San Gil, Colombia

As I prepare myself to go underwater in the frigid water of an underground cave, I thought, ‘How did I get myself into this?’

I blame it on the rain.

See, we have been hanging out in San Gil for awhile, waiting for the water level on the Suarez river to drop. We want to go white water rafting but due to heavy rain, rafting on the Suarez has been a no-go ever since we got here.

I was antsy and bored.

So when a couple of people from the hostel said they were going caving at a nearby cave, Cueva de La Vaca, with little hesitation I signed up. Then I remember that not only am I not a big fan of the dark, I’m also terrified of being in water where I can’t touch the bottom.

But despite my pre-departure trepidations, I’m SO glad I decided to give caving a go.

Because caving in Cueva de La Vaca turned out to be a blast.

Within 10 steps of entering the cave we were already neck-deep in water, making our way into the cave.

We slid and slithered. We climbed and crawled. At one point we were 80 meters below the surface.

The Swimming Pool Room, Cueva de La Vaca - Colombia Travels

Total darkness

At one section in the cave, our guide told us to turn off all of our headlamps.

The darkness that followed was absolute.

Holding hands in a line, we slowly inched forward calf-deep in water in total darkness. Every now and then someone would stub a toe and an ‘Ouch’ would be echoed back and forth in the cavernous room we were in.

When we finally turned on our headlamps again, I could see Jack’s face reflecting a silly grin I know was plastered on my own face.

This is so much fun!!

Then comes the dreaded underwater part

In order to get to the next room, we had to dive underwater. There was a rope to guide us and they key here was not to walk since the opening was not very high, but to just pull ourselves using the rope.

I was slightly freaked out. The guide kept telling us, ‘Es muy facil.’ Then for emphasis, ‘Facil, facil, facil.’ It only takes 7 seconds. Everybody has done it.

Great. No pressure now.

So there I was neck deep in water, shivering slightly from the cold, thinking of the crazy things boredom often has led me to do, and duck my head underwater and pulled.

And pulled and pulled and pulled. Not daring to think of what would happen if I’d get stuck down there.

And somehow I was on the other side.

I made it. High five all around. The guide was not lying. It was really that easy.

And not only that, that was fun!

The last 2 rooms were definitely the highlight.

The ceilings were covered in minuscule stalactites. It was beautiful and nothing like I’d ever seen before.

Beautiful ceiling covered with stalactites in Cueva de La Vaca

Beautiful ceiling covered with stalactites in Cueva de La Vaca - Colombia Travels

The stalactites in Cueva de La Vaca - Colombia Travels

Our guide told us that an exit out of the cave was still not found despite attempts to do so.

That meant we had to retrace our way back.

So that also meant we had to do the underwater part one more time. No whining on my part this time. This time I was ready.

Then we slid and slithered. We climbed and crawled. Back the way we first came.

We came out into the sunshine feeling victorious. We were drenched in water and mud, shivering slightly and wishing we could’ve stayed inside feeling like Indiana Jones just for a little bit longer.

You’d think after having a mud bath inside a volcano we would have our share of mud on this trip, eh? But apparently not.

Already we can’t wait for our next caving adventure.

Cueva de La Vaca aftermath

Afterward: Drying out our clothes and munching on fresh empanada

Cueva de La Vaca

– Cost: 25000 COP ($13) pp.
– The company we went with was Gua-Iti. The trip can be arranged through a hostel or one of the many expedition companies in San Gil.
– Cueva de La Vaca itself is on the way from San Gil to Curiti. Take a bus from the local terminal in San Gil and asked to be dropped off right before entering Curiti (2000 COP).
– Wear longer shorts since sliding around in very short shorts was… uncomfortable.

Have you gone caving before? What is your favorite cave you think we should check out?