A small child's footprint discovered in a marshy field 28km west of Puerto Montt turned the archaeological world on its head in 1975 – evidence of human settlement in the Americas suddenly predated the long-accepted Clovis paradigm by roughly 1000 years. Located on the banks of Chinchihuapi Creek, the site is now believed to date back some 18,500 years into the coldest moment of the Ice Age.
The site is under the direction of American anthropologist Tom Dillehay. Recent excavations in the open-air human settlement have uncovered ropes with knots, tool-shaped implements, mastodon bones – some 39 stone objects and 12 small bonfires with associated bones and vegetables in all. Infrastructure here is minimal, but there are instructive panels explaining the site as well as a 200m-long trail marked with instructive plaques showing where excavations have occurred. A museum project is in the works. You'll need your own wheels to visit.