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Colombia: Alto Aguacate tombs

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Alto Aguacate tombs | Colombia | Americas

[Visited: January 2009]

The plans for our visit to Tierradentro had to be changed because of the bad weather, and we ended up staying one day longer than we had expected, mostly to visit El Aguacate. While the other sites of Tierradentro are all within short distance from San Andrés de Pisimbalá, El Aguacate involves a hike up the mountain ridge towering a few hundred metres above the village. After our lovely horseback riding experience at San Agustín, we tried to hire horses again. But locals soon told us that would not be advisable, as the path up would be very muddy after all the recent rain. Instead, we contracted a guide, and when we tried to buy a torch, the shopkeeper actually gave his own torch, to be returned the next day. Another example of the hospitality of the Colombians, who seem to be doing what they can to accomodate the visitor.

Picture of Alto Aguacate tombs (Colombia): Geometrical decoration in a subterranean tomb

After a night of rain, I was happy to find dry weather outside early next morning, but there were clouds every where, and the top of the mountain ridge of El Aguacate, which we had seen high above us the previous day, was completely covered. Especially the beginning of the climb proved to be very muddy, and we were sloshing our way up, trying not to fall. The higher we got, the better the terrain became, so in the end we could really walk up in a normal way. Below us, we saw more and more clouds floating into the valley and we literally walked into the clouds. I started to seriously doubt whether we could ever enjoy a view from the top. When we arrived at the first tombs of El Aguacate, the mountain ridge was actually still covered in clouds. We went down several subterranean tombs, which were very different from the ones we had seen the day before. Many seemed abandoned, not taken care of very well. All were completely open, there was no light, and we were very happy with the torch, especially when we found out the torch of the guide was not working.

Picture of Alto Aguacate tombs (Colombia): Animal representing the world painted on the wall of a subterranean tomb

In several caves at El Aguacate, we saw the wall of the tomb divided in three: an upper part with moons, or suns, a line dividing the upper world with the regular one, and on the lower part, animals, or human figures. It was remarkable how some of the figures still had vivid colours, while others were already faded. It was perhaps even more remarkable, that the protection of these subterranean tombs is so poorly done. In some cases, getting into the hole in the ground was not easy. We did not visit all over seventy tombs, but walked all the way to the last tomb. Suddenly, the clouds started to clear, and the view opened up. Valleys hitherto hidden by the clouds were now stretching out into the distance, we saw Inzá and San Andrés de Pisimbalá, the sun was coming out, and when we started to descend the 2,100 metre high mountain, the weather started to be warmer and nicer than before.

Picture of Alto Aguacate tombs (Colombia): Cliffs on the mountain ridge of El Aguacate
Picture of Alto Aguacate tombs (Colombia): Moon on the wall of a subterranean tomb
Picture of Alto Aguacate tombs (Colombia): Suns on the wall of a tomb at El Aguacate
Picture of Alto Aguacate tombs (Colombia): Valley with clouds seen from El Aguacate
Picture of Alto Aguacate tombs (Colombia): Trees appearing in the morning fog on the way to El Aguacate
Picture of Alto Aguacate tombs (Colombia): Detail of wall of a subterranean tomb with geometrical figures
Picture of Alto Aguacate tombs (Colombia): Moons painted on the wall of a subterranean tomb
Picture of Alto Aguacate tombs (Colombia): Subterranean tombs with surrounding landscape at El Aguacate
Picture of Alto Aguacate tombs (Colombia): Looking south from El Aguacate
Picture of Alto Aguacate tombs (Colombia): Colourful figure painted on the wall of a tomb at El Aguacate
Picture of Alto Aguacate tombs (Colombia): Looking down at a hill from the top of El Aguacate
Picture of Alto Aguacate tombs (Colombia): Entrance to one of the many subterranean tombs
Picture of Alto Aguacate tombs (Colombia): Looking out of one of the subterranean tombs

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