Parque Nacional Barra Honda Caverns
Parque Nacional Barra Honda Caverns information
This 23-sq-km national park protects a system of some 40 caverns. The only cave with regular public access is the 41m-deep La Terciopelo, which has incredible speleothems – calcite figures that rise and fall in the cave’s interior. It's quite the underground art museum. Stalagmites, stalactites and a host of beautiful formations have evocative names such as fried eggs, organ, soda straws, flowers and shark’s teeth. Call the ranger station one day in advance to make arrangements for the four-hour guided tour (US$29, including park admission).
Unlike some caverns in other places, Barra Honda is not developed for wide-scale tourism, which means that it feels less like a carnival attraction and more like a scene from Indiana Jones . So, don your yellow miner’s hat and sturdy boots, and be prepared to get down and dirty. The descent involves ladders and ropes, so you should be reasonably fit; children must be at least 12 years old.
The dry season is the only time that tourists are allowed to enter the caves, though the hiking is fine at any time of year. As always, carry several liters of water and let the rangers know where you are going. Sneakers or, preferably, boots are necessary if you will be caving. You will also need a 4WD vehicle to drive from the ranger station to the parking area near the caves.