The Milodón cave

The Milodón cave is one of the most popular attractions of the region. It resembles a Patagonian style Jurassic Park. Once inside the cave, you feel as if you’ve been transported 12,000 years back in time and that at any moment, you can be attacked by a Sabre-toothed tiger (Smilodon populator) or Patagonian Jaguar (Panthera onca mesembrina). Though clearly this won’t happen, it is easy to imagine what the first humans of this region must have felt while meandering through this site.

First explored in 1895 by settler Hermann Eberhard, the Milodón cave and surrounding area are known worldwide for the famous discovery of the Milodón skin. The Milodón (Mylodon darwinii) was a giant prehistoric Sloth that inhabited this region of South America around 14,00 years ago. After this discovery of skin, it was believed that the Milodón could have still been alive, which created a stampede of eager scientists looking to encounter the sloth. But plenty of time had already passed and the sloth was forever asleep in the history of Patagonia, leaving behind just a smattering of remains. 

Located 25 kilometers from Puerto Natales along route Y-290, this tourist site has a rich history that has contributed to the prehistoric knowledge of the area. The archeological zone consists of three caves: the main cave, the middle cave and the small cave. These caves have preserved traces of the first human settlements (around 8,000 years ago). Climate change and natural disasters that affected the region since 20,000 years ago are noticeable as well. This was the time when the glacial ice slowly began to recede, that today we can appreciate the magnitude of it’s existence.

Despite the large number of people you may encounter, this natural monument continues to be of great scenic and cultural beauty. Each and every time, the size and particular rock formation that create the caves will impress, along with the views of the Last Hope fjord should you choose to hike up to the lookout point. Or walk toward the second, middle cave to leave behind the majority of the tourists and to submerge yourself in a world long gone.

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How to arrive

One of the most exciting ways to arrive is by bicycle. Roundtrip from the promenade to the cave and back is 60 kilometers. Enjoy the entire day, bringing with you some snacks, lunch and drinks while pedaling alongside the shore of the fjord and through the open expanses of the pampas. There are rental bikes available in Puerto Natales (approx. 10,000 pesos/ $17 USD per day). Other options are to rent a car or go in a taxi (approx. 25,000 pesos/ $42 USD). Generally, the taxis wait while you are exploring the caves.

Good to know

The entrance to the cave is 5,000 pesos/ $9 USD per person. We recommend that you visit the three caves along with the lookout above the main cave to fully explore this natural wonder. Bring with you a headlamp to navigate within the middle and small caves.

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