Gruta Lapa Doce

Sweet Cave


Useful Information

Location: Iraquara / BA
(-12.333803, -41.604306)
Open: All year daily 8-18.
[2020]
Fee: Short Tour:
Adults BRL 30, Children (6-10) BRL 15, Children (0-5) free.
Private Guide for One BRL 60, for Two BRL 80.
Long Tour:
Adults BRL 50, Children (6-10) BRL 25, Children (0-5) free.
Private Guide for One BRL 80, for Two BRL 120.
[2020]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: lamps provided by guide
Dimension: Lapa Doce I: L=9,300m.
Lapa Doce II: L=16,500m.
T=22°C.
Guided tours: Short Tour: L=1.5km, L=850m (cave), D=1.5h.
Long Tour: L=2km, L=1km (cave), D=2h.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Gruta Lapa Doce, Fazenda Lapa Doce, 01 Povoado Iraquara - BA 46980-000, Tel: +55-75-99822-3228.
Gruta Lapa Doce, Sociedade Baiana de Espeleologia, Simpliciano de Oliveira Lima, Tel: +55-75-229-4117, Tel: +55-75-331-1487.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1986 cave discovered.

Description

The tour through Gruta Lapa Doce (Sweet Rock Cave) follows the huge main passage for 800m and leaves the cave through a second entrance. The cave has numerous speleothems most of which are completely dry. There are numerous rimstone dams.

The tour starts at the Fazenda Lapa Doce with a trail through the semi arid plain with numerous cacti. Then a huge doline is reached, the cave entrance is right below the outlook at the foot of the cliff. There is a good but steep walking trail down to the cave, and a trail through the cave which is mostly level. The trail is not developed, by concrete or railings, its mostly just plain cave floor, which is more or less level and dry. Some spots with dripping water make the dry clay slippery. The formations are sometimes protected with ropes or red tape. There is no electric light, the guides provide gas lanterns.

The passages are huge, and have numerous speleothems. Most common, as always, stalactites and stalagmites, but also curtains and cave pearls, and all sizes of rimstone dams. There are flintstone in the limestone which form bulbous structures or even layers. The different colours of the thin limestone layers create fantastic patterns on the wall. Some erosional forms look like stacks of plates due to the thin layers.

As always in Brazil, closed shoes are mandatory, otherwise the Brazilians would visit the cave in flip flops or bare footed, We also suggest good walking shoes, be aware the ground is dry and dusty. The lanterns you can borrow are heavy and fragile, we recommend a helmet with a headlamp, so you have you hands free. Please respect the rudimentary barriers and do not touch speleothems.

While Lapa Doce I (BA-72), the show cave, is quite spacious and "only" 9,300m long, nearby Lapa Doce II (BA-200) is actually the third longest cave of Brazil [2020]. There is also a third cave, Lapa do Sol, an archaeological site with several cave paintings There is a new tour named Roteiro do Lima and the Management Plan was scheduled for 2019, but we are not sure if it was actually opened. It will include the Poço do Lima, an underground lake which stays all year. This is quite exceptional, as the caves of this area are either completely dry or with intermittent water courses. There are only very few caves with the presence of perennial lakes and rivers.

Poço do Lima is the name of the underground river, but actually that's just an interpretation, as it does not flow. Poço do Lima is the ground water table, which is accessible in about 20 locations in the Lapa Doce System. It is home to an endemic species of troglobiont catfish. At some wells the water is 25m deep and divers explored underwater passages which branch off.

Lapa Doce is managed by Cláudia Lima Mattedi and Geovana Lima. Their father Simpliciano de Oliveira Lima Filho called Lima was the most famous Brazilian caver. 35 years ago he founded the Sociedade Brasileira de Espeleologia (SBAE, Brazilian Speleology Society), and he was the expert on Chapada Diamantina caves. He died in 2005, and Cláudia Lima Mattedi is now the owner of the Lapa Doce farm with its caves. She is also coordinator of the Sociedade Baiana de Espeleologia (Bahia Society of Speleology).

This cave is quite popular and during school holidays and on weekends may be crowded, we recommend a visit on a different day.