Gruta da Lapinha

Gruta Lapinha - Laphina Cave

Useful Information

Location: Lagoa Santa, Parque Estadual do Sumidouro. Followe R. Ns. do Rosário to the northern end.
(-19.562015, -43.959739)
Open: Gruta da Lapinha: all year Tue-Sun 8:30-17, last entry 16.
Museu Peter Lund: all year Tue-Sun 8:30-17, last entry 16.
Museu Arqueológico da Lapinha: all year Tue-Fri 9:30-16, Sat, Sun, Hol 9:30-17.
Fee: Park: Adults BRL 25, Children (6-12) BRL 12.50, Children (0-5) free, Locals free, Seniors (60+) BRL 12.50, Students BRL 12.50.
Tickets valid for Lapinha Cave, Museo Lund, and trails.
Museu Arqueológico da Lapinha: Adults BRL 30.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightLED Lighting
Dimension: L=511 m, VR=40 m.
Guided tours: V=36,000/a[2000]
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Gruta da Lapinha - Parque Estadual do Sumidouro, R. Nossa Sra. do Rosário, s/n - Lapinha, Lagoa Santa - MG 33400-000, Tel: +55-31-3689-8592. E-mail: E-mail:
Museu da Lapinha - Centro Arqueológico de Lagoa Santa - MG, Tel: +55-31-3681-1363 - +55-31-9158-7211 E-mail:
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.


1835 discovered by the Danish scientist Peter Wilhelm Lund.
1972 Museu Arqueológico da Região de Lagoa Santa opened to the public.
04-JAN-1980 Parque Ecológico do Vale do Sumidouro created.
1987 human bones of Lagoa Santa Man excavated at Lapa do Acácio.


Laphina Cave is the first cave, the Danish scientist Peter Wilhelm Lund discovered at Lagoa Santa, the place were he lived from 1835 to his death in 1880. When he discovered the cave, he declared: "Never have my eyes seen anything as beautiful in the domains of Nature or of Art". He explored the cave and found numerous minerals and bones, which he sent to King Christian VIII of Denmark. Today they are on display in the Zoological Museum at the University of Copenhagen.

The most important find was the skull of the Homem da Lagoa Santa (Lagoa Santa Man), who lived in this region 10,000 years ago. Other bones in the cave were identified to be from sabre-tooth tigers and the giant armadillo. Today there is a museum named Museu Peter Lund or Museu da Lapinha in front of the cave, which has bones and historic documents of the first excavation.

And there is the Museu Arqueológico da Região de Lagoa Santa with many archaeological finds of the whole region. It is a real curiosity and pretty weird. The museum is the personal collection of the Hungarian immigrant Mihály Bánya, a self-educated and self-appointed archaeologist. But due to his efforts much was saved which would have been destroyed. And his museum is located in a castle-like building named the Castelinho, which was lately under threat to be demolished. Fortunately this weird location could finally be saved.

The location is managed as a park, so you go to the Visitor Center, buy tickets, get a time for your cave visit and then you can visit all other attractions with your ticket. There is a restaurant, the Museu Peter Lund, and three trails, Circuito Lapinha (Lapinha Trail, 30min), Trilha Sumidouro (Sumidouro Trail, 90min), and Trilha da Travessia (Crossroad Trail, 2.5h). However, the trails must be booked and are available only on weekends. Some cave were also closed due to vandalism, so the trails are probably a little dull. The park also has some routes for climbers.

Gruta da Lapinha has 16 subsequent chambers, many with beautiful speleothems. The tour follows the 511 m long main passage and has a height difference of 40 m. Children 5 years and younger are free in the park, but it is recommended that they are not taken on the cave tour. The park has 157 archaeological sites and 35 caves, but only the show cave is open to the public.

The park was named Parque Estadual do Sumidouro after a swallow hole, where a river vanishes undergound. In Portuguese the term sumidouro means swallow hole or sink. The indigenous term for this place is Anhanhonhacanhuva, which means "still water that disappears into the hole of the Earth".

Laphina Cave is a network cave developed in limestone (marble) with a horizontal cleavage. The show cave is "self-guided" with flagstone paths and bench seats made from slate at strategic places. The cave is a network of high fault and joint-guided rifts of varying widths, some up to 20 m+ high. The cave is very dry and quite dusty in places.

Text by Tony Oldham (2002). With kind permission.