I get really excited to visit places that are even unknown to the people who live in a country. Maybe the inhabitants of a country know about a place but, for some reason, they never pay a visit.
This is how I felt when I visited the Taulabe Caves in Honduras. The place is well known in the municipality where it is located. However, Hondurans from the rest of the country seem to be oblivious about this natural wonder.
I have gotten more afraid of certain things with age (not sure why). But I feel totally at ease inside a cave. I mean, I get bothered by the obscurity, the humidity and possibility of encountering bats. However, I am able to relax and enjoy the spectacle. Some of my earliest adventures involve cave exploration. Maybe that explains the affinity.
There are a lot of interesting stories surrounding Taulabe.
The cave was discovered in 1969 when a highway was under construction. Only 921 meters have been mapped and explored. Nobody has found the exit yet and some believe it can be as far away as the Yojoa Lake, Santa Barbara or Copan. This fact shows how little is known about this and other underground systems in the country.
Even though the location of the bottom is unknown, the visit to the first 300 meters is easy. This portion has been lit and conditioned with railings and steps. After paying the fee, you can enter and admire a wide array of formations. Just watch your steps since the floor is slippery in some parts.
You can hire a guide to go a little bit farther from the main path. The guide is needed since special equipment is needed to explore this “other” part and it is easy to get lost. I only explored the “easy” part and I think it is totally worthwhile if you enjoy this type of activity. Plan to be about 40 minutes inside the cave.
There are tons of formations to admire. Water has worked its magic for thousands of years. The most famous formation is known as the “Angel Wing”. Can you see it?
This one looks like a dress or gown to me (without a head). What do you think?
The truth is that you can let your imagination go wild inside here. You can see what you want to see.
There is evidence pointing to the use of the cave by indigenous cultures. Four vases were found during the 80s. Some experts believe the cave had religious or sacred connotations to early inhabitants of the area (similar to what the Mayas believed).
It would be interesting to learn about the role of the cave in ancient civilizations. However, a much more recent inhabitant steals the show.
A guy named William Hanneman robbed a bank in the United States and kidnapped a small plane. He made the plane land in La Ceiba, Honduras. A friend told him about the caves and he hid there for about 4 months. Some say the friend called the police when he found out about a reward offered for information about Hanneman. Authorities arrested the bandit but the money was never found. Legend says the $250,000 are still inside the cave. A lot of people have entered and continue entering the cave in search of the treasure. The caves are well protected now since its local fame has contributed to the destruction of many formations.
What I am telling you in here is one side of the story. Everybody has a different version. Some say the money was recovered by the police, others say the entire story is fictitious. I heard at least three different versions while visiting. Even taxi drivers have their version. If you visit, ask about Hanneman to see what story you will get.
The entrance to the Taulabe Caves is located in the San Pedro Sula – Tegucigalpa highway, near the town of Siguatepeque.
What caves have you visited? Let me know in the comments section below.
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