January 24, 2014

Observatory Cave Arecibo Puerto Rico
Last day in the hotel and we got an early start to the Observatory cave on the Tanama river. Thankfully the circus cult freaks were not banging on the bass so Laura and I got to the parking lot and I talked to the security guard about following the trail to the river to visit the cave. He was nice enough to help with a bit more information along with a little history on how the Indians used this historic trail to gather groups together for various events. We make our hike through the trail and popped out in a field and on a few roads after making a few minor mis orientations.  Eventually we can hear the river and make  a B line to the river where we suit up for some waterbourne activities. We scramble over rocks in the river and swim downstream to some waterfalls where we jump into the water so we can continue down stream.
taking a break near the entrance of Observatory Cave Arecibo Puerto Rico

We noticed the cut banks where water had recently raged through which created a path for us that made it easier to reach the entrance of the cave.  Soon after, I look out to the 500-600 ft cliff face and notice the cliff starting to surround us.  That is when we noticed the entrance to the cave.

Observatory cave entrance Arecibo Puerto Rico
Observatory Cave Arecibo Puerto Rico

It was like a 6 lane highway going into this massive entrance.  This is one of those caves that remind me of some caves that I have read about in Asia, maybe a bit smaller but this one was the biggest cave I have ever been through. 
Inside the Observatory Cave Arecibo Puerto Rico
We kept going deeper into the cave allowing the ambient sunlight to light our way as we crossed over the river taking a mental note of the colors on the wall. Beautiful.

Raging river inside Observatory Cave Arecibo Puerto Rico
We noticed hundreds of bats flying at the top of the ceiling which was amazing to see but the smell of the fresh guano and the fact that we got shat on multiple times rang my histoplasmosis bell, so we keep moving and stayed in the water where it didn't smell so bad.  We could see the exit from the entrance but it took us 45 minutes just to get to the other side of the cave.  The water got deeper so we started swimming in this river noticing the high ceiling and the active flowstones pouring water around us.  As we got closer to the exit,  there were waterfalls to the side of us which made this place look like a fantasy land  Absolutely breathtaking!!
Exit from the Observatory Cave Puerto Rico

When we exited the cave, we got to a little rock bank where there was another small cave to swim through with waterfalls pouring over the entrance!!

Flowstone waterfalls next to Observatory Cave Arecibo Puerto Rico
 This place did not even seem real, It was like a place out of the movie lord of the rings.  The small cave had these waterfalls pouring over and flowstone around it so we starting swimming through and we found the river blocked by logs that prevented us from continuing through.  I attempted to clear the logs but we decided to turn around and climb over the wall through the jungle and come out the other side.  After scaling the wall, we walked down a path that seemed to be where other people walked to avoid that log jam, we were able to walk down a spring that was blasting water which was flowing over to the other side of this small cave system.

flowstone waterfalls observatory cave puerto rico

flowstone waterfall gardens obversatory cave puerto rico tanama river
I was so impressed with this place and I think this is my new all time fav cave.  Just an incredible place and worth the trip in itself.  Soon after, we decided to turn back so we could get to the El Yunque Jungle on the other side of the mountain and make sure we still had some sunlight left to get dinner and set up the tent so we went back the way we came.

observatory cave tanama river puerto rico

 The original entrance was just an amazing site to see and I will never forget how well the sunlight was able to illuminate a good portion of the entrance.

tanama river observatory cave puerto rico

We took one last good look into the cave before heading out into the upstream river and making the climb back out to the parking lot.
entrance to observatory cave puerto rico

 We also got a chance to see what the locals call "El Radar" which is the largest radio Telescope in the world but from what I understand, the Chinese are about to build a bigger one.  It was easy for this to be built as it is situated in a sinkhole. We grab some dinner on our way to the El Yunque but right about the time we get to the jungle, darkness settled in so setting up the tent and hiking up the 200 ft piece of mountain to get to the ridge was just a bit more interesting but the morning views from the ridge are amazing.

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