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San Augustin, Colombia

May 31, 2016

Sorry about the lack of photos on blog. Very slow connections and even if I lower the size it can be pretty hopeless.

Alto de Los Idolos. 25.5.16

About 1500-2000 years ago a race of people inhabited the San Augustin area who have left behind an amazing array of figures carved out of the laval stone. Many of the larger ones stand above where the hierarchy have been buried then the whole thing is covered by tons of dirt. The tallest is 4.8 metres tall and the figures carved represent humans as well as other animals or a mixture of both. There are also surreal sculptures that may represent deities. Little is known of these people and their culture is now called the San Augustin group.
The main park is spread over 77 hectares, excellent pathways, good signage in two languages and a new museum that has an excellent display of the smaller statues as well as more information on these people. By 900AD this race had disappeared.
Tonight we are camped outside the second major site. I wanted to look at this stretch of the Rio Magdalena that surges through a 2 metre cleft in rocks and the map showed an alternate route from there to the archeological site. Nobody told me it was a shocker of a road. Potholes and more potholes. Beautiful countryside with sugar cane growing on many hill sides while coffee plantations covered steeper slopes. The Rio Magdalena is quite a river. It starts in the mountains not far west from where we are and not that far from the country’s southern border and literally cuts the country in two ending up in the Caribbean not far from Cartagena in the north.

Desierto Tatacoa 27.5.16
The second archeological site was actually better than the one more visited . The statues were in situ on many of the tombs and you could see the sarcophagus sitting at the bottom of a well excavated hole in the laval rock.
The road from that site was similar to the one getting to it: rough, many potholes and so narrow the cane brushed the sides of the vehicle. Once hitting asphalt we headed north for over 200kms, stayed the night in a nice camping area with a cooling river making up for lack of showers. Then today it was a short drive through the city of Neiva and on up to where we are tonight, Desierto Tatacoa. A small semi arid area they call a desert that has some weird eroded valleys but on a much smaller scale. Disappointing really.
The two of us felt a bit light headed this morning, it is very hot, I seemed to get over it but Joan came down with vomiting and diarrhea. She thinks it’s a 24 hour thing and is sleeping soundly as I write this.
This trip into Colombia is a two week venture doing a loop through the southern part of the country. The van has to be left in Ecuador as the Colombians have very strict regulations on leaving vehicles for longer than three months. We will drive south and leave it at Sommerwind this time.

Valle de Corcora. 29.5.16
A beautiful valley made famous for the palms that grow on the slopes and pasture land. Palmas de cera or wax palms grow 50-60 metres high. The world’s highest. The trunks are pencil thin with few protuberances until right at the top. With the mist swirling around their lower parts it is eerie seeing their tops poking through the cloud. The problem for us was it happens to be a public holiday weekend for this country and this valley is one of the most popular destination for the locals. The traffic up this narrow road was intense then 500 metres before this hostal we met a traffic jam. The last few metres took us over 30 minutes. Even before that the heavy transport traffic over the mountain range to get here was full on and again were subject to long waits. Not the most pleasant of days driving.
Last night saw us parked in the back of a Gulf service station off the main drag. It was hot but thankfully the servo had showers. Tonight it is cool, Today we climbed from 330 metres up to 3300 metres then dropped back down to the valley at 2500 metres.

Although most of the people visiting the valley are locals, the sprinkling of Overlanders met here is a good spectrum of the type of people who travel this way: while stuck in the traffic jam yesterday I noticed this early model kombi slowly making his way back down. It was Vincente, a Brazillian we had met in Sommerwind. He had been helpful with shipping agents covering the route across the Darian Gap. This morning this massive Scania truck pulled in. Simon & Irene, a Swiss couple invaluable with information on Central America from where they had just come. Esp. the info that right hand drive vehicles now not allowed in Costa Rica. Jerome, Valerie and their 6 yr old son Charles strolled along to say hi. From Southern France they were on their way north to ship their small van back to France. Then there were the clowns. One Argentinian the other Venezuelan heading north to Alaska entertaining schools and other social groups on their way. They also had two dogs with them. Then along came another group to have a chat; from Medellin, Colombia, Two of whom are setting off on a 12 month camping trip around South America and who were intrigued with our van. Thought it the perfect setup for two. We will miss this type of rapport when we give it up.

One Comment
  1. Linda Hillman permalink

    Loved reading about your adventures, get better Joan and travel safely both of you. Love LindaXXx

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