Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Cueva del Milodón.


Today, we pretty much spent all day visiting Torres del Paine National Park, located just about 60 kilometers from Puerto Natales.

Our pickup time was 8:30a and Bro and I woke up in plenty of time to have a good and very filling breakfast which proved to really be important.

We were one of the first tourists to be picked up so we enjoyed a bit of a ride through Puerto Natales - pretty much everyone else is staying in hotels.

On the way out of town, our guide introduced himself and our driver - Gustavo and Alex, respectively.  If you plucked lighthaired native born Gustavo out of Chile and plopped him into any city in Europe, he would fit right in - he is as European looking as they come, not a speck of indigenous South American blood in him.  Thankfully, his English was excellent as well.


Unlike the landscape around Punta Arenas which was pretty much flat grassland, we had wonderful mountain scenes to look out at.  There is still plenty of grass land as this area is also known for its sheep ranches.

Our first stop, on the way to Torres del Paine, was a place called Cueva del Milodón Natural Monument.  The monument comprises several caves and a rock formation called Silla del Diablo (Devil's Chair).

Shortly after leaving the outskirts of Puerto Natales and we had arrived into the small Visitors Center complex of Cueva del Milodón.  Gustavo gave us time to buy our entry tickets, use the facilities and even do a bit of window shopping at the gift shop.


Then, we all followed Gustavo down the path that leads to the caves.  It was a slightly chilly morning but it was perfect for a stroll through Mother Nature.  It's really pretty here. 


It seems like every which way you look, you see mountains.  Like the Atacama Desert, the air here feels and smells crisp and clean.  My cursed weak lungs are loving it here.


The path made its way towards a cluster of very large boulders.



In one, there was a large opening.  That is the cave that in 1895 Hermann Eberhard, a German explorer, discovered the skin, bones and other parts of a giant ground sloth called Mylodon darwini, that became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch.



The path continued its way into the cave.  I was expecting a cave with multiple chambers and interesting rock formations i.e., stalagtites and stalagmites.  But really, this was literally just a very large indentation in the rock.  There really wasn't a whole lot of anything interesting to see.







At the end of the path, there was a plaque explaining the history of the cave and a life sized replica what a milodon is thought to have looked like - to more, more like a bear than a sloth.



For me, the cave was a bit of a disappointment but I guess for this region, it's important bit of history and so it's an item on the tourist itinerary.

From here, we just backtracked to the van and then hit the road towards Torres del Paine.