The Coolest Caving Experiences in Colombia

Colombian Cave | © Ashley Bayles / Flickr
Colombian Cave | © Ashley Bayles / Flickr |
Photo of Chris Bell
23 March 2018

Colombia is a country of mountains and rivers, which means there are plenty of caves as well. Caving (or spelunking) is an increasingly popular activity with tourists in Colombia, as people seek ever-more ways to get an adrenaline rush or explore off-the-beaten-track parts of Colombia. So here are some of Colombia’s coolest caves and caving experiences.

La Cueva del Esplendor, Jardin

A simple half-day trip from the lovely heritage town of Jardin, the ‘Cave of Splendour’ is one of Colombia’s most visually iconic and famous caves, due to the beautiful waterfall which falls through a round hole in the cave roof into a small, freezing pool in the heart of the cave itself. It’s not an extreme experience visiting – you can simply hike or horse ride to the cave – but it’s well worth doing. And if you’re truly brave, you can even take a dip in that pool!

La Cueva del Esplendour near Jardin | © Chris Bell / The Culture Trip

Cueva de la Vaca, Santander

The ‘Cow Cave’ is located near the small town of Curiti in Santander region, and is easily the most explored cave in Colombia by travellers – it’s a popular day-trip from the adventure sport’s capital of San Gil. This is a truly adventurous trip, so make sure the company you visit with provides helmets and head-torches: you’ll need both. Visitors even sometimes find themselves up to their necks in water, so it’s best avoided if you suffer from claustrophobia!

Los Tuneles, Guaviare

Translating unsurprisingly as ‘the tunnels’, Los Tuneles is a stunning series of rocky formations in the grassland plains of the jungle department of Guaviare. As parts of the Guiana Shield, these rocks are some of the oldest in the world, and the caves that form the heart of the tunnels are easy to explore and truly stunning.

Part of the Tunnels near Guaviare | © Chris Bell / The Culture Trip

Caving near Tamesis, Antioquia

The pretty small town of Tamesis in southern Antioquia region is an up-and-coming adventure sports destination, with plenty of activities, including rappelling and paragliding to choose from. However, caving in the cave systems in the mountains above the town is an excellent day-trip, especially because you can combine the caving experience with a hike to a gorgeous viewpoint and a local house for a trout lunch.

The Tuluni Caves, Tolima

This is probably the most off-the-beaten-track and unknown caving experience on this list – the Tuluni Caves are a stunning, off-the-beaten-track series of caves located in the isolated mountains of Tolima department, near the little town of Chaparral. It’s a long hike to reach the caves, but worth it for the experience of wading through a forgotten jungle river and hearing your voice echo through huge vaulting caves, such as the Cathedral Cave.

The Cathedral Cave | © Chris Bell / The Culture Trip

Las Ventanas de Tisquizoque, Santander

This is one of the most beautiful caves in Colombia, particularly as it is equally as stunning from both the outside and inside. Located in a mountain overlooking the small Santander town of Florian, the Tisquizoque Window is a large cave through which a river flows, forming a large waterfall tumbling directly out of the cave mouth! It’s lovely when seen from the town, but even cooler to take a trip up into the cave and look out from behind the ‘falls.

The Oilbird’s Cave, Rio Claro

This cave is located within the Rio Claro Natural Reserve, a stunning privately protected ecotourism reserve located near Medellin. There are many activities to enjoy there, but the best is the caving experience in the eerie and beautiful Cueva de Los Guacharos, or Oilbird’s Cave. These odd, nocturnal birds are like giant bats, and swoop over your head, uttering their guttural shrieking cries as you explore the cave.

The Oilbird’s Cave in Rio Claro | © Ashley Bayles / Flickr

Morgan’s Cave, San Andres

This is a cave that is more worthwhile exploring due to its history rather than any particular natural beauty of the cave itself. This is where the Welsh pirate Henry Morgan supposedly stashed his treasure on the island of San Andres on the Colombian Caribbean. The cave is over 100 m long but filled with water, so no treasure has ever been found, but a visit to the cave is an obligatory part of a trip to San Andres if only to learn about the island’s fascinating connections with pirates.

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