Bigfoot Encounters

Excerpts from a book titled - -
"Beyond the Andes:
My Search for the Origins of Pre-Inca Civilization "

by Pino Turolla

Between 1965 and 1970 Pino Turolla, a European, explored parts of Ecuador and Columbia primarily interested in archeological sites. 1968 found him in the eastern Guyana country of Venezuela searching for signs of diamonds. He was in a Savannah area near the Rio Chiquao, maybe 15 miles south and a little west of San Pedro which lies at the junction of the Rio Caroni and the Rio Paragua. There he decided to go to Marirupa Salto (falls). His party trekked for some hours... here is a mono grande
related quote from the book:

"….toward the southeastern slopes of the surrounding mountains. The trail was heavy with mud, the incline made the going even more difficult, and finally I said, 'Antonio, let's stop here and take a break.'
'No, senor,' he said. 'Better we go away from here, out of this area. This is El Mono area.' Seeing the puzzled look on my face, he added, 'Si, senor, el Mono Grande.'
'A big monkey,' I said. 'How big?'
'Senor, el Mono Grande is big like you.'
'A monkey my size?' I said in amazement. 'Six feet tall?'
'Si, senor, Si!'
'Oh, come on, Antonio. Don't tell me such stories. How can there be a monkey that size?'
'Senor, I saw him. My son was killed by one of these monos. They are big. They are strong. They defend themselves and attack you with a club.
'I looked at Antonio, and perhaps he saw the disbelief in my eyes. But his expression was dead serious, and I knew him well enough by this time to know that if he was not sure of what he said he would not mention such things.

If there were big monkeys in this area, I wondered if they could be something similar to what has been reported in North America, the animal known as "Bigfoot.' I tried to reassure Antonio.
'I have the rifle,' I said. 'If anything happens, we can defend ourselves. Don't worry.' But Antonio insisted that we move quickly.

The party moved on and camped that night out of the area of El Mono Grande. Pino sensed a tense mood and reluctance among his party to discuss the big mono, but with the aid of a bottle of trago he "steered the conversation to Antonio's encounter with the big mono. In bursts of words punctuated by long pauses, he told me an incredible story.

A few years before, he and his two sons were hunting on the slopes of the mountain range through which we had just passed. As they entered a heavily wooded gorge, three huge furry creatures came into their field of view and set up a horrible howl when their territory was invaded. They grabbed heavy branches, which they began swinging like clubs. The creatures came toward them and Antonio discharged the shotgun he was carrying in their direction. But that didn't stop them. Antonio and his sons turned and fled down the trail, but his younger son fell. Antonio ran back to help him, but one of the creatures was already over the boy with a club, and before he was able to reload his old muzzle-loader shotgun, it had disappeared into the forest leaving behind his battered son. Staring into the fire, Antonio said in a soft voice, "the boy died a few hours later as we were carrying him down the trail."

When [author] Turolla was in Miami after his first trip to the Mono Grande area of Venezuela he talked with Ralph Scott, a big-game hunter mentioning Antonio's encounter to him. From the book:

"There may be some truth to the story,' he said. Then he pulled out a book and showed me a photograph of a large primate that had been shot in 1920 by Francois de Loys, a Swiss geologist, in the Sierra de Perijaa of the Venezuelan highlands. The animal in the picture seemed to fit Antonio's description. It was not as massively built as a gorilla; its general proportions and facial appearance were closer to the gibbon. But it was much larger in size than any gibbon; it stood over 5 feet tall, and could clearly be seen to have been quite strong.

Intrigued, I did some further research and learned that Alexander von Humboldt, the famous German scientist and explorer, during his exploration of the upper Orinoco River in the Guiana Highlands in 1800 had heard of and reported the reputed existence of a large hairy primate in that area. It was said to be able to build shelters and steal Indian women.

But reports of the existence of such primates in the virgin forests of South America did not come only from the Guiana Highlands. Cieza de Leon, in his "Conicas del Peru," mentioned persistent reports of large hairy creatures in remote areas of that country. The Indians, he wrote, mated with the female, and their offspring grew tall and hairy, with monkey features. They could not speak a language, but they wailed and howled.

[J.W. Burns wrote of similar reports and births in his accounts of the Chehalis Indians in the Pacific Northwest.]

I placed little faith in such reports, but I had brought a copy of the photograph Ralph Scott had showed me. "A few weeks after his first knowledge of the Mono Grande [author] Turolla was back in Venezuela and showed the famous de Loys photograph to Antonio.

"He looked at the picture and an expression of complete astonishment came over his face. He couldn't believe his eyes.
'Where did you get this?' he asked.
Ramirez looked at the photograph over Antonio's shoulder and his eyes grew big.
'From a book,' I replied. 'The animal was shot forty-eight years ago by a Swiss geologist. His account of the incident says that the creature was as big as a human. Do you think this is the kind of animal you saw?'
'Yes,' Antonio said. 'It looks very similar. I've never heard of this incident, but if you have this picture, it must be so.'"

Turolla seemed to be interested in proving the existence of this Mono Grande creature to the world and began to plan an expedition into the canyon where Antonio had seen the creature. He spent some time building an airstrip in the Savannah and convincing Antonio and others that their firearms would provide protection.

"When we set out from the camp, we began hiking southeast across the savanna and after a few hours entered the forest, where we followed a narrow track through undergrowth so thick that it reduced our vision to only a few feet on either side. Only now and ten did a small clearing enable us to have a field of view of 6 to 10 meters ahead.

When we entered the canyon where Antonio had see the big mono, the Indians became very alert and apprehensive, stepping carefully, and sensing every sound and movement in the brush around them. I was carrying a 3.5 Winchester automatic and kept it at the ready. Tension was mounting as we slowly made our way along the trail. The subdued light created lurking shadows and a mood of mystery. It was getting toward late afternoon when suddenly we hard a howl, very loud, coming from somewhere in the thick vegetation. The Indians froze. The howl was as loud as the roar of a jaguar, but it was higher and shriller in pitch. It reverberated through the forest, encircling us as if it came from all directions. Something was moving, crashing powerfully through the underbrush.

The Indians turned abruptly and raced back along the trail, yelling at me to follow. But I was frozen in my tracks; my heart beating so hard that I could hear it. Then, suddenly, the howling stopped. I waited, and when I had regained control of my movements, I advanced slowly along the trail, my finger on the trigger of the gun. Then, as I reached a small clearing, the howling started again, in one crescendo after another. But again, as suddenly as it had started, it stopped.

It was then that I saw two furry patches running away from me with a leaping sort of step through the foliage that bordered the clearing. As they bounded across the surface of a group of boulders at the far end of the clearing, I was able to catch a fleeting glimpse of them. They clearly were erect, hairy, apelike creatures, and appeared to be over 5 feet tall. Then they disappeared around the rocks into the jungle, and I heard the cracking sounds of dry twigs and branches as they hastily forged their way through the thick underbrush.

I waited for what seemed an eternity for something else to happen, trying to impress on my mind what I had just glimpsed. I opened my mouth to yell to my companions, but no sound came out. Finally I turned and retraced my steps, and encountered them advancing cautiously back up the trail. 'They're gone,' I said. No one uttered a word. We continued up the trail . . .We did not see or hear the creatures again."

In addition to the previous accounts, Turolla describes a bit of an experience he had exploring a large cave in the Amazon area of eastern Ecuador. The Jivaro Indians took him to the cave, but they didn't accompany him inside. They did tell him before that they had at one time seen large tracks in the entrance to the cave. Turolla entered the cave with a companion named Oswaldo, carrying flashlights and guns. They were not looking for creatures but archeological items of interest:

"My God!' I thought, 'After all this, the famous cueva [translates in Spanish to "cave"] turns out to be nothing but a small passage.' But then, as we approached the wall, we saw that the tunnel took a sharp bend to the right. There we saw what appeared to be tracks of something having been dragged along the floor--a bear dragging his prey perhaps, - the tunnel opened up into what we sensed to be a huge chamber. There was no sound. After a few moments, we relaxed our nerves by lighting cigarettes.

This curious hiatus of darkness and silence must have lasted less than five minutes when it happened: an incredible, blood-curdling, howling roar, louder than the sound any man could make, coming from the depths of the cave. Then a crescendo of howls and paralyzing screams, higher in pitch and more intense. We stood there rooted with fear, our hearts hammering, staring in horror at the barrier of blackness, our lights making erratic patterns on the floor.

Oswaldo grabbed my arm and I felt a penetrating pain in my muscle. I tried to react, but then, amid the terrifying screams, a boulder smashed against the wall close to where we were standing. It crashed and splintered, jolting me out of my trance. In control of myself again, instinctively I dropped one of the flashlights to the ground, knowing it would continue to attract the attention of whatever was there, and leaped to the left. Oswaldo, still stunned, did not follow me. Then he suddenly reacted; he pulled his gun out of his belt and with a yell started shooting into the darkness. The sounds of screaming and gunshots echoed through the cave as more boulders spun through the air and smashed against the wall. All the while Oswaldo kept shouting and stopped firing only when his gun was empty.

The howls continued as we fled, retracing our steps to the sharp bend in the passageway. But before we rounded it, I looked back toward the light left behind on the ground, trying to control my breathing and my heart's furious pounding. A tall, lumbering silhouette flashed across the shaft of light. The howls now became more intense, reverberating through the cave, and Oswaldo and I began to run toward the faint light of the entrance."

They exited the cave on the run, onto their horses and away. In the book Turolla makes no mention of every returning to this cave or any plans to return.
- ---

Back to Reviews?
Back to What's New?
Back to Newspaper & Magazine Articles?

Portions of this website are reprinted under the Fair Use Doctrine of International Copyright Law as educational material without benefit of financial gain.
This proviso is applicable throughout the entire website.