There was no doubt we needed some beach time before leaving Central America. Of course, that meant we only had one last adventure before our vacation was over. Which to pick, which to pick – Black Hole Drop or Waterfall Cave?
Runa and I spoke to several groups at our lodging about which they preferred. Both adventures were highly praised as favorites, but the Black Hole Drop seemed like a steep hike following by just a rappel. So, we opted for the waterfalls – I love the water anyway, especially in this humid, hot heat. Bam, done.
After breakfast, we got our swimsuits and quick-dry clothing on for our adventure. Teva watershoes for me; Runa borrowed my trusty, beat-up Keens. I grabbed my dry bag as well and Lisa’s waterproof camera. And, off we went on the stubby bus.
Two other groups went with us, our new Canadian friends, Alix and Jeff, and another family of Canadians (formerly English natives).
The bus ride was quick. A quick 30 minutes from Caves Branch, down a left turn from the main road and through a rough unpaved path, cross the river a couple of times (like most other adventures we have)…
Soon enough, we arrived at this unmarked trail….
We unloaded. Everyone received a (apparently well-known in Canada brand) backpack, helmet, harness, life vest and a couple liters of water.
Arnold, one of our guides, grabbed his machete….
And we were off! Into the jungle….
A fairly flat and easy hike (aside from the hundreds of persistent blood-sucking mosquitoes), we arrived at the cave entrance. It was probably about a 20 minute hike.
Arnold double-checked the batteries in the headlamps. He snapped them onto our helmets, gave us a few quick rules, and as everyone got outfitted, we dived in.
But not before…. we saw the bats near the entrance.
The small ones – insect bats.
These medium sized ones – fruit bats. The holes they rest in are formed by the acidity in the fruits they eat. Mmm… guano holes.
We hiked on. Every turn, another gorgeous formation or wonderment.
Incredible, isn’t it? Can you believe we were allowed to do this….
And also this….
Hiking on these formations definitely would not be allowed in the US. It was amazing to be able to see the beauty of these caves so close.
We hiked, and when I say hike, I really mean walk, for a bit before we really reached water that was more than waist-high. For point of reference, I even mean my waist, and I’m just over five feet tall.
Arnold pointed out these gooey webs created to catch and eat bugs.
A bit more walking…. deeper into the cave…. I’d say, at this point, we’d gone in about 30 minutes.
All those speckles you see in my photo are dust particles! It was sure dusty in there….
Arnold also found this giant spider to show us… It was pretty big. I want to say it was a scorpion spider? Not quite a scorpion, yet not quite a spider….
About an hour into the cave, we arrive at the perfect flat-top rock. We left our gear behind (aside from anything that could get wet for climbing waterfalls) and brought only our left vests, harnesses and helmets with headlamps.
Shortly heading towards the falls, we hit the first one. It’s about 15-20 feet high. Chico, our other guide, climbed up first to belay us with rope.
Arnold secured us, one by one, as the rest of us waited across the pool for our turn. The rock was smooth but there were great hand holds that made it a fairly easy climb, even for beginners. Just watch the rushing water…. of course.
The next few “falls” were much smaller in comparison. They were tiny hills that we could easily climb up through without any belay. i don’t really know that you can call them waterfalls….
Past each little mound we climbed up and over, we’d end up at another pot hole filled with water that we would wade through. The water was a bit deep in some sections, but not really around the walls (in case there are any frightened non-swimmers out there).
There was one fall in the middle where we climbed a bit higher. Still no need for a belay though.
At the last little climb, we ended up at a cavern with a heavy gushing waterfall.
Chico took a quick “shower” here. A small break at the top and floating about in the refreshing waterfall, and we headed back down the way we came.
At the two taller waterfalls we climbed up, we jumped off. One of our guys lost his watch at the very first waterfall that we jumped off of…. Another guy also hit his arm on a rock deep in the pool – no injuries, just a slight, whoa-type deal. The rest of us had no hits with anything but water. One gal opted to downclimb on belay rather than jumping – this was also an option in case you didn’t feel it.
We climbed out all wet and refreshed back to our flat, table-top rock.
To our surprise, Chico and Arnold had hustled back in front of all of us and set up lunch on the rock. Veggies, cheeses, condiments and luncheon meats for a great cave meal burrito. Yep, they had even packed in a white tablecloth and a couple liters of juices.
After lunch was finished and packed back up, we started on our way back out the cave.
This was our second to last adventure, Runa got the hang of my random photo-snapping. Yay.
Stuffed our helmets back into our bags, gave our headlamps back to Arnold, slathered ourselves with bug spray and started our trek through the jungle again.
Chico found a water vine and machete-d it for us to try. It was literally just a vine he found, chopped off two ends and as he held it vertical, the water would flow. If the water stopped, he’d cut more of an end and more water would flow out. Amazing. Used…. obviously…. in case people ran out of water while trekking through the jungle….
We gave back our gear bags and loaded back onto the bus, not too long afterwards.
Then back to the resort! And off to the bar and pool…