One of the day trips we took while staying in Metepec was to the caves of Cacahuamilpa, outside Ixtapan de la Sal, a popular place of hot springs and spas. The caves, known as grutas in Spanish, spread beneath the earth over five kilometers in distance. Two rivers traverse the cave system keeping the caves alive and humid.
Upon entering the caves visitors are greeted by a soaring vaulted cavern known as a salon. The salon opens into a passage way that continues on, undulating from narrow passage back to salon, for a total of ninety salons. Rock formations, stalactites and stalagmites decorate the interior.
Formed by an ancient sea, evidence from sediment found in the river water paints a picture of the cave’s past when a salty sea traversed through the water soluble rocks. Cutting and carving the formations as if out of clay.
First mapped in 1922, subsequent archaeological expeditions uncovered traces of Pre-Hispanic occupation. Pottery shards found in the caves harken back to the time of the mighty Olmecs who reigned in the region. The Olmecs and later the Chontal tribe performed spiritual rituals in the caves, conjuring the essence and power of the feather serpent god. Upon the arrival of the Conquistadors, the knowledge of the caves was kept secret from marauding and warring Spaniards. The caves were not brought to light to the Spanish until the 1800s, when it was found to be used as a hiding place by Manuel Sainz de la Peña Miranda.
For the modern visitor, the caves are a veritable feast of adventures. Glide through the air on a zip-line to touch down at the entrance of the caves. Then, after a two hour long guided tour learning about the cave formations, you meander down a trail to the river.
At the river there are inflatable boats oared by two teenage boys who guide the boat into the caves before turning around for another kilometer. Amate trees with their long griping roots make their home on the sides of the canyon walls cradling the river. At the end of the boat tour the only way back up is a steep bumpy trail by truck or horseback.
The only way to end the tour is by eating at one of the many restaurants or puestos (street food sellers). There is everything from tacos to mole to ice cream to fruit. A day in Mexico is never complete without consuming one its many delicious food offerings.