San Agustin & Neiva
Introduction to San Agustin & Neiva
San Agustin’s wide adjacent river valleys of the Magdalena and the Cauca were once inhabited by two pre-Columbian indigenous cultures. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage in 1995, San Agustín preserves the relics of this pre-Colombian culture that thrived in the area for more than 7 centuries. This San Agustin culture used the crossing point of the two rivers that are found in this province to worship, to trade as well as to say goodbye to their dead. Visitors to the Archaeological Park can stroll back through the centuries marveling at the huge life-sized statues symbolizing fertility, maternity, and the alter ego as well as realistic and sacred animals.
Neiva is the capital of the department of Huila, located in an important geographical point, the valley of the Magdalena River that makes it one of the most important cities in southern Colombia.
What not to miss in San Agustin & Neiva
San Agustin Archaeological Park
Parque Arqueológico de San Agustín is one of Colombia’s most important archaeological sites. A magical place where over 500 stone statues carved 5000 years ago, are surrounded by verdant nature and the stunning landscapes of the Magdalena River gorge. The statues are intriguing, they have been standing there for thousands of years guarding this sacred place and its secrets.
If you want to know how it feels to visit another planet, you should go to Tatacoa Desert. Millions of years ago, Tatacoa was much wetter and had lots of trees and plants, but overtime it gradually became drier and drier until it transformed into a desert. Many fossils have been found here and it has one of Colombia’s best observatories where you can lose yourself in the star filled sky.
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 39ft. wide) are decorated with motifs that reproduce the internal decor of homes from that particular period.
The Magdalena River is Colombia’s principal river that flows northwards about 949 miles (1,528km) through the western half of the country. The Magdalena River valley supports many crops including coffee, corn, plantains, manioc and cacao. It is also home to more than 2,735 species of animals, many of which are endemic to the region such as, Grey-legged Night Monkeys, as well as many species of birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, and fish.
What you need to know
When to go
You can visit Neiva throughout the year with the annual temperatures staying between 68°F (20°C) and 86°F (30°C). The warmest time of the year in Neiva is September when it is on average 84°F (28°C) but temperatures can go up to a maximum of 94°F (34°C). The coldest time of year in Neiva is in November when it is 80°F (26°C) on average however, going by the minimum temperatures, the coldest month is December at 71°F (22°C).
In June – July every year citizens of Neiva, national and international tourist enjoy the Folk Festival and national beauty pageant of El Bambuco. During two weeks people party on the streets, enjoy colorful parades and dance at the rhythm of Colombian music.
How to get there
The city of Neiva has a small but modern airport, Aeropuerto Benito Salas Vargas which is located in the north and has regular flights to and from Bogota.
Getting around Neiva is relatively easy, even at peak times of the day with a number of buses servicing the city.
From San Agustin there are regular minibuses to Neiva (4 hours) and several buses in the early morning and evening to Bogotá (11 hours).
Where to stay
San Agustin has just recently started adapting itself to tourism and offers limited accommodation options. There are several lovely hostels, small 2 & 3 star hotels & hacienda style lodges available.
Taxis are cheap, safe, and a preferable mode of transport within the city – private taxis should be called by telephone as they are more trustworthy.
In San Agustin, a bus runs the 1.2 miles (2km) to the Archaeological Park every 15 minutes from the corner of Calle 5 and Carrera 14.