The National Archaeological Park of Tierradentro Colombia is a UNESCO-inscribed prehispanic necropolis located well away from civilization hidden deep in the Colombian Andes Mountains.
The necropolis comprises about three dozen underground tombs (Hypogea) that are accessed by steep stone stairs. Dating from the 6th to 10th centuries, the burial chambers are the only examples of their kind in the Americas. Inside, you’ll encounter a few ceramic objects, and black and red drawings on the walls, which are thought to reproduce the internal decoration of houses from that time. While the artifacts are not the most interesting thing to see, climbing up and down the old rocky stairs leading into the tombs is quite a thing!
You’ll find a few information boards in English, but very little is known about this ancient indigenous civilization that was able to thrive in such an inhospitable mountainous environment. And due to its rather inaccessible location, not many tourists venture out this far.
With a total distance of 7 km and a 700 m altitude difference (both up and downhill), this hike can be classified as moderate and is worth every effort to enjoy the panoramic views at 2100 meters above sea level. Well, let’s say it’s worth almost every effort. Because getting to Tierradentro in Colombia is an adventure in itself that’s certainly not something for everyone, but we couldn’t give it a miss on our around the world trip back in 2018.
On the way to Tierradentro Archaeological Park, we caught a ride with a local public transport truck from La Plata town, which was an adventurous bumpy ride on dusty and windy mountain roads. And the onward journey to the capital of the Department Popayan took us 6 hours to cover the 100 km distance which left us feeling rather tired and frustrated than euphoric. There was no road in parts, just mud, the journey was truly an endurance test, both for our nerves and the old bus. In the video below, you can get a glimpse of the adventurous journey and the amazing views.