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San Augustin Parque Arqueologico

East Palo Alto...
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San Augustin Parque Arqueologico

If I have been to Easter Island, the monolith in it's natural form, will I be disappointed visiting San Augustin Parque Arqueologico? From what I have seen on Youtube and it's own website, the stones look smaller, flatter and many are covered under human built structure for preservation purposes. The looks reminds me of seeing wild animals in zoos. Is the location prettier than Valley de Cocora? What is the highlight of San Augustin? Can anyone confirm the food in Popayan? It is designated by Unesco as City of Gastronomy. Someone on the forum said despite this title, the food is god awful. Is this true?! I am planning to travel here over Cartegena because of the food AND convenient location to do a scenic bus ride through the Andes. But if the food is not great, then I would rather fly to Cartegena.

Las Vegas, Nevada
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1. Re: San Augustin Parque Arqueologico

Go to San Agustin. You will not regret the decision. The whole area is on the verge of being discovered by mass tourism. Go before it becomes the next "Machu Picchu" and the whole place is overrun by us members of the species Turista Americana.

I absolutely loved the pre-Colombian statuary in San Agustin. It was the highlight of my trip to Colombia, which is a GREAT place to visit. It's not Easter Island. You are correct that the statues are much smaller. On the other hand, there is so much more to see and do in this area than there would be in isolated Easter Island. The fact that a number of statues are in open-air enclosures does not detract from the experience. In some instances, the covering protects excavations where you can see where they buried. In other places, the coverings do not distract from the visual. And, yes, there is a section of the park where the statues are placed on a walk, but those are the ones where they cannot trace back to the location within the park where the statue would have come.

I understand your zoo analogy, but that's not the case. Seeing these statues in a museum in Bogota, that's where your zoo analogy works. To use the animal-viewing analogy, yes, this is not like seeing them in the "wild." Think of it as a game preserve, where they are protected against poaching. It's not quite "natural," but it's not cages in a zoo either.

As far as the food in Popayan, I cannot speak to that. I only had enough time in Popayan for a cup of coffee at the local Juan Valdez off Bolivar Square. I really regret not setting aside more time in beautiful Popayan. I sincerely doubt the food is awful. The food in Colombia is absolutely and consistently delicious. The produce is especially fresh. Beef and trout are awesome. (I did not try the cuy (guinea pig). Some like it. Good for them. I'll leave more for them.) The San Agustin area is an agricultural area, so the quality of food there is top notch, good enough to please the most picky local-vore foody. I cannot imagine the food quality drops off over the mountains in Popayan, especially when the food is so good throughout all of the places in Colombia I visited.

I thought the San Agustin was even more beautiful than the Valley of Cocora, although that is not to denigrate the Valley of Cocora with its stands of wax palms. The San Agustin is absolute paradise. Steep sheer cliffs with a river more than a thousand feet down, with all sorts of crops being grown on these steep cliffs (coffee, sugar cane, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, and more).

I'm biased, of course. I loved the San Agustin Archaeological Park so much I made one of the statues my tripadvisor.com avatar.

Edited: 2:41 pm, March 09, 2014
East Palo Alto...
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2. Re: San Augustin Parque Arqueologico

Hi. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question so thoughtfully and thoroughly!!!! I am in a tizzy now because of the rain. What do you think? I'm arriving March 18 @ 11am and have 7 days before returning to Bogota for 10 days of ponderance. I have mapped an itinerary from north Colombia to the south Colombia in 7 days! LOL. I can't decide.

Beach: Medellin, Cartegena, San Andres and back to Bogota. I cancelled this plan because scuba diving required 1 day to on the island (actually 2 because no flight to island until the next day 3/19), 3/20 dive, 24 hr required rest period before I can fly off the island 3/21 evening or 3/22 if no late afternoon flights. All this effort and expense for basically 2 dives in one day. I gave up on that idea because I didn't have enough time.

Scenic bus ride: Popayan to Pastor, Pastor to Ipiales. I thought what would be nice is to find a cheap flight from Bogota to Ipiales; see the church, Las Lajas. Then book a bus to Popayan. Volunteer a half day with a high school English class. Eat my way out of Popayan then bus to Cali. to fly to Coffee region: priority is Valle de Cocora.

Coffee snob tour: Medellin, Jerico and the little towns around there. This is not a thoroughly thought of plan because some TA posters have indicated good Colombian coffee is difficult to experience in the country. The good cafes mentioned on the forum can be counted on half a hand: Juan Valdez and 2 other places. Playa4u, a self professed coffee snob, recommended Jerico and some other places. If I did this area, I travel on bus around this area.

I had forgotten March was the start of southern Colombia's rain season. Now, I'm wondering if I can really see much or travel safely without concerns about mud slides, road blocks from accidents and etc. The crazy Colombian bus driver combined with heavy rainfall for extended periods seems as safe as traveling through the FARC area at night. Maybe I should stick to the northern sunshine region and wait to comeback to southern Colombia another time?

I am an aggressive road traveler. I don't mind overnight buses if they are first class buses. I can travel long hours to get to a place without needing rest to continue my next activity. This trip is short on time. My objective is to see places in undeveloped state and to eat great food. I get the preservation effect...it was evident in Mexico ruins and I was not thrilled with Tulum, Mexico ruins and a few other preserved. I did like Chichen Itza for it's natural setting and low tourists. I had the whole pyramid with miles of endless tree canopy for a good 15 minute before the next tourist made it up.

What are your top 5 things in the San Augustin area and would you be able to give me a rough idea how you would build this itinerary? With much appreciation for your advices.

Bogota, Colombia
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for Colombia
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3. Re: San Augustin Parque Arqueologico

I'm trying to remember the last time I heard a tourist was kidnapped in Colombia. I suppose you could push you luck & venture into a no go zone - wearing miner's clothes.

The Mayan ruins are a whole different animal; surroundings,cultural differences...to each their own...

Move about the zone; take a jeep tour, horse or do a walk about...find your own special statue; contemplate life in another time...)

4. Re: San Augustin Parque Arqueologico

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