The impressive cave paintings of the Sierra de San Francisco
Located within the Vizcaíno reserve in BCS, just eighty kilometers from the town of San Ignacio, these prehistoric jewels represent the vision of the inhabitants of this area several millennia ago and their dialogue with their ancestors, with their spirits and their cosmology.
Located in different canyons and ravines of the Sierra de San Francisco, these anthropomorphic paintings correspond to the largest collection of its kind in the world.
These unknown hunter gatherer tribes are thought to be related to the Cochimies, captured images on cave walls that have yet to be deciphered. The predominant theme is “Los Monos” mythical beings painted in red and black color combinations, but there are also depictions of marine life, such as whales, manta rays, sea lions, fish and sharks, as well as land animals such as hares, snakes, pumas, deer, or sheep.
The pigments used were prepared by grinding volcanic stones with sap from cacti and other trees in the area; they have withstood the elements and the passage of time, several paintings are in such good condition that they appear to have been drawn only a few years ago.
The Jesuit priests who inhabited the peninsula during the Spanish colony at the end of the 16th century discovered these paintings while walking from mission to mission; fortunately, they did not destroy any and only marked the area with a small cross made of similar pigments, which still exists today.
A museum in San Ignacio houses a replica of the most renowned painting of all , “La Pintada”, which is situated in a region that forces us to contemplate how they could have painted the images without falling into the vast abyss behind them. The act of painting is the culmination of all ritual and of life in general, which is why it is done with great care.
The size and sophistication of the cave paintings in this area of Baja California Sur represent a singularity among hunter-gatherer societies. As a result, UNESCO designated the Sierra de San Francisco as a World Heritage Site in December 1993, in recognition of the immense cultural heritage present here.
Today there are excursions on mules lasting several days, which descend hundreds of meters through narrow paths to the area where one can camp and then walk through trails towards these magical creations.
There are more than three hundred caves of this kind, among the most important open to the public we find the caves of La pintada, Las flechas, Los Músicos, La Soledad, Cuesta Palmarito, Boca de San Julio and el Raton.
Once in a lifetime experience and well worth doing!