Cueva Aguas Buenas

Ashlee peers into the impressive resurgence of Aquas Buenas

Not sure why they call this ‘Good Water Cave’ considering the amount of bat guano leaching into the stream there, but Aguas Buenas is ‘good’ in many more ways than one. Firstly, it is a two-story cave. Above, is a dry, upper passage––good for prepared cavers looking to cut their teeth and learn navigation (as we did)–– and below, the river passage, which requires a rope to access.

Depending on how you get to the lower level (there are many) the river passage may require you to climb, squeeze, slide, downclimb, swim, etc. and is a full body workout.

The second time we visited the cave, Ashlee and I found ourselves 20-minutes in from the entrance. That’s a long way inside an unfamiliar hole-in-the-ground if you’re new to the sport of caving.

Whip Scorpion

We had six headlamps between the two of us and batteries to spare. Also, on the fly, we had come up with a rudimentary system of navigation. We harvested a handful of leaves back in the jungle and were placing them behind us as we went, using them as breadcrumbs like Hansel and Gretel. You can certainly get lost in Aguas Buenas. Deep in the back recesses of the cave, we came across the skeleton of a large iguana which had somehow gotten in there, gotten lost, and spent the remainder of its short life crawling around in circles. Bad way to go.

Unexpectedly, we saw a flicker of light in the distance. A lone person with a headlamp was coming towards us. We waved but he did not return our greeting. As he approached, we saw a very thin young man. His helmet and headlamp were well used and his clothes were ripped in places. We asked him some questions in Spanish but he just stood there––in the glow of our headlamps––and did not speak. The corner of his eye twitched. He had a small backpack, nothing in his hands. No weapon on him that I could see.

Ashlee rappels to the river passage. Photo credit: Lukas Eddy

We stood there staring at each other. Then I looked at Ashlee and said, “Uh, okay––time to go now.” We continued walking deeper into the cave. Heriberto, which was the name written on his helmet, wandered in front us. Whenever we had the option of going a different direction than Heriberto, we did. But our route always pinched off and we’d end up following him anyway. Then we realized the kid was trying to lead us somewhere. We followed him under a boulder, up a steep ramp, and into a large room with a multitude of bats. Then down another ramp to a creek with a beautiful little waterfall cascading down from the ceiling. We wouldn’t have found the place on our own. 

The Waterfall. Photo: Lukas Eddy

We ended up visiting Cueva Aguas Buenas a dozen times. Heriberto is usually there. He cleans up the trash around the cave and near the parking area. He clears the vegetation from the trail, and occasionally guides wandering cavers like ourselves. If you see Heriberto, make sure to give him a few bucks. Aguas Buenas wouldn’t be as clean, safe, or interesting without him.

3 thoughts on “Cueva Aguas Buenas

  • Yes, Heriberto is ‘the cave master’, he lives nearby and is a member of Gruta Troglodita Norman Veve, the speleological society that is fully dedicated to the System of caves of Aguas Buenas (Sistema de Cuevas de Aguas Buenas).
    I’m glad he found you.

  • Good article. We just read this together. The photo of Ashlee swimming is sweet! You gotta go back and finish the Mother-In-Law Passage.

  • Dave, “Aguas Buenas” is the name of the town so I assume the cave is named because of it’s location and not because of it’s “clean” guano filled waters! Yuck!

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