One reason for visiting the Limón Andanza canton is the Petroglyph Archeological Complex of Catazho, situated close to the river that is known by the same name, about 30 minutes from the city. Petroglyphs are engraved rocks that have become living testimonies of already-extinct aboriginal populations.
From the downtown area of Limón the visitor can continue towards the south; and 20 minutes away one can find Plan de Milagro. Following the same route, 10 minutes later, Catazho Valley makes its appearance. It is located between the areas of San José and San Miguel de Conchay, in the district of Indanza. These are territories formed by wide areas of grass and vegetation.
A drivable suspension bridge and a 5-min. walk through a narrow and humid path take us to the first petroglyph: an extraordinary rock that has a square-shaped spiral engraved on its lateral front. A few steps forward, on other rocks the visitor can observe other figures, such as those of a monkey and a human face.
When one is in front of them, nature seems to scream and the wind seems to talk. One can feel peace, serenity or fear. There are 123 engraved rocks, of different sizes and forms, whose guardians are the Indanza, Catazho, and Chinampis rivers. These rivers make their way through 1236 acres of land, resembling paintings inside a lively green landscape.
Each rock reflects designs of high creativity, because of its engravings with mythical figures that even until now have not been deciphered. On the splendid rocks there are drawings of very strange symbols, which are believed to have been carved 3000 years BC.
Since 2009 information on this richness has been brought to light, in order to make an inventory and recognize it as a protected area. Between one rock and the other there is a distance of about 16 feet; and there are figures that are striking because of their form and accessibility. One of them, for example, has a big face engraved on it, along with holes that resemble eyes. Other people can imagine something different, however, and that is product of the magic that each rock creates in the observer.
Everyone who sees a petroglyph, immediately has a strange sensation of understanding, reading or seeing something, but the most amazing thing is to feel something. For the locals, the mysteries start with the rocky formations.
These marvels can be found all the way to San Antonio, Chiviaza, Ayankas, and Peña Blanca. In Campo Alegre, a few minutes from San José, there are rocks with characteristics that are similar to human, animal, and plant shapes, as well as those of the sun and moon.
Upon descending towards the river bank (of Indanza), one can identify more paintings: that of a rural sparrow hawk that seems to be guarding these vestiges. It has been engraved in a rock. Another rock, on the other hand, has an engraving of a man being devoured by an anaconda. This is said to represent the solar eclipse.
In this silent environment, the constant noise made by the birds (the rural sparrow hawk, the golden oriole, the falcon, the tick pickers) in the surroundings, seems to give life to an entire petrified family. The petroglyph reveals a woman with a child in her arms and a man with an ornamented face.
As one continues on this journey, the sound of the water hitting the rocks awakens the senses even more; and the dense vegetation that covers the area makes it impossible for one to distinguish the water level. There are various plants as well, such as the touch-me-not, named that way because of its peculiar way of gathering up its leaves when someone touches them.
Upon looking up towards the horizon, one can appreciate one section of the Cordillera del Cóndor mountain range, with the Catazho and Pan de Azúcar mountains. The mountain range received that name because of its high altitude, which can get to 9843 feet above the sea level. The top is always surrounded by a beautiful mist.
When approaching the depths, a tarabita (a basket-like cable car used to transport people or cargo), on top of the Indanza river, allows the visitors to complete this adventure traveling by air and above the vegetation. On the other side it is possible to freshen oneself with the crystalline water, and rest. Catazho is a town where nature refuses to be defeated by “urban monsters,” and where the indigenous people are still the owners of their motherland.
MORE ABOUT CATAZHO
- The extant studies have not revealed the culture to which these petroglyphs belonged, but the engravings show characteristics that are common to the representations of solar eclipses. Some scholars make a connection between these enigmas and the Shuar culture, because these populations used to represent a guide to their paths on rocks.
- In order to arrive at Limón Indanza, from Cuenca, take an interprovincial bus, from one of the bus lines: Turismo Oriental, Macas or 16 de Agosto. The trip lasts 3 hours.
- To visit the petroglyphs of Catazho, the visitor can hire a tour guide or ask for information at the Department of Tourism, in the Municipality of Limón.