My name is Frank and I run a travel agency in Bogota, Colombia. Have fun while reading!
Colombia is a paradise when it comes to caving. There are more than 1,000 caves across the country, mostly in the departments of Santander and Huila.
Caves in the department of Santander
Cueva del Indio
The municipality of San Gil is known as the tourist capital of Santander. This is due to the various extreme sports that can be practiced near the city. One of the most famous places is the Caverna del Indio, a spectacular cave where you can do caving.
Why should you visit the Cueva del Indio?
Inside the Cueva del Indio there are several imposing halls in which a multitude of stalactites can be seen. The exit of the cave is an underground stream.
How do you get to the Cueva del Indio?
It takes around three hours to get to San Gil from the capital, Bucaramanga.
Las Cavernas del Peñón
The paradise of the speleologists is probably in Peñón, the youngest municipality of Santander. More than 50 caves have been discovered in the vicinity of the village. It is even estimated that there are more than 300.
Why visit Las Cavernas del Peñón?
In the vicinity of the municipality is the Parque Kárstico El Peñón, in which more than 10 caves have been set up that can be visited by locals and tourists. A wide variety of animals living there were found in the caves, e. B. 24 species of bats, more than 15 species of arachnids, 6 species of butterflies and a large number of insects.
On site you will find caves with different levels of difficulty.
How to get to El Peñón
The journey from Bogota takes around 5 hours.
La Cueva de la Vaca
You should definitely visit the famous Cueva de la Vaca, which is considered to be the most extreme cave in Santander.
Why should you visit the Cueva de la Vaca?
A tour can take more than 6 hours (although shorter tours are available). A variety of bats live inside. You will be surrounded by water for most of the tour, so certain precautions should be taken beforehand. Due to the structure of the cave, you will also have to crawl or crawl often and you should be in good physical shape to visit.
How do I get to the Cueva de la Vaca?
The journey from Bucaramanga takes around three hours.
Ventanas de Tisquizoque
The Ventanas de Tisquizoque are probably one of the least known treasures of Santander and one of the most impressive caves in Colombia. This tourist attraction is a 90 m long cave that holds an incredible legend.
At the end of the cave there is an opening that leads to three waterfalls. It is said that the indigenous people living in Florián opposed the European soldiers at the time of the Spanish conquest. At one point the soldiers managed to surround a cacique (an indigenous leader) named Tisquizoque. This brave native decided to flee, rush through the opening of the cave and die. This is where the name Ventanas de Tisquizoque was born.
Why should you visit the Ventanas de Tisquizoque?
Visiting the Ventanas de Tisquizoque is an impressive experience. The cave is beautiful, you can walk around and admire the stalactites. An impressive landscape can be seen through the opening of the cave. Las Ventanas de Tisquizoque is also one of the most beautiful viewpoints in Santander.
How to get to Las Ventanas de Tisquizoque
The drive to Florian from Bogota takes around 6 hours and from Bucaramanga around 7 hours. From Florian it is around 30 minutes on foot.
Cueva de los Aviones
One of the most interesting destinations in the Santander department is the Cueva de los Aviones, a cave that offers a balance between relaxation and extreme activities.
Why should you visit the Cueva de los Aviones?
You can swim or jump into the Cueva de los Aviones. There is a waterfall in the natural pool where you can rappel down. It is possible to get inside the cave where you can find animals such as bats, stalactites, large geological formations and several natural slides.
How do you get to the Cueva de los Aviones?
From Bucaramanga it is around two hours to drive to San Vicente de Chucuri and from there it is around 6 kilometers to the cave.
Cueva del Nitro
One of the most interesting caves is the Cueva del Nitro, located on the outskirts of the municipality of Zapatoca and characterized by its undeniable beauty and history.
The Nitro Cave is said to have been a refuge for the now extinct Guane indigenous culture many years ago. Because of this, this cave is part of Zapatoca’s natural and historical heritage.
Why visit the nitro cave?
Aside from its historical importance, this cave is undeniably beautiful. The length of the cave is estimated to be more than two kilometers. In addition, the whole place is littered with stalactites and stalagmites. Inside the cave there is a calm atmosphere, it is quite cold and you can also find some lichens (organisms that arise from the fusion of fungi and algae).
How do you get to the Nitro Cave?
The drive from Bucarmanga to Zapatoca takes around two hours. From Zapatoca it is only 10 minutes by car to the Cueva del Nitro.
Cueva del Chocó
A cave that can be visited at any time and is known for its beauty and the surrounding nature is undoubtedly the Cueva del Chocó. Like other caves, the Chocó cave has its historical significance, because centuries ago the Chachaneguas Indians lived in this region, who inhabited the area of Gámbita.
Why should you visit the Chocó Cave?
The entrance to the cave is imposing and measures more than 20 m. You can walk through the 200 m long cave, but the cave is quite dark. We therefore recommend hiring a guide in Gámbita. Inside the cave there are a multitude of stalactites and stalagmites to be seen, but what really stands out is the yellowish water, which is caused not by pollution but by the yellowish earth inside the cave.
How do you get to the Chocó cave?
The drive to Gambita takes between 4 and 5 hours from Bogota and Bucaramanga.
From Gámbita, the cave is only 20 minutes away by car.
Caves in the department of Huila
La Caja del Agua
One of the most famous caves in Huila is the Caja de Agua (water box). There are several impressive formations in this cave and it is also the cave with the most bats in Huila.
Why should you visit the Caja de Agua?
The Caja de Agua is 575 m long and the main attraction of the cave is a small stream inside the cave where you can bathe. There is also a kind of natural slide from which you can jump into the gorge. However, since it is a cave, there are hard and scratchy surfaces to injure yourself on.
How do you get to the Caja de Agua?
It is 103 km from Neiva to Paicol, a little over two hours’ drive. The Caja de Agua is only 15 minutes by car from the city center.
Cueva de los Guácharos
The Guacharos Cave is located in the Cueva de los Guácharos National Park, which is located in the departments of Huila and Caquetá. This natural complex was established in 1960 and is considered to be the first protected natural area in the country. The park is home to a large number of animals, including more than 300 species of birds and 50 species of butterflies, but especially the famous Guácharos birds (Steatornis caripensis) that live in the caves of the nature complex.
Why should you visit the Cueva de los Guácharos?
The Cueva de los Guácharos is a great destination for cave explorers and cave lovers. Every November the famous Guácharos move into this cave to lay their eggs. The Guácharos are a nocturnal species of bird that visit dry and dark areas to live and to protect themselves from predators.
How do you get to the Cueva de los Guácharos?
To get to the national park, you first have to go to the municipality of Pitalito, which is home to Contador Airport, which can be reached from Bogotá and Cali. From Neiva, the drive to Pitalito takes around 4 hours. Once in Pitalito, one has to drive to the village of La Mensura in the municipality of Palestina (less than an hour from Pitalito) and start a hike of 3 to 5 hours to Los Cedros, which is already part of the national park.
Note: You must be in good physical condition to visit this park.
Cueva del Indio (Huila)
The Cueva del Indio (not identical to the one of the same name in Santander) is also located in the Cueva de los Guácharos Natural Park and is an excellent place for caving.
Why should you visit the Cueva del Indio?
Visiting the Cueva del Indio is a great experience. There are 3.5 km to explore, inside there are various galleries and formations that have different levels of difficulty. There are also many stalactites and various animal species such as spiders and crabs.
How do you get to the Cueva del Indio?
The Cueva del Indio is also located in the Parque Nacional Natural Cueva de los Guácharos.
Cueva del Tigre
The Cueva del Tigre is located near the municipality of Yaguara.
Why should you visit the Cueva del Tigre?
In the Cueva del Tigre you will find many animals, stalactites, impressive geological formations and even an aquifer (underground water). The cave is divided into two caves. The first is the so-called dry cave, which is of medium difficulty. The route follows a path that is 80% flat and only 20% steep. There is no water inside the cave (hence the name), but plants and certain animals such as bats can be found there.
The second cave is called Cueva Húmeda (Wet Cave) and is more difficult to walk as 60% of the way is over steep terrain, so a good physical condition is required. Inside the second cave there is also groundwater.
How do you get to the Cueva del Tigre?
From Neiva you have to drive to the community of Yaguara. The journey time is around an hour. From the municipality of Yaguara, you can drive to Cueva del Tigre in around 20 minutes.
Caves in the department of Antioquia
Cueva del Esplendor
Jardin offers colonial architecture, colorful streets and great natural attractions like the impressive Cueva del Esplendor (Cave of Splendor).
Why should you visit the Cueva del Esplendor?
The Cueva del Esplendor is without a doubt the most famous attraction in Jardín. The beautiful cave has an opening in the middle from which a powerful jet of water emerges. Apart from the beauty of Cueva del Esplendor, you can rappel down a 50 m long wall at the small waterfall that forms in the opening of the cave.
How do you get to the Cueva del Esplendor?
Jardin is about a three-hour drive from Medellin. The cave can be reached either by local jeep or on foot in 4 hours.
Cueva de los Guácharos (Jardín)
In the area around Jardín there is a cave where you can also watch Guacharos birds.
Why should you visit the Cueva de los Guarachos?
The Cueva de los Guácharos is located at a waterfall and is surrounded by nature. The Guácharos are found seasonally (come in November and stay for 6 months).
How do you get to the Cueva de los Guácharos?
The drive to Jardin takes around three hours from Medellin. The cave is about 5 km from Jardín.
Las cavernas del Río San Antonio
Támesis is a tourist destination known for its numerous activities in the area. In this beautiful community there are wonderful viewpoints, petroglyphs (rock carvings of the indigenous communities) and of course the caves of the San Antonio River, which are considered to be the largest cave rock in Colombia.
Why should you visit the San Antonio River Caverns?
There is a lot of water in the cave because the San Antonio River flows through the cave. Inside the cave you can find crystal clear water and different formations. In many cases one has to crouch or climb some of the rocks.
How to get to the San Antonio River Caverns
The caves of the San Antonio River are located in the municipality of Támesis. It takes around three hours to get there from Medellin.
The main attraction of Támesis is the Cerro Cristo Rey (Christ the King’s Hill), which can be reached after a three-hour hike. This hike also takes you to the San Antonio River Caves, so you can combine these tours.
Cueva del Cura
A bear is believed to have lived in this cave in the past, but what is really interesting is the story from the time of two-party rule (a time when the main political forces in the country, the liberals and the conservatives, were at odds). It is said that a liberal priest was persecuted for his ideology and decided to hide in this cave. This gave the place its name.
How do you get to the Cueva del Cura?
It takes around three hours to get there from Medellin. The hike to the cave takes another three hours.
Caves in the department of San Andres
Cueva de Morgan
Opening times: Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
If you visit Morgan’s Cave, you won’t find the traditional cave full of stalactites. Nevertheless, this grotto is a tourist attraction, because legend has it that the dreaded English pirate and corsair Henry Morgan hid his treasure here. He was a pirate hired by the government to attack or pillage the territories of enemy nations.
The story goes that the famous corsair was sent to what is now Panama in the 17th century and opposed the Spaniards there. The pirate defeated the Europeans with 1,200 men and captured a large amount of jewels and valuables.
Legend has it that on his way back to his base in Jamaica, Henry Morgan was swept away by a hurricane and forced into the port of what is now San Andres. The locals said that the privateer hid his treasure in the depths of this cave. The pirate was then captured and was never able to pick up his treasure. Today, Morgan’s cave is a tourist attraction.
Why visit Morgan’s Cave?
For a pirate experience one must visit this cave. During the 30-minute tour you can learn more about the history of Henry Morgan and have the opportunity to see sculptures of the privateer, his crew and his ship.
At the end of the tour you will be taken to the deepest point of the cave, which is still surrounded by water. Every year the water level drops a little. So some people believe that one day the pirate treasure will come out and be discovered.
How do you get to Morgan’s Cave?
The cave is located on the Caribbean island of San Andres. There are flights from various cities on mainland Colombia.
Caves in the department of Putumayo
Cavernas de Licamancha
While it is true that a few years ago Mocoa was one of the many epicentres of violence, largely due to the guerrillas of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), the situation has now changed. Mocoa has grown into a great ecotourism destination, with iconic and impressive places like the famous Cascada del Fin del Mundo waterfall and impressive caves like the Licamancha Caves.
Why should you visit the Licamancha Caves?
The cave has been accessible again since 2015. Inside there are several cavities where you can see stalactites and stalagmites, and there are several halls that are up to 15 meters long. In addition, a stream flows in the cave, which flows into the Caquetá River.
How to get to the Licamancha Caves
From Mocoa, the drive to the cave takes around 30 minutes.
Caves in the department of Caquetá
Cueva Las Dalias
Reserva Natural y Ecoturística las Dalias
The Las Dalias reserve has a wealth of flora and fauna as well as a waterfall and of course several caves to explore.
Why should you visit the Reserva Natural y Ecoturística las Dalias?
The caves are more than 100 m long and have a medium level of difficulty. Different types of animals such as bats and arachnids can be found in the caves.
How do you get to the Reserva Natural y Ecoturística las Dalias?
From Florencia it is around 34 km to the Reserva Natural y Ecoturística las Dalias and the drive there takes around 40 minutes.
Caves in the department of Sucre
Cuevas de Tolú Viejo
The Tolú Viejo Caves are a great experience, both for the adrenaline level and for connecting with nature.
Why visit the Tolú Viejo caves?
It is believed that the Tolú Viejo caves were formed during the Tertiary and Quaternary periods. During the Spanish conquest, they served as a refuge for the Tolúes, an indigenous community that is now extinct. There are a total of 7 caves, all of which can be explored. The easiest tour takes about 40 minutes.
Nevertheless, there are other paths that lead through certain areas of the caves that require you to crouch or even crawl. You should therefore be in good physical condition.
How to get to the Tolú Viejo caves
From Sincelejo you have to drive to the municipality of Tolú Viejo, about 20 kilometers away. It takes around 30 minutes to get there.
Tips for caving
Speleology is an exciting and highly recommended activity for anyone who wants to experience a unique adventure. However, caving also involves certain risks.
- Never go alone
- Be in good physical shape
- Prepare and take necessary equipment with you
- Be ready to encounter animals such as insects, bats, spiders, butterflies and mollusks
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