Journey to the Center of Cacahuamilpa

Miguel Ángel Hernández

Journey to the Center of Cacahuamilpa

Journey to the Center of CacahuamilpaMost of us who spent our childhood in the central states of Mexico have already been to these impressive caverns, for an excursion to Cacahuamilpa was a common elementary school trip. The only thing is that at age seven or eight, one's attention is not necessarily on the astounding rock formations that seem like the menacing wide open jaws of a wolf, but on one's own hand holding Marianita's, the beautiful girl who sits next to you in the classroom, or on Gutierrez's right foot, who's directly behind you in the line and is constantly trying to make you trip yourself up.

Journey to the Center of CacahuamilpaNevertheless, even from our early childhood we sense that there is something really special about this fantastic hidden underworld, full of legend and mystery, but it's only when we're a bit older that we truly perceive the majesty of the place. Through the careful inspection of the vast chambers, towering up to 263 feet high, and the contemplation of the unique limestone figures, (created by water filtration, the accumulation of mineral sediments, and the natural erosion caused by the two subterranean rivers that flow under the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range) can we fully understand how astounding the Caves at Cacahuamilpa really are.

Journey to the Center of CacahuamilpaThese two watercourses are the Chontalcoatlan and San Jeronimo rivers, running a length of 5 and 7.5 miles respectively. Both flow in the pitch-dark, however they are bordered by sand and stones, making it easier for explorers to traverse them, (although in some parts it is necessary to swim in the freezing cold waters). If you're planning an excursion along the rivers then it's advisable to take the appropriate equipment with you, be accompanied by an experienced guide, and also have some previous spelunking experience yourself. Exploring these tunnels is definitely an extreme experience that avid adventurers won't want to miss.

Journey to the Center of CacahuamilpaOn the other hand, for a family or school trip you won't even have to get your feet wet, since the grottoes, once considered sacred by the chontal people, now have a fully-lit cement walkway that you can cover in about two hours. Limestone stalactites and stalagmites have been artistically illuminated to emphasize their beauty and also to highlight the shapes that are the inspiration for their names. Heaven and Hell, The Cementery, and The Main Square, are just three of the 20 impressive halls that you can visit during your visit to Cacahuamilpa.

Journey to the Center of CacahuamilpaIf you live in Mexico City or happen to be on a visit there, then you can easily get to this national park by road. This worthwhile trip, shouldn't take you more than around two and a half hours. The caves are also happen to be one of the most famous attractions in Taxco because of their close proximity, to this traditional mining town, just half an hour away.

Journey to the Center of CacahuamilpaLegend has it that Juventino Rosas, an early 20th century Mexican musician, directed a waltz inside the caverns to honor the wife of Porfirio Diaz, who was president at the time. Others claim that in pre-Columbian times a Chontal Indian leader, who had been overthrown, successfully took advantage of the breath-taking beauty of the grottoes to make others believe that his daughter was a goddess. She in turn demanded her father's safe return and that he be reinstated as leader of the Chontal. It is also said that revolutionary general Vicente Guerrero used the caves as an armory during Mexico's struggle for independence from Spain.

The truth is that these gigantic caverns always create immense feelings of surprise and awe for anyone that is lucky enough to venture into them. They are home to thousands of memories of wonderful family day trips and exciting school excursions. Unforgettable underground adventures are also waiting here for adrenaline junkies, who want to explore the dark tunnels and rivers. It's time, now we're all grown up, to pay full attention to the immense beauty and fascinating history of the Caves at Cacahuamilpa.

Written by Miguel Angel Hernández Sánchez