. Known as the doble yo, it appears to present two sides of the same person. Some archeologists believe it is evidence that the indigenous peoples of this area understood psychoanalysis hundreds of years before Sigmund Freud.
If you’re interested in paleontology too, consider also visiting Villa de Leyva, which is a beautiful small town and has prehistoric marine fossils nearby!
San Agustín’s Beautiful Nature
It’s easy to see why this area would have been a site of the indigenous settlement. It is gorgeous and fertile. As you explore the archeological sites, you’ll notice when traveling between them the lush green hills and mountains of this section of the Andes. A number of crops are grown here, including lots of coffee fields picturesquely slanting down the hills to the river forged canyons below.
Look closely and you are likely to see waterfalls bursting out from the trees. In fact, Colombia’s tallest waterfall, the Salto de Bordones is located near San Agustín.
You can also visit the Estrecho of the Magdalena River, where it narrows to barely over a meter wide, rushing through rocks and creating rapids. Here, you can stick your feet in and cool off in the cold but refreshing waters of Colombia’s most important river.
In short, the natural beauty of San Agustín is just as good a reason to visit as the beautiful examples of archaeology.
Tips for Your Visit to San Agustín
The weather in San Agustín can vary throughout the day, with the evenings getting chilly but the days often warming up to be quite pleasant. Therefore, you will want to have a good jacket as well as clothes comfortable for warmer, springtime weather. A jacket or umbrella is also good to have along in case it rains, as are comfortable shoes for walking the hilly terrain in the parks. Finally, San Agustín is a small town and relatively lesser-known to foreign tourism. Hotels and lodges here are nice but do not offer accommodations on the level of large, luxury chain brands. It’s a chance for a more authentic experience.
If you would like to explore San Agustín for yourself, be sure to take a look at our 5 Colombia’s South Package, which visits San Agustín, the Tatacoa Desert, Popayán, and Cali. For a more immersive experience consider our 12-Day Historical Colombia Package, which adds time in Bogotá and the northern reaches of the Amazon in the Guaviare. Of course, you can always reach out and ask us to create the perfect, custom-made trip just for you!
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