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The countryside surrounding Ongamira, a small town 1,408 meters (4,619 feet) above sea level, is one of the few places in the Punilla where you can see remains of the indigenous cultures that lived in the area before the Jesuits' arrival decimated their population. The valley of Ongamira was formed 130 million years ago, and over time the elements have carved its dusky sandstone into all manner of caves and grottos, known as Grutas de Ongamira. The people who eventually formed the Comechingón nation arrived here around AD 200, although other tribes lived here as long as 8,000 years ago. Their only legacy is rock paintings of animals and human figures. Follow the signs to the special viewpoint to see these pre-Hispanic works.
The Comechingones held out for a long time against the "civilizing" impulses of the Spanish invaders in what is now the privately owned Parque Natural Ongamira. Legend has it that the last point of resistance was the Cerro Colchequí, from which the defeated people flung themselves in 1574, preferring death to slavery. The park has views of both this hill and Cerros Pajarillo and Aspero, which inspired the likes of Chilean poet and Nobel Prize–winner Pablo Neruda, who once stayed here. A 3-km (2-mi) trail leads to the peak of Cerro Colchequí. Entrance on RP17. 2 pesos. Daily 9–dusk.
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The last leg of an eight month rtw which started in Japan, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Germany and Austria...details about our other legs are at www.greenleycoffeebreak.com.
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