Tierradentro: Marveling park of ruins

Tierradentro refers to the national archaeological park in the Cauca’s Inza province in Colombia where a plethora of pre-Columbian subterranean temples as well as hypogea are the main attractions. Belonging to the 6th to 9th centuries AD, these ruins of the park are dispersed across many archeological zones that are Alto de San Andres, Alto del Duende, Alto de Segovia, Alto del Aguacate (Avocado Hill), and El Tablon. Tierradentro is located at a distance of 100 km from Popayan that is the capital. A majority of the temples are entered via a spiral staircase from the west, which descend up to 8 m after which you can enter into the major chamber linked to many more chambers that are the homes of a carcass. If you explore the classic hypogeum, you will find that it has walls that have become the masterpieces – all thanks to the anthropomorphic, zoomorphic, and geometric patterns in red, white, and black. Besides these highlights, you will also encounter a few rare relics of fabrics, figurines, and pottery.

In this hidden gem of Colombia, there is also a funeral complex made by the pre-Columbian people who used to dwell here at the time of 1st century AD. Although not much have been yet discovered about these ancestral folks, it has been concluded that the detailed spots in the patterns as well as sculptures bear a resemblance to the motifs of the San Agustín culture up to a certain extent. Until today, a series of over 35 tombs can be seen here, which are quarried beneath the face of several wonderful hilltops. Such a place of burial tombs continues to bewilder the experts today. The yet to be unveiled mystery flanking the tombs as well as the figurines scattered all over the grounds and hills encourages one and all to explore the park. And yes, we all would just love to hike amidst the scenic landscape for discovering the puzzling underground cave-like tombs. Okay, do you still doubt if I tell you that these hypogea/tombs of the hills are designated as a World Heritage Site? However, I accept one thing that there are not too many ruins to see, as much has been plundered here before the site was declared as a park for its preservation.

Things to do and eat

For a more unique experience, on Saturday, take yourself to the Inza market in the town to know about the interesting facts of the Paez Indian culture. In addition, take a tour of the mountains where small Indian hamlets are just worthy to explore. Okay, as you do so, do not forget to taste the special flavors here – a local drink that is known as guarapo sold in local dwellings and hongos (mushrooms) of which the latter is to be consumed with some trusted friends rather than having it alone. After savoring your taste buds, be ready to watch some beautiful birds as this is site is the birdwatchers’ paradise.


In short, your excursion to Tierradentro should be of at least a week so that you can explore all the above stated highlights. And yes, there are plenty of hotels nearby.

Reaching Tierradentro

From the San Andres De Pisimbala town, this park is very close due to which you require only 30 minutes of walk. Alternatively, you can catch a bus from Popayan that will take 6 hours to reach here. From the park, buses are there for La Plata (3 hours) from where San Agustin or Bogota can be reached quite easily.

The park is nestled at a distance of 3 km from the stop, which invokes the need of walking. You will first come across the entrance as well as two museums. All the attractions here are only reachable by strolling; therefore, you should have that stamina to just walk around the museums as well as underground tombs. If at all strolling is not your choice due to some health problem, think of touring the site by renting a horse at the spend of $2.5 per hour. I would just recommend visiting the two museums first so that you will get a better view of what you will be exploring in the park.

Entrance fee

You will need to purchase a ticket for $2.5 from the museum (2 days validity).


8 am to 4 pm.

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