Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Palace Caves (Grutas del Palacio)

About 50 km north of Flores there is a small national park area - Grutas del Palacio (Palace Caves). The caves were well known to natives. According to folklore, the caves were used as refuge by bandits (matreros) and revolucionarios of many colors.

After you get to the entrance building, a nice trail will take you to the caves area.

 photo 201324014_zps345e7221.jpg

The caves were made by erosion on the iron-loaded arenisk. The iron was carried by a giant river which flowed through this area in paleolithic times: it came from the ores in the Valentines area, and gives the caves a characteristic reddish color.

 photo 201321011_zpsbe7e8ebd.jpg

Dinosaur eggs are sometimes found nearby - there are a few in the entrance building.  It is very old terrain.

 photo 201321005_zps4aa146eb.jpg

The water table was quite high, which made it hard to traverse the caves. The rock has nice textures, but erosion keeps working it and sometimes a cave collapses. Fortunately not while we were visiting.

 photo 201321009_zps2d5488e2.jpg

The columns look like the legs of a giant animal, frozen in time, struggling to hold the cave ceiling.

 photo 201324005_zpsd2941cca.jpg

There is always light at the end of the cave.

 photo 201324002_zpsa1688148.jpg

The reception building was clean, well organized, with dedicated guides and a small museum. A pleasure to visit. I was tempted by the reflections in this old window.

 photo 201324016_zps03b88b9c.jpg

Thanks to the local government for keeping the place in shape.

The Chamang√° paleolithic drawings are not far from here, but are not very accesible yet. Marking those for the next visit to the area.

Technical: Autocord HP5+, Olympus 35SP FP4+. Developed in DD-X. Yes, it is film.


  1. Another interesting site; seems like you have a lot of good material to work with there.

    I came across a research blog post today about an important palaeontolgy discovery in Canelones which looks to be not far from Montevideo. It may push the date back to 30,000 years for the first humans in the Americas.

    If you click on the link,"Arroyo del Vizcaíno" you can watch a very well made video on the fossil site.

  2. Indeed, this is a find of some time ago, probably they have confirmed the dating and published just now.

    The place is not far from here, I used to visit friends in nearby Sauce town many years ago.