Starry deserts and secrets of San Agustin Colombia

Trip ideas
Duration (in days): 9

From: Neiva

To: Cali



Exc. International flights (per person, based on 2 sharing) 
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Visit the little-known southeast of Colombia with this nine-day itinerary that will take you to starry deserts, mystical archaeological sites, and salsa-obsessed cities filled with music. Start in stunning Tatacoa, where you will spend two nights in the desert and observe the beautiful sky at night. Next, continue to San Agustin, a place of ancient mystery and secrets. Hidden amongst the lush hills and green valleys of the Magdalena River, it’s a little-visited spot steeped in history and local legend. First discovered by a Spanish monk in the 18th century, almost nothing is known about the bizarre Forest of Sculptures here, or about the people who carved them. 

Further south, you will spend two nights in Popayan, famous for its chalk-white facades and rich colonial history, with heritage matching the more celebrated Cartagena in the north. Finish with two nights in friendly Cali, with its intoxicating salsa music and welcoming people. Throughout the journey, you will be driven by an English-speaking guide in a private vehicle to make the most of this exhilarating trip through Colombia’s history, landscapes and culture!

This itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.

  • Explore the mysterious Forest of Sculptures in San Agustin
  • Take a stargazing workshop in the Tatacoa Desert
  • Visit an area of Colombia that most tourists don't reach
  • Discover the beauty of the remote Magdalena River region
  • Wander through a historical sugarcane plantations
  • Stroll between the white-washed buildings of Popayan
  • Dance the night away in Cali, the city of salsa


Itinerary in brief:

  • 2 nights in Tatacoa
  • 2 nights in San Agustin
  • 2 nights in Popayan
  • 2 nights in Cali 


Day 1: Arrive Neiva and stargazing workshop in Tatacoa

On arrival at Neiva airport, you will be met and driven by private transfer to the town of Villavieja to visit the Museo Palenteologico, followed by a tour of Tatacoa Desert. Here, you will spend approximately 2 hours on a privately guided hike through the fantastic landscape, dotted with rocky columns and culverts where large cacti grow. At dusk, you will visit the Astronomical Observatory, where you will be able to gaze up the beautiful starry sky, free from light pollution.

At the end of the day, you will be driven to your hotel in the desert where you will check in for a 2-night stay. 

Day 2: Tatacoa

You now have a full day to explore Tatacoa at your own pace. Your hotel is located right in the middle of the desert and offers several activities, including horseback riding and buggy rides.

Day 3: Tatacoa to San Agustin     

In the morning after breakfast, you will be picked up and driven 217km south to San Agustin. It's a very scenic journey offering stunning views of the extensive floodplains of the Magdalena River valley. When you arrive in San Agustin, you will check in your hotel for a 2-night stay.

In the afternoon, you will take a private tour of the San Agustin Archaeological Park, scattered with giant stone statues in the forest. The largest statue here reaches a whopping 7 metres in height. Many of the carvings are anthropomorphic figures, some realistic and others resembling masked monsters. There are also sculptures depicting sacred animals such as eagles, jaguars and frogs. 

You will walk through the site to the ceremonial Fuente de Lavapatas before heading up a hill to the Lavapatas Terrace, with spectacular views over the surrounding countryside.  At the end of the tour, you will be driven back to your hotel for the evening.

Day 4: Archaeological Park and Alto de Los Idolos     

You’ll spend another day exploring the cultural riches of the area. You’ll be picked up after breakfast and driven to the rural town of Isnos to visit the other two archaeological parks in the region: Alto de Los Idolos and Alto de las Piedras. Here, you’ll find a series of well-preserved tombs, still showing their original paintwork, as well as some of the biggest stone figures uncovered so far.

In the afternoon, you will be driven back to your hotel for a relaxed evening.

Day 5: San Agustin to Popayan

After breakfast at the hotel, you’ll be driven by private transfer towards Popayan. The journey will take around 5 hours, through beautiful Andean landscapes. You’ll also make a stop at Purace National Park on the way.

When you arrive in Popayan, you will be taken to your hotel where you will check in for a 2-night stay.

Day 6: Half day walking tour

Today, you’ll set off on a private walking tour of historical Popayan, founded in 1537. The city is famous for its whitewashed colonial buildings and is considered an important religious centre, with famous Holy Week processions. You’ll visit the main attractions of Popayan, including the several neoclassical churches and the Clock Tower, one of the symbols of the city.

At the end of the tour, you’ll walk back to your hotel and enjoy your free afternoon in Popayan.

Day 7: Popayan to Cali 

This morning after breakfast, you will be driven by private transfer to your last destination, around 3 hours away from Popayan. Cali is the third largest city in Colombia, known for its salsa culture and its warm, friendly people. When you arrive, you’ll be taken on a tour of the city before checking into your hotel for a 2-night stay.              

Day 8: Sugarcane plantation tour

You’ll spend today in the countryside surrounding Cali, visiting Hacienda Pie de Chinche, a beautifully preserved sugarcane-producing ranch housing the Sugarcane Museum. After enjoying a traditional lunch at the hacienda, you’ll be driven by private transfer back to your hotel in Cali. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Day 9: Depart Cali

You’ll be collected from your hotel any time today and taken by private transfer to Cali airport, where you will connect with your onward travel plans.



San Agustin can be visited all year round. December to February will be the driest months, while April to June can be quite rainy.  

This itinerary is purely a suggestion and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you

What's included: 

  • 8 nights’ accommodation with breakfast
  • Private transfers and English-speaking guide            
  • Tours as mentioned in the itinerary on a private basis

Not included: 

  • Flights  
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary        
  • Tips and expenses of a personal nature   


8 nights in 3* and 4* standard accommodation.

Hotels in this category include:

  • Hotel Bethel

  • Akawanka Hotel

  • Hotel Dann Monasterio

  • Hotel Movich Casa del Alferez


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