Punta Guaque 01 – Mejillones, Chile - Atlas Obscura

Punta Guaque 01

Mejillones, Chile

This hidden pre-Columbian rock art depicts a whale hunt. 


Punta Guaque 01 is a singular natural crevice in a rock formation that stands close to the sea. The crevice is deep enough for one or maybe two people crawl into and hide from the elements and light a fire while waiting for the ideal moment to go fishing.

And it’s believed it was used for just that by the indigenous people of what is now Chile. Inside this crevice, archeologists found the remains of fish bones, shells, and other sea life pried open by human tools. On the roof, they discovered a drawing made with iron-rich paint. It’s an amazingly detailed drawing that depicts two humans in a canoe hunting what appears to be a whale.

This painting is considered to be part of the El Médano style, which dates back to about 1,000 years ago. This style is typically associated with rock paintings that mostly depict scenes of people hunting sea life in canoes.

This specific painting is special because of its accessibility, and because it’s about 125 miles north of other similar paintings.

Know Before You Go

The cave is relatively easy to access if you know the road. Drive past Michilla, and then on the left there will be a very hard to spot road at -22.68939, -70.27071 (just before a large rock formation and where the road curves to the left). Go onto this road and continue west until you pass a few white pits filled with shells. Go around them and keep going until you see a crossroad and head to the right, then after about 650 feet you'll see a singular rock pointing out from the ground. The cave is on the north side of it.

Please do not damage or vandalize the site. These drawings survived for centuries and have immense archeological values. Archaeologists keep these places secret because people vandalize them, please don't prove them right. 

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