Underground rock formations
The Cueva de Palestina [Palestine Cave] is a hidden jewel of the San Martin region which astonishes those who visit it. We traveled from Tarapoto just to explore this attraction in the bowels of the earth. Follow us on this mysterious adventure!
There is a cave in Peru where you can experience the most profound silence, punctuated only by the dripping water that created a series of strange rock formations over a period of 60 million years. Here you can walk underground through 11 labyrinthine chambers, passing pools of water and observing stalactites, stalagmites, great columns and curtains of rock, as well as other astonishing natural formations. This is the Cueva de Palestina [Palestine Cave]. The cave is situated in the outskirts of the village of Nueva Cajamarca, where the local evangelical community has learned to cherish its natural heritage and take advantage of its tourism potential. They have trained local people as guides, who ensure that visitors can experience the cave in absolute safety. Local people welcome visitors to their homes with songs, before equipping them with helmets and escorting them to the cave. The tour lasts around 90 minutes.
The only inhabitants of the caves are the small bats that roost in the roofs. Listen out for them and you’ll hear their shrill calls and the beating of their wings as you move from one chamber to another. Access to the cave is not difficult; just make sure you keep your head down where the roof is low, and be prepared to squeeze through narrow gaps between ancient rock walls. There are plans to organize special adventure routes to the sections of the cave complex where an underground river runs. This part of the cave can only be accessed using ropes, and by swimming through cold water. The accessible part of the Cueva de Palestina runs for over 3.5 kilometers and is the second largest cave known to exist in Peru. With luck, visitors may come across the cave-dwelling oilbirds that form large colonies in the deepest parts of the caverns. This adventure route is awaiting approval, and should be available to the public by 2017.
Visitors to the cave are recommended to end their visit with a refreshing swim in a beautiful natural pool surrounded by trees. This pool is known by the biblical name “Piscina del Río Jordán”. You can also choose to experience the everyday life of local people and share a tasty home cooked lunch with them, consisting of cassava in a peanut sauce and free range chicken. Book in advance and select your preferred activities and local residents will be waiting for you with everything prepared.
Getting there: Nueva Cajamarca is situated 25 minutes north of the town of Rioja. You can get there from Tarapoto in a shared taxi (via the Tarapoto-Moyobamba, Moyobamba-Rioja, Rioja-Nueva Cajamarca road). From the village, you’ll need to take a motorcycle taxi to the Centro Poblado Palestina community’s “La Cueva” sector. Here, visitors are asked to register, after which they are given the gear they’ll need during the tour and assigned to the authorized guide who will accompany them.
Budget: The fossil circuit costs S/ 15 soles per person and includes equipment and a guide. Entrance to the cave costs S/3 soles.
Information: (042) 634698, or (042) 556397
Bookings: Asociación AVESUP, Señora Celmira, 951581485, or Asociación Cautivos de Ayabaca, Señor Claudio, 956556013, or Empresa Privada Palestina, Señor Lázaro, 942842582.