"Cueva del Milodón - Provincia de Última Esperanza" by Manuel Bahamondez H via Flickr Creative Commons

Latin America rivals Asia for the most unexplored caves on earth. Huge cave systems here are among the largest and deepest on earth. Many caves were pirate hideouts, the resting place of the bones of prehistoric species, and burial ground of Pre-Colombian civilizations. Tales of Inca gold hidden in Andean caves and the actual finding of crystallized skulls in a cave in Honduras are just a few of the reasons adventurous spelunkers have their eye on Latin America.

  1. Actun Tunichil Muknal, Belize ATM is home to the Cave of the Crystal Maiden where you can spelunk beside ancient Mayan pottery and human remains. You’ll get soaking wet here as you must swim right from the entrance.
  2. Gruta de Guagapo, Peru Extending 7,025 feet and dropping to 1,335 feet in depth, the Gruta de Guagapo is one of the most famous caves in South America. Apart from local guide who will get you just the first hundred yards or so in this massive cave on the eastern slopes of the Andes you are on your own.
  3. Cebeda, Belize Possibly the largest cave system in Central America, Cebeda sits on the Belize/Guatemala border in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve. Twenty five miles of the system have been explored, while many other miles remain to be visited.
  4. Sima Pumacocha, Peru Three entrances begin with three of the longest shafts in the Andes and connect with long horizontal passageways. International expeditions have only recently begun exploring the cave system, and many more are being planned.
  5. Cueva del Fantasma, Venezuela Only recently discovered on the side of one of Venezuela’s table top mountains called tepuis in a region considered the “Lost World.” It’s so big that helicopters could fly into it and new plant and animal species are being discovered all the time.
  6. Blue Creek Cave, Belize Blue Creek is best known for the small waterfall that can be viewed underground for much of the year. Extensive system with both wet and dry routes.
  7. Che Chem Ha Cave, Belize This mostly unexplored cave has revealed a large collection of intact Mayan storage jars and other artifacts. Located on the Vaca plateau near Benque Viejo del Carmen Town.
  8. Gruta Rei do Mato, Brazil Three large chambers filled with numerous stalactites, stalagmites and rimstone dams. The Room of Rarities is the best section with hundreds of identical crystallized columns that reach 65 feet in height.
  9. Talgua Cave, Honduras Talgua is better known as the “Cave of the Glowing Skulls” for the Pre-Colombian skulls and bones that were dripping with calcium crystals. The remains have been moved to a museum, but you’ll still see the huge stalactites hang from the ceiling and other geological formations.
  10. Cueva de Milodon, Chile The bones of a milodon, a prehistoric ground sloth, made famous by the book In Patagonia, were found in this large open air cave just outside of Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia.

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