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Getting to and away from Tierradentro

Arriving at Tierradentro is a trip that can be beset by muddy roads and landslides in the rainy season. Vehicles are often overcrowded, with people riding atop and hanging off the back. It is most directly reached from Popayán. However, many visit it in the same breath as San Agustín, which is a full day’s journey away; for more details, see below.

If you miss a direct departure for your destination, then take a local pick-up or jeep to Cruce de Pisimbalá, a.k.a. Cruce de San Andrés, and catch other transport there. Both Popayán and La Plata serve as hubs for transportation. When arriving in Tierradentro, tell the driver you want to alight at the Parque Archaeológico, if that is where you will be staying, as San Andrés village is another 2.5 kilometers farther uphill.

To Popayán: Sotranscauca (5:30 a.m., 5 hours, $8); from Popayán 10:30 a.m. Or go to the Cruce and catch a La Plata-Popayán bus.

To La Plata: Pick-up trucks (daily 6 a.m., 8 a.m., noon, 4 p.m.), chiva (Sunday, Wednesday 7 a.m., Friday 5 a.m.). Both take 1.5-2 hours and cost $5.

The route between Tierradentro and San Agustín will—with a bit of luck—only take about six hours. But if you don’t hit the connections right, you will probably have to spend the night in one of the transit points. The route is Tierradentro-La Plata-Pitalito-San Agustín. If you miss a direct La Plata-Pitalito bus, then go to Garzón, from where there is frequent minibuses for both towns. The La Plata bus terminal are quite a distance from town; city buses connect the two ($0.35).

From La Plata to Tierradentro (San Andrés de Pisimbalá): Cootransplateña (every 3-4 hours 6:30 a.m.-4 p.m., 2 hours, $5). Chivas leave from downtown (Sunday, Wednesday, Friday).

To Bogotá: 8 hours, $19-21—Cootranshuila (9:30 p.m.), Coomotor (8:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 9 p.m.).

Pitalito to La Plata: 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 3 hours, $9. Or go to GarzĂłn (bus $5, collective taxi $6), then to Pitalito (buseta $5, collective taxi $6).

From Pitalito there is also service to Neiva, Bogotá, Isnos and Popayán.

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

22 Aug 2011

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