Tatacoa Desert – Tierradentro – San Augustin

After a short stint in the Tatacoa desert and more bike riding we went to see the famous tombs of Tierradentro and statues in San Augustin. Both sites were very interesting, the towns nice and the people friendly. To see the sites you have to do a lot of hiking and the last day we took horses which made it easier, but the next day was harder (sore muscles;-)


Camping in the desert.


We rode our bikes all over the place…..


The road there is on a former railway track.


more birds


A natural spring to cool off.

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Tierradentro, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pre-Colombian, Several monumental statues of human figures can be seen in the park, which also contains many hypogea dating from the 6th to the 10th century. These huge underground tombs (some burial chambers are up to 12 m wide) are decorated with motifs that reproduce the internal decor of homes of the period. They reveal the social complexity and cultural wealth of a pre-Hispanic society in the northern Andes.


To visit the tombs you have to hike all day.


The tomb entrances on Aguacate Ridge.


Yes, they were on the ridge as well, protecting the UNESCO site.


We climbed down into 20 or more tombs, big steps, it was hard!

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Sorting coffee


Hike past little farms and people.


drying coffee beans in the sun.


These orchids grew on a branch that had fallen off a tree.

San Augustin, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pre-Colombian:

ln the pre-agricultural period, from c 3300 to c 600 BC, san Agustin was occupied by a society with a rudimentary stone technology using unretouched basalt chips; their principal food was wild fruits, but hunting cannot be ruled out. Nothing is known of their political or social structures, but it is assumed that they were kinship-based:


On day two we rented horses and a guide.


The skier!


The frog

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We skipped the Cali and Medellin areas and decided to head to toward Ecuador. So we had to cross the mountains again to get to the Panamericana in Pasto. Well the road from Mocoa to San Francisco was a crazy drive, it is unpaved and single track, there were land slides and many large trucks that are always in a hurry and don’t want to slow down. Sometimes it was almost impossible to pass and on one of those occasions a large fuel tanker truck passed us so closely that he broke the side window in our camper with his mirror. We could not get out of the way since we only had inches between the tires and a 200 meter drop off, no guard rail and the road bed was not stable.

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A large truck passed close enough to break our window with his mirror.

Needless to say I was really glad when we – 6 hours later – arrived in the valley on the other side. Volcano El Azufral was our last stop in Colombia, we drove up to to the trail head and then hiked up to the crater rim at 4000 m. Günter descended into the crater and to the lake “Laguna Verde” while I stayed and took pictures of the amazing flora of the paramour.

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The smell was amazing!

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We left Colombia with a heavy heart, wanted to go to many more places, experience more and enjoy the hospitality of the great Colombian people. We’ll be back!

Recommended reading:

“The sound of things falling”  (Juan Gabriel Vasquez) tags: Cocaine, Peace Corps, Love

La otra raya del tigre” ,  Pedro Gómez Valderrama,  tags: Geo von Lengerke

(Spanish only)

and of course by book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez


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4 Responses to Tatacoa Desert – Tierradentro – San Augustin

  1. Judi says:

    Another incredible chapter in your travel book! Glad you weren’t on the Highway of Death when that truck passed. Yikes! Too close!


    • travelers told us that the Highway of Death is now a tourist destination since they built a better road nearby. There are no more trucks on that highway, just bicycles and thrillseekers. They also told us that the road we were on and broke the window is much worse. It took us over 5 hours to drive 100 km or so.


  2. I hope you marked those hot springs on iOverlander….. we want more hot springs!


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