Cueva de los Tayos

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Cueva de los Tayos
Cueva de los Tayos de Coangos
Corredor - Cueva de los Tayos.JPG
Cueva de los Tayos
Map showing the location of Cueva de los Tayos
Map showing the location of Cueva de los Tayos
LocationMorona-Santiago Province
Coordinates3°03′07.5″S 78°12′19.3″W / 3.052083°S 78.205361°W / -3.052083; -78.205361Coordinates: 3°03′07.5″S 78°12′19.3″W / 3.052083°S 78.205361°W / -3.052083; -78.205361
Length4.6 km (2.9 mi)
Elevation539 m (1,768 ft)
DiscoveryPrecolumbian era
GeologyLimestone & shale
TranslationCave of the Oilbirds (Spanish)

Cueva de los Tayos (Spanish, "Cave of the Oilbirds") is a cave located on the eastern slopes of the Andes mountains in the Morona-Santiago province of Ecuador. It is sometimes called Cueva de los Tayos de Coangos (the Río Coangos is nearby), presumably to distinguish it from other oilbird-containing caves with similar names.


Cueva de los Tayos is located in the high rainforest, 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) south of the Santiago River, and 800 metres (2,600 ft) west of Coangos River. According to the latest GPS measurement in 2008, its altitude is 539 metres (1,768 ft) above sea level. Located at an elevation of about 800 metres (2,600 ft) within thinly-bedded limestone and shale, the principal entrance to Cueva de Los Tayos is within a rainforest at the bottom of a dry valley. The largest of three entrances is a 65 metres (213 ft) deep shaft leading to 4.6 kilometres (2.9 mi) of spacious passages and a chamber measuring 90 by 240 metres (300 by 790 ft). The cave has a vertical range of 201 metres (659 ft) with its lowest point ending in a sump.

The cave has long been used by the native Shuar people who descend into the cave each spring using vine ladders and bamboo torches to collect fledgling oilbirds ("guácharos" or "tayos" in Spanish). Written references to the cave go back as far as 1860 and it is known to have been visited by gold-seekers and military personnel in the 1960s.

Actually, the cave is located inside the Sindical Center Coangos (formed by native people). So, the cave belongs to the independent territory of the Shuar-Arutam.

Today, access to the cave is restricted. It is necessary to obtain permission (access and temporary visit) and pay a tax (to improve life-condition of the communities) in Sucúa, Ecuador, at Shuar Center Federation. (FICSH: Federación Interprovincial de Centros Shuar)

The Gold of the Gods[edit]

A 1969 expedition to the cave is presented in Pino Turolla’s 1970 book Beyond the Andes. The cave was later popularized by Erich von Däniken's 1973 book The Gold of the Gods, in which he wrote that János Juan Móricz (1923–1991) had claimed to have explored Cueva de los Tayos in 1969 and discovered mounds of gold, unusual sculptures and a metallic library. These items were said to be located within artificial tunnels that had been created by a lost civilization with help from extraterrestrial beings. Von Däniken had previously claimed in his 1968 book, Chariots of the Gods?, that extraterrestrials were involved in ancient civilizations.[citation needed]

1976 BCRA expedition[edit]

As a result of the claims published in von Däniken’s book, an investigation of Cueva de los Tayos was organized by Stan Hall of Scotland, in 1976. One of the largest and most expensive cave explorations ever undertaken, the expedition involved over a hundred people, including experts in a variety of fields, British and Ecuadorian military personnel, a film crew, and former astronaut Neil Armstrong.[1][full citation needed] The team also included eight experienced British cavers who thoroughly explored the cave and conducted an accurate survey to produce a detailed map of it. There was no evidence of Von Däniken’s more exotic claims, although some physical features of the cave did approximate his descriptions and some items of zoological, botanical, and archaeological interest were found. The lead researcher met with Moricz's indigenous source, who claimed that they had investigated the wrong cave, and that the real cave was secret.[2]

2018 Expedition Unknown episode[edit]

On 31 January 2018, Tayos Cave was featured on the 6th episode of the 4th season of Expedition Unknown, titled "Hunt for the Metal Library". Explorer Josh Gates and his team, helped by local Shuar and Eileen Hall, daughter of Stan Hall of the earlier expedition, headed to Ecuador to explore the depths of the cavern.[3]


  1. ^ BCRA Bulletin no 14, British Cave Research Association, 1976
  2. ^ Hall, Stan (2015) [2005]. Tayos Gold: The Archives of Atlantis. "Body, Mind & Spirit" series. Adventures Unlimited Press. notably chapter 20. ISBN 978-1931882675 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ James Wray (31 January 2018). "Josh Gates investigates Tayos Cave and the Metal Library on Expedition Unknown".

Further reading[edit]

  • Frankland, John, "The Los Tayos Expedition" Caving International No 1, 1978
  • Atlas – Great Caves of the World Cave Books, 1989, p. 58 ISBN 0-939748-21-5
  • von Däniken, Erich, Gold of the Gods Bantam Books, 1974 ISBN 0-553-10968-5

External links[edit]