ATV’s and Caves of Swiss Cheese

A short minibus ride from our hotel was an adventure camp, after succumbing to the sales pitch and purchasing some extra insurance (because I planned to drive like a nutter) we hit the trails on 450cc ATV’s. They were automatics and could pick up some speed if the instructor would get out of the way… 

The trails wound thru the mangroves and over a few lumps and rocks here and there but it was pretty flat all the way. There was an American couple in front of us sharing a quad. The chap was obviously used to driving them and would hold back behind the instructor before getting some speed up and drifting around the corners, terrifying his girlfriend. 

After ATV’s we went zip lining. All the gear was in good condition and they had double checks in place which made me feel better about trusting the kit. Too often I’ve heard terror stories of substandard gear so this was nice to see it being taken care of. As the terrain was relatively flat, the ziplines were from wooden towers. They had been constructed from multiple spliced trees and rose above the jungle floor as high as high voltage power lines. They were a little wobbly but after the first step off into oblivion, you quickly forgot about it and enjoyed the ride.

At each tower you’d have to climb up to the top ready for the next zip line. At a couple of stations, there were other options of zipping. Superman style head first and laying in a hammock made a unique experience.

While driving the ATV’s, we realised the trails didn’t go in a straight line between places. They wound along left and right thru the jungle, but it wasn’t only to add interest to the ride, it was to avoid the holes in the earth that scattered the relatively flat landscape. Now we had started our next activity, we found out where those holes went! The whole area was a network of underground caves and aquifers full of fresh spring water. The limestone had been eaten away into huge subterranean caverns and the roof was pockmarked with holes and shafts of light from the sky above. 

Descending a short set of wooden steps we entered the caves and found a huge herd shoal flock clusterfuck colony of bats hanging from the ceiling. They were so delicate and cute just hanging around watching us pasty tourists gasp and shriek as we stepped into the cool cave water. 

We had snorkeling gear on and followed Jimmy thru the cave system as he showed us the sunken stalagmites and stalactites. This cave system is the second largest in the area, but only a small section was accessible without scuba gear. It was discovered in 1996 and extends over 45 miles underground. Whoever explored this must have had whopping great coconut sized balls to scuba explore an uncharted cave system.