Venado Caves information
Lonely Planet review
Four kilometers south of Venado (Spanish for ‘deer’) along a good dirt road, the caves are a popular rainy-day attraction that can be organized as a day trip from La Fortuna, San José and many other cities for US$50 to US$80 per person (including transportation and lunch). Alternatively, visit with your own car, as bus service is inconvenient.
The caves were discovered by chance in 1945 when a farmer fell through a hole in the ground and found himself in an underground chamber surrounded by stalactites (hanging tight to the ceiling) and stalagmites (that might reach the ceiling…get it?). The exploration that followed uncovered an eight-chamber limestone labyrinth which extends for almost 3km. The cavern system, composed of soft, malleable limestone, was carved over the millennia by a series of underground rivers.
The caves get rave reviews from folks fond of giant spiders, swarms of bats and eyeless fish. A guide takes you through the caves, including a few tight squeezes, pointing out various rock formations and philosophizing about what they sort of look like.
Drop-ins are welcome, but it’s best to make reservations so you don’t need to wait around for a group. You’re provided with a guide (some speak English), lights, helmets and showers afterward. You’ll definitely want to bring a change of clothes. There’s a small onsite soda , and a few restaurants in Venado, but no lodging.
We don’t recommend coming by bus; the ‘early’ bus from Ciudad Quesada drops you off at a steep 4km slog to the cave entrance at about 2pm, too late to make the last admission into the caves. A taxi from San Rafael de Guatuso will cost about US$30 to US$40. If you’re driving, the caves are well signed from Hwy 4.