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Climbing in the caves of Barra Honda Costa Rica

July 12, 2013

In the northwest of Costa Rica, on the Nicoya Peninsula, the Barra Honda National Park is situated. This park was opened in 1974 to preserve one of the largest cave systems in Costa Rica.

A few days ago I once again had the opportunity to accompany hotel guests on their trip. This time it we went to the Barra Honda National Park, about 1 ½ hours from Samara, where we went on an adventurous climb.

On the way to the National Park

But first things first.  First, we set off after breakfast and started the drive to the National Park. As always you could watch the daily life of the Ticos, sitting in front of their houses, working on the fields or on their way to work.  When we arrived in the National Park, our guide already was waiting for us and greeted us warmly and even could speak some chunks of German. He provided us with helmets and then, after we drove a little further by car, the hike started.

Hike through the dry forest

On our way through the dry rain forest (does sound weird, I know), the guide showed us several interesting plants and fruits or pointed us to animals, such as iguanas, lizards, giant toads and an animal, which I unfortunately could not identify until today, in the bushes. This way we learned that sometimes a whole palm is felled to win palm wine from the tribe,  that you can use the resin of trees also for bonding of paper ,that you can use the many seeds and kernels easily to tinker jewelry and many other interesting details.

The destination: the cave

We wandered over hill and dale about 1 ½ hours until we finally reached our destination: the cave. After an uneasy glance to the entrance of the cave, which consisted of a hole about 20 m depth and an aluminum ladder, I was quite glad when the guide gave us security belts and another employee of the National Park steadily held a rope, fastened to a tree, in his hands.

Down into the depths

After the German couple, with whom I was traveling, had arrived safely on the ground of the cave, it was finally my turn. I held the side of the ladder, which was slippery and slowly made my way down into the cave. At the bottom we turned on our lights mounted on the helmet and ventured further into the darkness. I have been several times in caves all over the world, but I never came so near to the stalactites and stalagmites! No boundaries or signs that indicate that one is not allowed to touch anything to be seen, on the contrary, as the “way” was so slippery and difficult, we even had to hold on to the stalagmites. And on we went, and once more down, before we ventured into the cave. The different formations of stalagmites and stalactites, which all have interesting or funny names like “turtle”, “papaya” or “Virgin Mary”, are really impressive.

Absolute darkness

Also a highlight was the moment when the leader instructed us to sit down and turn off all the cameras and lights. You rarely can experience such an absolute darkness and during the few minutes, which felt a lot longer, you could relax or listen to your own thoughts. In addition, however, you could hear the bats that fluttered in the cave and theirs sounds for orientation.

Then it was time to go back to the exit and this time we had to climb up the ladder, which demands a lot of strength a. Back in the daylight, after a short break to catch our breath and drink some water, we started our way back. On the way we made a small detour to a lookout point from where you could get a beautiful view of the countryside. Just before we arrived the parking lot, we got into heavy rain, so we ended up soaked, but happy  in our car.

What a nice trip!

more Costa Rica recommendations:
Costa Rica accommodation      rooms apartments Costa Rica.

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