Thursday, July 15, 2010

The "Painted Hills" of the Atacama

pausing for some refreshment under the desert sun

On our return trip from Mamiña we decided to take a detour to the "Painted Hills" of the Atacama Desert. According to this website "more than 5,000 geoglyphs—prehistoric works of art placed on or worked into the landscape—have been recorded in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile over the past thirty years." The particular area we visited is located within a national reserve and with approximately 350 geoglyphs, is supposedly one of the largest groupings of these in one area.

a view of the arid landscape and mountains


more geoglyphs

A small visitors' room indicated that the geoglyphs were created in one of two ways: "mosaico," using a darker material (often rocks) to contrast against the light-colored hills; and "raspaje," scraping away at the hillside to create contrast. Presumably these particular geoglyphs date between 500 and 1400 AD and were probably created by the Tiwanaku to mark caravan circuits or for religious purposes.

exploring the Atacama

We did encounter some interesting inhabitants of the Atacama in the form of desert lizards. They were small, fast and frankly, a little freaky. If you have ever seen Jurassic Park you will understand how disquieting it was to suddenly see a dozen of these flitting in and out of the rocks and approaching us quickly from every direction! It turns out they are quite fond of peanuts, much to the kids' amusement.

I took two short videos during our time at the "Painted Hills" and will try to upload those shortly. This was definitely a detour worth taking and one we'll enjoy sharing with other visitors in the future.

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I hope to go there some day with you!
Tell Pedro, I love his shirt. I knew BLACK and GOLD were his true colors!!!