45 minutes from La Fortuna de San Carlos you can find the town of Las Cavernas de Venado, (Venado Caves or Deer Caves), this amazing destination will take you in an underground adventure.
As incredible as it sounds, these caves weren’t actually discovered until 1945, although it is said the the Guatuso natives knew of their existence way before then, it wasn’t until a local was in a hunting trip and stumbled upon the two of the caverns that locals learned of their existence. According to the official website, the first serious exploration of this area was done in 1962 by French explorer Robert Vergenes, but he only traverse the first 350 meters. In 1969 the AEC, a United States Government Organization expressed interest in exploring the caves, three expeditions were organized and much more was learned about them.
The Venado Caves are believed to have formed 6 to 15 million years ago during the Miocene period, they were underwater and with the movement of the tectonic plates throughout the years they came out to the surface.
Stalactites and stalagmites welcome you to the caves where a great number of bats (4 different species), spiders, insects, crabs, and fish have their home in 450 caverns, out of which visitors can only access 10. It takes about 2 hours to do the complete tour.
The caverns are in a private property, they are not part of a National Park, but can be visited any day of the week from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; entrance is of $25.00 per person (doesn’t matter if you are a local or a foreigner).
As you can imagine the caves are humid and dark, not appropriate for claustrophobic people, toddlers or people with disabilities. There is a waterfall and an underground river, so there’s a strong chance you will get wet and dirty. You must take an extra change of clothes, tennis or hiking shoes, towel, insect repellent and of course a waterproof camera (it’s better not to take your cell phone).
What you will see: (Watch the video below)
The Altar: a coralline formation
The Birth canal: a very narrow opening that connects two caves
The Papaya: a rock formation with the form of the Papaya fruit
Underground river, fossils and wildlife.
Next time you are in La Fortuna de San Carlos doing canopy or visiting the Arenal Volcano, take a detour to Las Cavernas de Venado, its a great adventure you won’t regret to experience.