400 km southwest of Bogotá, sheltered in a valley by the Magdalena river, Park San Agustin is home to ancient tombs, burial sights and over 500 interesting and bizarre stone figures of varying size. They depict people, animals and creatures important to the beliefs of this mysterious civilization. The Park is the largest group of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America (UNESCO), and Archaeologists estimate that the statues were created between 100 and 800 B.C.
By the time I arrived at San Agustin I had already been in Colombia for eight months. I’d spent most of that time scuba diving on the Caribbean Coast just up from Cartagena – so was looking forward to some in-land adventure!
Although I was essentially a solo traveller I rarely found myself to be alone. Everwhere I went in South America I met unique people with amazing lives & stories. Charlotte was one of those people. I first met her in Isla Magarita, Venezuela, we hit it off straight away and travelled on and off together with her five-year-old son; Jamil for a couple of years. What an amazing woman!!! It was me, Charlotte and Jamil who ventured to San Agustin together and it is her that I have to thank for the amazing photos!
There are different tours available to visit the Park. We opted for a private guide and horses, although this would extend our journey time by two days we were looking forward to the journey there just as much as the site itself.
We knew we were heading pretty much into the unknown as there is still very little tourism (neither international or national) and our Spanish quite limited. However, this made us even more determined to reach our destination – and see the mystical Stones we had heard so much about for ourselves. What a feeling – a mixture of danger and excitment! As with many of my adventures I couldn’t get going quick enough…the thrill of the unknown; which was what took me out there in the first place.
Our horses took us along the precarious paths of the Sierras, through rivers and by waterfalls. We didn’t pass any other tourists at all only a few locals who looked on us with puzzled amazement as to what we were doing all the way out there.
El Vagon was a welcoming sight after a full day riding. We spent the night here in the white house with the red pointed roof (see photo below).
That night I slept like a baby and at dawn as the sun poked it’s nose over the hills we set off on the last leg of our journey!
We arrive at this magical place that is San Agustin – Park of the Stone Gods late afternoon.
It is evident that this was a sacred land, a place of pilgrimage and ancestors worship, it had a sort of eeire quiteness to it. Everywhere you looked were these huge impressive stone monuments and megalithic sculptures carved out of volcanic rock. The statues depict gods or supernatural beings, which is apparently an expression of the link between deceased ancestors and supernatural power.
The sites are spread over 116 hectares. Large mounds cover tombs of the elite individuals of the chiefdom societies – one of the earliest complex societies in the Americas.The Fuente de Lavapatas site is a religious monument carved in the stone bed of a stream.
This trip to Park San Agustin is still today one of the best experiences of my life and I recommend it to anyone visiting Colombia. As tourism continues to develop here so does the selection and quality of accommodation and services. You can take a private three-day tour from Bogota that includes overnight accommodation in a Hotel only 5 minutes from the Park, transportation in a 4×4 and a short horse-ride (optional). Finca El Cielo – which is where we stayed – has very good reviews.
When I travel like this time slows down. I loose myself in my surroundings and disconnect from the stresses of everyday life. My senses become more alert. I have more time to listen to my heart and gut. I have more time for prayer and meditation. I appreciate the simple things in life 🙂
Sometimes its not just what you see at your final destination that makes a trip special – but the journey you take to get there!
Special thanks to Charlotte Dowling for the photos. xxx