The Parque Estadual de Terra Ronca (Terra Ronca State Park) has 100 caves, four of them are open to the public. However, there is no infrastructure, no trails, no Visitor Center, they don't even have a website. You just go to São Domingos in the north or Guarani de Goiás in the south. From here drive to São João which is in the middle of both villages, and close to the caves. There are a few inns which offer accommodation and even full board. Its best to stay at least one or two nights as the roads are bad and it is quite strenuous to get there. There is no cell phone signal in the park, but the inns offer (intermittent) wifi. Of course you can stay over night at the bigger villages, but this means a one to two hour drive on a dirt road every morning and evening.
There are four cave tours and each takes half a day or more. The tours are made with local guides, as the routes to get there can be complicated and inside the caves knowledge is required to find the route. As far as we understand you go there, ask for a room and a guide, and the guide will then show you any cave you want. The guides also provide helmets and headlamps. Like always the Brazilians do caves in t-shirt and short, and its necessary to make closed shoes mandatory, otherwise they would go in flip flops. If you want to be a little more professional you must bring all your equipment. As there are no regular tours, it is not easy to join a tour, we have no idea how it works if you are alone. We guess you just have to pay the full fee of the guide and then get a very exclusive tour.
We currently do not have enough info on the different caves, so we have no separate pages. We can provide short descriptions of the tours, but as there are no official trails, your guide may offer slightly different trips. So this is just a very general overview on what is possible.
The main cave is definitely Lapa da Terra Ronca II. The cave portal is once a year the location of a one week religious festival called Romaria do Bom Jesus da Lapa. And it is quite impressive: 96 m high by 120 m wide. The cave passage behind the portal is of similar dimensions with chambers 700 m in length by 100 m in width. That's a tour where you probably dont even need a guide: just walk down the huge and level main passage.
The cave is today splitted into two parts by a huge collapse, which blocks the passage completely. According to speleological rules they are separate caves, but Lapa da Terra Ronca I is just the continuation of the same passage. This part of the cave is visited from the other end. The visitors cross the waist deep Lapa River and then enter the 120 m wide portal of Lapa da Terra Ronca II. Between the two cave parts are actually two huge dolines. The first doline is called Buraco das Araras (Macaw Hole) because of the numerous parrots which live here. The second is called Salão dos Namorados (Valentine's Hall).
The Lapa do Angélica or Caverna Angélica (Angelica Cave) is said to be the most beautifully decorated cave in the park. The tour is also quite easy, there is no river and no climbing. It has numerous noteworthy chambers, and the full tour is 14 km long and takes 24 hours. In other words, there are numerous tours and your guide will show you whatever you prefer.
The Lapa do São Mateus or Caverna São Mateus (Saint Matthew Cave) is famous for its speleothems in the Salão dos 700 (Hall of 700). Obviously this cave is not on the list of tourist caves, we just mentioned it because of its fame. Access is only possible for scientists doing research. Again there are three caves of the same name, or three parts of one cave system. The whole system added together, the Conjunto São Mateus, was once the longest cave of Brazil, with a length of 22,690 m. However, today it would be on position three, but the cave database was cleaned up, and such unallowed mergers of caves were splitted. Lapa do Sao Mateus II is actually open to the public, and while not that spectacular, we are sure you will not be disappointed.
Lapa do Sao Bernardo or Caverna São Bernardo is noteworthy for its Hall of Pearls, a huge chamber full of cave pearls. However, this cave is not open for tourist visits.
|Terra Ronca State Park created.
|park declaration renewed.