Cavernas do Petar

Petar Caves

Useful Information

Location: Southern part of São Paulo. 350km from Campinas.
Open: Núcleos (Centers): daily 8-17
Fee: yes
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: none
Guided tours:
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.


1958 Park created
2003 cave accident with two drowened.
2005 cave accident with one dead during rapelling.
2008 new rules for cave visits.


The Petar State Park is a nature preserve for the Atlantica forest. It is very rich in limestone and heavily karstified. More than 200 caves are known in the park. Many caves in the park are open to tourists, but there is no real show cave, with paths and electric light. The caves are rather wild, some have wooden ladders. There is no light in any cave.

Petar is neither the name of a cave nor of the area. It is the abbreviation of the name of the park, which is Parque Estadual Turístico do Alto Ribeira (P.E.T.A.R., High Ribeira River Touristic State Park). But it seems to be common to use and write the name like it was Petar. The park was created in 1958 around the cities Iporanga and Apiaí.

It seems the park did not regulate access to the caves except for some basic nature protection rules. A cave accident in 2003 where two of a group of five - the guide and one visitor - drowned, and a second incident in 2005 tourist died while rappelling, caused some changes. Since 2008 entry into all caves is only allowed with a registered local environmental monitor. Every cave has a limit of people per day. Rapelling is prohibited. As a result only 12 caves can still be visited, we have listed only the most important ones.

The park has four visitors centers, which are the starting point for any cave trekking activity.

  1. Núcleo Santana (Santana Center) is the location were the most interesting caves are. It is also the most visited with 24.000 visitors per year [2000].
  2. Núcleo Caboclos (Caboclos Center) in the city of Apiaí is the oldest center. Here are many caves, but we do not have sufficient information about them. We just know the names: Chapéu (Hat), Chapéu Mirim I (Little Hat I), Chapéu Mirim II and Aranhas (Spiders).
  3. Núcleo Ouro Grosso (Ouro Grosso Center) is close to Bairro Serra (Serra Village) in Iporanga. Its main attraction is CaveCaverna Ouro Grosso.
  4. Núcleo Casa de Pedra (Casa de Pedra Center) is the starting point for a walk to the CaveGruta Casa de Pedra (House of Rock). It is said to have the highest cave entrance in the world, with 215m height. It is 2,930m long and has a vertical range of 292m.

The caves are located west and north of the city Iporanga. Núcleo Casa de Pedra is located at the river Rio Iporanga in the north. All other nucleos and caves are located along the Rio Betari, another tributary of Ribeira de Iguape river. A road along the river from Iporanga allows access to the nucleos.