La Cueva de los Tayos (Cave of the Oilbirds) is a large and complex cave system located in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador. It is one of the most famous caves in the world, due in part to the claims of Erich von Däniken, a Swiss author who wrote in his 1968 book Chariots of the Gods? that the cave contained a library of golden tablets left behind by an ancient alien civilization.
In 1976, a joint Ecuadorian-British expedition was launched to explore La Cueva de los Tayos and investigate von Däniken’s claims. The expedition was led by Stan Hall, a British caver, and included a team of over 100 people, including scientists, engineers, and military personnel. Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, was also a member of the expedition.
The expedition spent several weeks exploring La Cueva de los Tayos. They mapped the cave system, collected samples of rocks, plants, and animals, and excavated archaeological sites. However, they found no evidence of von Däniken’s claims of a lost alien civilization.
Despite the lack of evidence, the 1976 expedition to La Cueva de los Tayos was a significant event. It was one of the largest and most expensive cave explorations ever undertaken, and it helped to raise awareness of the cave system and its archaeological potential.
The Legacy of the Expedition
The 1976 expedition to La Cueva de los Tayos sparked a renewed interest in the cave system. Since then, there have been numerous other expeditions to the cave, including several led by Indigenous communities.
Researchers have made a number of important discoveries in La Cueva de los Tayos, including:
- Evidence of human occupation dating back over 10,000 years
- A variety of archaeological artifacts, including pottery, tools, and jewelry
- A unique cave fauna, including several species of bats and other animals that are only found in La Cueva de los Tayos
La Cueva de los Tayos is a significant archaeological site, and it is also a sacred place for Indigenous communities in the region. The cave system is currently protected by the Ecuadorian government, and visitors must be accompanied by a licensed guide.
Visiting La Cueva de los Tayos
Today, it is possible to visit La Cueva de los Tayos as part of a guided tour. Tours typically last for several days and involve hiking through the rainforest, camping in the cave system, and exploring the cave chambers and passages.
Tours to La Cueva de los Tayos are physically demanding and require a good level of fitness. However, they are also a rewarding experience, offering the chance to explore one of the most fascinating and mysterious cave systems in the world.