Sailing Nakamal

Hike to the Altavista Petroglyphs

Last week I joined a small group led by April from Wave House, a gringa who splits her time between the US and Mexico and holds dual citizenship. April has a tour guide license here in Mexico and organizes several different hikes in the area. She picks up the group (max of 7 to fit in her van) here in La Cruz and carts the group to the start of the hike. While driving and leading the hike, she relayed tons of history and information about the area we were visiting, too much for me to remember. Especially since I can barely remember what day of the week it is.


On the way, we stopped at this little garden center slash candy store.


Quite the array of candies. there were dozens of these types of stands on the drive up – I can’t figure out who all the customers are!


The owner was kind enough to let us use the rest room. Hey, it had paper and flushed. My public rest room requirements have changed in the last few months.

April relayed that the name of the Mexican state we are in – Nayarit – is more or less “altered consciousness”. Apparently the beliefs of the Tecoxquines Indians, a tribe of the Aztecs, were based on shamanism. The shamans would spend time in the area we hiked with whatever their drug of choice was and carve these images, sometimes for months at a time.

The area is still visited today by the native Huichols, who leave offerings.

If you are interested in reading more, start by clicking here, or Google “altavista petroglyphs Nayarit”. Following is an excerpt from the website I found and my own pics.

After the hike, which was all of a little over two miles, we unwound at the Jamurca Hot Springs. Click here for a separate description.

More than two thousand years ago an Aztecan tribe, the Tecoxquines, chipped images into the volcanic rock along the arroyo (seasonal stream) Las Piletas. The petroglyphs are believed to be symbolic of the concerns and the yearnings of the people, for health and fertility, the return of the rains, and successful crops. The rock carvings might have been meant as prayers or offerings to the gods responsible for these things.

After the arrival of the Conquistadors in the early 16th century, the twin scourges of disease and forced servitude led to the extinction of the Tecoxquin. Today the site of the petroglyphs holds religious significance for the native Huichol.

Archeologists have located more than 2000 carvings in an area of more than 80 hectares (200 acres); the casual visitor can see seventy or more without too much effort. A series of fifteen signs in Spanish and English are posted along the path, giving some explanation and historical context to the site.


Papillo trees on the lane to the hike’s start- the outside of the bark is red and peels off. Hence, they are nicknamed “gringo trees” (for the typical gringo sunburn).


Cobblestone road – there used to be a road all the way to the start, but it has fallen into disrepair so we had to walk in.


The start of the trail had several signs posted outlining the history.


The warring tribes would each send one man to fight, and the losing tribe would hand over 300 of their best and finest warriors to be used for human sacrifice. According to April, being sacrificed to the gods was actually an honor.


Can’t remember what kind of pod it is, but it was used for orange coloring – the carvings were painted back in the day.


The carvings are really deep, no longer it took them months to complete.


He is known as “the corn man” and is one of the places where offerings are left. Corn was a large part of the Indian life, and the offerings back in the day were in large part to ask for good crops.


The pool at the sanctuary, the end of our hike. Very peaceful. The rock is volcanic. The single flower is an offering.

More offerings hanging from the trees and around a firepit:


Click here for the next stop of this outing – Jamurca Hot Springs.

This entry was published on February 8, 2016 at 10:07 pm and is filed under Mexico. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “Hike to the Altavista Petroglyphs

  1. Pingback: Jamurca Hot Springs | Sailing Nakamal

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