Caves are mysterious places. Dark caverns, nature’s museums of artistic limestone sculptures, have always triggered adventurous feelings in humans. Equipped with flashlights and helmets, speleologists study these geological masterpieces in order to determine exactly why all those tunnels and chambers, as well as the monumental drip-stone formations look the way they do. Specialized groups of biologists also crawl around in these dark and sometimes extremely hot and humid places, or freezing cold in other locales, but for a very different reason. Caves are home to some very special creatures. Bats are the first animal group that comes to mind, but there are also myriads of ‘creepy crawlers’, all very well adapted to cave life. Scientists want and need to learn as much as possible about these creatures, especially the bats, because current knowledge already points to an indispensable role of these winged mammals within the cycle of life.
The Hato Caves
Curacao also has its share of caves. The most impressive, and therefore most celebrated, cave system of all is the Hato cave system. These caves always played an important role in the way the local population experienced the ‘wonders of the underground’. 20 years ago this cave system was given an important face-lift. Years of uncontrolled use had taken its toll, and the celebrated natural monument was in need of some serious ‘TLC’. The result of this face-lift opened its doors to the public in December 1991 and became a hit with locals and visitors to the Island alike.
The Hato caves allow everyone to experience the wondrous shapes and inhabitants of subterranean Curacao without the need to become a scientist and dress up like a speleologist (click here for more info). The 20 years anniversary of one of the most impressive natural attractions the Island has to offer should not pass unnoticed. During the coming year we will publish articles about this cave system, as well as on cave and drip-stone formation and the inhabitants of local caves, on a monthly basis. Stay tuned, the caves have lots of secrets to reveal!