It is a place of geological importance for our country, as it has given clues about the formation of our territory. The caves were originally under the ocean for millions of years, probably formed about 15 to 20 million years ago, during the Miocene geological period. How do we know that? The expeditioners and local scientists have found fossils of sea life in the caves that help to identify the age.
Part of the Costa Rica territory was probably emerging and submerging since the Mesozoic era -about 220 million years ago- with the appearance of small islands here and there, due to the seismic activity of the tectonic continental plates, especially the Caribbean and Cocos Plate. North America and South America were separated by the Caribbean Sea. From the Cenozoic era, specifically -about 65 million years ago-, the tectonic and volcanic activity formed more islands that eventually joined and were slowly forming the territory where Central America is today and Costa Rica of course. About 2 million years ago most of the present territory was emerging and the main Mountain Ranges which divide the country in two emerged and formed the rest of the lands in the next million years. In summary, the Venado Caves have spent most of their existence under the sea.
The caves are made up of limestone, stalactites, stalagmites, and corals. The complex of caverns consists of 12 "rooms" of different sizes, some of them quite narrow, others are large rooms. Most of the cavern is crossed by a shallow stream. The cleaning function of the stream is very important as it keeps the cave soil free from fecal material from all living creatures that have colonized these caves, especially bats.
As you walk to the different passages of the place you will find very interesting rock formations in which some of them appear to be fruits or other comic shapes, like the case of "La Papaya" rock, which definitely looks like it.
The tour into the caves could last about one to two hours, depending on the visitor's interest.
Wildlife in the cave is basically composed of Bats, small snakes, amphibians and Insects.
The tour inside can be performed on your own, however, the historical speech of the caves is extremely interesting, so counting with a naturalist guide on the tour is the best.
Today, the caverns have been mapped totaling over 2,700 meters. Each cavern has sufficient headroom to permit explorers to remain standing while a few of them are 35 meters tall.
Venado town is not that far from La Fortuna, and we can get there by many ways.
Driving: From La Fortuna town you must take route 142 and drive to El Tanque town, then make a left in El Tanque and take route 4 until getting to Jicarito town crossroad, this is a very small town, right there you make a left and take route 734 and keep your driving for about 20 minutes straight to the Venado Caves. Approximated lasting goes from 45 to 55 minutes. Waze or Google maps take you there, there are plenty of signs along the road, you will not get lost.
By Taxi: A taxi or UBER could charge from $65 to $80 just one way, depending on how many people, size of the car, time, and season. (Please have in mind that UBER and DIDI are not legal in Costa Rica yet).
Public Bus: Bus service from La Fortuna is available twice a day, at 7 am and 14:15, ticket may cost around $4-$5. Lasting of the trip is a bit more than an hour. Once you get to Venado Town, you must take a local cab to the caves for about $5 each way.
By Tour: Organized tours to the caves are a very good choice to visit this amazing place. Tours normally leave every day at 8 am and often at 2 pm. This tour is a Seven Tours featured outing.
Caves formations are not that common, and those ones are possible to visit even less. To visit an underground cave is one of a kind experience. You can learn so much about the earth formation, about the rock formations, history and you will be surprised about the fauna living underground. Totally recommended, children are better if they are over 7 years old.
You must wear clothes that you can get wet, as you are going to get wet. Also, you must bring extra clothes to change after the tour. It is highly recommended to bring water shoes, hiking boots, or any sneaker that you can get into the water. You can also get rubber boots in the caves reception, but sometimes it is hard to get. Insect repellent is essential. It is highly recommended to leave your phone in the car or get it into a drybag and bring a towel.
Yes! they provide plastic helmets, rubber boots, and flashlights. This equipment is included with the payment of the entrance fee. If you are an adventurer you can always use your own equipment.
The rate per person is $30, they accept credit cards also. The fee includes the equipment and also includes access to a swimming pool they have next to the reception, which is available only on weekends.
If you visit the Venado Caves, they provide guides at the entrance. In this particular tour, it is mandatory to hire a guide, it is not allowed to enter the caves without a guide. Normally, when you pay your entrance fee which goes around $30 per person, the management assigns you a guide for your trip. But they only include the guide for the schedules at 8am, 10am, 12am, and 1pm. Also, reservations must be done before to ensure space.