Tayos Cave excursion - Interview with guide Omar
The Tayos Caves are located in the Ecuadorian province of Morona Santiago in the rainforest. The nearest major town is Limon Indanza. From Quito the caves are about 470 km away and one reaches the entrance after a hike of several days. Once at the entrance, a descent of about 60 meters awaits the visitor. During a tour to the Tayos Caves, one is accompanied and assisted by experienced nature guides the whole time and the descent with the climbing equipment is practiced first before it gets serious.
The interior of the cave first cave is about 7.8 meters wide with a height between 15 and 25 meters. From there, a wide network of tunnels extends into the earth.
The caves are surrounded by numerous myths and theories. For example, it is said to have been the home of aliens or to have housed treasures of the Vatican.
In any case, the fact is that they are incredibly fascinating.
Our guide Omar visited the caves with a small group of adventurous travelers, and we asked him about his experiences.
In which month of the year was the trip?
It was In January of 2022
How was the weather like?
We had rainier days but also sunny days, it was a mix.
How long took the excursion in total?
It took 5 days, from when I picked up the clients from Quito and when I left them in Quito again
How many people took part in your excursion?
We were totally 6 people.
- 2 clients
- 1 National Tour guide
- 2 Specialized guide in caves
- 1 Local Shuar guide
On the way to the Tayos caves
How many hours per day did you hike?
We walked approximately 2 hours per day
Tell us more about the hiking conditions (ground, sun, insects, quality of path, difficulties) Can an untrained person manage the hike easily?
The day we started the tour to the Tayos Caves, first we drove 2 hours to Santiago river, after that we took a speed canoe for approximately 30 min until the entrance of the community and we started the hiking from 2 hours until arriving to the house of Don Bosco, a Shuar man, where we had lunch. The trail was quite difficult because it was steep, very muddy and slippery but the landscape is beautiful.
Where did you sleep?
We slept 2 nights inside the cave.
How did the people of the community treat you, how was their behavior?
The people of the community were very friendly and helpful, always showing a smile.
Where did you eat and what?
Inside the caves Oscar who was the main specialized guide, was the responsible to cook for us, we had rice, banana chips, fried eggs, bread, coffee, tea.
Where there options for vegetarians?
In this tour we didn´t have vegetarians, but it could be arranged with some vegetables and fruits.
At the cave
How was the descend prepared/ explained?
The explanation was very good, Oscar the main guide, explained us very well how we had to use the equipment, before the descend, we practiced for a while in a tree close to the entrance of the cave, to feel and understand the functioning of the equipment.
Which equipment was used for the descend, inside the cave and the ascend?
The equipment that we used was:
- Specialized ropes
- Head Light
- Maestro tool
- Rubber boots
- Brake tool
- Ascend tool
What was the groups´ and your first reaction inside the cave?
At the beginning in the main entrance it was not so dark, we had to walk approximately 20 min to arrive to the place where we built up the camp and there it was totally dark and very noisy because this is the place where the tayos birds (oil bird) can be seen. The group were surprised because the caves look like someone has built them, but actually they were naturally formed.
How much time did you spend inside the cave in total?
We spend 3 days / 2 nights
What was the climate like inside the cave?
The temperature was comfortable around 20°C, a warm sleeping bag for the night was not necessary.
Do you recommend the cave excursion for people with claustrophobia or panic issues?
No, I don’t, because some areas of the caves are pretty narrows, in some places we had to crawl in order to pass.
What was most impressive for you and for the group inside the cave – what are the highlights?
For us the most impressive was to see the formation of huge stalactites and stalagmites, we were thinking how long it took to be formed. Also when we were in the cathedral cave, that natural formation was amazing because it looks like a theater inside of the caves with a big grandstand.
Which animals did you see?
we saw Tayos bird, spiders, tarantulas, insects, cockroaches.
How was the ascend realized?
First, we dismounted the camp and cleaned the place that we used for camping, after we walked 30 min to the entrance of the cave, and we fixed our equipment to ascend like helmet, harness, carabiners, and another equipment and ascended.
What was harder – the descend or the ascend?
The ascend was a more difficult than descend, because we had used more strength of our legs to ascend, it took approximately 25-30 min per person to ascend until the top of the cave
How long did the way back take?
The way back took from the camping site until the hotel in Limon Indanza around 7 hours, because we left the cave after the breakfast at 9am approximately and we arrived to the hotel at 4pm more less.
Describe your feelings after arriving to Limon Indanza.
We felt a bit sad because we wanted to spend more days doing more excursions in the caves, because the excursions were amazing; but we felt happy too, because we had a comfortable bed and fresh water to shower.
Which time of the year would be the best to do the Tayos Cave excursion?
All year round is a good time to visit the Tayos cave, but the months from January to April in the amazon are better considering that rains are not so often.
In your opinion, what is a good group size for the excursion?
Maximum 10 people, because to descend to the caves takes around 15 min per person, and to ascend from 25-30 min per person, if the group were much bigger it takes long time and the people get bored waiting to ascend and descend.
What should people bring for the excursion?
2 changes of clothes, rain coat, robber boot and sandals
b) Personal items
Head Light (minimum 6000 lumens), repellent of mosquitos, soap, cave suit (not mandatory), extra batteries, some small snacks, sleeping bag, tent (not mandatory).
Which physical level should people have to realize the excursion?
Good abilities to walk and no fear of darkness and height.
How would you describe the Tayos excursion in one word?
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