Cueva de los Tayos -
an unforgettable experience


Arriving at cueva de los tayos

On May 21 2021, we started our trip to the famous Cueva de los Tayos. On that morning, we were so excited because we didn’t know what to expect. Cueva de los Tayos is situated in the province Morena Santiago of canton of Limón Indanza, which is about 3 hours by car from Quito. This is why we arrived one day earlier in order to not lose time on our first day.

In the evening, we already were welcomed by the team of guides; all of them were open-minded, friendly and seemed very experienced. We immediately felt comfortable and in good hands! They presented us the exact itinerary on a topographic map and showed us how to handle the equipment we were going to use. Then it was time for some rest to gain energy for our upcoming expedition.

let's get the adventure started ...

The next morning started with a rich breakfast at 07h30 in the town of Limón. Once finished, we went to the agency to make the last preparation steps, then it was time to set out to the Yukiantza community. Two hours later, at 11h00, we arrived by cab and embarked on a motor canoe, navigating on the so-called “Namangoza” river. The view from the charming boat was simply amazing!

We passed through a canyon from which huge waterfalls could be observed. When arriving in La Puntilla, we were welcomed with a warm lunch by the community of Kuankus, consisting of an armadillo broth – yes, you got it right! Armadillo is a well-established component of the Ecuadorian cuisine. At first sight, it might seem a little strange to you, but in fact it tastes just like other kinds of meat. If you are a meet-lover, you will for sure enjoy it.

First preparations

Our trip continued by canoe on Coangos River, where the Shuar guide joined us. He accompanied us and we continued walking on the trail for about 2 hours, which was the perfect change from the river experience. Subsequently, we arrived at the home of the Tiwiram-Wamputsar family, where we could relax a little, which was definitely needed after our hike.

In the afternoon, together with our speleology guide, we installed the ropes, carabiners and anchors, which were needed for the next day’s decent to the Tayos caves. So we could go to sleep with a clear conscience as everything was perfectly prepared for the next day.

cueva de los tayos

descending to the tayos caves

After next morning’s breakfast, it was time for our first traditional Shuar ceremony. For those among you that never heard about that – it is kind of a healing ceremony, similar to a meditation, empowering for upcoming challenges, which, in our case, was climbing down to Tayos cave.

From our night’s lodging it was only a 15-minute walk until the entrance. Once arrived, the entire equipment was checked again, to make sure that it is tight and safe. Also, we had the opportunity to practice a descent on a small wall, which again made us feel well-prepared and finally we were ready for the adventure.

Descent into the cave

The rappel has a height of 50 meters and fortunately, it was also possible to descent in pairs of two, which was quite nice, as you do not have to dare climbing down alone. It is definitely an exciting experience completing such an activity for the very first time and arriving downstairs, we were full of adrenaline and relieved at the same time. Following the path, we reached the camp located in the gallery “La Catedral”, were we set our camp up and spent a 30-minute lunch break.

After the pause, we had recovered a little and were keen on discovering the rest of the cave. We visited the galleries of the Altar and were explained the geological formation of the cave, including the species living inside. We were incredibly excited to see also the famous Tayos (engl.: oilbirds), which are the cave’s namesakes.

We were fascinated, how many more thing form part of the subterranean cave! Next to an aquatic part with a huge waterfall, where we were offered to take a bath, there is an amphitheater and some more galleries, known under the name “The Wild Thing”. But this was not the last surprise of the trip – before leaving, our guide found that due to the heavy rain, the tributary had grown in a strong flow.

To prevent any troubles, the experienced guides decided that we took another exit route. Arriving at the campside, it was already 03h00 at night, but pride about the successful completion of the challenge was in any event bigger than exhaustion.

cueva de los tayos

on the trail of neil armstrong

The following day started with an ample breakfast at 09h30 after which we were granted some leisure time to go to the bathroom and take picture of the gallery “The Altar”. Meanwhile, our guides prepared the equipment to explore “La cueva del diablo” afterwards. An experience, which we again would not have liked to miss out, as we day galleries that had never been explored before and were therefore not even topographed on the map.

However, we decided not to go too deep to avoid any potential danger. Finally, we were happy to pass by the stalagmite which once Neil Armstrong visited and we took a refreshing bath in the waterfall. That day, we returned earlier, but not less enthusiastic to the camp.
cueva de los tayos

returning to the departure point

The next day, it was unfortunately time to leave. After breakfast shortly after 7h00, we got ready for the way back. We packed our backpacks, collected the garbage and descended once again the 50-meter-ascent. Thereby, we learnt how to apply the so-called “flog” technique, where the last one raises the backpacks by means of a system of hoists.

Arriving at the Wamputsar’s home, we had a last lunch and continued by canoe on Coangos River. Despite of the high flow, we arrived smoothly and safely. We boarded the boat again and continued until reaching the port of Yukiantza. By cab, we returned to Limón in the evening and as a souvenir, they even offered us Tayos cave shirts.

But anyways, we will never forget about this unique experience we made during our time at Tayos. We felt save and well cared for at any time and therefore recommend the trip to everyone, who loves adventurism and nature, combined with tradition and culture. The caves are definitely worth a visit!
cueva de los tayos
If you are interested what a trip to Cueva de los Tayos with looks like, watch the following video on our YouTube channel:
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