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La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Arenal Venado Cave Spelunking
subterranean journey

Venado Cave Spelunking

If you have dreamed of a cave tour that offers a fascinating, history-rich spelunking experience, the underground waterfall, subterranean waterways and stunning rock formations of Venado Caves in La Fortuna are a must-see.

After local pickup from your La Fortuna hotel, you arrive at the Venado basecamp where you will be greeted by your friendly bilingual guides. Although you may choose to wear your own waterproof hiking boots, you will be offered a pair of heavy rubber boots to wear during your tour. In addition, you will be outfitted with a hardhat and provided a flashlight to keep you safe while you explore the caverns. You may also choose to wear a dust mask. Dry-bags are available to keep your cell phones safe on your underground adventure.

Once you have donned your safety gear, your group takes off down a grassy slope that leads to the cave entrance. Your guide will take this time to share interesting information about Venado’s discovery in 1940, and the caves formation, which took place approximately 15 to 20 million years ago. The caverns are rich with both stalagmites and stalactites – spectacular cone-shaped formations that are created by hundreds of years of slowly dripping water.

Subterranean Journey

Exploring a Subterranean World

As you splash across the small stream at the entrance of the cave, your exploration begins. Take a moment to acclimate yourself to the darkness before moving farther inside. Illuminated by flashlights, you follow the path of the stream. Movement above draws your attention to the ceiling where thousands of inverted bats are sleeping. You can watch as they occasionally reposition themselves with a quick flutter of wings. You have nothing to fear from these fascinating creatures. These caves are their natural habitat and they take no issue in sharing it with you.

A Subterranean Waterfall

As you continue on your journey you will discover a room that the locals call, “The Baths”. In this cavern a waterfall pours from the ceiling in the center of the room. As a rite of passage, you may choose to dash through a sheet of the rushing water. Exploring the cave walls will reveal pockets of small seashells that echo of a time when the Venado Caves were under the ocean. At almost 1,000 feet above sea level, it’s amazing to think of how much the geography of the world has changed over the millennia.

A Tight Squeeze to the Alter

Get your camera ready to capture a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

After leaving The Baths, your journey continues through a series of low tunnels and tight spots. You slowly crouch and turn as you maneuver your way through. Your hardhat protects you perfectly here. Working your way through this system fills you with a feeling of true discovery. On your final squeezing through these rock formations, you arrive at a breath-taking sight.

Millions of years in the making, an incredible natural stairway composed entirely of calcium carbonate stretches out in front of you.

This chalky white formation was created by constant, slow drips of water over a such a massive time-frame that it boggles the mind to imagine it. At the top of the staircase, a large flat surface resembles an altar. Above the alter is a stunning petrified coral formation that is truly breath-taking. Take a moment to get your camera out so that you may capture this otherworldly, incredible spectacle of nature.

The next cavern you emerge into is called the “Papaya Room”, so named because the formations here resemble the much-loved fruit. Comprised of both calcium carbonate and clay, carbon dating approximates the formation of these natural features at around 6 million years ago. While other formations in the cave system continue to grow, the papaya formations are slowly eroding due to their clay content. In a thousand, or perhaps a million years, they will have eroded - no doubt giving rise to another strange and wonderful formation.

Following a small stream, you begin to make out the small light of the cave entrance in the distance as you make your way towards it. You step into the vibrant Costa Rican sunshine with a new and deeper knowledge of this diverse, nature-rich country.

At over 15 million years old, the Venado Caves offer an incredible subterranean journey. These breath-taking spelunking caves are not to be missed!
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