The Milodon Cave

The Milodon

The Milodon Cave, or Cueva del Milodon in Spanish, is a natural monument located near the town of Puerto Natales, in the Chilean Patagonia. The cave is famous for its historical and geological significance, as well as for its unique natural beauty.

The cave is named after the Milodon, an extinct giant ground sloth that lived in South America around 10,000 years ago. In 1895, a German explorer named Hermann Eberhard discovered a piece of skin and bones belonging to the Milodon in the cave. This discovery led to further explorations of the cave, which revealed not only the remains of the Milodon, but also those of other extinct animals such as the saber-toothed tiger and the dwarf horse.

The Milodon Cave is also significant for its geological features. The cave was formed by the action of water on the limestone rock, which created a system of caverns and tunnels. Inside the cave, visitors can see impressive stalactites and stalagmites, as well as underground lakes and rivers.

Today, the Milodon Cave is a popular tourist attraction in the Chilean Patagonia, attracting visitors from all over the world. Visitors can take guided tours of the cave, which include a visit to a life-sized replica of the Milodon, as well as a walk through the natural park surrounding the cave. The park is home to several trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests.

Where is the Milodon Cave located?

The Milodon Cave is located in the Última Esperanza Province of southern Chile, near the town of Puerto Natales. It is about 24 kilometers northwest of Puerto Natales, and approximately 270 kilometers northwest of Punta Arenas. The cave is situated in the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park, and is surrounded by stunning Patagonian landscapes of mountains, glaciers, and forests. It´s usually part of the traditional excursions to Torres del Paine National Park from Puerto Natales

How to reach the Milodon Cave?

To be exact, the Milodon Cave is located at coordinates of 51°34’S latitude and 72°37’W longitude.

To reach the cave, you must take the detour to Puerto Prat, which is about 8 kilometers after leaving Puerto Natales, and then take the road to the right at the first crossroads. After that, continue for 4 kilometers until you reach another crossroads, where you should take the left-hand road. Finally, travel two more kilometers to reach the Conaf nursery.

The journey to the cave is made via an 18-kilometer paved road, followed by 7 kilometers of gravel road, which is in good condition throughout the year. There is also a variant along the route that connects Puerto Prat and Puerto Consuelo. The cave is typically visited as part of a full-day trip to the Torres del Paine National Park since it is located along the way.

How does the famous Milodon look like?

A Milodon is an extinct genus of large mammals that lived in South America during the Pleistocene era, around 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. It was a herbivore, about the size of a large bear, and had a shaggy coat and long claws that it likely used for digging. The most well-known species of Milodon is the Mylodon darwini, which was discovered in the Milodon Cave in southern Chile in the late 19th century. It is sometimes called a giant ground sloth, although it is not closely related to the modern-day sloths.

The History of the Milodon Cave

The Milodon Cave was first discovered in 1895 by Hermann Eberhard, a German merchant seaman who was conducting a reconnaissance exploration of the lands granted to him in concession for the purpose of colonizing the Province of Ultima Esperanza. They found the remains of the mylodon, a large herbivorous animal that probably became extinct during the late Pleistocene, including skin, bones, and other remains. They also discovered human skeletons that belonged to the Paleoindian culture that inhabited the cave 8000 years ago. At that time, the cave was called the “Eberhard Grotto.”

Eberhard took the well-preserved remains of the mylodon, particularly a piece of skin measuring approximately 1 square meter, to his nascent estancia called Puerto Consuelo. In 1896, a Swedish geologist, geographer, and polar explorer named Otto Nordenskjöld visited Eberhard and requested a piece of the skin, which he mistakenly classified as belonging to the Glossotherium genus. Nordenskjöld, during his visit to Buenos Aires, made the discovery known in Chilean Patagonia, which generated a series of scientific and pseudoscientific excavations. An unsuccessful attempt to find a living specimen was made by a British expedition organized by the newspaper The Sun, under the command of Hesketh Prichard.

The Milodon Cave is a significant tourist attraction because of its beautiful surrounding landscape and its location just 60 km south of the Torres del Paine National Park, making it a must-visit stop for travelers to or from the park. A replica of the mylodon, similar to the one found in the cave, was built at the entrance of the largest cave in 1978 by Harold Krusell at the request of Sernatur. This monument is part of the Route of the End of the World.


Picture of Ramiro Rodriguez

Ramiro Rodriguez

25 years working in travel market, as Sales & Marketing Manager in RipioTurismo, Marketing Manager in Nuevas Ideas Travel Consulting Group. Writer and travel lover.

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