Cueva de los Tayos de Coangos

Tayos Cave - Cuevas de Tayunts - Cave of the Oilbirds

Useful Information

Location: Morona Santiago province.
(-3.051548, -78.205254)
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: A=800 m asl., L=4,600 m, VR=201 m.
Guided tours:  
Photography: allowed
Bibliography: Pino Turolla (1980): Beyond the Andes, my search for the origins of pre-Inca civilization,
New York : Harper & Row, 1st ed. 1980, xix, 364 p. : ill. ; 24 cm, ISBN 006014369X.
Erich von Däniken (1973): The Gold of the Gods, Bantam Books, 1974 ISBN 0-553-10968-5.
Address: Federación Interprovincial de Centros Shuar (FICSH, Shuar Center Federation), Sucúa,
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1860 first written mention of the cave.
1969 expedition to the cave.
1976 investigation organized by Stan Hall from Scotland.
2018 featured on the 6th episode of the 4th season of Expedition Unknown, titled "Hunt for the Metal Library".


The Cueva de los Tayos de Coangos is actually named Cueva de los Tayos (Oilbird Cave), after the guacharo or tayo (Steatornis caripensis). Those birds dwell in caves, and so they can be found in virtually any cave in their habitat. As a result there are numerous Oilbird Caves in this area, so it is necessary to distinguish them somehow. To keep them apart, we added a sort of identifier to the name, in this case "Coangos". The whole area is called Congos and is located south of the Rio Santiago.

The cave is located on Shuar territory, and a visit is only possible if invited by the local Shuar authorities, the Sindical Center Coangos. To reach the cave, it is necessary to cross the Rio Santiago by boat and walk some distance, the closest road is the E40 north of the Rio Santiago. From the river it's a 2 km walk to the cave on the eastern side of the Rio Yuquianza valley.

The cave contained human remains from the Palaeolithic, between 48,000 and 12,000 BC, and also ceramics from a pre-Shuar civilization about 3,000 BC. The remains were collected by an Italian priest named Father Carlo Crespi, and there are b/w and colour photographs of the collection. There was an exhibition in the 1960s or 70s, where they were exhibited. The figures and the symbols on them are strange, weird and disturbing, a result of different design standards of those indigenous people. Unfortunately, the whole collection is mysteriously lost and only the poor quality pictures remain. According to some, the small private museum burned down in 1962 and what survived the fire was sold.

Some weird theories and pictures appeared in the Erich von Däniken book The Gold of the Gods (1973). He states that a guy named János Juan Móricz (*1923–✝1991) explored the cave in 1969 and discovered mounds of gold, unusual sculptures and a metallic library. He actually existed, was born in Szombathely in Hungary, and emigrated in 1950 to Argentina, from 1967 he lived in Ecuador. He published numerous weird theories, for example, that humankind originated from Ecuador from where it colonized the rest of the world. He was also convinced that the local indegenous people spoke a Hungarian dialect and that Hunmgarian is the mother language of South America. And finally, he was convinced that there was a complex network of artifical tunnels across South America, which contains numerous archaeological treasures. He failed to provide evidence for any of these theories.

As a result of the Däniken-hype, there was an Ecuadoran-British expedition in 1976 which explored the cave and other things the book of Däniken describes. Móricz was the guide of this expedition, which visited a nice cave with speleothems, but found neither artificial tunnels nor any artifact. The result is much less spectacular, and despite a general similarity between the cave and the description in his book, his "evidences" could not be verified. This seems to be a typical result of such attempts concerning Däniken, but his believers claim the expedition destroyed or confiscated all the archaeological remains. There is obviously a big conspiracy going on. However, the expedition included almost 100 scientists from all over the world, accompanied by Neil Armstrong, probably because of his space connection. There were also eight cavers which explored the cave and made a survey, and according to the cavers, there were not even traces of humans. All in all, no alien artifacts could be found.