by Ashley Curtin (all photos courtesy of VisitBajaSur)
You can Have a Baja Moment (in time) as you walk through caves discovering collections of prehistoric art (rupestres) drawn on the sides of boulders and along rocky walls located in and around Mulegé.
Geometric symbols, animals, human figures and life-sized murals adorn the narrow caves and rocky overhangs at La Trinidad, Piedras Pintas and San Borjitas—well-known rock art sights within the peninsula’s Great Mural Region. All of these are an easy day-trip from Mulegé. The rock art famous to this area is primarily depicted in red and black coloring. The most common figures travelers will see during a hike through the caves are human figures and deer along with various other animals including rabbits, bighorn sheep, birds, snakes and fish. Made up of simple details, cave paintings offer travelers a unique perspective into the area and they reveal quite a bit about Baja’s indigenous history.
The closest rock art sight when visiting Mulegé is La Trinidad. Located just 20 minutes west of the town, this site is federally protected by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. Not only do travelers need a special license to enter the caves, they must be part of a guided tour, which can be easily arranged in Mulegé with many companies offering various packages. The hike to La Trinidad starts with a four-mile canyon hike followed by a few river-crossings—depending on the time of year of the visit, swimming might be required. Narrow trails then lead travelers to the Great Murals of this area. The most famous of the rock art in La Trinidad is the deer painting in deep red color with various other animal representations around it. A fish skeleton and a few human figures with arrows shot in their neck can also be seen on the walls and ceilings of the cave. While there is more rock art above this initial spot of La Trinidad, it includes a strenuous hike and a swim to get there. The natural scenery during this hike is beautiful, but the rock art is sporadic and less impressive. Therefore, few travelers continue the trek up.
Another popular rock art sight is Piedras Pintas, a natural prehistoric wonder just 30 minutes outside Mulegé. This area of the Great Mural region runs about two-football-fields in size and is made up of rock carvings and engravings. After climbing over boulders and hiking unmarked trails, travelers will approach the concentrated rock-carving area of Piedras Pintas. A group of boulders, which formed from a prehistoric earthquake, consists of hundreds of sea life images and just a few animal drawings. This is unique to Piedras Pintas and a spectacular sight for travelers to discover.
The last area for travelers to see rock art around Mulegé is San Borjitas. This part of the Great Mural Region is located more than an hour’s drive north west of town, but is very well known in the area. The rock art can be found in a remote canyon just a short hike in. With most of the figures drawn at life-size stature, San Borjitas consists of unique ceiling to floor cave paintings of human figures, most depicted with arrows injected in the body. This hike provides travelers an understanding of the warfare from Baja’s indigenous past.
Discovering the Great Mural Region and rock art found in the mountains of Mulegé is a beautiful adventure filled with history, art and natural beauty, and makes this Baja experience a great escape for anyone.
Here are a few suggestions when planning a rock art adventure to the Great Mural Region:
-Find a package that works best with your schedule; day-trips or overnight trips are available in the area.
-Don’t try to find the caves yourself; the scenery looks the same and makes it easy to get lost!
-Pack lots of water.
-Wear Dri-Fit clothes so it is easier to dry off after wading through rivers.
-Pack belongings in waterproof bags (and it is never a bad idea to have handy individual-use packets of Neosporin).
-Always stay near your guide.
Mulegé is one of Baja’s most tropical, romantic locales. Let us know what you love most about this tranquil paradise by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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