This small, attractive colonial town basks in refreshing, spring-like weather year-round and is the gateway to one of the most important pre-Columbian archaeological sites on the continent.

Five thousand years ago, two indigenous cultures lived in the adjacent river valleys of the Magdalena and the Cauca. Divided by uncrossable peaks, the rivers were their highways, and here, near San Agustín, those two civilizations met to trade, to worship, and to bury their dead.

The volcanic rocks thrown great distances by the now-extinct nearby volcanoes proved irresistible to the local sculptors, who transformed them into more than 500 fantastic statues, scattered over the surrounding green hills.

Little else is known about the peoples of San Agustín. They didn't have a written language and had disappeared many centuries before the Europeans arrived. But their legacy is a mystical place in a spectacular landscape that is well worth making a detour for.