Argentina // Patagonia //

Cerro de los Indios

Three kilometres south of Posadas, the low, rounded wedge of Cerro de los Indios lies beneath the higher scarp of the valley. Bruce Chatwin’s description of this rock in In Patagonia is unerring: “…a lump of basalt, flecked red and green, smooth as patinated bronze and fracturing in linear slabs. The Indians had chosen the place with an unfaltering eye for the sacred.”

Indigenous rock-paintings, some almost 10,000 years old, mark the foot of the cliff, about two-thirds of the way along the rock to the left. The well-known depiction of a “unicorn” – now thought to be a huemul – is rather faded; more impressive are the wonderful concentric circles of a hypnotic labyrinth design. The red blotches high up on the overhangs appear to have been the result of guanaco hunters firing up arrows tipped in pigment-stained fabric, perhaps in an ancient version of darts. However, the site’s most remarkable feature is the polished shine on the rocks, which really do possess the patina and texture of antique bronze. There’s also no fence screening off the engravings and paintings here, leaving the site’s magical aura uncompromised.