The Great Cavern of Saint Thomas (Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás) is Cuba’s largest cave system. Near the town of El Moncada 18 kilometres’ drive west of Viñales, the cave belongs to Parque Nacional Viñales.
As a geology lover, Rocío was keen to see the cave, especially after seeing artefacts from it in Havana’s Fundacion de la Naturaleza y el Hombre museum. From Viñales we hired a car and driver for 20 CUC (US$20), waiting time and return journey included.
Cave entry and guided tour cost 10 CUC (US$10) per person. After fitting our helmets and torches, a guide appeared with his bicycle helmet and led us up to the entrance. No other tourists joined our group so most of the time we had the cave to ourselves.
The knowledgeable guide spoke English and Spanish, showing us different cave and rock formations including stalactites, rock pools and glittery rock walls. One area was extremely dark. With our torches off it was so dark that Rocío held onto me out of fear.
Some stalactites (rock formations that hang from the roof) had good acoustic properties and the guide played percussion music with them.
Video of the guide hitting the stalactites:
At one stage we came to an opening which had panoramic views of El Moncada and surrounding landscapes.
Outside the cave we observed birds in the thick vegetation. Our cave tour over, we tipped the guide, left our helmets and torches and returned to the Soviet AZLK sedan for our trip back to Viñales.