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Spelunking Costa Rica Style
Numerous caves found in Costa Rica were formed over 15-20 million years ago during the Miocene period. During that phase of the earth’s life most land was under water. Tectonic movements allowed the caves to rise to the surface, leaving behind many cave grapes, corals, curtains, limestone rocks, needles, pearls, roses, soda straws, stalactites, stalagmites, terraces, and other calcareous formations that are still form today.
The Venado Cave was discovered by two hunters, Laën Herrera and Manuel Arrollo in 1932 and its first exploration wasn’t until 1968 by the GEA.CMCR. These caves are explored by visitors in their natural states, as the caves have not been developed. Water erosion has produced scores of caverns, fissures, sinkholes and underground streams, which the rushing water echoes through the caverns as you tour them. When entering the caves, the visitors follow the guide equipped with hard hats, lamps and are required to wear a surgical mask to prevent the dust of bat guano getting into your lungs. So far the GEA has discovered and explored 27 caves, the deepest being 252 feet below the surface. The average rainfall in this area is between 135-157 inches annually and the temperatures range from 68-87 degrees Fahrenheit. Pictures are prohibited inside the caves due to the extreme moisture content. The Venado Cave Tour is approximate 1.5 hours long and you will discover bats, crickets, marine fossils spiders and a variety of other fascinating insects.
Discovered in the sixties, Barra Honda Cave encompasses of more than 42 individual caverns. Only 19 of them have been explored and the deepest one is 790 feet below the surface. Only the most beautiful cavern is open to the general public. Its name is Terciopelo; which consists of four individual rooms that displays the most formations of the caverns that have been explored. Visitors are required to wear hard hats and use climbing gear as they enter the caverns. You will be climbing down an aluminum ladder that is anchored to reach the final depth of 200 feet below the surface.