Gruta do Lapão


Useful Information

Location: 5km northwest of Lençóis.
Open: Cave: no restrictions.
Abseil/cave tour: after appointment.
[2019]
Fee: Cave: free.
Abseil/cave tour: depends on operator.
[2019]
Classification: quarzite cave
Light: none
Dimension: L=1,000m, W=10m. Portal: H=50m, W=50m.
Guided tours:  
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Gruta do Lapão.
Terra Chapada Expedições, Praça Horácio de Matos, S/N, Lençóis - Bahia - Brasil, 46960-000, Tel: +55-75-3334-1428, Tel: +55-75-9915-0722 (Vivo) contato@terrachapada.com.br
H2O Travel Adventures, Rua do Pires s/n, Lençóis, 46960-000. Chapada Diamantina - Bahia - Brazil, Tel: +55 75 3334 1229. info@H2OTravelAdventures.com
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1845 begin of mining operations.
1871 mining ended.

Description

The Gruta do Lapão is a huge overhanging cliff or shallow cave in quartzite. The portal is 50m high and about the same width, but only 40m deep. At the end is a much smaller passage and a narrow shaft to the surface. The cave is the resurgence of a cave river, but it is dry most of the year. The main passage is a through cave, the rio Lapão enters the cave on the other side of the hill and exits at the huge portal. It is 1 kilometer long and this is said to be second longest quartzite cave in Brazil.

There are several companies offering abseil in front of the cave portal. The plateau above the cave is a flat quartzite plain and at the edge it drops about 10m along the rock face until the cave portal opens. From here the abseil is at least 30m from the next wall until the huge quartzite boulders at the cave floor are reached. Some companies offer abseil through te shaft at the far end of the entrance.

The cave behind this huge entrance can be visited on adventure or spelunking tours. This tour takes about two hours and has medium difficulty, which means it requires physical fitness and climbing, but has no longer vertical paths. There are several squeezes and at the end of the tour there is a side passage leading to the cave river below, the rio Lapão. It is possible to swim in the cave river. The cave tour is not available during the wet season, as the cave may be flooded at this time. During the dry season the cave is dry and the riverbed outside too.

If you visit the cave with one of the various operators they will organize transport. There is a trail which is 5km long from Lençóis, but in the heat of the dry season this is quite strenuous and takes 1.5 hours one way. There is also a single lane earth road to the northwest, which is only one kilometer from the cave. According to some pages the tour operator know how to drive to the portal, we guess its easier to transport the abseil equipment.

The cave was mined between 1845 and 1871 by garimpeiros, but it is unclear what they mined exactly. We guess it was bat guano as fertilizer, which is quite common, but the web pages tend to speculate about diamonds or carbonate rocks, and both make actually no sense in quartzite. However, some of the cave passages are not natural, but tunnels created by the miners.