[Editor’s Note: In this issue, we render tribute to the magazine’s first publication by republishing it as we are celebrating ecotreasures magazine’s fifth anniversary. We are very happy and grateful for having been able to share our experiences, findings, and learnings during our journey so far.
Enjoy the remembrance as we go back through time and relive our experience at Camuy River Cave Park in the island of Puerto Rico.]
“Over 300 Feet Underground in the Camuy River Cave Park”, article published in February 2016 ecotreasures ® issue:
A very pleasant ride in a mini bus, through forest land and down the hill, took us to Clara Cave in the Camuy River Cave Park, Puerto Rico. The Clara Cave is one of the most impressive caves in this cavern system carved out by the Camuy River. The entrance to the parking area is accessed at Road #129, Km. 18.9, Camuy, Puerto Rico.
We did not have to wait to be inside the cave to begin appreciating the wonderful cavern formations. A group of stalactites, hanging from the roof of the Clara Cave and seen right before stepping into the cave, saluted us as we began the journey.
Once we entered the cavern, we admired diverse cave and rock formations. Besides an abundance of stalactite forms and colors, we saw stalagmite formations located on the floor of the cave. Throughout the years, the growth of some stalactites and stalagmites have resulted in the formation of columns all around the Clara Cave according to Ms. Jorlianne Rodríguez, tour guide from the Puerto Rico National Parks Company.
Right after we entered the cave, we admired an area, located at the left side, named as “Salón de las Esculturas” (Sculpture Room) and comprised of stalactites and columns.
Before we kept walking on the path, we had to take pictures of the South Gallery (southern and main entrance of Clara Cave)—one of the most stunning sceneries of the cave. It looks like a tunnel made of stalactites with a picturesque view of rock formations and plant life, all living together harmoniously. The South Gallery is 70 feet wide and 25 feet high, as stated by Ms. Rodríguez.
As we continued exploring, we encountered a spectacular cave and rock formation scenery, highlighted in some instances by artificial light. Cave scallops were found on the walls and the ceiling of the cave. As explained by Ms. Rodríguez, these scoop-like depressions in the cave are the result of the Camuy River's water flow that crossed through this cave. Imagine looking at all the curiosities found in this cave while at the same time being able to listen to the sounds of water falling, bats and crickets.
As we kept discovering, we reached a 300-foot underground area where the cave's ceiling is 50 feet high, as stated by the tour guide.
The path led us to a point where we could admire the southern and northern entrances of the cave. Ms. Rodríguez explained that Clara Cave got its name because at around 2:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. the sunlight is seen across the cave through the southern and northern entrances, resulting in a bright natural light across the cave. “Clara” is a Spanish word that means “bright”.
Once we arrived at the center area of Clara Cave, we were at a location where the cave's ceiling is 170 feet high and the cave is 200 feet wide, according to Ms. Rodríguez.
As we walked down the hill towards the northern entrance of the cave, we reached a 350-foot underground area. Then we walked towards a location where the Camuy River flows underneath, as stated by the tour guide.
In this habitat, you don’t miss green since plant life, including moss, tends to grow inside the cave near the southern and northern entrances.
Once we exited the cave through the northern entrance, we reached “Sumidero Empalme” (Empalme Sinkhole), which is 418 feet deep and 83 feet wide according to Ms. Rodríguez. We were surrounded by plant life as we admired a small spring waterfall known as “Fuente de la Juventud” (Fountain of Youth), as stated by the tour provider. Looking towards the northern entrance of the cave, we had the chance to watch the natural colors of the cave formation around it.
As we continued our exploration, we found the “Guabá”, the Tailless-Whip scorpion usually referred to as a cave spider. Luckily, the "Guabá" was found between walls of the cave. We also encountered the “Casa de los Murciélagos” (Bat House), surrounded by stalactites on the top and scallops on the corner sides. At 150 feet underneath this location, the Camuy River flows, as stated by the tour guide.
Right before approaching the end of the path, we had a chance to admire again the South Gallery from another side of the cave.
As one of the Puerto Rican tourists said during this adventure: “The force of nature does not fail to impress. Practically, it is nature at its maximum expression.” (José M. Ferrer Tanco's translated quote)
For those of you interested in Clara Cave's tour, you may purchase entrance tickets at the cave park, which is administered by the P.R. National Parks Company. Cave Park T.: 787-898-3100. P.R. National Parks Administration Company T: 787-721-2800, x 4570, 4571 or 4572. [See updated contact information below.]
By the time we visited this ecotreasure, the hours of operation were from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday- Sunday, and Holidays. Last tour: 3:30 p.m. Adults tickets: $ 12.00 p/p. Seniors 65 years old+: $6.00 p/p. Kids 4-12 years old: $7.00 p/p. [See updated information below.]
If you want to admire the effect of the sunlight crossing the northern and southern entrances of the Clara Cave, be sure to participate in a tour by 2:30 pm. Presume that a tour at this hour is highly solicited so plan in advance properly.
UPDATED INFORMATION: The Camuy River Cave Park was rehabilitated and recently reopened after four years since Hurricane María hit the island in 2017. Currently, visitors need to walk from the Visitor Center towards the cave since public ground transportation is not available during the current reopening phase.
Currently, entrance to the Camuy River Cave Park is subject to prior reservation by phone. As of this issue’s publication date, the information for purposes of reservations is the following:
Opening hours: Wednesday- Sunday and holidays, 8:30 am- 4:30 pm, (prior reservation is required).
Entrance fees: Adults: $18.00 p/p. Seniors 65 years old+: $9.00 p/p. Kids 4-12 years old: $13.00 p/p.
Group reservations: maximum of 20 persons.
For reservations, contact P.R. National Parks Administration Company at 787-999-2200, ext. 3470, 3471, 3472, 3473, 3474 or 3475.
Visitors need to follow the required protocol in view of COVID-19 pandemic (e.g.: wearing a mask, washing hands, social distancing) while exploring natural areas. In general, people in Puerto Rico are required to keep a minimum of 6 feet between people who are not from the same family unit. However, currently people visiting any Puerto Rico beach are required to keep a minimum of 10 feet between people who are not from the same family unit whether they are at the sand or body of water.