Caving Tour: Puerto Rico

Have you ever done something that you look back on and are amazed you actually did it???  That’s exactly how I feel looking at my caving adventure that I did in Puerto Rico. This adventure was both exciting and challenging for me. In one day I did rappelling, climbing, swimming, via ferratas (Italian for “iron road”; a protected climbing route of cables, metal rebars and ladders), free-jumps, body rafting (in super tight caverns), and zip-lining. Talk about a crazy, awesome day!!!

My day started at 4:30AM!!! Adventurers have to be at the meeting location at 5:45 and our house was located 40 min away.  So my best friend that morning…coffee, coffee, coffee! While I am NOT a morning person, I had so much adrenaline flowing from excitement of accepting this challenge, that I could not stop smiling from anticipation. Our guides arrived and we boarded the bus. During the drive to the Angeles Caves, part of the Rio Camuy cave system, we learned a lot about safety and the hazards of not paying attention. Once we arrived at the caves everyone had to be fitted with a harness, a helmet with headlamp, and a life vest. And then you have to pass a test showing that you know how to work your carabineers properly. They mean business.

Once everyone has passed, off you go!  To get to the entrance of the caves, you start at the top of a 200 foot sink hole.  You scale the side of the wall, using your carabineers of course, zip line to the other side, scale some more, zip line again, and one more zip line till you come to a rappelling course. You must now repel down the side of the sink hole.  After about 50 feet of repelling, you hit the mouth of the cave and they quickly lower you to the ground. And now your caving begins. Off you go, headlamps on and darkness ahead. We proceed through mud, muck, water, and more mud.  But yet, you are surrounded by glorious stalactites, stalagmites, and other strange formations developed over eons of calcite water drippings. We had to physically pull ourselves over rocks and boulders. Then on the other side were streams you had to float through to get to the next area. The caving was filled with climbing, swimming, floating (with a lot of knee and shin banging cause you can’t see what’s in that water), and it was amazing! Finally, you climb to the top of a chasm and you’re told to turn your head lamp off.  Everyone does and…..pitch black. The guide, with a snicker in his voice, says everyone is now going to do a trust jump.  What is a trust jump??? That’s when you approach the end of the chasm and, with everyone’s headlamps still off, in pitch black, free jump from the 20 foot platform in to the pool of water below. It was at this point that panic set in! I love bridge jumping and cliff jumping, but I can always see where I am jumping!  You want me to jump in pitch black? The guide has a light blue laser pointer that is dim but you can see enough to see the edge of the cavern and the tiny blue area below that you are to jump. When he asks if you know where you are jumping and you say yes…off goes that tiny blue light of glory and you are left back in darkness. Ok…here goes nothing… AHHHHHHHHHH! Splash. I did it! I survived my trust jump…and there’s a roar of cheering from those who went before me, celebrating my jump.  I swim over to the crowd and become one of the cheerers for those left to still jump.  The comradery that formed from our group doing this jump and celebrating each person really was amazing. We went from 16 individuals who signed up for a caving adventure to becoming ONE group. Along the way we often stopped to pause and admire the vast caverns we were in, how high the ceilings were above us, how many bats were sharing this cave with us, etc.  In fact, we stopped to admire the wildlife too. Wildlife in caves??? Yep! By wildlife I mean ginormous spiders.  Spiders the size of my hand! Everywhere!!! You had to actually look where you were putting your hands for support on these cave walls and boulders, cause you may accidentally put your hand right on one of the spiders. There were also crabs. These crabs lived in the calcite waters! Crazy! And there definitely plenty of scorpions, too. The scorpions were small and black, about the size of my thumb. But, look out, or if you weren’t paying attention to your hand placement and there was one near, he may crawl across your hand. Thankfully, we all had cave gloves! After almost two hours of cave exploring we rounded our way back out to the cave entrance. At this point I was exhausted and wondering how do we get out of here?  Please tell me they have some future-ized equipment that allows us zip line up! False. This is where the via ferratas come into play.  We had to climb our way out! Up, up, up, and still more up we went. Climbing, pulling myself. My arms were shaking and there were times I was wondering if I would actually make it or might I just become a pile of bones for the next tour group to see. But, alas, I made it. I found my inner strength. I made it! I walked to the drop off zone to drop off my equipment and I was filled with a true sense of accomplishment. This is living life to the fullest and I loved every second! I could go on and on about every detail of what I did and saw but I won’t. I’ll spare you, haha. So, if you are ever on the island of Puerto Rico, I would definitely say you have to go on an Adventuras Tierra Adentro Caving tour. It was worth every penny and then some.

 

More Information:

Tour: Caving Tour

Company: Adventuras Tierra Adentro

Cost: $195 USD

Useful Notes: You HAVE to be physically active, have good endurance and know how to swim to do this caving adventure. The company also has size limits, so please make sure that you comply. Also, clothing…wear a synthetic fabric (no cotton, no jeans) top with sleeves, and synthetic pants.  I wore my rash guard shirt and tight yoga/running capris. And make sure you are wearing tennis shoes or hiking boots.  I wore ankle socks and I wish I had worn knee socks (to keep the little pebbles out).

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