San Ignacio isn`t just known for its mission and whale watching, it is also surrounded by world famous cave paintings. These have been around for thousands of years and while locals knew about them, they have been famous only for a couple decades. There are a couple paintings you can see. El Raton y el Palmarito (the one we saw) are day trips while there are others that take minimum 4 days on a mule. Talk about something unique!
Because we only had enough time to go to el Palmarito the tips will be about that cave painting. We were told that for a day hike, it was the best one to see.
There are two ways to go about organizing your hike.
Option 1: go to the tourist center underneath the San Ignacio mission and have someone call the guides and organize them for you. There is a $50 peso fee to bring cameras to the top and $100 pesos per person (free for students, doesn’t matter if the student is international or not). If your car doesn’t have 4WD they may offer to take you in their car.
Option 2: just drive to the site and hope there is a guide available for you. You may get lucky and not have to wait, or the most likely scenario, you’ll have to wait until a guide comes to take you to the paintings. You will pay at the base camp instead of the tourist center, and the price will be the same as mentioned above. (Option 1 is a lot easier and will make everything flow better)
After driving for an hour and a half, you will arrive to the house to pick up your guide, from there you will drive to the bottom of the hike. Remember, you are walking in the middle of the desert and will need plenty of water and a sunhat, it gets hot. Our guide told us that in the summer it’s 100+ and many people who set out to make it to the top end up giving up. Don’t try this hike in the middle of the summer!
When you get to the top, you can spend as much time as you`d like and there are three caves you can explore. You’ll fist arrive to the biggest one, covered in different colored figures.
Even though the paintings are one of a kind, the view is also one to take in; it makes you realize how far you are from everything and how much the people who drew must have walked. On the caves, there are picture of whales, these painters walked all over the area.
This is considered a World Heritage site, make sure you get to check it out, you will not regret it. And if you have more time, take one of the many other mule guided trips to other sites.
How to get there? Once in San Ignacio, drive to Bonfil (about 20 kms) and take a left, stay on the main dirt road and drive for about an hour. I believe it was 60 kms each way. You will get to the guide house and they will tell you what to do next.