Cuevas de Taulabé

Taulabe Caves - Maravillas de Taulabé


Useful Information

Location: Taulabé.
20 km south of Lago Yojoa, Siguatepeque, Departamento de Comayagua. Highway CA-5 San Pedro Sula - Tegucigalpa at kilometer 140.
(14.6947037, -87.9518630)
Open: All year daily 8:30-16.
[2022]
Fee: Adults HNL 30, Children HNL 10, Students HNL 25, Foreigners USD 4.
Extreme Tour: Per Person HNL 180.
Guides are not paid, they live on tips.
[2022]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System LightColoured Light
Dimension: L=921 m, T=28-30 °C, H=67 %, A=620 m asl.
Guided tours: self guided, optional guides available. L=700 m, D=40 min.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Tom Miller (1981): Taulabe, Honduras, Canadian Caver 13 (1): pp 40-42.
Richard Finch (2008): Caving in Honduras, Part V: The Taulabé Project Nashville Speleonews, Sept. 2008, p. 5-7.
César Vivas, Patrick Durán, Giovanni Huertas, Ronald Ramírez (2013): Journey to the Heart of Taulabé Revista Ciencia y Tecnología. DOI: 10.5377/rct.v0i10.1062. researchgate
Address: Cuevas de Taulabe, CA-5, Taulabe, Tel: +504-898-8705.
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

1969 discovered during construction of the highway between San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa.
05-MAY-1972 Honduran hijacker Frederick William Hahneman hid in the cave.
declared Monumento Natural Cuevas de Taulabé Ac. 1118-92.
1979 a team of speleologists led by Tom Miller surveyed 921 m and made the first map of the cavern.
1980 first plans to turn the caves into a show cave.
JAN-2003 development started, first 700 m developed.
2011 chosen as one of the 30 wonders of Honduras.

Description

Cuevas de Taulabé (Taulabé Caves) is one of the two real show cave in Honduras, with concrete trails and electric light. It was discovered during construction of the highway between San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa in 1969. A tractor of the Israeli company fell into a ravine, investigating what happened they discovered the enormous cave. The cave was named after the nearby town. The word Taulabé is from an indigenous language and means "meeting of roads" or "path of the jaguar". The development was supported by the Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID, Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation).

Before the cave became a show cave, it was the hideout of the Honduran hijacker Frederick William Hahneman. He hijacked Eastern Airlines Flight 175 from Allentown, Pennsylvania, to Miami, Florida, on 05-MAY-1972. It was a Boeing 727 with 48 passengers. Hahneman forced the airline to give him USD 303,000 in cash, six parachutes, food and cigarettes. The plane landed on Dulles Airport and in New Orleans, Louisiana, and after he got the money he freed the 48 passengers. He ordered the pilots to fly to northern Honduras, where he parachuted between the port cities of Tela and La Ceiba, department of Atlántida, in the Honduran Caribbean. He landed in the Siempreviva area, from where he walked several kilometers and took a bus to Tela. There he cut his hair and continued to San Pedro Sula, where his mother, Delia Pastor Ordóñez, lived. He stayed there for 16 days. A bounty of 1,000 lempiras was put on his head, which at that time was only USD 500, after which he was betrayed by a friend. Then he fled to the Cuevas de Taulabé and hid there for about 20 days. Finally, a relative convinced him to surrender, and he turned himself in to the US embassy, They sentenced him to life imprisonment, but he was released after 12 years in 1984. He died on 17-DEC-1991 at age 69. The ransom money was recovered by the United States authorities, but still rumors circulated that Hahneman had left the money hidden in the cave. As a result people tried to find the money in the cave. Why he did the hijacking, and why he actually was extorting USD 303,000 in particular, remains a mystery. The Honduran journalist Alberto García Marrder, who worked for Efe in Washington in 1972, recalled the story in 2017, and it was published in Honduran newspapers. Since then the caves are sometimes called Hahneman Caves, obviously a joke.

The rocks around Taulabé are limestones of Cenomanian age named the Jaitique Formation. They are karstified and so far 28 caves are known in the area. If you visit the caves be aware that they are quite warm, due to the location at the equator, and rather humid. Glasses and photo equipment tend to fog over when entering the cave. A warm jacket is also a bad idea, good walking shoes not.

The Caves of Taulabe are 20 km south of Lago Yojoa. The first 400 meters of the cave have been improved with lights and steps, but exploration has gone as far as 12 km, without coming to the end of the cave. If you do venture in, be sure to bring a flashlight and keep a sharp look out for the many stalactites and the bats that have made their homes in all the darkest corners.

The exploration is easy and at weekends there are guides at the entrance who charge $5.00. Other times, the tours are self-guided and free.


Text by Tony Oldham (2004). With kind permission.