Just like many other caves in this part of Trinidad, Aripo Main Cave has formed in Jurassic limestone. The cave is located at the foot of the tallest mountain in Trinidad – the 941 m tall El Cerro del Aripo. Walk to the cave takes a long, strenuous walk through the tropical forest.
This cave is impressive and spacious. The entrance is more than 10 m tall and the passage goes below the Aripo stream. Cave itself contains a small stream with waterfalls.
Aripo Main Cave is adorned with numerous stalactites and stalagmites.
Swarming life in the darkness
Stay into this cave is a rather creepy experience. The darkness of the cave is filled with a deafening noise of its unique inhabitants – guacharos, countless bats and birds are flying around and the thick layer of putrid guano is teeming with insects (with incredibly long antennae which help to orientate in the darkness) and other invertebrates. Six insect species have been first described in this cave.
Cave is dangerous – guano at places is infested with Histoplasma capsulatum fungus which can infect lungs.
Several species of bats live in the cave – Glossophaga s. socrina, Anoura g. geoffroyi and the exotic vampire bat Desmodus r. rotundas.
The most famous inhabitant of the cave is guacharo (Steatornis caripensis) – the only fruit-eating nocturnal bird in the world. Here, in the cave live some 150 of these rare birds, who have built their nests in the crevices of the walls and ceilings.
This unusual bird is both disgusting and exciting. It uses echolocation to orientate in the darkness. Guacharo contains lots of oil and local people hunted them for cooking oil, which sometimes was used as lighting too.
- Donald A. McFarlane, Ross D. E. MacPhee. Amblyrhiza and the Quaternary Bone Caves of Anguilla, British West Indies, Cave Science Vol 16, Nr. 1., April 1989. Accessed on October 5, 2012
Aripo Main Cave on the map
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|Location, GPS coordinates:||10.7195 N 61.2442 W (mistake up to 200 m)|
|Categories:||Caves, Animal colonies|
|Rating:||(2.5 / 5)|
|Where is located?||North America, Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunapuna-Piarco, south from the summit of El Cerro del Aripo|
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