The Tierradentro Archeological Park is famous for its painted underground burial chambers, a UNESCO World Heritage site. These subterranean tombs were created around 700 A.D. and rediscovered and excavated between 1930 and 1995. Most tombs had been damaged and looted by grave robbers but the level of preservation of the actual structures is impressive. These tombs provide an unique opportunity to study an ancient pre-Columbian civilization, and for this reason the Tierradentro Archeological Park has earned its place on the UNESCO World Heritage List .
Not much is known about the pre-Colombian civilization who created the burial chambers.
Flora and fauna
San Andres de Pisimbala or simply San Andres is the tiny hamlet where most people stay.
- From Popayan : several busses a day make the 5 hour ride to Tierradentro. Some will drop you off at a place called El Cruz from where it's a 2 km walk to San Andres.
- From San Agustín : you first have to go to Pitalito and then get a bus to La Plata which leaves at 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. From there you can take bus to San Andres at 4 p.m.
All sites are within easy walking distance. It's possible to visit all of them in one day.
Near the entrance of the park there are two museums. An archeological museum with pottery, statues and interesting information (in Spanish) and an ethnological museum with interesting information about the Paez Indians who nowadays live in the surrounding mountains.
From the entrance there are two walks. One will lead to Segovia a extensive site with the best preserved burial chambers and the only ones with light. Further up is the site El Duende with some more burial chambers. And close to San Andres is El Tablon with statues similar to the ones in San Agustín.
The other walk will lead to Aguacatala sitting on top of a mountain. The views are amazing, but most of the burial chambers are not maintained at all. Close to San Andres is the site Alto de San Andres.
There is no bank nor cashpoint. Take enough money especially in small bills, changing your 20.000 bills can be hard.
Bring a torch before going to Tierradentro. The ones available in San Andres are bad.
In San Andres there is only one restaurant, you can't miss it.
There are several budget recidencials renting out rooms and cooking meals. One of them is a old lady called Marta which has rooms for COP$8.000 and a meal cost around COP$2.000.
Tierradentro is a guerrilla area, but up till now they haven't harmed any tourist. Armed conflicts between guerrilla and military aren't uncommon, so inform yourself of the situation before setting off.