The bus journey to San Agustin was bad enough, but the return was even worse as there were delays of over an hour and half to get out of the town, and the bus was fully packed out.
In the end it took us about 6 hours to reach San Agustin from the bus terminal in Popayan. The roads were for the most part unpaved, muddy gravel tracks due to the rain and the bus journey was not only bumpy to the point of flying off your seat but also winding as the bus climbs and descends various mountains.
The bus does not drive into San Agustin but stops at the crossing where you take a car or taxi according to the arrangement of the bus company. Make sure you check this is included in the price of the ticket when you are in Popayan, and also haggle for the price as we managed to drop the price to 25,000 pesos per person instead of the 30,000 that some others paid.
The town itself is very small but has some small restaurants and supermarkets; however places seem to close early so if heading out for dinner don’t leave it too late.
We hadn’t arranged any accommodation and were referred to the Diosa Luna hostel, which was very nice and the host was extremely helpful, but unfortunately had no kitchen facilities so we were forced to eat out which proved quite costly.
Our host explained there were several areas to see outside of the archaeological park and that the full route could be done in a day. Thinking it was only a few kilometres trail we decided to head out the following morning.
The route would start in the town and head towards El Tablon, then La Chaquira, followed by La Pelota and El Purutal, we would then head back down to the archaeological park and see the whole park before returning down to San Agustin.
We were told that at no point could we get lost as there were signposts everywhere, but I assure you that once you leave the main road for El Tablon you are on your own the whole way until you reach the park!
The route takes you through numerous fields and tracks and it was extremely muddy and slippery, which slowed us down a fair bit. Also, the trail is not a few kilometres but closer to 20+, including the park, and its one hill after another so not for the faint hearted!
The walk is very safe and everyone you meet is more than happy to point you in the right direction, which is handy as you will constantly wonder which road to take. There are also a number of rest points along way to help keep you hydrated and fed if you choose not to take your own food.
The only fees you will have to pay are for the park entrance, and they are 10,000 pesos each, if you want to see the other nearby parks you can opt for a combo deal and pay 16,000 for all 3.
The park itself consists of 7 main attractions: the museum, the woods with statues, Mesita A, B and C, Fuenta ceremonial Lavapatas and the Alto de Lavapatas viewpoint.
We left San Agustin at 9am and returned just after 5pm as we took the collective from the park, otherwise it would have been another 3km walk. We only stopped twice, once for a drink and once for lunch, the rest of the time was spent walking! Strangely enough we did not see anyone else walking the route, only people on horses, but despite being shattered at the end of the day we were glad we did it!
View our dedicated page to see all photos from the San Agustin archaeological park.