Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Camuy Caves Park
Camuy Caves Park
Parque de las Cavernas del Río Camuy (Río Camuy Caves) (tel. 787/898-3100) contains the third-largest underground river in the world. It runs through a network of caves, canyons, and sinkholes that have been cut through the island's limestone base over the course of millions of years. Known to the pre-Columbian Taíno peoples, the caves came to the attention of speleologists in the 1950s; they were led to the site by local boys already familiar with some of the entrances to the system. The caves were opened to the public in 1986. Visitors should allow about 2 hours for the total experience.
Visitors first see a short film about the caves and then descend into the caverns in open-air trolleys. The trip takes you through a 200-foot-deep (61m) sinkhole and a chasm where tropical trees, ferns, and flowers flourish, along with birds and butterflies. The trolley then goes to the entrance of Clara Cave of Epalme, one of 16 caves in the Camuy caves network, where visitors begin a 45-minute walk, viewing the majestic series of rooms rich in stalagmites, stalactites, and huge natural "sculptures" formed over the centuries.
Tres Pueblos Sinkhole, located on the boundaries of the Camuy, Hatillo, and Lares municipalities, measures 65 feet (20m) in diameter, with a depth of 400 feet (122m) -- room enough to fit all of El Morro Fortress in San Juan. In Tres Pueblos, visitors can walk along two platforms -- one on the Lares side, facing the town of Camuy, and the other on the Hatillo side, overlooking Tres Pueblos Cave and the Río Camuy.
The caves are open Wednesday through Sunday from 8am to 3pm. Tickets cost $12 for adults, $7 for children 4 to 12, and $5 for seniors. Parking is $2. For more information, phone the park.