Sima Terciopelo

Caverna Terciopelo

Useful Information

Location: At Barra Honda, Barra Honda National Park, Province of Guanacaste. 22 km north-east of Nicoya City.
From San José Interamerican Highway (CA-1) north. Follow the signs to the new Tempisque bridge (Puenta la Amistad). On the other side southwest 15 km, turn right towards the villages of Barra Honda and Santa Ana, and follow signs for the park entrance. The park headquarters is through the gate (closed at dusk). 1 km up a good gravel road on the left.
(10.170492, -85.352036)
Open: Gate: all year daily 8-dusk.
Cave: DEC to APR daily.
Advance booking for groups required.
Fee: Park: Adults USD 12.
Barra Honda National Park Caves Tour: Per Person USD 40.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: helmets with lamps provided.
Dimension: L=92 m, VR=41 m, A=380 m asl.
Guided tours: VR=41 m, L=110 m.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Andrés Ulloa, Carlos Goicoechea (2013): Geotourism potential of underground sites in Costa Rica, Tourism and Karst Areas. 6. 43-56. ReasearchGate
Address: Barra Honda National Park, Los Laureles ranger station, Tel: +506-2659-1551, Tel: +506-8539-1010, Tel: +506-8721-2444.
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.


23-FEB-1969 cave discovered by the caving group GE.CMCR.
03-SEP-1974 Barra Honda National Park created.
1993 two German tourists got lost and died of dehydration in the park.
2002 metal ladder into entrance pit (-19 m) installed by GEA.
2012 earthquake damages cave, two chambers closed to the public due to security reasons.


Sima Terciopelo (Velvet Pit) is a pothole located at the Barra Honda National Park. Tours are done as cave trekking tours, visitors get helmets with headlamps. It is pretty hard to visit, as it is a vertical cave with a 17 m deep entrance shaft, but there is a fixed aluminium ladder down the entrance pit. This ladder and a second one inside the cave are all the development of the cave though, and thus it requires some surefootedness. For security reasons the visitors get a harness and are secured by the guide with a rope for the descent. The cave is noted for its wealth of speleothems, including soda straws, stalactites, stalagmites, curtains, pearls, and rimstone dams. What they call roses are calcite crystals resembling flowers, needles, and cave grapes. The cave is closed during the wet season, between May and November, because of the danger of flooding by torrential rains.

The Barra Honda National Park has a size of 2,295 ha and covers the area of Cerro Barra Honda (442 m asl) plateau. There is a main trail through mostly secondary forest to the top Cerro Barra Honda, which offers a spectacular view of the Tempisque Valley and the Gulf of Nicoya. The park includes various tropical habitats: tropical lowland, dry secondary forest, and pastures. The wildlife includes howler monkeys, deer, raccoons, peccaries, kinkajous, agoutis and ant-eaters.

The park has at the moment 42 known karst caves, the caves and the view are the main attractions. In all caves in the Park visitors must be accompanied by an official guide. Fortunately most caves have an entrance pit, which makes them difficult to access and protects them, most of the caves are still in a good shape. There is the possibility to visit other caves in the park, but this is only for cavers or at least very sportive tourists. You need caving gear including climbing gear, an advance permission from the Park Service, the gear may be provided by the park. The deepest cave in the park, Santa Ana, is 118 m deep.

A rather strange story is the geologic exploration of the area. As most of the province is of volcanic origin, there was at first no sign there could be a small karst area. The roar made by the bats inside the caves and the bad smells from the guano deposited at the bottom of the pits it was generally believed that Cerro Barra Honda was a volcano. At the end of the 1960s the caves of the GE.CMCR started to explore the caves.

It is hard to reach the park without car, as the next bus stops 30 km away. Once at the park, there are possibilities to stay overnight and a camping ground. The best way to visit the cave is definitely a day trip from your hotel in Guanacaste, which includes transport, entrance fee, guide, equipment, taxes, and food.