Grutas de Cacahuamilpa

Embedded within the tranquil Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range on the North West fringe of Guerrero State, there exists a subterranean underworld – nature's roughcast masterpiece. A segueing maze of gargantuan chambers and vaulted salons, Grutas de Cacahuamilpa is one of the largest interconnecting, live cave systems in the world. Fed by the turbulent currents of Rio San Jeronimo, the lower chambers of the Cacahuamilpa Caves are still being eroded today; an ever evolving environment that, as yet, remains unexplored.

Fortunately for visitors, the upper chambers of Grutas de Cacahuamilpa are extremely accessible. Parque Nacional de Cacahuamilpa lies just thirty minutes from Taxco, via a stunningly scenic two-way route that takes in the best, the Guerrero portion of Sierra Madre del Sur has to offer. A few modest signs are all that signal the turnoff, leading to a sandy, papaya tree shrouded car park and one of Mexico's best kept secrets.

For walkers, the descent via a well carved stone stairway is good to easygoing, although it takes around ten minutes to reach the first chain of caverns some 300 feet down into the rugged abyss. A number of modestly marked graves flank the pathway, including that of a 19th Century explorer and his dog, whom became trapped after breaking his leg. The opening beneath Cerro de la Corona Ridge is the largest; a huge sweeping archway around 40 meters wide leading into a huge, vaulted cavern – easily on a par in size with the main forum of Sydney Opera House. Propped up by curiously formed stalactites and almost perfectly cylindrical columns, it's almost impossible to believe this vast space could have been created by mere water erosion.

Nearly all of the twenty chambers found within the Cerro de la Corona portion have names. Studded with tiny fragments of glistening granite and sparkling droplets of moisture, the humongous chair-like feature at the North of one chamber gave it the name “Throne Salon”. Similarly, the gargantuan stalagmite spires of “Cathedral Salon” are grouped as such, they well resemble the great hulk of Notre Dame. Encrusted by a layer of crystallized salt, the “old lady with a club” strikes a formidable form, above what appears to be a statue of a couple embracing. Perhaps nature too has a sense of humor.

Narrow walkways lit by LED floor lamps provide some visual aid, however many caverns are so dark, you will need a headlamp to make out ancient pictoglyphs and petroglyphs adorning the walls. The yawning wolf is a photogenic favorite, partially lit by filtered daylight and among the best preserved at Cerro de la Corona. Two horned goblins and even the devil can further be made out.

Due to the many meandering tunnels and labyrinthine bolt holes, all excursions to Grutas de Cacahuamilpa must be accompanied by a guide. At just over two hours in length, a walk around Grutas de Cacahuamilpa is a must-see trip around one of nature's most fascinating living museums!

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