Shaky knees in the tombs of Tierradentro

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Despite being a world heritage site, the pre-columbian tombs of Tierradentro are a relatively unknown gem in southwestern Colombia. The tombs are around 2500 years old and have been excavated by archeologists since 1936. Between the 6th and 9th century the pre-Hispanic Nasa people buried their deads her in beautiful decorated caves.

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Entrance ot one of the shaft tombs

Small coffee and banana plantations line the steep path up the slope. Suddenly we stand on the Aguacate ridge overlooking yet another deep valley But the ridge itself appears almost perforated by dozens of curious overgrown holes. They are shaft tombs – underground caves dug out over 2000 years ago as secondary burial tombs for whole families.

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The tombs of Tierradentro in Segovia and El Duende on the other side of the valley are better preserved,. They have stark geometrical designs in black, red and white that look like African tribal patterns. But the steps leading down into the tombs are so high and steep that they leave us far more exhausted than the hike up to Aguacate in the morning.

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We visited five archaeological sites and two museums in the UNESCO World Heritage Tierradentro area on a one-day hike from the village of San Andrés de Pisimbalá.

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