Close your eyes. Take a breath. Jump. The cool cave air rushes by you as you fall quickly into the cold water. Surface and take a breath. Inside the Angeles Cave, it is so dark you cannot see a foot in front of you. You just leapt off a cliff into the dark water. What a thrill! This is a true hard-core adventure in Puerto Rico with Aventuras Tierra Adentro, and we are loving it!
The tour company promises an adventure unlike any other, and they certainly deliver. Rafael and I start the day with the other participants, listening to a briefing of what is to come and some tutoring on how to use the climbing safety gear. We suit up and head out. A zip line takes us to the top of the cave. From there, we do a thrilling repel down 130 feet to reach the mouth of the cave. We spend the next few hours swimming, climbing, jumping, walking and even running (to get through quicksand type mud that tries to pull your shoes off) through the caves. The cliff jump in the dark is a little anxiety provoking. The swim through tight tunnels, where the roof of the cave is only inches above our head, is even more. We climb in and out of the river using rocks and ropes, illuminated only by our head lamps. The river is dark, and it is best not to think of what creatures might be sharing it with us.
One cave that we travel through makes a real impression. The smell of guano is eye wateringly strong. The temperature is warmer than all the others we have explored. It’s a perfect environment for the bats, large cave spiders, cockroaches and scorpions that line the rocks we are walking across. Now we are really trying not to think about what swims in the water with us!
In a large room, our guides set up lights and we eat the lunch we packed in with us. We are all wet and dirty, but enjoy our cave picnic all the same. Our journey is far from over and we need the fuel. Still ahead more adventure awaits in the cave. When we finally emerge into the light, we must climb the cliff back to where we started. Zip lines and repels are a fun and fast way down. It’s going to take effort to make it back out!
Despite being the oldest people on the tour, Rafael and I lead the way up the via ferrata to the top. These are rebar hand and foot holds attached to the cliff face that allow you to climb straight up. They originated in World War I in Italy, and were used to cross the mountains. It’s a great way to climb, and we make quick work of it.
As the first back to camp, we are able to get right into the outdoor showers to clean off. It feels amazing to be clean and dry! Unfortunately for one of our fellow travelers, all those cave creatures freaked him out enough that when his “friend” touched him with a stick over the shower wall, he thought it was a snake and ran naked and screaming out to a stunned audience awaiting their turn to clean off.
A funny end to an adrenaline packed day. This is our kind of adventure!
Can I do this adventure?
On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most difficult.
Courage Level: 5 This is the first time I use a 5, but it really warrants it!
Fitness Level: 5 This tour is a work out. If you are not in good shape, you will spend the day struggling.
This tour is organized by Aventuras Tierra Adentro. We highly recommend them if this is the kind of adventure you like. You must be 18 or older to participate.
The Angeles Cave is in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. They will pick you up in San Juan, but there is so much to do in this area that you may want to stay a couple days. When we were done with the cave, we drove to Playa Poza del Obispo, which is a beautiful beach and a great place to relax and enjoy a cold drink. There is a lighthouse as well, which you can climb.