Cueva del Fantasma

Cave of the Ghost

Useful Information

Location: Venezuelan Guayana
Open: no restrictions
Fee: free
Classification: Speleologyerosional cave SpeleologyTectonic cave Lower Precambrian sandstones and quartzites of the Venezuelan Guiana Shield
Light: n/a
Dimension: Portal: H=250m, W=90m.
Guided tours: n/a
Photography: allowed
Bibliography: Roman Aubrecht, Charles Brewer-Carías, et al (2012): Venezuelan Tepuis: Their Caves and Biota, Acta Geologica Slovaca, Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia. ISBN: 978-80-223-3349-8 researchgate
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02-JAN-2002 discovered by Charles Brewer-Carías.


The Cueva del Fantasma (Cave of the Ghost) is located in the Venezuelan Guayana, a remote region of huge crystalline plateaus, quartzites and metamorphites of Precambrian age. This landscape is the place where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's book The Lost World takes place. The huge plateaus locally called tepui, were the place were the last surviving dinosaurs were discovered in the book.

In reality there are no dinosaurs, but still the tepui are enormously interesting. Precambrian rocks, among the oldest rocks on earth, composed mainly of sandstone with high content of quartz, often quartzite, resisted erosion for billions of years. Nevertheless they were eroded, and the plateaus are only a small rest of the formerly huge plain. Cut into segments by rivers, which formed valleys and gorges, they became islands, table mountains, separated by wide valley or even plains. Cueva del Fantasma is interpreted as the remains of an impressive gorge. The narrow gorge collapsed at the rim and was thus closed to form an enormous cavern.

This cave is so huge, it is big enough for two helicopters landing on the floor. A waterfall coming down one wall forms a small pond at the floor.

The cave was discovered by helicopter by the team of Charles Brewer-Carías. He is world famous among cavers for his numerous finds of quartzite caves in the tepuis of Venezuela. When he first saw the cave he remembered the cave that served as a refuge for the character The Walking Ghost, illustrated by Lee Falk. The comics were featured in the Sunday press.

A quite popular bit about this cave is that it actually is not a cave but a collapsed gorge. And while some caver might have put it that way once, it is not the speleological truth. A cave is a natural void underground, and in that sense this is definitely a cave. However, other caves in the tepuis are karst caves, which means they were created by the solution and erosion of quartzite by acidic water. This cave was formed by erosion and then by the collapse, the geologic term is tectonic. So this cave is definitely a cave which was formed by erosional and tectonic processes.