The Sierra de San Francisco mountain range is home to one of the best preserved prehistoric rock art sites in the world, the Rock Paintings of Sierra de San Francisco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The paintings are concentrated in the El Vizcaino reserve and were first "discovered" by the Western world when a Jesuit priest came upon them in the 1700s. The paintings are thought to be over 7,000 years old and were painted by a group that has disappeared—some say they were the Cochimi people. Local legends say the people who painted these scenes were giants, as many of the human figures in the paintings are over six feet tall.
Visiting the paintings is a unique pilgrimage, made all the more memorable because of the effort required. They are hard to get to (ideally you’ll spend at least one night camping in the mountain canyons to see multiple caves) and in order to visit you’ll need a permit and to be accompanied by a registered cave custodian—local eco tourism groups can assist with these arrangements. Getting into the protected area involves serious trekking, hiking, rock climbing and sometimes a strategic burro ride, but travelers who have made the journey come back transformed by the experience.
In partnership with Adventure Travel Trade Association
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