The Painted Caves

Cueva de las Manos, Cave of the Hands, is a series of caves which is located about 160 km outside of the town of Perito Moreno – not to be confused with the much more famous glacier of the same name.

The earliest cave paintings date back to 7,300 BC, and the latest ones are estimated to have been painted close to 0 BC.

The valley that the paintings are in is quite beautiful, and it is easy to understand why it was picked as a location for human habitation: there is a nice river / stream at the bottom, with trout, guanacos wander through the valley, it is sheltered from the worst of the winds, and the available caves face North (into the sun).

The valley.

We toured the cave paintings with a guide, and a group of German women.

The caves.

Our guide spoke very limited English, but the German tour guide spoke excellent Spanish, leading to a situation where the guide described something in English, the German tour guide in turn translated the words into German, and I in turn translated from German into English, whenever Karen didn’t understand something. Are we international or what.

Simple, yet powerful.

The Cueva de las Manos is mainly known for its paintings of hands. Standing in front of these paintings – which were made 9,000 years ago – is quite powerful.


We both felt a strong connection, and were discussing what it must have been like to live here. Until, we both brought up the last book of the Clan-of-the-Cavebear series: The Painted Caves.

Now I am man enough to admit that I loved the first book, The Clan of the Cave Bear. And even enjoyed the second book, The Valley of Horses. But after that? They sucked. Hard.

When the last book the series, The Land of Painted Caves, came out, I read Karen a few of the reviews, as she was thinking of buying it. Here is a sample review:

“What I want to say is how utterly bewildered I am at the complete lack of plot, the freakishly one-dimentional characters, the abrupt time changes and the story arcs that simply evaporated. Why was this book even written? I actually hated Ayla, Jondalar, The One Who Serves The Mother, Marthona, all the Zelandonii, Jonayla, Wolf, Whinney, mammoths, caves, hunting, herb lore, chanting, furs, Mother Festivals and even barma when I “finished” this book. I write “finished” because, after eagerly reading the first chapter (pre-ordered this book – I was greatly looking forward to it) and skimming the second chapter I found myself listlessly thumbing through the rest of the book in disbelief. When I reached the part about Jondalar and Marona, it was the last straw. This ridiculous and nonsensical development literally made me sick to my stomach, and I stopped reading.”

And that is not the most negative review.

But I digress. We had to force ourselves not to let the bodice ripping latter books of the series divert us from what is a very cool site.

If you have a chance, go visit; the site is absolutely worth it.

And if you bought the last book in the Cave Bear series, and liked it, I apologize…

Karen never bought the last book.


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