San Augustin and/or Tierradentro
Replies: 10 - Last Post: Nov 6, 2012 9:31 AM Last Post By: rhythmbug
Oct 23, 2012 5:47 AM
San Augustin and/or TierradentroJust wondering if it's best to spend the night near San Augustin and Tierradentro or better to visit them for a day and spend the night back in Popayan? Also which of these two - San Augustin and Tierradentro - do people prefer?
Is it worth the time and travel to do both or would one of them suffice? Any other recommendations for Popayan?
Oct 23, 2012 6:54 AM
1Both are definitely not day trips from Popayan. It's just too much time on the bus to go for just the day, and go back the same day.
You might even want to budget 5 days for them. I loved both sites a lot, but hiking is my favourite activity, and this was a nice area to walk around. The statues/tombs are just excuses to go walking in the countryside. If you're pressed for time, I say just do 1, but if you have the time both sites are great for different reasons.
Here's the difference I found between the 2 sites, for if you pick just 1, the best accommodation options in San Agustin are out of the town proper, and in the country. The hostel I stayed at and I assume others as well, had friendly guides drop by in the evenings and try and arrange tours for the following days - there's a horse tour to statues, and a driving tour to the more remote statues & other items. So 1 day you could do the horse tour (and fit the museum in the same day), and the next day you could do the driving tour. And leave the 3rd.
The difference with Tierradentro is it's more self guided, there's a park office with map & trails, but no one is offering to guide you. Accommodation is all along the main road, but close to the trails. Also I didn't see any other travelers in Tierradentro in my 2 days there. It felt more remote.
I prefer being self guided, so I very slightly preferred Tierradentro, but I did meet lots of great other backpackers in San Agustin. If you're traveling solo and with more limited spanish, I think most people would prefer San Agustin.
This was my favourite area in Colombia. I also included the Tatacoa desert in my loop trip - ie so you could go San Agustin -Tatacoa desert/Villavieja - Tierradentro - return to Popayan. I did it as an 11 day loop out of Popayan, but I'm a pretty slow traveler. Southern Colombia is more often skipped over because it's a bit out of the way, but it really is a great area.
Also close to Popayan which does make a good day trip, there & back on the same day, is the town of Silvia - on Tuesdays it has one of the only native markets I could find in Colombia. So another idea, if you happen to be in Popayan on a Tuesday.
Oct 23, 2012 8:17 AM
2In Tierradentro you have cheap and pleasant homestays in a natural environment. I recommend staying there. But probably you'll need to stay a night in San Agustin as well.
Oct 23, 2012 12:07 PM
3yamthrower, what is it about the out of town San Augustine accomodations which cause you to say they are the best? I've gotten too old to be much of a hiker anymore, so am more of a stroller. Usually prefer staying close to town/city centers for strolling around, enjoying the plazas, having a tasty meal. Thanks for whatever insight you & others can provide.
Oct 23, 2012 2:17 PM
4Hi Aloysius, it's just very peaceful outside of town. Also the town itself isn't crazy pretty, it really is the landscape around that's nice. So I guess peace and quiet. But I understand what you're saying, it can be pain if you have to go for a long walk every time you want to do something in town.
And admittedly I never tried staying in town, I only tried 1 place and was happy with it. I'm largely going by the suggestion of the Lonely Planet, which said something along the the lines of 'you'll have a better time staying outside of town'.
I can't remember the name of where I stayed exactly but it was a place recommended strongly in the LP, and it was quite nice, I met lots of other backpackers there and had a good time. BUT of course I'm sure you could also have a good time staying in town as well. The hostel outside had some conveniences like it's own restaurant on location that served breakfast and dinner, and the tour guides would pick you up and drop you off. So that saved walking into town. But if you prefer to find your own restaurants, and be self guided, in town would be more flexible.
Oct 23, 2012 3:51 PM
5Wow, thanks for all these great responses. I was wondering about San Augustin because I'm not sure riding around on a horse looking at these faces seems so interesting but everybody raves about it. I'm fluent in Spanish and have lived in Latin America. I've also been to incredible sites in the region like Tikal Guatemala. San Augustin didn't seem so interesting by comparision.
I'm not sure I'd want to go there just to hike around since it's a long drive and I could hike lots of other places in Colombia but it sounds like you really think San August in will be great. I'll probably be traveling solo this part of the trip.
Oct 24, 2012 6:55 AM
Oct 27, 2012 7:36 AM
Oct 30, 2012 5:48 AM
8Highly recommend staying a few days at La Casa de Francios in San Agustín. I can't remember the blokes name that runs it but he's a very interesting character with lots of stories to tell. He built the whole place from scratch and grows his own fruit, veg and coffee. Earthy, rustic, boheminian, arty. Superb meals from the restaurant. It sits on a hill that overlooks the town, but it's only about 10 mins walk to the centre.
That aside, San Augustín is an enchanting little town; picturesque and peaceful. The horse riding isn't just about observing the archeological aspects but it's a great day spent trotting through the lush landscapes and breathing in the fresh air. The area is full of rolling hills, fincas, gardens and valleys. There are a few other activies like rafting and kayaking.
Oct 30, 2012 8:46 AM
Nov 6, 2012 9:31 AM
Allow 10 - 15 mins walk to the centre. The hill isn't very steep but if these things are a serious consideration for you maybe somewhere more central would be more suitable. Bear in mind though, there isn't much reason to head into town anyway. Not many culinary options in San Agustin, El Fogon is good. The walk in the dark is exactly that - dark. But with a torch no problems. Not sure about private bathrooms, I think one of the private rooms has one. There are numerous reviews on trip advisor.
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