All about Toro Muerto
What is it?
The Toro Muerto petroglyphs are a set of cave paintings distributed over an area of more than 5 km2, in the Majes Valley, Arequipa. It is estimated that there are more than 6 thousand engravings made more than two thousand years ago.
The petroglyphs present a great diversity of forms, where zoomorphic ones stand out (mainly snakes, condors, felines and llamas), as well as geometric, vegetal and anthropomorphic figures.
The presence of a necropolis also stands out at the site, where the mummy of a 2-year-old boy was found. The stones come from the nearby volcanoes, the Chachani and the Coropuna. Due to the historical importance of the place, it is one of the most popular new tourist attractions in Arequipa.
Where is it?
The Toro Muerto petroglyphs are located in the Majes Valley, which belongs to the district of Uraca, province of Castilla belonging to the department of Arequipa, in southern Peru.
The Toro Muerto petroglyphs were made using various techniques such as scratching, hitting, rubbing, chipping, percussion and, above all, engraving. The Chachani and Coropuna volcanoes, during the eruptions that occurred thousands of years ago, provided stones in the place. Currently, 2,500 stone blocks containing engravings have been recorded. The largest rock has a dimension of eight by ten meters.
How to get there?
The best way to get to the Toro Muerto petroglyphs is from the city of Arequipa, located 159 kilometers away. If you hire a tour service, transportation is included. If you are visiting on your own, you must travel by public transport to the town of Corire, and then take a short taxi ride to the Toro Muerto petroglyphs.
Thousands of years ago, the desert area of the Majes Valley was filled with stones as a result of the rockfall of the Chachani and Coropuna volcanoes. The oldest petroglyphs belong to the Chuquibamba cultures, the Wari empire and other older cultures. It is estimated that the first petroglyphs were made more than two thousand years ago. The area was unknown to archaeologists until its historical value was revealed in 1951 thanks to the work of Arequipa archaeologist Eloy Linares Málaga.
Currently, the Toro Muerto petroglyphs are considered the largest on the planet located in one place. There are more than 2,500 stone blocks with engravings. Researchers continue to discover new finds such as the remains of an Inca cemetery, the mummy of a child of approximately 2 years and more. It is one of the most popular new tourist attractions in Arequipa.
The valley of Majes
The Majes Valley owes its name, according to oral tradition, to the shortening of the word 'Majestic', which would describe the beauty of the place. The climate, with sun almost all year round, is pleasant to the visitor. It extends from the Andes Mountains to the green fields near the Pacific coast. The entire valley is crossed by the Majes river, one of the largest in Peru.
In the Majes valley you can carry out different tourist activities, such as: a) visiting the Querulpa Jurassic Park, which offers a life-size exhibition of the dinosaurs that inhabited the place as well as a sample of fossils found in area. b) the rock formation of El Castillo, an ideal place for hiking and appreciating an immense rock formation full of myths and stories. c) The petroglyphs of Toro Muerto, an immense area full of petroglyphs whose origin and function is still a mystery to researchers.
The petroglyphs of Toro Muerto
The Toro Muerto petroglyphs have an area of 200 desert hectares where thousands of volcanic stones have been found with 2,582 engravings whose origin dates back to 2,000 years old. The origin and function of these petroglyphs is still a mystery. Most would belong to the Paracas culture (7th century BC to the 2nd century AD), the Wari empire (7th century AD to the 13th AD) as well as the original communities of the place such as the Siguas and Chuquibamba cultures.
Investigations in Toro Muerto found petroglyphs of different figures where the shapes of men (dancers), stars (sun, moon, stars), geometric figures (circles, rhombuses, squares) as well as zoomorphic shapes (alpacas, llamas, monkeys, snakes, condors, foxes, fish, etc.). It is presumed that its function was that of a religious sanctuary. Investigations continue to unravel its purpose. Currently, it has been nominated to become a Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
How much does it cost?
Tours to the Toro Muerto petroglyphs last 1 day and cost approximately US $ 60 per person. All services, in addition to the visit to the petroglyphs, include a visit to the Querulpa Jurassic Park and the famous Majes vineyards. Tours include: transportation, tour guide and entrance to all sites.
The area where the Toro Muerto petroglyphs are located has a sunny climate most of the year. The temperature varies from a maximum of 27ºC. up to a minimum of 11ºC. The rains are very scarce.
What to bring?
- Cap (or hat).
- Light clothing for hiking.
- Rehydrating water.
- Comfortable walking shoes.
- Identity documents.
- Extra cash.
Tips for your visit
Although it is still a tourist attraction that is slowly receiving visitors, the petroglyphs are an excellent alternative option to the classic tours to the Colca canyon. You can get a tour through the website of a tourism agency or directly in the city of Arequipa.
The Majes Valley, in addition to the Toro Muerto petroglyphs, is famous for its delicious cuisine. During your visit you can try different dishes, such as: adobo, stuffed hot pepper, baked guinea pig, shrimp chupe, ceviche, among others.
Photos of Toro Muerto in Majes
The Majes River is an excellent option for level II and III canoeing. You can do this adventure through the tourism agency of your choice.
In Toro Muerto, next to the petroglyphs, remains of animal sacrifices as well as vegetables and other products have been found. This would indicate that religious rituals were performed there. According to the most recent investigations, these rituals belong to the Paracas culture (7th century BC to the 2nd century AD). The other details and mysteries of the place are still under study.