9500 Years Ago

After doing a lot of hiking in various national parks, mountains and glaciers it’s time for something different. We are not sure if this side trip of almost four hours from our main route is worth the time. However, it turns out to be an amazing experience again. Completely different to what we have seen and done so far.


For us like many others Bajo Caracoles is an important pit stop to refuel our car after a long way without any fuel station. However, it is also the junction for taking a journey back in time. Dating back 9500 years are the oldest paintings the hunters of ancient times left on the rocks. The ‘Cueva de las Manos’ are the most famous rock paintings in Argentina.


Driving on the RN 40 it is difficult to see the interesting spots left and right of the road if you don't know them. 40km east from Bajo Caracoles we find this beautiful canyon with a river and trees breaking the dusty picture of the usual scene here.


In the past you could walk on your own to the rock paintings but after some very stupid and mindless people have left their marks and graffiti's, damaging various paintings for ever, we can only visit them with a tour guide. We pay 50 Pesos per person for this 1.5 h tour. Well worth the money.


We see a lot of images of hands with most of them taken from the left hand (apparently most people were right handed even then ;-). They also tell us that they represent entire families. Most of the hands show actually their negatives. Putting the hand on the rock and then the paint.


Other techniques have been used to paint the guanacos for example. The hunters followed the herds as they needed them to survive. Playing an important part in their lives they captured them in the paintings as well.


In addition to the various animals they hunted and the hands we can see some abstract motives as well: zigzag and dotted lines as well as circles. Even after doing a lot of research nobody really knows what they are all about ;-)


The same applies to some other sculptures you can see in the pictures below. They obviously must have been very important to these people as they captured them and drawing them very big. But so far nobody could really figure out if this represents an animal or something else. While the meaning of these paintings to some extend remain a mystery it is an incredible site and something you need to see for yourself. Simply the fact that they survived up to 9500 years without any conservation in its own is incredible.

A less visited and less touristic site of rock paintings is located near the small village of Lago Posadas. The large rock called Cerro de los Indios on which we find the paintings is visible from miles away as we approach the village on the dirt road. At the entrance of the village we find a small sign to our left pointing us into the direction of the paintings. Following the small gravel road eventually getting to the bottom of the massive rock. From here we need to climb up a small path to our left where we find the actual paintings.


When you are close to the rocks you can understand why the entire rock is shining so bright. The surface is very smooth and in the sun it is really gleaming.


The paintings themselves are not as well preserved as the ones we have seen before. However, simply the fact they are completely different to the other ones combined with being able to just walk up there with no guide and paying a fee makes it a nice experience for us.


These paintings show people, circles as well as some animals they hunted at the time. We also find something that is using a completely different technique: engravings. While most of the other pictures we have seen used some sort of painting technique here we also find some engravings. Again, nobody can really tell what they are about and what purpose they served. If rocks could talk they for sure would be able to tell a fantastic story of an ancient culture. As they can’t we can only take an educated guess.

This is our last stop for now in Argentina. As we need to decide which direction we want to go next we decide to spent the night at Estancia Suyai at Lago Pueyrredon which is close to this place. Tomorrow we plan to cross over into Chile again. Carretera Austral here we come!

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