Trip Cueva de las Manos - Santa Cruz - Argentina

Argentina Trips

Cueva de las Manos Reserve (Cave of the Hands):

From the town of Perito Moreno in northern Santa Cruz there are 185km by road to the Upper Rio Pinturas canyon. This impressive 150m high gorge, which would be worth a trip all by itself, is one more of the natural attractions which Patagonia is justly famous for; however, the main reason for which someone would trip to this distant and isolated spot is not Nature, but a cultural one: a series of caves with paintings of prehistoric rock art.
The caves are below some massive overhang rocks, in the ravine of the Pinturas River. The principal one, the Cueva de las Manos, takes its name of the hundreds of human hands printed over its walls; however, there are representations of animals, like guanacos and pumas, hunting scenes, and geometric figures too. In addition to the Cave of the Hands, there are several more caves scattered along the canyon with smaller number of figures in them, although their paintings follow similar forms.
The paintings are from different periods. The oldest, dated back to 7000 years BC, were awkward animals in yellow, black, red and brick colors, very primitive figures. But with time they got more sophisticated and more colors were added. The modern ones incorporated geometric shapes, pregnant guanacos, men with fingers and other details. The hands are the most numerous and the most recent, perhaps between 2500 and 2200 years ago.
The more intriguing paintings are the pregnant guanacos. Some scientists suppose that thousands of years ago there was a period of some natural adversity in Patagonia. Perhaps a long dry season, but whatever the calamity were, it reduced the numbers of guanacos in the region. And, as a result, the primitive indigenous inhabitants attempted to increase their numbers again by a ceremony that included painting pregnant guanacos.
The Cave of the Hands reserve was declared UNESCO world cultural heritage site in 1999. And it is one of the most important cultural testimonies of prehistoric art in Argentina. Trips can be done from the town of the Perito Moreno or from the town of Los Antiguos. Best time to go: from mid November to early April.

Argentina trip: Cave of the Hands.
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