Las Cuevas Pintadas
Of the several petroglyph sites in the vicinity of Tegucigalpa, one of the most impressive and easiest to visit is near El Sauce, a couple of kilometers east of the Choluteca highway. The turnoff is at the same gas station as the Ojojona turn, but on the opposite side of the highway. The dirt road, leading to San Buenaventura, heads across open fields, then winds down off the plateau to a valley below. At the bottom of the hill is El Sauce, and a 40-minute walk from there, you’ll find the petroglyphs.
Once in the village, turn left off the main road at the only turn, and then left again through the first gate. Continue to the small rancho at the end of this road, and ask someone to point the way to Las Cuevas Pintadas (The Painted Caves), as the site is known locally. The trail follows the edge of a small valley for about 15 minutes, reaching a point where another, smaller valley runs into it. At the junction is a small, usually deserted hut.
Another five minutes up the side valley, look for rock overhangs — facing upriver, there’s one on the right side and three on the left. Each is filled with dozens of etched images and designs. Some modern graffiti has been added, but thankfully very little.
No one is sure how old the carvings are, but recent studies they are perhaps about 600 years old, not thousands of years old as first believed. They make for an interesting sight nonetheless.
If you don’t feel like spending too much time wandering around looking for the caves, ask one of the local kids to show you the way for a few lempiras, or stop by the municipal offices in Ojojona and ask for Oscar Pineda (tel. 504/767-0161), who speaks English and will guide a walk to the caves for US$5. Apart from the caves, the valley is a beautiful place for a walk in the countryside. In this same valley are the remnants of a small colonial-era mine works, including a mill and canal.
© Chris Humphrey and Amy E. Robertson from Moon Honduras, 5th Edition